Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rights and Reason: BB&T Announces Eminent Domain Policy

A few years back I wrote BB&T off as an ally after it sat on its hands during a Hart-Scott-Rodino review of one of its mergers. Yes, BB&T's chairman, John Allison is an Objectivist, but when I wrote him and BB&T's general consul about actually standing up against unjust antitrust regulation, I didn't even get so much as a "no thank you" in reply. To be honest, I wasn't really surprised: a lot of people talk the talk, but are less inclined to walk the walk—at least when it comes to inconvenient things like standing up to unjust laws.

So imagine my surprise when I read this press release issued today by BB&T:

BB&T Corporation today said it will not lend to commercial developers that plan to build condominiums, shopping malls and other private projects on land taken from private citizens by government entities using eminent domain.

The commercial lending policy change comes in the wake of Kelo v. City of New London, a controversial Supreme Court decision in June that said governments can seize personal property to make room for private development projects.

The court's ruling cleared the way for an expansion of eminent domain authority historically used primarily for utilities, rights of way and other public facilities.

"The idea that a citizen's property can be taken by the government solely for private use is extremely misguided, in fact it's just plain wrong," said BB&T Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Allison.

"One of the most basic rights of every citizen is to keep what they own. As an institution dedicated to helping our clients achieve economic success and financial security, we won’t help any entity or company that would undermine that mission and threaten the hard-earned American dream of property ownership."
Well, it looks like John Allison does have some sauce.

Bravo to BB&T for taking such a principled stand—it's a tremendous statement and I applaud them for making it. I guess it's time for me to move my money . . .

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