Regular readers of this blog know that I was pretty harsh on David Cay Johnston recently (here and here). But David is persistent. He posted an excellent comment on my first post. If I don’t mention it here, it will be lost to virtually all Econlog readers. Here’s his comment:

Interesting take on Avatar. In Free Lunch you can read how GWBush’s fortune derives almost entirely from a subsidy that began with eminent domain for private benefit, involved a tax increase for private benefit — and that more than $34 million of the $202 million stealth subsidy was left on the table, raising its own questions about the managerial competence of the general partner (Mr. Bush). The data in my book were all confirmed by the key lawyer in the deal, Ray Hutchison, husband (now late husband) of now former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

The Jeep deal is worse because of efforts to prevent any litigation over the underlying legal issues.

Private use of eminent domain for private gain is increasing, but hardly anyone is paying attention.

I’m guessing that this was about the Texas Rangers. I was surprised that this got underplayed at the time, given that Bush, when he made the deal (assuming I’m right abut the incident), was the son of the President of the United States. It appears to be cronyism.

I do want to add one thought, though, re David’s last sentence. Included in “hardly anyone” are the people who fought so valiantly all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in Kelo v. City of New London. Among them are the Institute for Justice, my favorite charity. Others include, according to Wikipedia, “the NAACP, AARP, the late Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference and South Jersey Legal Services.”