Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Adverse Possession

Follow this link and read an outrageous story about how a politically connected individual can steal his neighbor's land. It is called Adverse Possession and it is a long-standing tradition in our country.

It is also called squatter's rights. What happens is if someone moves onto an unoccupied piece of land and stays there and uses it for some statutory length of time, in Illinois 20 years, then they can claim that land even if the owner pays his taxes, asks the person to leave etc.

Now this had a noble origin. It was intended to prevent a few rich people from monopolizing all the new lands in the country through politically connected land deals. A pioneer could move onto a patch of forest or prairie, develop it, fence it, live on it, and eventually claim it as his own property. The owner never knew about it because he had never actually seen the vast tracts he had 'purchased'.

In fact Adverse Possession was common enough that the super-rich never really tried to monopolize all the land, because they knew they couldn't manage it and throw out all those squatters.

The states liked it as it allowed for faster development of the state and kept out-of-state landowners from controlling too much of the land.

Poor people liked it because they could move out into the wilds and cut out a farm and make a living through their own sweat and energy.

But in these days it is used mainly by the fat cats to steal land from their neighbors, as in the case above.

I wonder what political party the thief supports. Only one guess allowed.

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