Friday, July 7, 2006
Over at CoOp, Eduardo Penalver has a great post on a proposed Washington State ballot initiative similar to Oregon's Measure 37. Eduardo and I disagree on a number of takings issues -- for example, I think that Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council was 100% correct, while he is more skeptical. We completely agree, however, that this type of initiative or legislation is really bad news. I'm very sympathetic to the property rights side on a lot of takings issues, but as I've observed before, property rights advocates have never made a convincing transition from criticism (often valid in my view) of regulations that result in a severe diminution in property value without compensation to making a convincing argument for a rule that requires compensation for any diminution in value.
If this measure passes, however, I wouldn't blame property rights advocates or out-of-state political operatives. I'd blame regulators on all levels who too often act as if screwing property owners will not have political consequences. (C.f., the Kelo backlash). Eduardo observes that these initiatives are "often portrayed as the result of broad grassroots outrage at over-regulation," going on to note the role of property-rights organizations in getting the initiatives on the ballot. While I'm well aware of the flaws in ballot initiative voting, property rights organizations don't vote. It seems to me very likely that Measure 37 passed overwhelmingly over concerted opposition because Oregon voters were pissed. At a certain point, arguments that voters just didn't understand what they were voting for just don't hold up anymore.
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