Do community needs trump the rights of the owners to their property? For example, if a vacant land owner does not want to sell a piece of land needed for a community center, or refused to consider selling, would it be legal for the city government to seize that property for the center development through eminent domain ?
The premise is that since you own land and property, you have an obligation to the surrounding community.
Disregarding (for the purposes of the question) that it is not a proper function of government to be providing community centers -the only proper functions of government are to manage and fund the courts, police services and national defence- the expropriation of private property whether it be for a community center or a shopping mall is a violation of individual rights.
The "needs" of many, no matter if that need is determined by government or by a simple vote of the community, do not outweigh the rights of even a single person. This is the fundamental difference between a society formed and operating on the premise of individual rights and one operating on collectivized rights.
To say that a government or any other group has the right to take an individual's property away from him is to say that the government has rights with regard to property that the individual does not. The implications of which is that any person can be considered to be the property of the collective, and that premise makes slaves of us all.
Property rights are a corollary of the right to life. In suggesting the collective has the right to take an individual's property you are in effect saying that the individual has no right to his own life (the freedom to take all the actions required to support, the furtherance, the fulfilment and the enjoyment of his own life) if those desires conflict with the collective will of "government" or any similarly empowered gang or mob.
Note that it does not matter what the owner was doing with the property, it could have been nothing more than a fallow field or a vacant lot, regardless, the right to property is the right to own (in the most complete sense of that word), dispose of and use property be it intellectual or physical in any way you see fit.
answered Oct 03 '10 at 07:58
Martin Gasser ♦