Bank Won't Lend When Eminent Domain Is Involved

A terrific AP article in this morning’s San-Antonio Express News:

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — On its face, it appeared to be an odd decision for a banker, to turn down business on a principle that most people don’t think much about.
And so far, the banking giants haven’t seen fit to follow the lead of BB&T Corp.’s John Allison, who declared in January that the nation’s ninth-largest bank would no longer make loans to developers who plan to build commercial projects on land seized from citizens through the power of eminent domain.
“We happen to believe in the fundamental concept of individual rights, and one of those is property rights,” Allison said. “If that is jeopardized, our entire financial system is also in jeopardy.”
The prospect of losing out on a few loans, or taking a stand alone, hasn’t shaken Allison’s resolve and has only added to his reputation as a banker whose thoughts routinely stray to the philosophical.
Colleagues probably should have seen it coming from an executive known to quote Aristotle during board meetings.

Later in the article:

“John has a pretty unshakable moral compass, and frankly I think he is right on this,” said Charles Moyer, dean of the business school at the University of Louisville. “The potential for abuse is great, and someone needs to stand up for it. I was not surprised it was John and BB&T.”
Allison is an executive who mixes in re-readings of the works of Thomas Aquinas and John Locke into a book-a-month habit.
“My absolute favorite writer is Ayn Rand,” he said, referring to the Russian American philosopher and advocate of capitalism.
Allison’s reasoning against eminent domain is based in part on a strong belief in property rights, one of Locke’s cornerstone values, and one shared by the farmers in rural North Carolina.
“To these people, property rights are the single most important thing,” he said. “It’s the basis of economic freedom in this country, so they take it very seriously.”
Slipping into the role of college professor, a job for which Janeway said he’d be well-suited, Allison asks rhetorically why there is a need to use the power of government to force people from their homes. The answer sounds like one that would please a banker focused on shareholder value and the next quarter’s results, but that doesn’t hold sway with Allison.
“They really want to use it as lever to drive down the price,” he said, adding there have already been abuses of eminent domain rules, with the victims mostly among the poor, minorities and the elderly.

There’s lots more. Keep reading