- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 25, 2005

Kelo eminent domain ruling a travesty

Your editorial “A win for big government” (Friday) correctly predicts the consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision on eminent domain but fails to discuss the broader evil.

Security of property has long been recognized as the sine qua non of a free and thriving society. The right to secure property, protected in our Constitution, has been greatly eroded over the years by restrictions, often imposed for environmental causes. The Supreme Court decision does not further erode but shatters this right.

In simple terms, there is capitalism and there is socialism, and this decision pushes us farther down the path to the latter. Balint Vazsonyi, in his book “America’s Thirty Year War,” discussed this in chilling detail. Property and liberty, as he stated, are inseparable, and everything may be seen as a person’s property — even life itself. Invariably, those societies that indulged in the large-scale “legal” taking of lives started by taking property through government action.

If this sounds alarmist, I point out that government has control of our schools, government may eventually have total control of our health care, and now government has control of our property. We can exist this way, but not as the society that has produced such innovation and abundance.

It is time for citizens to rouse from complacency and ensure that we the people, not the government, continue to own this country.

ANNE ALLEN

Washington

Never did I think the day would come where a government could seize personal property and redistribute this wealth to other private entities. But this has happened. If it is in the interest of greater benefit to a community, would it be reasonable that the government could seize the property owned by George Soros in order to erect a church that likely would be better for the community?

DAVID SCHLOSSER

Arlington

Personal accounts and home ownership

I read with great pleasure Lawrence Kudlow’s column “Housing bears wrong again” (Commentary, Tuesday), about the need for tax incentives for market investors similar to those given to homeowners. I was surprised, though, that Mr. Kudlow failed to make an obvious jump. The best first step Congress can provide to encourage stock-market investment is Social Security reform.

More Americans than ever are discovering the benefits of homeownership. Tax-free personal Social Security accounts would provide even more tax incentives than homeownership does. Social Security reform would allow more Americans to discover the benefits of stock-market investment as a means to create wealth by allowing them to own their accounts.

Moreover, a failure to create personal accounts would result ultimately in an even greater tax disparity between homeownership and stock-market investment. Economists, in a report recently compiled by the Cato Institute, warned that “only a system based on savings and investment can provide a safe and secure retirement without burying future generations under a mountain of new taxes.”

The only way to ensure the realization of Mr. Kudlow’s dream of full investment in homeownership and stocks is to introduce personal accounts for Social Security.

MIKE SCHRIMPF

Cincinnati

Bob Barr on the Patriot Act

My good friend and former colleague Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, says my work to protect the Constitution by reforming the USA Patriot Act “borders on paranoia” (“In support of the Patriot Act,” Letters, June 17).

Applying modest safeguards to this controversial law, thus restoring checks and balances to government power, is far from paranoid. It is a sound effort backed by millions of Americans from across the political spectrum, including Sen. Larry E. Craig, Idaho Republican, a conservative colleague of Mr. Roberts’ and hardly a paranoid liberal.

There is nothing “hypothetical” about Patriot Act abuse. The Justice Department has touted using this law in criminal investigations, such as drug cases, which is a blatant abuse of the law’s stated purpose of protecting citizens from terrorism.

Also, how quickly Patriot Act supporters have forgotten about Brandon Mayfield, the Portland, Ore., lawyer whose home and business were searched secretly and whose DNA was seized under the Patriot Act. Mr. Mayfield also was detained as a suspect in the Madrid bombings, all because of faulty fingerprint analysis by the FBI. (He has since been exonerated.)

To date, the Justice Department has received 7,000 complaints of abuse of the Patriot Act but admittedly has failed to provide accurate information about the nature of these complaints to the public and — perhaps not surprisingly — has not agreed that there have been any misuses, though the Mayfield abuse claim is still unresolved.

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s secret markup of legislation that would expand the FBI’s power to write its own administrative subpoenas, allowing agents to obtain individuals’ personal records without prior judicial approval, is especially problematic.

Though Mr. Roberts claims that administrative subpoenas can be refused and that anyone can take the FBI to court over them, he fails to mention that individual citizens — most likely law-abiding citizens — will not even know that the FBI is looking into their records because subpoenas go through third parties and not the citizens themselves.

The senator also neglects to note that FBI agents need not produce any evidence that the subpoenaed records are even connected to terrorism or a foreign agent, seriously undermining his argument that administrative subpoenas are a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism. Even the FBI’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, testified to the Intelligence Committee that the lack of administrative subpoena power has never impeded a terrorism investigation.

Some parts of the Patriot Act are needed to help defend our country from terrorism, and the Constitution is needed to defend our civil liberties: Surely we can strike a balance without going to the extremes proposed by Mr. Roberts and many of his colleagues on the Intelligence Committee.

Although I am not paranoid, holding debates and votes on public laws in secret and granting federal agents unchecked powers to search through our records would be enough to make all of us paranoid, and with good reason. Vigilance in protecting our liberty isn’t wrong — it’s reasonable.

BOBBARR

Former U.S. representative

Chairman

Patriots to Restore Checks

and Balances

Washington

Rove and the September 11 liberals

Karl Rove says liberals “wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers” (“Rove’s mockery of 9/11 liberals riles Democrats,” Page 1, Friday) .

This is quite true. Look where we were with the USS Cole and the Khobar Towers bombings. We were not looking for root causes. We were trying to treat these as isolated incidents. The same came be said of the World Trade Center bombing.

As far as sympathy and understanding, how often have we heard from the liberals that criminals had a horrible childhood or some other leap of logic?

Finally, listen to Air America radio programming. It’s even funnier than Comedy Central with its shtick of President Bush taking us into an illegal war, Saddam Hussein never having had weapons of mass destruction and the idea that our attack is making them angry at us.

I think Mr. Rove hit it right on the head. Apologize? No. Thanks, Karl, for calling a spade a spade.

RUSSELL K. SMITH

Dublin, Ohio


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