Public Good

Mr. Frankish's letters are fascinating pieces of correspondence and most times read like telegrams. They reveal as much about the subject matter as they do about the author and the recipient. Today I was reading a letter he wrote to Mr. MacNeil with regard to an issue involving pipe lines. He wrote,


"Jeff Eads still refuses to allow us to put in pipe line on his land.....If it is only a question of paying this fool's expense to L.A. & back why we can pay it but where am I to find him to do so. As a matter of fact I don't think he has any title on it. Cannot we go ahead in spite of him? Let me know by return mail what you think had best be done in the matter."


This made me think of eminent domain. I didn't understand much about the legalities of eminent domain so I decided to dig further. On the Owner's Counsel Website, I learned that the government's power of eminent domain extends to government agencies but also some private companies or individuals may also be granted the power to condemn private property to complete certain projects intended to benefit the public (these include oil and gas companies, railroads or other privately-owned utility companies). Eminent domain allows a government to take property without the consent of the owner but the government has to provide just compensation for eminent-domain takings. I guess the question is whether money can account for the emotional and cultural costs of eminent domain. I can see why the issue is controversial.