I haven’t done a movie review for a while so here goes.
“Little Pink House” is a 2017 film about Susette Kelo and her fight with the city of New London, Connecticut concerning Pfizer’s intention to build a factory on her land. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
The president of a local college was hired to push the idea of locating a drug company facility in New London as an economic development scheme. They declared a neighborhood to be blighted and used eminent domain to evict the homeowners.
Susette Kelo had left a failed marriage and bought a house, restored it all by herself, and painted it pink. The movie is captivating and moves along well. Sorta like the sports movies we escape with every so often, you know who to root for. Raise your hand if you are rooting for Pfizer.
The reason for this so-called review is to equate the issues raised in the movie with what is going on today. The idea of private property is being challenged.
Property is usually only referred to as real estate. But property is actually whatever we own. Our wages, our dog, our car, ourselves; it’s all solely our property. The concept of private property is basic to our luxurious lifestyle. We create a better mousetrap because we are rewarded by people who use it to keep their wiring safe. We fix up our house because we live there. We work our jobs because our wages, being private property, can be used by us to make a better life for our families, or even a preferred charity or friend. It’s our choice.
New London saw that a few little houses with a nice view had limited tax income, and cities always need more taxes. There’s also the matter of pride or image. From the governor on down, a big fancy drug company, hotel, condo, and retail “urban village” was basically something to show off.
The Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 in favor of the city and Pfizer. Those great champions of “the people,” Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, David Souter, and Steven Breyer voted for the big corporation. Justice O’Connor, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and Justices Scalia and Thomas voted for the homeowners. That’s pretty interesting. The conservative justices opposed the big corporation. How ’bout that?
The site of Susette Kelo’s house is still a vacant lot, as is the rest of the Fort Trumbull neighborhood. After the Supreme Court gave the homeowners the shaft, the city sent them bills for rent totaling tens of thousands of dollars. All that changed after the governor went to prison for unrelated issues. This intervention ended up costing the city and state $78 million. Pfizer never used the land, never hired the promised 3,169 employees, and the $1.2 million in tax revenues never materialized. When the tax breaks expired for their facility across the river, they moved away leaving 1,500 employees unemployed.
In her spiels trying to convince the homeowners to sell, the college president / promoter often says, “Social justice and economic development go hand in hand.”
The meanings of these words have evolved to benefit those in power, that is, organized groups who can take advantage of unorganized, yet productive individuals.
Social justice has become much greater than those two simple words. It no longer means a community of fairness. It now stands for the law engineering society for outcomes, while bypassing the process of natural selection according to our individual skills and passions.
Economic development ultimately has used theft facilitated by ignorance of people who are too busy being valuable to society to pay attention. Law originally came to be to intervene in situations like this.
Social justice and economic development have become sugar-coated thievery. They go hand in hand.