by Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume
“It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a ‘dismal science.’ But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” ~Murray Rothbard Making Economic Sense (1995)
Thanks to the Bundy fiasco in Nevada, we have a lot of that same kind of thing polluting all the social media discussions about public lands.
I am currently doing the research for a book dealing with the “public domain” that ought to be ready for publication by the end of the summer. In the meantime, here is a tidbit of what I have learned in the process.
According to the American Lands Council, under federal management of the public lands:
Tens of thousands of roads on public lands have been closed denying access for hunting, fishing, recreation, ranching, grazing, mining, fire breaks, evacuation;
Forests are now weapons for Al Qaeda to ignite according to FBI alerts as so-called “preservationist” policies have foreseeably increased the intensity, acreage and cost of wildfires, killing millions of animals, polluting the air, decimating the watershed, and destroying life and property;
More than $150 Trillion in minerals remain locked while massive national unemployment, debt and deficits persist along with an increasing dependence on foreign sources for natural resources that we have in abundance;
Western States continue to struggle to adequately fund education and other services as many counties have less than 10% taxable lands;
Businesses and jobs are going to other states where they can develop on state and private lands more quickly and with greater certainty than dealing with costly, time-consuming and arbitrary federal regulations;
States and local governments remain dangerously dependent on a financially reckless federal government for as much as 40% of state spending, PILT and SRS payments are always on the chopping block and are only pennies on the dollar of tax revenue values, and mineral lease payments and other funds promised to states will continue to be cut back
For decades, the federal government controlled as much as 90% of the lands in Illinois, Missouri and other states (IN, IL, MO, AR, LA, AL, MS, FL). They complained that because of this, they could not fund education, grow their economies, or responsibly manage their abundant resources.
However, because those states (1) knew their history, (2) knew their rights, (3) banded together, and (4) refused to take “NO” for an answer, they compelled Congress to transfer title to their lands. Today, the federal government controls less than 5% of all land in states east of Colorado.
The promise of the federal government to “extinguish title” (transfer title) to the public lands is the same to all newly created states – both east and West of Colorado. The U.S. Supreme Court refers to these statehood contracts (Enabling Acts) as “trusts,” “solemn compacts,” and “bi- lateral agreements” to be performed “in a timely fashion.
So, why is the difference between east and west? It is not when the states were created (e.g. OK-1907 and CA-1850, or ND-1889 and ID-1890). It is not the terms of transfer in their Enabling Acts because those are materially the same.
For nearly 200 years, Congress recognized its duty to dispose of the public lands. But, it was not until 1976 that Congress passed the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) unilaterally declaring that it was their new “policy to retain these lands in federal ownership.”
However, in 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously declared that Congress does not have the authority to unilaterally change “the uniquely sovereign character” of a state’s admission into the Union, particularly “where virtually all of a state’s public lands are at stake” (Hawaii v. OHA).
In other words, the FedGov is in violation of its own law–should we be surprised?
The economic definition of “socialism” is an “economic system wherein the State owns all the factors of production” (including the land). The fact is that the united States government claims to “own” over 60% of the land mass West of Denver. How UN-American is that?
Note: The legal, constitutional, and historic foundation for the transfer of public lands to the states is laid out in a legal overview published by Brigham Young University Law Review VOLUME 2013 NUMBER 5: Public Lands and the Federal Government’s Compact-Based “Duty to Dispose”: A Case Study of Utah’s H.B. 148–The Transfer of Public Lands Act
The Essence of Liberty Volume I: Liberty and History chronicles the rise and fall of the noble experiment with constitutionally limited government. It features the ideas and opinions of some of the world’s foremost contemporary constitutional scholars. This is history that you were not taught at the mandatory government propaganda camps otherwise known as “public schools.” You will gain a clear understanding of how America’s decline and decay is really nothing new and how it began almost immediately with the constitution. Available in both paperback and Kindle versions.
The Essence of Liberty Volume II: The Economics of Liberty Volume II will introduce the reader to the fundamental principles of the Austrian School of Economics. The Austrian School traces its origins back to the Scholastics of Medieval Spain. But its lineage actually began with Carl Menger and continued on through Adam Smith, Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard and many others. It is the one and only true private property based, free market line of economic thought. Available in both paperback and Kindle versions.
The Essence of Liberty Volume III: Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic. This is the volume that pulls it all together. With reference to Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s description of Murray Rothbard’s work, it is a “unique contribution to the rediscovery of property and property rights as the common foundation of both economics and political philosophy, and the systematic reconstruction and conceptual integration of modern, marginalist economics and natural-law political philosophy into a unified moral science: libertarianism.” Available in both paperback and Kindle versions.