America, where art’thou now?

This weekend, as we celebrate the birth of our nation — this republic — this representative style of government — we should all feel blessed. Blessed for what we once had and may someday have again.
Slowly, but as sure as Republicans and Democrats meet after-hours to joke, drink and slap each others? backs for the wonderfulness of themselves, we are imploding on ourselves. While the three branches of government work hard to make sure they own what we have, we let ’em do it.
What am I talkin? ’bout?
Last week the esteemed United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, performed the Mexican hat dance atop the Fifth Amendment.
What’s in the Fifth? Not much rye or alcohol. If you’ve watched Perry Mason, or Matlock, or any other filmed court show, you may recall folks, ‘taking the Fifth.? They ain’t drinking. They’re exercising their God-given right not to incriminate themselves as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution. But, there’s much more to the Fifth than good TV drama.
‘No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.?
Much like when General Motors was given the right-of-way to bulldoze Poletown, last week the court said New London, Conn. could proceed with a plan to replace a residential neighborhood with basically anything that could or would boost local economy. Not just a highway, but private money-making endeavors, too. Never mind the folks who actually live there.
In her dissenting opinion, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor struck at the heart of the issue.
‘Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms.?
Hmmm? Who voted for the influential fat-cats who wield political power? Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy.
Who voted with the down-trodden, average Americans? Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O’Connor and Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.
Where are those elected champions of Average Americans when it comes to this ruling? Where are the Ted Kennedys, Hillary Clintons and Debbie Stabenows now? Silent.
David Holcberg of the Ayn Rand Institute wrote (in part) of this ruling: ?? it should not matter that the government’s seizure of legally owned property might increase tax revenue or supposedly benefit the local economy. If a person does not want to sell his property, he should not be forced to do so.
?? As this case demonstrates, ‘public use? is a term so vague as to have given government virtually unlimited power in using eminent domain to take property away from its legitimate owners.
?? the ‘public? as such does not exist. Only individuals exist. Whenever governments act to promote the ‘public? good, or to advance a ‘public? purpose, or to satisfy a ‘public? need — beware. For what invariably happens in such cases is that some individuals are forced by the state to sacrifice for other individuals.
‘It is no coincidence that appeals to the ‘public? good have been used by dictatorships throughout history to justify tyranny over the individual. Thanks to the deplorable decision by five justices of the Supreme Court, America is a big step closer to tyranny and away from the freedom America’s founders intended to establish.?
Happy Independence Day.
And, so before I part, I leave you with words of wisdom as I learned from Bill Ardelan: ‘Buy a fifth on the third for the Fourth.?
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