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Hippity Hopper and Crickety Cricket's Brush with Eminent Domain Hippity Hopper and Crickety Cricket's Brush with Eminent Domain
by Leah Sellers
2012-09-13 11:41:51
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“Howdy, Hippity !”  Crickety Cricket chirruped out to his old friend.  “How’s the Missus and Young’uns doin’ these days ?
“Howdy, right back at’cha, Crickety.  You surely are a sight for sore eyes.  Faith and the little Hoppers are fine.  Just fine.  How about your brood ?”

“Well, we’re thinking’ about movin’, Hippity.  That’s why I tracked you down, Pard.  I’m lookin’ for a little Hopper Advice.  By the way, what happened to your big back leg ?”
“It’s missin’, Crickety.”
“I can see that, Hippity.  How did you lose it ?”
“I got curious about that Tar Sands Pipeline the Humans are always fussin’ about.  Thought I’d travel north for a bit and check it out.  I got too close to a pool made up of some black sludge drippin’ from the pipe, and accidentally slipped into it.  When I finally wriggled out of the mess, I was missin’ my back right leg.”
“That black sludge ate my back leg right off of me !  Heard another Human say that one of the toxic chemicals in the black sludge is called formaldehyde.  Some kind of embalmin’ fluid.  That poisonous cess pool mummified my back leg right off of my back end.”
Hippity rubbed his long antennae together thoughtfully, “I can only hop half the distances I used to, and I never hop in a straight line.  Fact is, it was quite a while before I figured out that I was hoppin’ in wide circles.  Heck, I was circlin’ myself - ha !”
“Made the Birds tryin’ to chase me down for a meal plumb dizzy - ha !  Losin’ a leg wound up workin’ in my favor though.  It took a little while, but I taught myself to hop around all day in continuous spirals and zig-zags.  Drove those dad-burned Birds absolutely daffy - ha !”
“I admire your attitude, Hippity.  Havin’ the loss of a leg like that would have done in some hoppers.  I gotta give credit where credit is due.”
“Besides, the Humans are always doin’ things to hurt us Insects.  We’re just those ugly little critters always getting’ underfoot, to them,”  Crickety shook his knobby little head in chagrin.
“Yep, we’re lucky that most of the time they just ignore us,”  Hippity mused.
“No wonder they call those tiny mechanical listenin’ devices they make to eavesdrop on one another’s private business for their own nefarious purposes, Bugs,” Crickety chortled.
“Heck, no one notices you unless you’re a Cockroach.  Now Cockroaches can really get some of the Female Humans to hoppin’ and screamin’.  In fact, some of those Female Humans get to hoppin’ higher than you do these days, Hippity - ha !”
“You got that right, Crickety,” Hippity buzzed in agreement.
“Hippity, why have the Humans stopped workin’ on the pipeline up north for now?’
“Well, Crickety, our homes have existed for over one hundred Hopper and Cricket generations on a parcel of Land the Humans call Lamar County in the eastern part of somethin’ even bigger the Humans call the Great State of Texas, which is located inside another piece of even bigger property the Humans call the United States of America.”
“What ?”  Crickety chirruped, rubbing his back legs together creating an unsteady hum in the key of E flat.
“Believe me, Crickety.  It gets even more exasperatin‘.  You know how these Humans are.  They’re always makin’ the simplest things far more complicated than what they have to be.”
“Go on, Hippity.  I can take it.”
“Well, the Lady Human who owns the Land our Hopper and Cricket Homes are on is called Julia Trigg Crawford.  It appears that her Grandpa Human bought the Land, they call a Ranch, some time in 1948.
“I hid in some underbrush one day when Ms. Julia and one of her lawyers were havin’ a lively discussion.  Ms. Julia was very upset.  She was yellin’ about somethin’ called TransCanada Oil Corporation wantin’ to run their pipeline through her property.  The TransCanada Oil Corporation offered her somethin’ called money.  Twenty thousand pieces of this money to pay for an easement they want to build on Ms. Julia’s property for their pipeline.”
“Ms. Julia said, “No.”  She said that the pipeline would ruin and poison the Land.  She said that she had done her homework and that the thick diluted Bitumen extracted from the Canadian’s Tar Sands is more corrosive than traditional crude oil, and has polluted other folks’ Lands and Water Aquifers with very dangerous and toxic heavy metals that also poison the Land, Water and Living Creatures when they’ve encountered accidental spills.   It appears that some Human Beings care about the Earth, Water and Living Creatures and that‘s why the Canadian‘s, and their Business partners are havin‘ such trouble finishin‘ the pipeline they want to run from Canada, all the way through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico.”
“She said that her Land and the Living Creatures and artifacts on it mean a lot to her, and that she did not want to see everything ruined.”
“She also said that as a business deal for the Citizens of the United States that it did not make sense to allow their Land, Water Aquifers and Flora and Fauna to be poisoned and destroyed when most of the Tar Sand Oil is going to foreign countries and Canada.  Not the United States.”
“She said that only a small percent of the Tar Sand Oil is allotted for the Untied States.  So, she just told ’em, “No.”
“So, Hippity, why are all of us considerin’ a move.  Sounds as though the matter has been taken care of, Pardner.  We can all relax and just get on with our lives here.  Right here, at our own Home Sweet Homes.”  Crickety happily chirruped.
“Hold your horses, Crickety.  Remember, I told you that the Humans are a complicated bunch of critters.  They have created somethin’ called Eminent Domain.  It appears that when a State declares Eminent Domain that they can take your property any time they want to, and pay you what they call a Fair Market Value for it.”
“But most of the Humans I have heard complainin’ about the State’s bein’ able to grab your property, whether you want to give it up or not, say that the “fair market value” they offer is no fair market value at all.  Most of ‘em that have ever been Eminently Domained felt robbed and cheated.  They say that in today’s world it’s the Big Guys tool for giving themselves legal permission to take what they want, when they want it, from the little guy.”
“I heard one Human say that Eminent Domain is a Takings Clause that’s part of the United States’ Fifth Amendment.  That it’s powers were supposed to be limited by requiring that “Just Compensation” be paid if Private Property is Taken for Public Use.  And that the Human Courts ruled that “fair market value” constitutes “just compensation”.
“Then the Humans extended the use of Eminent Domain to the States. It appears that Texas is not the only State in the United States of America.”
“Makes sense, Hippity.  If there was just one state, then what would they have to Unite - haw !”  Crickety guffawed.
“Alright.  Alright.  Laughs on me, but there was a lot to memorize when I was listenin’ to what the Humans were worried and upset about, Crickety.  Do you want to hear the rest of it or should I stop, and leave you wonderin’ about the rest ?”
“Sorry, Pard.  You’re right, and I do want to know the rest.  So, have at it.”
“Well, throughout the years the Federal Courts have played loosey-goosey with the Congress and the States as to what constitutes “Public Use”.  The Courts ruled that “Public Use” is not necessarily Public Occupation, but that “Public Benefit” may constitute “Public Use”.
“Now, the Supreme Court supports a very broad view of Eminent Domain and leaves it to each State as to how broadly or narrowly they want to define Eminent Domain and use it.  There in lies the rub, Crickety.  If you’ve got Fair and Just Humans makin’ the decisions about Eminent Domain it works well for most Citizens.  If you don’t, then it primarily works best for those out to make a Profit.”
“That’s what happened to Ms. Julia, her Property and Our Homes, Crickety.
The Judge in Lamar County ruled in favor of the TransCanada Oil Corporation.  Judge Harris ruled that the Land around Paris (Texas, that is) could be torn up, possibly poisoned and used for the TransCanada Pipeline.  Judge Harris said that TransCanada is considered a “Common Carrier”.  And so the Texas Oil and Gas Association and the Texas Association of Manufacturers now have permission to bring billions of dollars in private investments to the State of Texas and into their own very Big Pockets and insatiable Spheres of Influence and Power.”
“Wow, Hippity !  All of this is almost completely over my antennae.  It’s a lot to chew on.”
“I’ll say, Crickety.  The Humans say that the Oil and Energy Corporations have been doin’ this Eminent Domain thing, but not callin’ it that, in many other countries around the World for years and years.”
“Another Human said that up in Arlington, Texas, that a very wealthy and politically powerful Human called Jerry Jones wanted to build a Super Stadium for his football team to play ball in.  So, he decided on where he wanted to build it, and then got some of his partners, investors and cronies to use Eminent Domain to push other Humans out of their homes at “Un-Fair Market Value” and UnJust Compensation (some disgruntled Ex-Homeowners grumbled) for the Benefit of the Public, and Public Use.”
“The Human said that Jerry Jones even got the Texas Taxpayers to pay to build most of the stadium, but that only Jones and his investors, partners and cronies will really profit from the exorbitant prices charged per seat, for all of the concessions, and all of the other marketing’ and team merchandisin‘.”
“This Eminent Domain is surely a handy little Tool, Hippity.”
“Oh, I’m not done tellin’ you everything yet, Crickety.  “Cause in one of the other United States called California, the United States Supreme Court ruled in somethin’ called Kelo versus the City of London, and ruled that a public agency may use Eminent Domain to take privately owned, non-blighted property for the purpose of economic development.”
“The Human that brought this piece of information to the conversation said that California is also considerin’ usin’ Eminent Domain, which he says is usually used to acquire Somethin’ he calls Real Property to build Public Works, for somethin’ not so real at all.  He says they’re thinkin’ about seizin’ mortgages, not the Real Property, of Homeowners who owe more than the Home is worth.”
“The Human said that the Funds to do this would be provided by Private Investors, who would pay-off the Holders of the mortgage at “Fair Market Value”, and then the Private Investors would write new mortgages for the Homeowners based on much lower Principal Amounts. “
“Sounds like a plan to me, Hippity.”
“Well, Crickety, the Human relatin’ this news says that the Banks, Speculators and Corporations who created the Housing Bubble Mess to begin with should just Forgive the over inflated (and now deflatedly-inflated) Principal, and just lower it for everyone hurt by the Housing Bubble out of Principle.”
“The Human said that the Homeowners are getting raked over the coals once again by the very Idiots, Crooks and Thieves who caused the Mess to begin with.  That they would be on the losin’ end of the proposition once again, while the Vulture Capitalists get richer off of the Woes of the World they helped to Stimulate and Create in the first place.”
“It’s amazing’ what you hear at the feet of Humans, Hippity.”
“You’re telling’ me, Crickety.  You’re telling me.”  Hippity said in stupefied wonderment.
“Humans can sure be Selfish, Self-Destructive Creatures, Hippity.”  Crickety sighed.
“They’re not the only ones, Crickety.  Every Living thing has the capacity to be Selfish and Self Destructive.  It just makes it hard on everyone, when the Human Critters in charge of things decide to MisBehave that way.”
“Problem is that when a Human gets Self-Destructive, they usually become Other-Destructive as well,”  Hippity added fretfully.
“Well, I guess we better start headin’ home, Crickety.  I gotta round up the rest of the Hopper Clan and get ‘em ready for the move to Rancher Hope’s pastures.”
“The Human Oil Corporation wasn’t interested in grabbin’ any of his Land.  Not yet, at least. And there’s good grazin’ and thick woods to live in over there as well.”
“We’ll probably wind up as Neighbors over at Rancher Hope’s place, Hippity.”
“I’m lookin’ forward to havin’ your ornery hide nearby, Cridkety.”
“Hippity, why is this Tar Sands Oil worth losin’ and poisonin’ so much to the Humans ?  It just doesn’t make sense to destroy the very Home that gives you Life and Sustenance.”
“They put the black oil they get out of that poisonous snake of a Pipeline into their cock-a-mamey Machines to make ’em run smoother and faster, Crickety.  They use the Oil for other things, too.  They boil it down and use it in Foods and other products that they make to wear or use.”
“Aren’t there other things they could use that wouldn’t poison the Earth and Sky, Hippity?”
“Yep, heard ‘em talk all about ‘em.  There’s Wind Energy and Sun Energy.  Heck, there’s even somethin’ called Electro-Magnetic Energy, Micro-Particle Energy, Nuclear Energy, Heat-Wave Energy and anything else they happen to step in.”
“Problem with experimentin’ with some Energies is that it’s a risky proposition.  Dangerous and time consuming work.  Gotta figure out what to do with any waste materials they might generate.  Could kill more Humans, and us, too, if any of it gets out of control.  Could blow up the whole gol durn Planet.  Make crispy critters out’a all of us.”
“Yep, Humans play with some mighty dangerous Toys sometimes.  The Civilians want the Energies for things they call Progress and Convenience, and the Power Hungry Humans want Energies for Profits and Weapons for Control and to Control, so they can remain Powerful.”
“What’s  Human Power, Hippity,  Never eaten it before ?
“Crickety, you don’t ever want to taste the Human Food of Power.  It’s addictive and just as toxic as the Tar Sands Poisonous Chemicals that are goin’ to be travelin’ through that stinkin’ snake of a pipeline.”
“It’s just like when all of us Hoppers get into a large group frenzy and Swarm.  We eat everything in sight.  We can’t stop ourselves.  The Energies released by and within the Hopper Frenzy turns all of us into Locusts.  And before we know it we have striped the Land down to the bone.  Even the Humans fear little ‘ole Hoppers like me when we go Food Crazy.  When we swarm we’ll eat everything in our path.”
“Humans addicted to Power are no different, Crickety.  They’ll eat and destroy everything in their path, just the same.  There’s very little difference betwixt-and- between us when we get into a Feeding Frenzy.”
“Humans consumed by and in the process of consuming everything around them have very little control over themselves.  But they Want - they Need Control of everything around them, nonetheless.  And so they starve, kill, run over, run right through, and Eminent Domain the rest of us into oblivion to get whatever it is that they think that they Want - they Need.”
“Not all Human Beings are greedy for Power, Crickety.  But those who are will chew up anything and anyone who gets in the way of the Thing - the Power they think they Want - they Need.”
“Fact is, they can Want it so bad it feels like a Need.  A Need they can’t Live without.  A Need they’ll poison you and me and other Human Bein’s with.  A greedy Need they’ll destroy all of Creation and the Earth to satisfy.  Problem is, Power Mongers are never satisfied.”
“Crickety, I’ve never been a Swarmin’ Locust.  But I was sorely tempted to join with a swarm that passed my way a few years back.  It called to me, and I almost answered that call.  Took everything inside me to hold firm against the Power of that swarm.”  Hippity’s antennae shook with the memory of his past ordeal.
“All I have learned, Crickety is that Broken, Unconscious and UnBalanced Human Bein’s create Broken, Unconscious and UnBalanced Institutions and Systems.  But, it’s all Fixable.”
“So why don’t they Fix it, Hippity ?”
“ ’Cause not enough of ‘em are Conscious of Bein’ Broken and out of Balance.  Besides, Fixin’ things takes Time and Patience.  Human Bein’s want everything right now.  Changin’ things will probably be up to the Human Young’uns, Crickety.”
“As it is, the Reality that the Humans have given us to deal with is that the Big Foots and Big Wigs of their World are pushin’ their Power and that Money-makin’, Energy-snakin’ Pipeline through and usin’ every trick in their Pocketbooks, Law Books and Courts to do it.”
“Crickety, I can feel the rumblin’ of some mighty Big Feet bumbling’ and stumblin’ our way.  Time to skee-daddle with our Families and Friends.”
“Me and mine won’t be far behind you and yours, Hippity.  Although, I must admit that I’m goin’ to miss Ms. Julia’s pasture.  Had some mighty fine memories and history made here.”
“Yep, I’ll second that, Crickety.  But it’s time for all of us to be lookin’ toward some new horizons and new prospects.  ‘Cause the possible creepin’ and seepin’ Ruination of this Domain is Imminent.”
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