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Epstein on Kelo:

In case you missed it, Richard Epstein comments on Kelo (not to ruin the suspense or anything, but he doesn't like it).

Bill Daly (mail):
Could someone explain the difference between Pfizer offering to pay New London higher taxes, and Pfizer offering to pay New London a bribe? I mean, I know it's either an emanation or a penumbra, but I can't figure out which. The power to tax is quite literally the power to destroy, in this case at least.
7.4.2005 1:21pm
John Jenkins (mail):
New London recruited Pfizer to come to their town much the same wat as other towns have done with other companies. Pfizer isn't "offering to pay higher taxes." Pfizer's ad valorem taxes ought to be the same as the homeowner's taxes, but Pfizer will also pay taxes on its profits at a rate higher than any local income tax might be.

All of the onus here is on the town, not on Pfizer. Pfizer's managers just want the best deal they can get (which is their fiduciary duty). Anytime any company comes to a town and asks the town to use eminent domain, the town government should be principled enough to say no (leaving aside the very real holdout problem) and force the company to go to the open market. That didn't happen here (or anywhere, let's be realistic), but the fault is the town government's and ultimately the town's citizenry. Let's see what happens in the next election cycle to see whether anyone really cares about this.
7.4.2005 2:53pm
Sha_kri14 (mail):
Its the same thing. You know those local officials are going to give themseleves raises with all that new tax revenue. And they will get great deals on construction projects for their personal property (i.e. home pools, state of the art fences installed, etc). People that support Kelo are just blind or don't care, and people like that holding office is the true crime.
7.4.2005 2:57pm
Bill (mail):
These three commenters seem to think that New London (or its morally depraved officials), not Pfizer, was (were) the party(s) in a position to "drive a hard bargain". According to JJ, Pfizer SHOULD drive a hard bargain if it can because that's its fiduciary duty.

My own opinion is that city governments should spend more efficiently and that companies (and their officials) should try harder to serve the public interest. We commentators should be concerned with whether all parties are. And I think the commentators here display just such concern (sometimes in spite of themselves).

Superior bargaining position is one of many things that can make private actors in a free market operate against the public interest. It's good that so much of the discussion of Kelo has focused on the question of what party has superior bargaining position. But notice taht there is much disagreement. Michael Kinsley (whose Washington Times editorial discussed Epstein on takings) thought that Pfizer did.
7.6.2005 4:44pm