Wednesday, 09 June 2010

Chinese Man Fights Eminent Domain With Fireworks

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In 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Kelo v. City of New London, ruled that governments in the United States have the right to steal their citizens’ property and transfer it to private developers as long as it serves a “public purpose,” namely bringing in more tax revenue. Thus, according to the court, the city of New London, Connecticut, was within its rights to evict Susette Kelo and others from their property in order to hand the property over to Pfizer for development — development that, in fact, never materialized.

In 2010 China, one man is not taking a similar situation lying down. Yang Youde, reports Reuters, “has declared war on property developers who want his land, building a cannon out of a wheelbarrow and pipes and firing rockets at would-be eviction teams.” Yang “says he has fended off two eviction attempts with his improvised weapon, which uses ammunition made from locally sold fireworks,” the report continues. Yang also says he has been careful not to hurt anyone, firing the shots over the heads of the erstwhile thieves.

Who outside of the government and the greedy developers could argue with Yang that his property is his property and no one has the right to take it from him by force? “Yang says the local government has offered him 130,000 yuan ($19,030) for his fields, on which they want to erect ‘department buildings,’ ” according to Reuters. “He is asking for five times that amount,” as is his right as the property owner. It is also his right to refuse any offer and to stay put, defending his property with deadly force if necessary.

Whereas in New London the police were prepared to evict Kelo if she refused to move, when Yang was attacked by an eviction team in February after he ran out of rockets, Reuters reports that “local police came to his rescue” and apparently allowed him to remain on his land, which he successfully defended against 100 people in May. Yes, in Communist China the local cops are on the side of average people, while in supposedly free America they side with the government, probably seeking their share of the increased tax booty from the promised new development.

Yang is not the only Chinese person struggling to protect his property. Reuters writes: “Anger over property confiscation is one of the leading causes of unrest in China, with many people forced to give up homes and land to make way for anything from roads to luxury villas.” The same, of course, applies to the United States, where crony capitalism also runs amok; and just as Yang is a rarity among the Chinese, so too are those Americans willing to stand up to their governments’ legalized theft.

Let’s hope Yang is as successful in his attempt to secure his home as Bugs Bunny was in the 1949 cartoon Homeless Hare, wherein he forced an entire skyscraper to be built around his rabbit hole rather than be dispossessed. “After all,” Bugs says as the cartoon comes to a close, “a man’s home is his castle.”

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Long live Castle Yang!