What’s the Difference Between Communist China and New London, Connecticut?
Displaced people are displaced people, whether we are talking about Beijing China or New London, CT. In both places we do not own our land.
The other night I was watching the Olympics from Beijing China. While I marveled at the accomplishments of the Chinese people and the Chinese government to build such an elaborate complex, I thought about the people that have been displaced to build it. Television shows have played stories of workers that have traveled hundreds of miles and been displaced from their families for years in order to build it. Moreover, people that have lived in the area of the complex have been displaced in order to make room for the complex.
But then I thought about my own community, New London Connecticut. Recently the city counsel in New London has offered a “fair market value” to many homeowners in order to buy their homes and use the property for economic development. The goal of the committee was to buy this property (oceanfront) and build a complex with stores and condos. Some of the homeowners refused, not wanting to sell their homes for the economic development of a crime ridden city.
This case went all the way to the US Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the city of New London! Read about it here.
The United States Supreme court ruled that government can take your land for economic development as long as the government ruled it as “distressed.”
Needless to say the city of New London was quick to classify the land as distressed and stated that they needed it for economic development. They offered the family fair market value (I wonder if this value was after it was classified as distressed?). I quickly started to develop plans to develop the property.
Many of the “big box” companies the city of New London was hoping to get into the space have publicly turned down the offer. Spokesmen for Target and Wal-Mart have stated that they do not want to enter into a community that has a bad feeling about people being evicted by government from their home. These companies do not want to be the “bad neighbor.”
The Supreme Court ruling was in June 2005, three years ago. So what is going on with beautiful piece of property now owned by the City of New London? Is there a beautiful strip mall with a Family Dollar Store? Perhaps there is a new Taco Bell? Perhaps there is a row of Condos with ocean views? Nope, there is just a vacant lot full of weeds and vacant homes for drug dealers to fill.
How much different are we than the Chinese government? Our government now has the legal right to take our land for their economic desires and the Chinese have the right to take their citizens. It’s not like the citizens of New London voted on taking this land; it was the vote of the counsel.