Thursday, March 29, 2012 8:13 am | By Kelsey Zahourek
The Property Rights Alliance is pleased to herald the publication of the 2012 International Property Rights Index (IPRI), the world’s most comprehensive measure of intellectual and physical property rights among nations. Sixty-nine international organizations partnered with the Washington, DC-based Property Rights Alliance and its Hernando de Soto Fellowship program to produce the sixth annual IPRI.
The IPRI utilizes three primary metrics to create a composite score: Legal and Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR), and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Most importantly, the IPRI stresses the great economic disparities among countries with strong property rights and those without. Nations comprising the first quintile enjoy an average GDP per capita of $39,099; more than double the $18,631 average per capita income of the second quintile. The third, fourth, and fifth quintiles average $10,394, $4,655, and $5,149, respectively.
Over the last year, the United States’ IPRI remained in 18th place, replicating its all-time low score of 7.5 out of a possible 10.0. According to the index, a 0.1-point decline in Intellectual Property Rights offset an identical increase in Protection of Physical Property Rights. The Legal and Political Environment score was stagnant at 7.1
“As the global economic recovery continues at a numbingly slow pace, all nations should be seeking to provide economic stability. Strong property rights is an essential component,” stated PRA executive director Kelsey Zahourek, “While the United States still enjoys fairly strong property rights, its recent deterioration in the rankings is quite concerning. From post-Kelo eminent domain abuses across the nation to serial harassment by an overzealous Environmental Protection Agency, actions that weaken property rights pose a serious threat to economic growth and prosperity at home and abroad.”
The International Property Rights Index will provide the public, researchers and policymakers, from across the globe, with a tool for comparative analysis and future research on global property rights. The Index seeks to assist underperforming countries to develop robust economies through an emphasis on sound property law.
To view the report visit www.internationalpropertyrightsindex.org
Kelo Needs Congressional Correction
Wednesday, February 22, 2012 4:46 pm | By Paul Petrick
Last month, the House Judiciary Committee passed the Private Property Rights Protection Act of 2011, H.R. 1433. This bill would suspend federal economic development funds for two years to any state or municipality that expropriates private property via eminent domain for a private purpose. H.R. 1433 enjoys the bipartisan support of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) as well as more than two dozen other co-sponsors.
If enacted, this legislation would strike at the heart of the 2005 Supreme Court decision Kelo v. City of New London. This ruling allowed government entities to expropriate private property at the behest of another private interest for the sole purpose of increasing their jurisdiction’s tax base. H.R. 1433 will allow private citizens to legally defend their private property from confiscatory state and local governments.
Since 2005, more than forty states have independently passed legislation to limit their power of eminent domain and the Supreme Courts of Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio have barred the practice under their state constitutions. This bill provides all American citizens with the means to protect their private property from an increasingly broad definition of “public use.”
H.R. 1433 is currently awaiting a vote before the full House. Congressional action to correct the abusive use of eminent domain is a necessity at a time when government continues to permit these egregious takings. Although many states have already acted, Congress must play a pivotal role in reforming the use and abuse of eminent domain. Economists such as Hernando De Soto have confirmed that strong property rights protections are the prologue to prosperity. As Americans continue to suffer from a stagnant economy, policy makers should not pass up an opportunity to augment output.
The Old Dominion Strikes New London
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 3:28 pm | By Paul Petrick
On February 13, a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at eminent domain abuse sailed through both houses of the Virginia General Assembly. This legislative action qualifies the amendment for a plebiscite vote in November. The amendment would stipulate that compensation resulting from eminent domain seizures include lost profits and access in addition to the value of the underlying real estate. This change has the support of Virginia property rights advocates including Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
If enacted, this constitutional amendment would strike at the heart of the 2005 Supreme Court decision Kelo v. City of New London. This ruling allowed government entities to expropriate private property at the behest of another private interest for the sole purpose of increasing their jurisdiction’s tax base. Politicians often further their electoral interests by saturating voting blocs with public money. Therefore, politicians are always on the lookout for ways to enhance government revenue. The judicial activism displayed by the five justices who ruled against Susette Kelo greatly advanced the cause of rent-seeking politicians at the expense of property owners.
The only silver lining in the Court’s misinterpretation of the Fifth Amendment is that the justices left the states with the ability to enhance property rights protections. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s attempt to correct the damage inflicted on property owners by Kelo is laudable. The International Property Rights Index demonstrates that there is a strong correlation between developed property rights and economic development. As the economy continues to struggle with slow growth and high unemployment, Virginia voters would do themselves a favor by supporting property rights this November.