Businesses opposed restrictions on eminent domain

"[I]t's always been true that business is not a friend of a free market," argues Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. "I have given a lecture from time to time under the title 'Suicidal Impulses of the Business Community,' something like that, and it's true. It's in the self-interest of the business community to get government on its side."

This situation is on full display in the campaign to stop Proposition 90, the statewide Protect Our Homes initiative that will be on the November ballot. If it passes, the initiative will mean the end of two troubling and common policies in California. The first is eminent domain abuse, by which cities take property from small businesses and homeowners and give it to big developers who promise to pay more sales taxes than the current owners. The second is regulatory takings, whereby governments "take" property through regulations such as downzoning, often obliterating the value of a property without paying compensation.

Yet instead of siding with a good principle that ultimately protects all business owners, the business guys are pouring money into the "no on 90" campaign. As Friedman understood – and Lenin, for that matter, who said that businessmen would sell the hangman the rope used to hang them – businesses are mostly interested in their own private advantage, and they are more than willing to manipulate government to further that advantage. . . .


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