Tuesday, May 9, 2006
Environmentalism and traditionally liberal land use policies remain at odds in some policy arenas. For an example from the popular culture, Sunday's penultimate “West Wing” television episode had the outgoing chief of staff for the liberal president being asked by an eccentric billionaire for one way to use his gold to save the world. “Highways,” the liberal character quickly responded, explaining that aid for many of the poor in the Third World can’t reach its destination quickly enough because of bad roads. Imagine the horror in the family rooms of environmentalism (which heard applause years ago when another "West Wing" character responded to a similar question with "Save the Everglades"), at the thought of the African savanna and rainforest mowed down for asphalt, with loggers, ranchers, miners, and hunters following swiftly behind!
Meanwhile, in the same episode, another flawed heroic character tells our chief of staff that he’s “found a typo in the Constitution” –- the National Archives can’t tell him whether it’s a comma or a smudge in the original –- that could “change the meaning of the takings clause.” He then relates that he’s put in “a call to Tom Merrill.”
Hmmm, let’s see … “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” Take out the comma and it’s “nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” Sounds the same to me. How about “nor shall private property be taken, for public use, without just compensation.” Well, this might just be construed to mean that New London didn’t even have to pay Susette Kelo a cent! I knew those writers were still liberals after all …