Thursday, January 26, 2006

BB&T refuses to fund eminent domain for private use

One of the methods used by legislative bodies to curtail behaviors they don't like and are unable to outlaw outright is to refuse to fund the activity. You see this all the time. One of the most broad-reaching of these was when Congress decided that 18-year-olds are perfectly capable of voting for the next president, are perfectly responsible for their own actions legally, and are perfectly required to die in combat, but can't be trusted to tip a brew. The federal government did not pass a law saying that 21 was the new legal drinking age. They passed a law saying they wouldn't fund the highway projects in states that didn't adopt a 21 age limit for drinking. See the difference?

Apparently a bank has learned that tactic well. BB&T, a fairly large presence here in the DC area, has decided that they will not loan money to outfits who intend to develop on land taken by eminent domain for private usage.

::::::::"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 John Allison, the bank's chairman and chief executive officer.

BB&T Chief Credit Officer Ken Chalk said the North Carolina bank expects to lose only a tiny amount of business, but thinks it is obligated to take a stand on the issue.

"It's not even a fraction of a percent," he said. "The dollar amount is insignificant." But, he added, "We do business with a large number of consumers and small businesses in our footprint. We are hearing from clients that this is an important philosophical issue."

Mr. Chalk said he knows of no other large U.S. bank with a similar policy.

I approve and applaud. Well done, folks.

My stance on eminent domain in cases where the land is being taken for private commercial development hasn't changed at all: I think it's dead wrong. Getting the Congresscritters to step up and do the right thing legislatively might be tough but it's nice to see private entities doing what they can.