Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I hate CSI: Miami

First of all, CSI: Miami, which has always been the least well-done of the franchise, has lately become a show that I watch mostly to make fun of. It hasn't quite sunk to the MST3K-levels of 24, but it's getting there. My private fantasy is that they will find a way to bring in William Shatner to play David Caruso's father in a cameo.

This week's episode dealt with eminent domain abuse, which is a worthwhile topic. Basically, the city government had condemned a whole street of houses, so that a developer could build a high-rise hotel there, all in accordance with the Supreme Court's recent lousy ruling in Kelo v. New London. At one point two of the CSI characters had this exchange of dialogue:
"It's hard to believe that this kind of thing can happen in this country."
"Well, capitalism opens a lot of doors."

NO! No, no, no! Armed (government) thugs forcing you off of your land at gunpoint is not "capitalism", goddamn it! If anything, it's closer to socialism than to capitalism.

Look, under true free-market capitalism, the developer would negotiate with each homeowner on that street to buy their land at a mutually-agreed-upon price. If "the city needs my hotel", as the developer asserts in the episode, then he will have no problem finding investors and backing to purchase the necessary land. The current owners will get what they feel is a fair price, they'll be able to buy a new home elsewhere (assuming that's what they want to do with the money), and the developer and investors in the hotel will make a profit (assuming they've judged the demand for hotel space correctly) - everyone wins. On the other hand, if the developer cannot find backing to purchase the land at its true value (i.e., what the owners are willing to sell for), then that is the market's way of telling you that it doesn't really need a high-rise hotel that badly.

Eminent domain takings involve the use of government force to obtain property for less than what it would cost in a free market. What makes eminent domain abuse a Bad Thing is not that it is an example of capitalism, but rather that it is violent government interference with capitalism.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

24 fucking rocks asshole