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Government Pirates: The Assault on Private Property Rights--and How We Can Fight It Paperback – July 22, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

After years of hard work and saving, you finally own a home. But don't get too comfortable. If government officials decide they want your property, they can take it--for a wide variety of shady reasons that go far beyond the usual definition of "public purposes." The courts have allowed these injustices to persist. And there is nothing you can do about it--not yet.

Real estate developer and property rights expert Don Corace offers the first in-depth look at eminent domain abuse and other government regulations that are strangling the rights of property owners across America. Government Pirates is filled with shocking stories of corrupt politicians, activist judges, entrenched bureaucrats, greedy developers, NIMBY (Not-in-My-Backyard) activists, and environmental extremists who conspire to seize property and extort money and land in return for permits. Corace provides the hard facts about individual rights and offers invaluable advice for those whose property may be in danger. It is the one book that every property owner in America has to read.

Questions for Don Corace

What will people learn from reading Government Pirates?

Readers will learn:

  • How unelected and unaccountable judges have eroded the intent of our founding fathers to protect private property rights
  • Four categories of takings by the government--eminent domain, local zoning laws, the regulation of wetlands and complying with the Endangered Species Act
  • Forty shocking stories from across America of how homes and small businesses are either being seized or whose owners are being strangled by regulations
  • A blueprint on how to turn the tide of abuse

There has been a lot of media attention about eminent domain abuse. Explain what eminent domain is for people who are not familiar with the term.

Eminent domain is the authority of government to seize property for a "public use." It was widely utilized in the 1800s to acquire land for railroads and post offices and then evolved to be used to build roads, schools, dams, and military bases. The takings clause in the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution permits it: "[N]or shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." Unfortunately, its definition has been expanded and its use abused.

What is your background and qualifications to write a book on property rights?

I have been a developer for over 25 years. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA and learned the business from the ground up. My father was a developer and contractor. . .and the guy on the bulldozer. In my teens, I worked as a laborer, carpenter’s apprentice, surveyor by day and attended city council meetings with him at night. Over the years, I have had hands-on experience in every aspect of the development process with projects valued at more than $2 billion. I have been involved in some of the most complex and controversial projects in the country. Although there have been plenty of excellent books written on property rights by lawyers or journalists, Government Piratesis the first to be written by someone who has actually been in the trenches, and who has had their own money on the line.

What motivated you to write the book?

I picked up my morning newspaper on June 24, 2005, and read that the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 in the Kelo case. I was outraged. To give government the legal authority to seize property to simply generate more tax revenues is unconscionable. At the time I was also embroiled in an ugly controversy over a bald eagle whose nest was located on some property we owned. Certain neighborhood groups were using the Endangered Species Act as tool to stop the project. I realized that eminent domain abuse like what happened in the Kelo case was outrageous, but at least in eminent domain cases property owners are supposed to be compensated by law. In endangered species issues, the Endangered Species Act clearly trumps the Fifth Amendment and allows government to not only not compensate land owners, but also to extort land and money in return for approvals. The same applies to local zoning laws and the regulation of wetlands--where I have also had considerable experience. I knew then that I had to write the book.

Where do you stand on environmental issues?

I consider myself a conservationist, not an environmentalist. There is a big difference in my mind. I was raised to respect the environment and learned at an early age to hunt and fish and enjoy the outdoors. Many people who consider themselves environmentalists have made it their life’s mission to protect the environment at all costs--including at the expense of private property rights and economic growth. On a deeper examination of their motives, you will find that many of them use environmental causes to further that agenda to promote an anti-capitalistic and government-mandated redistribution of wealth. It is true that environmentalists have been successful in shedding light on important environmental issues and have forced landowners and industry to find creative ways to develop property and natural resources while safeguarding the environment. Unfortunately, as evidenced by stories in my book, there are too many instances of environmentalists simply going too far.

What are your objectives for the book?

Although many property rights organizations throughout the country are doing an excellent job in fighting property rights abuse, we need to take it up another notch and use the media as a weapon. We need to educate the public and get a groundswell of support to make lawmakers and bureaucrats accountable for their actions. Efforts to pass meaningful reforms will not be successful unless these officials--as well as NIMBY’s and environmental extremists are exposed. I feel it is my responsibility to shed light on the issues--and make those who do not respect property rights famous.

Why is the protection of property rights so important?

The founding fathers believed that "the right of property is the guardian of every other right," but it is also a basic human right. Our homes, land, and businesses are expressions of ourselves. They represent the fruits of our labors and a family’s financial security.


“Government Pirates is certain to ignite a property rights movement for decades to come.” (Sean Hannity)

“Every day on my nationally syndicated radio show I do a segment on the ‘government outrage of the day.’ Don Corace has just given me enough material to last me until retirement.” (Neal Boortz)

“The book, which is designed and organized to maximize readings on the outrage-o-meter, comes chock-a-block with bullet-pointed anecdotes of redevelopers gone wild.” (New York Post)

“[Corace] covers each area of concern—eminent domain, zoning, wetlands preservation, the Endangered Species Act—first defining the issue and then describing illustrative cases. Corace knows his subject, and when the reader is done, he will know it, too....excellent.” (Jigs Gardner, Property Rights Foundation of America)

“Government Pirates provides especially good insights on how government and outside special interests collaborate to take away Americans’ property rights…not only a must-read, but a vital reference book for your library.” (David A. Ridenour, National Center for Public Policy Research)

“A very interesting and enlightening book…exposes the methods and means by which the government can use its eminent domain or regulatory powers to diminish or take our private property rights…His perspective and stories come as a developer ‘In the trenches’ not just one of us eggheads in the ivory tower.” (Donald Kochan, Townhall.com)

“Corace provides the hard facts about individual rights and offers invaluable advice for those whose property may be in danger…The first in-depth look at eminent domain abuse and other examples of Big Government red tape that are choking off the rights of citizens who own property.” (Conservative Book Club)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; 1 edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061661430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061661433
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,027,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Carol Saviak on July 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
Using real life examples, Don Corace reveals how ordinary Americans are being terrorized, robbed, and in some cases even forced into bankruptcy by government officials and judges who have lost all respect for the ideals of freedom envisioned by America's Founding Fathers.

Corace provides an easy-to-read overview of the legal cases and political influences which have fostered the dramatic erosion of property rights in America - which continues today at a rapid pace.

Government Pirates should be required reading for every citizen and elected official in America.

I strongly encourage anyone who believes in the American ideal of freedom and the American Dream of property ownership to purchase and read the shocking property rights abuse cases profiled in Don Corace's new book.

Anyone who reads Government Pirates will be jolted into a new level of awareness of the dramatic increase in regulatory power held by local, state and federal government agencies.

The type of abuse of power profiled in Government Pirates isn't supposed to happen in America, but it is happening every day to land owners across the country.

As Don Corace points out, if Americans do not wake up and begin taking action to reverse these disturbing regulatory trends, we will find ourselves waking up at a point in American history where land owners no longer possess the legal standing or economic ability to fight back when government elites decide that seizing or restricting the use of privately-owned property will benefit "the common good" or win the favor of a special interest group.

As the leader of one of the nation's largest state-level property rights organizations, it is my hope that after reading Government Pirates, freedom-loving citizens across the nation will be inspired to seize this opportunity in time to unite in a collective effort to restore sanity to American government regulation.
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One would think both sides might come together on the issue of eminent domain. The liberal, simply falls in lockstep with whatever the environmentalists propagate, while the conservative, chooses to offer faith to the republican power machine.

For some time, possibly since the new era of Teddy Roosevelt, the assault on property rights has been proceeding at an advanced pace and I suspect, will continue. Sadly, it may be too late to do anything about this, our precious lost right. For "[t]he right of property is the guardian of every other right, and to deprive a people of this, is in fact to deprive them of their liberty" (Dr. Arthur Lee).

Corace offers abundant cases (references in back) of both government and private theft of property, all of which will bring your blood to boil. Not all of these examples end with bad news though; there are some wins for the good guy. But winning comes with a price, not only for the owner but the taxpayer as well. Along with the ruined lives and being treated like a criminal, the costs can be millions of wasted dollars. And the "nothing to hide" attitude only contributes to the problem. Someday it may be you. I urge education and even caution, you never know when a puddle, a flower, a bug, etc., could turn into a nightmare for you. The definition of blight or, a body of water, is sometimes whatever someone wants it to be. "Even though you may think you may never be affected by these and other types of takings, you should care: about simple fairness and decency for your fellow citizens; about the ripple effect that regulations have on the economy; and about how the infringement of property rights can lead to other violations of the U.S. Constitution"

Can the insanity be reversed, or, are we too far gone? There are certainly ways to take action. A local board is a good first step or, simply, just by informing others.

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A great compilation of property rights related horror stories, broken down by category: endangered species, eminent domain, DEC/EPA, etc.
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After spending billions to defeat the dictators of Nazism and Communism we have home grown our own fascists...BOTH parties are guilty of allowing this undermining of freedom to go on....
In direct violation of the the Fourth Amaendment...Nameless, faceless judges and bureaucrats are literally stealing the life work of thousands of private citizens...
Buy this book and publicize it....We need thousands of Paul Reveres...
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The taking of private property for government use falls into one of two categories. There is the taking of private property under the absurd legal theory that the object, itself, has committed a crime. This is the basis for taking someone's car when they are caught with a small amount of drugs, or for taking people carrying large amounts of cash just because cash is sometimes an indicator of criminal activity. The flip side of this type of taking is the taking of private property in a more wholesale way; the taking of property, or real estate, in order to promote "growth," in a community.

This book, Government Pirates, discusses the second form of takings. These types of takings are becoming more common through time, to the point that there is little apparent right to own property within the borders of the United States.The author starts with an overview of the problem; how judges have taken power to themselves to simply take property for just about any reason they feel like.

Mr. Corace deals with direct takings in the next section of the book, providing a number of examples in the next section of the book, including the Kelo case, the New York Times building scandal, and various others. These types of takings are direct, egregious, and easy to understand. In the next section, the author deals with zoning laws, which are a lower level, and harder to understand, form of taking by the government. Here again he provides seven different examples of zoning laws used to destroy the value of land.

The third section deals with takings through regulations, specifically wetlands law.
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