I am not attempting to equate the two systems; I am trying to understand them. So much of our economic thinking in America was imported from your shores that there has to be very important commonalities in how we treat the ownership of land.
A public sector development plan in Scotland does not allow variances? A planning application must either be totally "conforming" or it should not be made and/or the government decision not challenged? I find hard to believe that it is a matter of take it or leave it, especially since it is my understanding that such development plans don't have a sunset and it takes a political act to revise or replace it. I wonder, have the conditions or the political thrust which make a site an SSI ever changed such that the designation was repealed?
I asked earlier what is the development plan for a site within the SSI, i.e. what can the owner do to enjoy his property. I can't think of a less intense use of the CL site which may produce some income to its owners than a minimalist links course. Are there any? If not, what about this specific situation is not a taking?
My involvement on this thread and others like it is in the interest of fleshing out what, IMO, is really at the heart of golf's decline in the countries of its tradition. I can say with considerable confidence that is has very little to do with how far the ball goes or how easy a large, exotic metal driver is to hit.
Instead, it is my belief that the decline has mostly to do with the increasing claims governments make on private income and regulation of everyday life in the name of the public good which result in less discretionary funds and higher costs. Yes, golf is expensive, and it takes a lot of time, neither of which has changed significantly from the time that total rounds played were increasing rapidly to now when they are flat or declining in places (in real terms, golf is actually cheaper in many places than it was in the 1980s and early '90s).
Private property is meaningless if the underlying bundle of rights is expropriated one straw at a time to the point that the owner can derive little or no value from it. If the owner of the CL site can't enjoy its benefits because a government body deems its public value is more important, in fairness, SHOULD he not be compensated for his loss? Without the SSI designation which came while the family owned the property, would the politicos have a leg to stand on in denying the application?
Disrespect for property rights is a slippery slope that always ends badly. Of course, Niall, you are familiar with the Tragedy of the Commons.
I know this not from books, but very personally. Part of my family immigrated from Galicia to Cuba to escape the killing between the communists and fascists during the Spanish Civil War. My great uncles, father, and later my mother started with nothing and through three decades of extremely hard work, built good lives there. Let me tell Sean, Genarilisimo Franco was a piker in comparison to Comrade Castro.
With much of the same rhetoric that I hear here in the U.S., but with less patience and no credible opposition, Fidel's rebels took over all private property in a very short period of time. Essentially, on the day he overthrew the government, most people stopped paying rent. And what was once the jewel of the Caribbean is now in shambles. Look at Venezuela today even with its vast oil reserves.
Our good friend Philip Gawith can speak much better about the current situation in South Africa than I can. And it shares a border with Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of Africa, now reduced to begging for foreign aid to prevent its own people from starving. Taking property from those who have it might seem fair, even righteous to large segments of the population, but it cuts the roots to what allows economies and societies to prosper.
You may say, well that will not happen here. Understanding the human condition probably better than most, I suggest that it is already happening in the country of my refuge in manner akin to the unsuspecting frog in the cauldron being simmered so slowly until it is too late to hop out.
As I've said before, the outcome of the CL dispute will have at most a negligible impact on my life. I do have a vested interest well past my own life in the rule of law, private property rights, and the protection of minority interests. I would have little to say if the good folks in Scotland would come to the realization that it is not appropriate to take something away from someone without compensation, and, if it is in the public interest that the CL site remain undeveloped, that the proper authorities and NGOs come to an agreement with the owners to compensate them fairly.
And with this, I recite the Serenity Prayer.