America — the land of the free, at least until the government wants your property. 

“To me, what just came out of it is, you can’t win, you can’t fight the government,” said Ceil Barrie, a landowner to Fox News after losing a battle against the local county government, who decided to take her property for the open space. She and her husband, Andy, bought land surrounded by the White River National Forest in Colorado and often used an ATV to get back and forth to their property. That is where their troubles began.

According to Fox News

The couple’s trouble started when the U.S. Forest Service took them to task for using a utility vehicle to drive from their main residence to their cabin. They say they never went off-road, and petitioned for the path to be declared a county road.

The county, though, responded by trying to buy the Barries’ higher-elevation property in order to protect and preserve it as open space. The Barries, who never had any plans to develop it, did not want to sell. 

That’s when the county pulled their trump card. 

Unbeknownst to the Barries, the previous owner had remodeled the cabin without permits. So Summit County commissioners voted to condemn the property for wiring and plumbing (even though the cabin has none) and filed for eminent domain.

What ensued was a legal battle that ended with the couple settling for a $115,000 sale of the property. Unfortunately, this was a case of the couple losing because, as Ceil Barrie put it, they were being spent to death and couldn’t keep fighting. 

If there is anything this teaches us, like other eminent domain cases, it is that governments can steal our money and turn around to put us out of our own homes. It doesn’t matter if you paid off your mortgage, your home isn’t REALLY yours. Try not paying your property taxes and watch what happens.

Just recently, I was driving down a road on my way back home and noticed markers showing where the roads would be widened. In order to do so, they needed to cut into “private” property, owned by individuals. I wondered what many of them thought about it, especially those with houses that would put their homes incredibly close to the road. I’d be appalled. I put “private” in quotes for a reason. If it is really our property to do what we please, then why can a government body simply decide they want what is supposedly ours? It defeats the purpose of private property to me.

And, unfortunately,  your average individual or family, like the Barries, simply don’t have the money to fight off the government who might want to turn your property into a shopping center. And the attitude of the Barrie’s, beaten to submission, is incredibly sad. Their words, such as Andy Barrie saying, “Yeah, don’t annoy the government,” give off vibes of hopelessness against the ever-growing government. 

Unfortunately, this is one of many, many ways the government invades our private lives and steals from us what we value. Sure, the couple got paid, but “Ceil Barrie told Fox News the monetary figure just covered the couple’s legal bills and some of the land’s value.” What they lost was what they wanted — valued — most, and sometimes money can’t replace a value. This case, sadly, is one of many.

If we are really to be the land of the free, the only way to get there is to deal with the entity threatening our freedom.