October 5, 2012
Actor Daryl Hannah and an elderly land owner were arrested in Texas on Thursday for criminally trespassing on land stolen under eminent domain.
From the Washington Post:
Hannah and landowner Eleanor Fairchild were standing in front of heavy equipment in an attempt to halt construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on Fairchild’s farm in Winnsboro, a town about 100 miles east of Dallas. They were arrested for criminal trespassing and taken to the Wood County Jail.
In August, a court in Paris, Texas, ruled that the Canadian energy company has the right to build a pipeline on private land despite widespread opposition by land owners. The transnational corporation is exploiting a loophole in Texas’ oil and gas regulation, according to the New York Times.
In Texas, if a company qualifies as a “common carrier” the state allows it to condemn land without the consent of land owners, a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment, which state “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
As the founders knew, property ownership is a natural and unalienable right. This is spelled out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In 1766, English jurist Sir William Blackstone wrote that there are three natural rights: the right to personal security, the right to personal liberty, and the right to private property. In America, circa 2012, we have mostly lost the sense of this and have allowed the state to steal our private property under “eminent domain” without much of a fuss.
As William Norman Grigg notes, the Fifth Amendment has unfortunately served as “one of several Hamiltonian-mercantilist Easter eggs covertly embedded in the Constitution…”
The familiar civics class platitude describes this provision as necessary for the construction of bridges, hospitals, and other amenities that are supposedly “public goods” only government can provide. The inescapable reality is that eminent domain is a particularly vulgar form of plunder used to enrich the political class and their corporate cronies at the expense of the rest of us.
Predictably, the state has characterized the theft of private property as job creation in order to get the commoners to accept the act of corporate rape as somehow beneficial. In April, as partisan politics played out as usual, House Speaker John Boehner lambasted Obama for his opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline.
“He should listen to the voices of the American people and unlock the project so we can get Americans working and address high gas prices,” said Boehner.
This, of course, does not include the voices of the Tar Sands Blockade carried out by a coalition of Texas and Oklahoma landowners and environmental activists opposed to TransCanada’s use of eminent domain to steal private property for the pipeline.