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Property control a U.N. dream

Henry Lamb | June 25 2005

John Prescott, deputy prime minister, told the House of Commons that 10,000 homes would be demolished in a $2 billion program to create "sustainable communities." This massive "Pathfinder" program has been adopted to transform the UK into sustainable communities, a major step toward compliance with goal seven of the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals and further implementation of the U.N.'s Agenda 21.

A similar program is under way in the United States, but proponents are careful to deny that the U.N. has any influence or involvement. The facts tell a different story.

In 1976, the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat I) was held in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Among the recommendations endorsed by the U.S., and adopted, are these:

A (1) (b) All countries should establish as a matter of urgency a national policy on human settlements, embodying the distribution of population ... over the national territory.
(c) (v) Such a policy should be devised to facilitate population redistribution to accord with the availability of resources.

D (1) (a) Public ownership or effective control of land in the public interest is the single most important means of ... achieving a more equitable distribution of the benefits of development whilst assuring that environmental impacts are considered.

(b) Land is a scarce resource whose management should be subject to public surveillance or control in the interest of the nation.

(d) Governments must maintain full jurisdiction and exercise complete sovereignty over such land with a view to freely planning development of human settlements. ...

In 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development adopted Agenda 21, also endorsed by the U.S. Chapter seven, on human settlements, says:

7.4. The overall human settlement objective is to improve the social, economic and environmental quality of human settlements and the living and working environments of all people, in particular the urban and rural poor. These approaches should form the core principles of national settlement strategies.
What could possibly be wrong with this objective? It requires government to make all the decisions about where and how people must live, rather than a free market.

The promotional literature in England [a .pdf document] blames "market failures" for slums and degraded housing that the government must now step in to improve.

Actually, slums and degraded housing are not market failures; they are simply the evolving market at work. As people enter the work force, often they can only afford slum or degraded housing. But as they climb the economic ladder, they move to better housing, fueling the real estate and construction industries. When the slum area becomes so bad that no one wants to live there, the price of the property becomes very attractive to developers, who buy up the slums and replace them with properties that the developers hope to sell to new buyers. That's the way the market worked – until the latter part of the 20th century.

After the 1976 U.N. meeting in Vancouver, governments began to take a more active role in community development. The 1981 "Poletown" decision, in Michigan, allowed a city to take the homes of 4,200 people. Since then, governments, at every level, have created dozens of ways to gain "public ownership or effective control of land in the public interest," as recommended in the 1976 U.N. document.

Now, under the guise of improving the lives of everyone and protecting the environment, government, in England and in the United States, is taking control over the housing decisions of everyone. The fine print in the housing section of virtually every "comprehensive plan" proposed or adopted in recent years contains language that gives government the authority to dictate minute details, often including colors that may be used and the type of vegetation that must be used in landscaping. In King County, Wash., 65 percent of a private owner's land must be unused and left in natural condition.

Whether it is the result of an outright purchase by government, an eminent domain acquisition, a heritage area, a battlefield, a scenic highway designation, a wildlife refuge, a wetland, a critical habitat, a green belt or any one of dozens of other excuses, government is increasingly restricting where and how private citizens can live. The goal in the U.S. and UK is to create the "sustainable communities" as envisioned by a handful of people who reject free markets and to transform the world into a managed global society.

Sustainable communities is only one part of the sustainable development agenda. Sustainable agriculture, medicine, transportation, education and trade all have programs under way to give government ultimate control over every facet of human life.

The entire program is detailed in Agenda 21, which has never been debated or adopted by any legislative body. It is simply being implemented administratively, with assistance from legislators who see only small bits and pieces that are sold as progress.

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