by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
There was an article on the Zero Hedge website back on last June 27th, written by Michael Snyder, which had originally appeared on the Economic Collapse blog. It was about how much land the federal government “owns” in our Western states. From the looks of the map that appeared with the article they “own” almost half ot it. The article noted that: “Today, the feds control approximately 640 million acres of land, and after decades of very poor management, many are calling on the states to take a larger role. This is particularly true in the 11 western states where the federal government collectively owns 47 percent of all the land.”
Yep, you read that figure right–47 percent of it all. For instance, in Nevada, the feds “own” 84% of all the land in the state. That leaves 16% of the state for ordinary folks. The feds “own” 64% of Utah, 61% of both Idaho and Alaska and 52% of Oregon. By the time you get to Wyoming the feds only “own” a measly 48% of the state. What a comedown from Nevada that must be for them!
I have to ask the question–does the public, ordinary folks, only owning 16% of the state they live in really constitute it being a “sovereign” state, or is it still really a federal territory that has been labeled a state for the sake of convenience (and electoral votes)?
Another pertinent question might be, which is more important–who “owns” it or who controls it? If the general public “owns” it but can’t do much with it, then the federal government that controls it is the actual de facto owner, isn’t it? It’s somewhat akin to the situation with the property tax that I have written about before on several occasions. You “own” your house and possess a deed with your name on it saying you own it. Yet, if you fail to pay the yearly governmental rent then some unit of government can come and take “your” property and do what they will with it. So, in the long run, who is the real owner–the man with his name on the deed–or the governmental agency that can take it away from him if he doesn’t pay their yearly “rent?” Mostly, we don’t want to think about this kind of thing. We should.
There was an article in the New York Times for August 25th of this year about Trump’a new Secretary of the Interior proposing shrinking of four national monuments in the West–so designated by King Barack the First (and hopefully the last). One of these was the Bears Ears, over west of Blanding, Utah. You can find it on your road atlas. Obama created a national monument there that was 1.35 million acres in size–land locked up so the public could do nothing with it. Mr. Zinke, Trump’s Secretary of the Interior wants to reduce the Bears Ears monument to 160,000 acres. I hope he makes it, but even 160,000 acres is a lot for a monument with the Bears Ears as its centerpiece. It’s pretty country there. We’ve been through some of it several times over the years, but it doesn’t rate another 160,000 closed-down acres for a national monument. Cutting it in half and designating half of it for a monument at the Bears Ears would be plenty, but then that wouldn’t give the feds control over all the 1.35 million acres–and control is what they really want. Control in the name of creating new “public’ monuments and “recreation areas” where you can only go if you follow their rules.
The owner of Land & Livestock international (look it up on the internet) has observed that “Transferring these lands to the States would be a great improvement, but would not necessarily be the best ultimate end…These lands need to be returned to their rightful owners (and/or their heirs and assigns)–the families who have 4 or 5 generations of sweat equity in the lands (or those who have rightfully purchased those property rights through voluntary exchange). I am hopeful but I doubt seriously that we will ever see it happen.”
In the case of some of that “public” land near the Bundy Ranch in Nevada, one might be led to question just how much of this “public” land has been of use to Harry Reid and his son, or to Hillary with her Uranium One deal. Lots of big bucks being made there off some of that land that, we the public, supposedly own.