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State of property rights

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I am currently reading Timothy Sandefur's book: The cornerstone of liberty, property rights in 21st century America. First, let me say it's a wonderful book and I recommend it to everyone if they haven't read it.

My question is this. Mr. Sandefur talks about many instances where government violates property rights on a massive scale, and a lot of times it is more the local and state governments that are the worst violators of our rights. That left me wondering if anyone was aware of which states are generally very good at protecting our property rights. Does anyone know of a state where eminent domain is (almost) entirely absent and where bureaucrats aren't just allowed to grab someone's land? That would still leave a person vulnerable to those federal landgrabs, but at least it would make for a better place to buy a property.

Which states do you think are really good at protecting the property of their citizens (comparatively speaking anyway), and why do you think that's the case?

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I did a search and found a good article from The Heritage Foundation on this subject: States Vote to Strengthen Property Rights. Some definitely rank higher than others. Florida and Georgia rank very high - both passed constitutional amendments and legislation to further restrict the use of eminent domain. Florida passed a 10-year prohibition on the transfer of property for private use, and Georgia's amendment prohibits seizing small businesses and homes for economic development. New Hampshire ratified an amendment by a vote of 86% to 14% to prohibit eminent domain for private development or private use. However no state in the article is mentioned as challenging eminent domain when used for for "public benefit". That concept seems to remain sacrosanct everywhere.

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There is far more land in government ownership (especially in the west) and private land subjugated to government land use prohibitions than the property taken for statist economic development. Due to the unpopularity of eminent domain and the cost of paying for what they take, there has been increasingly sophisticated and suffocating use of state police powers to "regulate" land use without compensation as a means to take bureaucratic control of it. Federal "wetlands" restrictions make (both wet and dry) land all over the country unusable through Army Corp of Engineering regulations under the "Clean Water Act", which are also enforced and extended by state and local laws. There is currently a move in Congress, pushed by viro lobbyists, to expand this. At the local level, elitists who want to keep people out use "zoning" to restrict or prohibit land use, including in the name of "wetlands". This obnoxious trend varies from state to state and within states. It tends to be worse in upscale communities dominated by "liberals", so you find it much more in 'blue' states. Rural areas are especially targeted by viros using state government police powers for land use restrictions. The nicer and more scenic the area, the worse the controls are, and the less populated an area is, the more it is subjected to state powers imposed by viros. Eminent domain abuse of property owners is only one aspect of the broad assault on private property throughout the country.

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I am currently reading Timothy Sandefur's book: The cornerstone of liberty, property rights in 21st century America. First, let me say it's a wonderful book and I recommend it to everyone if they haven't read it.

Timothy Sandefur is an attorney at the Pacific Legal Foundation and has a very informative blog.

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I am currently reading Timothy Sandefur's book: The cornerstone of liberty, property rights in 21st century America. First, let me say it's a wonderful book and I recommend it to everyone if they haven't read it.

My question is this. Mr. Sandefur talks about many instances where government violates property rights on a massive scale, and a lot of times it is more the local and state governments that are the worst violators of our rights. That left me wondering if anyone was aware of which states are generally very good at protecting our property rights. Does anyone know of a state where eminent domain is (almost) entirely absent and where bureaucrats aren't just allowed to grab someone's land? That would still leave a person vulnerable to those federal landgrabs, but at least it would make for a better place to buy a property.

Which states do you think are really good at protecting the property of their citizens (comparatively speaking anyway), and why do you think that's the case?

Here's a map showing the Federal land grabs throughout the US.

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Here's a map showing the Federal land grabs throughout the US.

Remember that this map depicts only Federal ownership. It does not include state and local government, land trusts, or private land under government prohibitions on use (government controlled with the fascist fiction of a private deed and tax bill). In the worst case, Alaska, the less than 1% in private ownership would not be discernable on the map. Also, remember that the nature of the land grab for most of in the west was that the Federal government insisted on taking over unowned land as a condition of statehood, and never let most of it be claimed as private property (as a small part of it was under the Homestead Act and the Mining Act).

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