This Land Not Your Land? Author Don Corace on How the Government is Plotting to Take Away Your Property

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 21, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Our next guest's book exposes what may be every homeowner's worst fear, eminent domain. So could the government just take your house away? Our next guest says yes.

Joining us now, the author of the new book, "Government Pirates: The Assault on Private Property Rights and How We Can Fight It," Don Corace.

Don, welcome back to the show. It's been a while.

Watch Sean and Alan's interview


COLMES: Eminent domain is one of the areas where Sean and I happen to agree. And I thought the court was wrong on it.

CORACE: I wrote it just for that reason, just because you two guys agree.

COLMES: Yes. But it -- so tell me what you address here in terms of this particular issue. What do you want people to take away from this?

CORACE: Well, the book itself is about eminent domain, as you mentioned, but it also covers zoning, wetlands, and endangered species protection. And what happened in the Kelo decision which you televisied...

COLMES: That kind of set the whole thing going.

CORACE: Well, it did to a certain degree, but Kelo was really the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to regulatory takings, which is what they're referred to beyond eminent domain. But when you get into zoning, wetlands, and endangered species issues, the government actually extorts money and land from you in return for approvals.

COLMES: The idea, though, is -- and you address this in the book -- that if you're going to develop and you're going to bring in tax money and you're going to upgrade neighborhoods and do away with blight, can an argument be made that's good for the community, you're creating jobs in many cases? Why wouldn't that be a good thing?

CORACE: It can be argued. Unfortunately, a lot of the redevelopment projects -- and I can say the majority of them -- never pan out. There are all these rosy projections, financial projections of what's going to happen, but very rarely does it ever come up.

COLMES: We were talking about Rivera Beach. And Sean went down there. We did a number of shows on that. Why wouldn't that be good for development, good for business, good for the tax structure, good for the community, which has been a depressed community economically?

CORACE: Well, it would be good but you -- what about protecting private property. I mean, it's not good. Eminent domain originally -- originally became law to -- for public -- public use projects like dams, schools, that sort of thing.


CORACE: But when they started using it just to create tax revenues, that's just flat wrong.

HANNITY: Well, first of all, the book is phenomenal. I mean, when you have to say the government is pirates, when you look at eminent domain, zoning, wetlands, endangered species, you give example after example in this book how government really does not believe in personal property rights of individuals. Isn't that a big part of this?

CORACE: Exactly. And there's 12 simple words in the Constitution, the Fifth Amendment: "Nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation."

Now, that's been trumped by a lot of these new laws, particularly in zoning, wetlands, and endangered species. And what is the root of the problem? It's the judges, the federal judges. Some of the precedents that have been handed down are just atrocious.

HANNITY: So in other words, really, the American dream is under attack. They can take your property or they can diminish the value of your property, which you talk about, even after you've purchased it, by rezoning, by declaring it a wetlands, by -- and this happens all the time.

And it's one individual fighting the system, and they can hardly, you know -- if it wasn't for us going down to Rivera Beach, I bet you they would have lost down there.

CORACE: You guys do a great service for the American public. Number one, you exposed the issue. A lot of people really didn't know what eminent domain was. That was something that you did very well.

In addition to that, because of Rivera Beach, you were instrumental in actually having Florida amend the constitution to protect private property rights in the state. You did a great job.

HANNITY: Well, we did a lot on eminent domain, and you and I talked at length about this. If you think your government is that all-powerful, you want them to be that all-powerful, when you read this and the lives are destroyed, which is a big part of this.

Now, I have the distinct honor and pleasure, this Saturday night at Book Review in Huntington, Long Island, I get to introduce you. And you're going to give a speech, and you're going to sign copies of it. And it's just out there, but it's really -- it's frightening in terms of government can really be this out of control. That's the real bottom line.

CORACE: It really is. And of course we'll be doing some more segments on "Hannity & Colmes" and another segment on...

HANNITY: "Hannity's America" Sunday night.

CORACE: So we'll continue this through the week.

HANNITY: All right. And doing Government Abuse and Outrage Week on the radio show. We're going to talk about this.

All right. Thanks, Tom. Good to see you.

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