January 7, 2015

RIP Martin Anderson

By RIP Martin Anderson

Martin Anderson, who served as an advisor to the Reagan Administration and as a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, died this week at the age of 78. Although many obituaries note his White House work and his later scholarship on President Reagan’s life, it’s worth remembering that Anderson was also one of the first scholars to ring the alarm about government abuse of eminent domain. His 1964 book, The Federal Bulldozer, criticized the federal Urban Renewal program which was demolishing cities and displacing thousands of property owners, particularly members of racial minorities who lacked the political influence to defend themselves against condemnations. (Hence the bitter replacement of the term “Urban Renewal” with “Negro Removal” in some circles at the time.) Anderson backed his argument with powerful statistical and economic analysis, showing that the program was riddled with political favoritism, and that Urban Renewal often destroyed as many businesses and jobs as it was said to create. Although half a century later, such projects still go on, Anderson’s early contribution set the stage for a powerful movement against eminent domain abuse that continues to this day.

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