Southern Utah News Articles
Federal Ownership of Public Lands
There was an article in one of the prominent eastern publications recently, which suggested a solution to the Bundy situation and other similar situations across the west. The answer it said, is to purchase the leases, thus preserving the integrity of the rancher’s vested interest. The ranchers would be justly compensated for the loss of their claims and the grazing leases could be retired to make way for the preservation of whatever the new owner chose to preserve. In fact, there is a significant effort to do just that. Did you know that law provides for 900 million dollars to be set aside each year for the federal government to acquire new property. No losers here...right?
While this might seem like a great solution to a sticky problem in the short term, it is instructional to stand back and look at this whole picture from a more distant and long range view. Let me share my perspective.
The net effect of this proposal is this...Let’s tax the people and then use their money, which we have extracted from them, to purchase their property. Does anyone see anything wrong with this picture?
In order to appreciate the danger of that proposal, let’s look a little deeper at principle. I submit that everything used in the sustenance of every human life is derived from the earth. I challenge anyone to name one thing humans need that isn’t at some level extracted from the natural environment. When you get tired of that exercise, you will realize that what we think comes from stores, shops and factories, in reality comes first from the earth. There are no exceptions. Remove man’s ability to extract those raw materials and not only do our treasured possessions go away, but life as we know it ceases. That being the case, whoever or whatever controls the natural resources controls everything and everybody. The owner of the natural resources becomes “The King;” and the natural resources become “the King’s forest.”
The essence of liberty is the right of property. The Founders called it “the pursuit of happiness.” Without access to the natural resources, humanity must beg the essentials of life from whoever controls that access. Gaining control of that access has been the goal of would be tyrants since the beginning of time. That is why the Founders took such great pains to prioritize and protect property rights. That is why they sacrificed life and fortunes to secure to their posterity those blessings. That is why the government they founded was limited in perpetual property ownership to “ten miles square,” which was to become the seat of government, together with that which might be granted by the states for very specific named purposes. (See Article I Section 8, clause 17, U.S. Constitution). They knew from their study of human history that as soon as government took control of the natural resources, that government had control also of their lives.
So why does the federal government hold title to more than 50 percent of the 11 western states. The answer lies in the history of our founding. If you are interested in that history, may I suggest you watch the video of the American Lands Council Presentation in Wayne County. Go to www.youtube and put in Doug Heaton presents Transfer of Public Lands