by Timothy Sandefur
Peter Schrag has a column in the Sacramento Bee complaining that Prop. 90, the Protect Our Homes Initiative, has a "booby trap": namely, that it would require government to compensate property owners when it enacts laws that forbid a person from using his or her property as they wish. It's strange that Schrag would refer to this as a "Trojan horse," since Prop. 90's backers have never tried to hide the fact that the initiative does this; they've been very open about it. When government takes away our land—either directly, through eminent domain, or indirectly, through regulations that forbid you from building on your land or selling it or dividing it—then the government owes you just compensation. Schrag's claims that the law would benefit "lawyers, slumlords, speculators and polluters" is equally mindless. The initiative specifically allows government to continue banning pollution, and it allows government to condemn slums. It would benefit lawyers who defend property owners, perhaps—property owners that Schrag refers to as "speculators," as if speculation is a bad thing (which it isn't). Schrag's article is typical of the knee-jerk anti-property rights mentality that is all too common in Sacramento.