Those pesky private property rights

posted at 5:08 am on May 2, 2007 by see-dubya

You don’t have to be a property-rights absolutist to twitch a whisker at this story, or even at the condescension right there in the title: “Property Rights Impede Race To Save Louisiana Coast” .

Publicly financed projects to prevent southeast Louisiana from being swallowed by the Gulf often are slowed to a crawl and in some cases stopped in deference to the property rights of the very landowners the projects are designed to protect, state officials said. And if Louisiana ends up losing its battle against the Gulf — forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents — respect for the property rights of a few could well be a major contributing factor.

How selfish! How dare these few highfalutin robber-barons hijack a great public works project, planned out so carefully by their betters in the state government! Ungrateful wretches! Why wouldn’t they instantly submit to the dictates of Louisiana’s magnificent technocracy?

The issue of the state “taking” private property to rebuild the coast exploded onto the public’s radar in 2002 when judges in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes awarded local oyster fishers more than $1 billion in damages the harvesters claimed had been caused by the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project — originally built to improve oyster grounds and strengthen wetlands against erosion.

Oh, fine, so a past project was disastrously counterproductive and ended up destroying the industry the state was trying to save. That could never happen now, under the scary-competent leadership of Governor Blanco. And what’s more, LA’s working with the infallible EPA in on this one. Surely these stiffnecks will be overawed by the imperatives of Progress, and prostrate themselves in its awesome presence!

“I have gone to meet with a willing landowner, but when he saw the federal partner on the project was the Environmental Protection Agency, everything changed,” she said. “He escorted me to the door and told me never to let my shadow darken their property again.”

Sigh. It’s like these bayou folk think these land rights actually mean something, and are not a mere formality to be overruled instantly at the sovereign’s whim! Wherever would they get such a retrograde idea?

____
EXIT QUESTION: Can you imagine the Times-Picayune running a piece complaining about how, instead of property rights, the free press rights of a few loudmouths was holding up the important work of the state? Of course not, that would be outrageous. Fascist, even!


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RE the exit question, yes, they’d brand it “hate radio” or something in that fashion, then recite that tired Oliver Wendell Holmes quote, then insist that that your speech violates the Establishment Cluase because those natural rights you keep insisting you have sounds terribly religious.

Liberty causes cancer, or something.

Typewriter King on May 2, 2007 at 5:42 AM

My family is one of those ‘Bayou Folk’ that still believe in property rights…the guy from the EPA is lucky, my Grandfather would have taken his ‘side by side shoot gun’ and blown his ass all over the Teche.

DoctorDentons on May 2, 2007 at 6:14 AM

Heh, nice post CW. Looks like someone’s been reading Ayn Rand.

Freelancer on May 2, 2007 at 6:35 AM

From the link:

“It’s always about land rights, land rights, land rights,” said Luke LeBas, a coastal engineer at the state Department of Natural Resources, when talking about the years-long process of getting even small projects online. “I listen to the scientists and others talk about what needs to be done and how quickly we can do it, but they don’t live in the real world that I work in.”

Ah, those pesky “land rights.” If only we could do away with those, just think about what the state Department of Natural Resources could accomplish! Maybe it’s about time we dust off Chairman Mao and Uncle Joe Stalin’s ideas on land reform. You know, for the good of The People.

Sean M. on May 2, 2007 at 6:44 AM

To be sure, the drug addicted leftists in this country do not want private property rights to continue in this country. Should we loose this inherent right, we loose everything. When you elect a Democrat as your governor, you automatically become the People’s Republic of…….
(fill in the state).

lynnv on May 2, 2007 at 7:49 AM

Heh, grew up in Avoyelles Parish. They don’t mention another “public works” project that is pretty much the single cause of coast erosion and that is the lock structures at the junction of the Red River, Mississippi River and Atchafalaya River. Essentially, the structure keeps the Mississippi River in it’s current path. If they let nature take its course it would change path and flow down the Atchafalaya since that is a shorter path to the Gulf (and for as much as you can get in La it’s ‘more downhill’ as well).

They periodotic changing from the Mississippi Delta flow path to the Atchafalaya Basin every few hundred years and the subsequent depositing of silt is what built up the coastline. When an area would fill up with silt the river would change and build another area–until it built up while the other area eroded.

In 1972 one entire wall of the lock and dam structure collapsed. For about an hour the Mississippi River actually changed course until they hauled tons of debris to repack it. You can still see that today. Their biggest fear is that if the Mississippi did change course the capital of Baton Rouge would pretty much dry up as a key port as well as New Orleans–though New Orleans could conceivably change to a salt water port as the Gulf would backflow in.

Nothing about Louisiana politics surprises me anymore. It is the epitomy of what happens when cronyism, big government and socialism will do to a State.

It’s why I moved to Virginia.

Faith1 on May 2, 2007 at 7:49 AM

Pretty apparent some posters didn’t bother to read the story that relates most of the property owners accept help and realize they can’t afford to repair the impending losses on their own.

But when they do lose the property due to insisting on their rights and want compensation because they have lost everything I’m sure the same posters will be pretty merciless about self sufficiency and refusal to pay taxes.

Even in basic training we learned the acronym RTFM — In this case RTFA.

Bradky on May 2, 2007 at 7:57 AM

The issue of the state “taking’’ private property to rebuild the coast exploded onto the public’s radar in 2002 when judges in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes awarded local oyster fishers more than $1 billion in damages the harvesters claimed had been caused by the Caernarvon Freshwater Diversion Project — originally built to improve oyster grounds and strengthen wetlands against erosion.

Translation: “We had to burn the village to save it.”

rbb on May 2, 2007 at 8:18 AM

This article bored me to tears and I got about 5 paragraphs through before giving up.

I can’t say I’m reading this right, but it seems to me that if these land owners do not allow the repairs to be done, pretty soon it will be their property eroding into the gulf. I wonder how they’ll act then? Matbe it’s the land owners whose land is miles from the gulf and they want everyone else’s land eroded away until theirs is right on the gulf and THEN they’ll allow the errosion control projects to traverse their land. Like I said, I could be mistaken, but ANY article dealing with LA and stupid people who buy property in an erosion area just bores me to tears because I have no sympathy for their stupid choices.

And the complaining about the land rights sounds like a bureaucrat trying to make sure his “job” is secure.

csdeven on May 2, 2007 at 8:19 AM

“. . . but ANY article dealing with LA and stupid people who buy property in an erosion area. . . “

Above quoted from csdeven’s comment. #1. Much of this property has been in families for generations, way before there was any problem with erosion, which brings us to point #2 – Erosion was not a problem until the Army Corps of Engineers (the government) started fiddling around with things.

woodie4827 on May 2, 2007 at 8:42 AM

Above quoted from csdeven’s comment. #1. Much of this property has been in families for generations, way before there was any problem with erosion, which brings us to point #2 – Erosion was not a problem until the Army Corps of Engineers (the government) started fiddling around with things.
woodie4827 on May 2, 2007 at 8:42 AM

True, but WHY did the ACofE get involved? To protect the economy and the stupid people who bought land (or settled it, take your pick) on the gulf.

No problem with erosion? The entire Mississippi delta has been eroding and rebuilding for as long as it’s been flowing.

csdeven on May 2, 2007 at 9:26 AM

Hmm, posted a longish reply to this thread. It never showed up here and when I tried to repost it it said I had already posted. Black Hole somewhere?

Faith1 on May 2, 2007 at 9:59 AM

Well, the gist of my other post was that the erosion problem (from the point of view of this once long time Avolyelles Parish resident) was the Corps of Engineer project at Three Rivers that basically keeps the Mississippi flowing in its current channel rather than through the Atchafalaya Basin as it natuarlly wants to do (and nearly did in 1972 when one wall of the lock and dam structure collapsed). Not allowing the Mississippi to change its course has robbed the delta’s natural rebuilding that it periodically did because by-gods Baton Rouge must be kept a viable port whether or not the rest of the state goes to hell or not.

Of Course, if they wait long enough Baton Rouge will be a coastal city so…..

Faith1 on May 2, 2007 at 10:03 AM

No problem with erosion? The entire Mississippi delta has been eroding and rebuilding for as long as it’s been flowing.

And keep in mind farmers in the Mississippi basin have been drastically reducing the amount of topsoil etc. that gets washed down the river for the last few decades. Plus, due to environmental concerns, most (all?) states along the Mississippi have programs in place to minimize the amount of sediment being washed downriver -got to keep the water clean.

I’m curious about what the ACoE did that is seen to be promoting the erosion of the LA coastline.

taznar on May 2, 2007 at 10:21 AM

I’m curious about what the ACoE did that is seen to be promoting the erosion of the LA coastline.

taznar on May 2, 2007 at 10:21 AM

Here’s the answer.

Before the dams and channeling were incorporated into the Mississippi-Missouri River system, sediments would cause the delta to grow at a faster rate than the subsidence could cause it to disappear.

They were protecting the economy that sustained the fools that bought property on the coastline. They need to leave it alone and let the chips fall where they may. Hopefully chocolate town will be covered over with silt and we can be done with subsidizing their stupidity.

csdeven on May 2, 2007 at 1:03 PM

woodie4827 on May 2, 2007 at 8:42 AM

Agreed. I am from Chalmette originally. The whole area has/had an incredibly complex and diverse swamp-based wetlands ecosystem that “breathes” with flooding and silting year on year.

For the most part, people who lived in the area prior to 1927 knew where to live, and the ones who did not suffered the consequences. The marshes were teeming with wildlife, and served as a “sponge” to absorb storm surges from hurricanes.

Then in 1927, the USACoE built the Bonnet Carre Spillway, and built up the Mississippi River levee system to the height and breadth it is today. Without silt, the marshes began to die.

Oil exploration in the swamps brought navigation canals that sped up salt water intrusion into freshwater areas, speeding up erosion as the marshes slowly began dying.

But the single worst disaster the ACoE did to the area was the dredging of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, which acted like a straw to suck salt water up at a frightening rate, killing swamp Cypress trees and causing wildlife to leave. What was originally a 500ft wide channel in 1968 had become over half a mile wide in 20 years. One only need drive to the “end of the road” in Shell Beach to see how much things have changed.

Is it any wonder that locals have a tiny bit of distrust for ACoE and its projects?

Wanderlust on May 2, 2007 at 2:38 PM