How Property Rights Are Under Assault--and Why You Should Care
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 A Washington attorney's penetrating brief against what he persuasively establishes is a broad-gauge campaign against the very notion of private property in America. With a full measure of horror stories recounting how (the Constitution notwithstanding) individuals have suffered uncompensated loss at the hands of environmental groups, imperious bureaucrats, and legislators responding to the appeals of special interests, DeLong first offers an occasionally lawyerly but consistently engrossing primer on property (including intellectual property), stressing that people have certain inalienable rights. He also addresses the tricky issue of political legitimacy and the guarantees afforded by the Bill of Rights, which stipulates that private property shall not be taken for public use ``without just compensation.'' He documents how expansive administrative and judicial interpretations of the Endangered Species Act and other federal laws have eroded these assurances in recent years; at the local and state levels, he shows, historic-preservation, land-use, and zoning statutes can prove equally confiscatory. Covered as well are the still evolving ground rules governing the rights of the American West's populace to indigenous minerals, pasturage, timber, and water, now threatened by the vocal preference of affluent urban backpackers for unspoiled wilderness. DeLong warns that unrequited expropriations in the name of imperiled fauna and flora threaten the very freedoms that underlie our political system. In his concluding chapter, he provides some uncommonly sensible suggestions on ways to stem the statist tide that, if unchecked, could swamp property rights. While DeLong covers some of the same ground as Congressman Richard Pembo in his estimable 1996 This Land Is Our Land, his text is appreciably more comprehensive, making it the better choice for those seeking detailed perspectives on property rights and their close relationship to personal liberties.

Pub Date: March 4th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-87437-7
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997


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