… is that the majority rules. But what’s the alternative? Letting a minority rule has a name, and that name is called tyranny.
Recently an oil landman approached me about running an oil pipeline across my land. This is a story being repeated all across the United States right now, where landmen are approaching people and requesting drilling rights, or fracking rights, or oil pipeline right-of-ways. It did not make me happy about where he was proposing to run the pipeline — right through a seasonal spring, which they got past environmental review because it’s dry in the summer — but a bit of investigation showed that it would be virtually impossible for me to stop him. Under state law, if I refused to sign over rights, I would be sued in a state court and the land simply expropriated under various federal and state laws. I would get a per-acre amount of money that represented sales of comparable properties in the area, which I ascertained was $5,000 per acre by looking at recent sales and listings.
And again this is a story being repeated across the United States. People are refusing to sell their property rights, then acting all shocked when the oil company simply expropriates the land for market value. Except that wasn’t me. Armed with knowledge about how much it would cost the landman and the oil company behind him to sue me in state court, I instead negotiated a price that was four times what the land was worth, with conditions on the right-of-way that basically allow me to continue to use the land for farming and ranching as long as I don’t build something over the pipeline or otherwise interfere with its operation.
So here’s the question: Should I, a lone person, be allowed to veto an oil pipeline that the majority of local landowners and indeed the vast majority of Americans want just because I don’t like the fact that it will cross through a seasonal spring? Remember, most Americans are drill, baby, drill. They want cheap oil, and they view my seasonal spring as just collateral damage. The average American would say that I got paid for the damage, remember, I got paid four times the price of the land, what’s my complaint?
Which is why I’m sort of baffled by all the lefty blogs and news sites that are shocked, shocked I say, that a single lone American can’t block a pipeline or can’t block drilling or fracking that the vast majority of Americans want to have happen. But in the end, we have a name for what happens when one person can tell the majority what’s going to happen. And that name isn’t “democracy”.
- Badtux the Contrarian Penguin