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April 29, 2007

Weekend reading 19

And some good news for a change.

First, some Eminent Domain blow-back here in St. Louis, as described in this article from the Post-Dispatch:

Eminent domain flashpoint
By William C. Lhotka and Tim O'Neil

CLAYTON — The condemnation of prime land in downtown Clayton for a $210 million redevelopment got a setback Tuesday and a fast-track ride to the Missouri Supreme Court for a review of the taking of private property for commercial use.

It was the first victory for three landowners who insist it was ridiculous to declare their upscale buildings blighted to make way for an office-retail project by the Centene Plaza Redevelopment Corp.

Calling any part of downtown Clayton "blighted" is so ridiculous it just beggars description. I was at the county courthouse in Clayton last week for jury duty and was struck by just how upscale downtown Clayton looks. Here's the kind of "blight" you'll find in Clayton (from city-data.com with my emphasis and parenthetical comment):

Median resident age: 36.7 years
Estimated median household income in 2005: $68,900 [national median in 2005: $46,326.]
Estimated median house/condo value in 2005: $601,400

Next, maybe we really do have a First Amendment? Here's a report from The Seattle Times about a unanimous decision by the Washington State Supreme Court.
Supreme Court says radio talk not a political donation

Posted by David Postman at 08:46 AM

The state Supreme Court said in an opinion released this morning that KVI talk show hosts did not need to report their advocacy for an anti-gas tax campaign as an in-kind political contribution. And the court has reinstated a countersuit filed by the No New Gas Tax (NNGT) campaign against local governments that initially sued.

Via Reason.com

Note that this suit was brought against the radio station by some local governments. (Your tax dollars at work, Washingtonians.) So I'm thrilled to see this spade called what it was: the government repressing speech that opposed a tax increase.

The US Supreme Court also heard a BCRA-related case this week. Maybe they'll put a stake through the heart of McCain-Feingold.

Finally, an interesting blog post at American.com called Flat World, Flat Taxes.

From Montenegro to Mauritius, competition is making tax codes simpler and fairer.

Fifteen years ago, advocates of the flat tax had lots of supporting theory, but very little firm data. Milton Friedman had championed the flat tax, and Alvin Rabushka and Robert Hall of the Hoover Institution authored an elegant book detailing how a flat tax would work, but the political establishment largely ignored these efforts. Hong Kong had a flat tax, but critics said it was somehow a special case. Two other British territories, Jersey and Guernsey, also had flat tax systems, but the outside world was (and largely still is) unaware of those systems.

The world has changed. Today, spurred by tax competition, there are now 16 jurisdictions that have some form of flat tax, and two more nations are about to join the club. With the exception of Iceland and Mauritius, all of the new flat tax nations are former Soviet Republics or former Soviet Bloc nations. This is a sign of tax competition in the region, and shows that people who suffered under communism are less susceptible to class-warfare rhetoric about “taxing the rich.”

Via the CFG blog.

I've read that even the Swiss are getting in on this act because their capital gains taxes are driving banking business to other locations in Europe (primarily London).

Posted by joke du jour at April 29, 2007 10:49 AM

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» Not a bit o' blight to be seen from within the crainium
From today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, here's a follow-up to an eariler post about an eminent domain battle in Clayton, a suburb of St. Louis. No blight in Clayton says court By William C. Lhotka, Margaret Gillerman and Tim O'Neil ST.... [Read More]

Tracked on June 13, 2007 05:54 PM


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