Monday, August 14, 2006

Great example of anti-growth attitude

Today's lead editorial in the Oregonian gives us a primo example of an attitude common among a good deal of Oregon's socio-cultural "leaders:" an almost hysterical opposition to wealth creation and economic productivity.

The Oregonian editors think they found the poster child they were seeking that would get us to agree with them that Measure 37 would have all sorts of bad consequences. Their example: a guy who owns 157 acres near Bend, inside of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. He wants to mine some of the pumice on his acreage, build 100 homes and a geothermal power plant. His claim is for $203 million, or just let him develop the land.

The editorial's tone presumes that readers will think this is an outrageous consequence of Measure 37, apparently because his land lies within this national monument, or because of the size of the claim. But I read it and thought: "Wow, $200 million in wealth created because of Measure 37!"

The Oregonian says Measure 37 is a "terrible law" that is simply "triggering a high-stakes development bonanza."

In the Oregonians' universe, a development bonanza is a bad thing. People who want to use natural resources to create wealth are to be viewed with suspicion, as if they are doing something immoral.

The editorial even explains that the landowner's purchase predated when the area was identified as a "monument," and that this fact is what allows him to argue that his rights to develop the property should trump the environmental restrictions that were placed on it.

Well, duh! This is precisely what Measure 37 was intended to do! Apparently the Oregonian thinks it is A-OK for the public to just screw a landowner if it wants to protect "the public's interest in preserving the uniqueness" of his property. Sorry, buddy, your 157 acres are now worthless to you because we really really like looking at your property, and if you develop it, we won't get to enjoy it as much.

The Oregonian frets that "Measure 37 has strengthened his hand, multiplied his price, intensified pressure on the county -- and made it less likely that the public's interest will be served."

"The public's interest." When liberals say these words, you know somebody is gunna get screwed. The issue here is the age old divide in world view that is at core the difference between liberals and conservatives: individual rights vs. collective rights.

For liberals, the collective always trumps the individual. If the collective (the public interest) wants your property, it gets to take it. The assumption is that this "public interest" is some kind of organic, knowable element. In truth, it is simply an expression of political power by whoever currently prevails in the current day political institutions.

For the Oregonian, in this case, the "public interest" is that the Newberry Volcanic Monument be untouched. If that means this landowner is in effect forced to donate his land for this purpose, so be it. It doesn't strike them as unfair that individuals have to pay for something that supposedly benefits the "public."

In fact, it strikes them as horribly unfair that the public should be required to pay for things that are in the "public interest," which is what Measure 37 does. In their world view, this "pays people to obey the community's rules."

In other words, there should be no restraint on the "rules" the "public" (read: the land use planners inside any municipality) can apply to your property. Whatever rules they layer on, you just have to obey. If the rule requires a 200 foot setback from a ditch that means you can't build on your property, tough luck. If the rule is an environmental overlay that prevents you from adding on to your house, tough luck.

The "public" should not be forced to pay for the private cost of the rules. That is unfair to the public.

In the collectivist mind, individuals have no property rights.

Ask a liberal this question: What is more important - property rights or free speech rights?

I guarantee you he will answer "free speech." Interesting.


Troutdale Councilor Canfield said...


Mick Ring said...

If Measure 37 supporters truly want fairness, shouldn't landowners who see an INCREASE in their property value because of government action have to pay that amount to the state?

PanchoPdx said...


Property owners whose value increase already pay for the increased value, its called property taxes.

Rob Kremer said...

Government does not create wealth, Mick. At best it redistributes it.

For instance, you would probably argue that expanding the urban growth boundary is an "action" by government that would increase certain land values, and therefore those lucky winners should pay the windfall to the government.

But expanding the boundary does not create any wealth. It simply directs where wealth creating opportunities will be and where they won't be.

Yes, the lucky owners inside the boundary benefit while to poor suckers on the other side of the line remain screwed ... but that is hardly an argument that the government should have a claim on the increased values.

People who share the collectivist mindset do not understand wealth creation, because they reject the foundation of wealth creation - property rights.

MMW said...

Only a socialist could think like Mick. Your hard earned money is only yours IF the government allows you to keep it.

Mick, what you fail to realize is the government DOESN'T increase your property values.

The "action" you're thinking about is simply the government removing restrictions IT earlier placed on the property in the first place.

FOR EXAMPLE: If your propoerty comes into the UGB it suddenly is worth more...but it would have been worth that much on its own if the govt. hadn't created the UGB line in the first place.

Govt. action doesn't increase property sometimes "restores" property value.

MAX Redline said...

Well, I think you covered the issue pretty well.

One of the huge problems in Oregon is that they rely upon "planners". The "planners" command huge salaries, compared to that of the average Oregonian, and METRO and other government agencies just love them to death. They can't hire enough of them.

The conventional "wisdom" of the "planners" is that we should force people into increasingly higher-density constructs, which should thereby force people to take mass transit.

Of course, it doesn't work that way.

People drive. Not only because they can't load a room full of furniture onto a MAX train, but simply because Americans value freedom.

And "planners", with all of their social engineering schemes, have never been able to overcome that basic, fundamental, American drive.

Dare!PDX said...

Better late than never on the comment.

Little known (and never mentioned by journalists that knnow it) fact - M37 leaves Federal regulations off the table for compensation. The "National Park" status isn't effected by M37 (so his land must not be too close or it would be controled under federal restrictions on development.

Second - environmental laws are off the table as well. If his pumice mine is going to effect the National Park the state can regulate his operation.

But thats just it. The paper never covers that building codes, environmental regulations, and a host of impact fees exist. They just gloss over it.

As for the $200,000,000 of property value increas. Yeah, thats $3,000,000 in new annual property taxes bare minimum. Not to mention the income tax revenue off of the construction and ongoing increasing property values. Thats never mentioned. How much wilderness can be protected, how much education provided, and most of all how much transportation created (to make agriculture a profitable enterprise) with that money?

Funny how M37 is so one sided.

Ray Hyde said...


Oregon has nothing on Fauquier Virginia though. Here the deal is that 85% of whatever property you had in 1986 must be left untouched. In oder to develop any of the reamining fifteen perccent, you must first grant a conservation easement in perpetuitiy on the 85% you dessignate as not developable.

In other words, in order to use your development rights under the existing law, you must first abrogate any development rights that any future government may grant.

By this means the current government has effectively passed alaw that future governments cannot undo. This is because once the conservation easement is granted, the government gives it away to a nongovernment entity.

How's them apples.

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