Individual rights at risk in revitalization

While states like California are busy violating the rights of parents and families by making home schooling illegal, let’s not create a rights violation of our own here in Sweet Home as we consider ways to improve our local economy and community.

We’re busy coming up with ideas to make our great little town even greater.

Along with that comes the inevitable “tear this down and bulldoze that” or “replace your siding and that fence over there,” along with other improvement ideas that will cost property owners money, potentially against their will, to “benefit” the community.

The city isn’t working on anything in particular like this to make life more difficult for local property and business owners, but plenty of folks want to see it.

Some blatantly just say it. They want improvements, and they want those improvements mandated and enforced by the city.

We best remember that some of our ideas and decisions as a public body, a city, if incorporated in the form of laws, will cost someone else hard-earned cash. Some of these ideas amount to nothing more than legalized theft.

We have no right, no matter what other communities do anywhere else in the United States. Other communities step over that line all the time. The U.S. Supreme Court memorialized one form of such theft to the dismay of the left and right alike in Kelo v. New London in 2005 when it said the city had a right to condemn a man’s home to make way for a shopping center.

As appalled as nearly everyone seemed to be by that decision, some of the same folks would have no problem condemning and bulldozing the property of others right here in Sweet Home, the same kind of theft, just at what might seem a lesser degree to some.

Right now, we’re supposed to be coming up with ideas on how to improve our town. As we do so, let’s think about our ideas and make sure we have a right to take some of the actions we suggest.

Rather than stealing the property of our neighbors through regulation or even outright takings, let us collaborate with each other, help each other and lift each other up in this process.

Let us celebrate the rugged individualism that permeates the very fabric of this community and find ways to make that work for us and achieve the same goals. Let us not regulate and price our businesses and even ourselves into the streets.

Let us recognize that Sweet Home is what it is, a place of beauty in one way or another to each and every one of us who chose to relocate here for whatever reason. It already is what we want it to be or we wouldn’t be here.

Let us be content with who and what we are, recognizing that we always have room to improve; but let us strive to make it better through rational, moral means rather than the threat of the brute force of law, which hangs ominously over our discussions about economic and community development right now. Let us rely on our own individual and voluntary group efforts.

Let us praise our neighbors for the hard work they have already done improving their storefronts, homes, public facilities and community.

Let us offer useful suggestions and even directly help our neighbors, but let us never require our neighbors to give to us in the name of “the common good” against their will or ability to do pay the price.