WHERE THE BLM AND THE ANTELOPE PLAY
When those who live outside of the Western United States think of the West, they often think of private ranches replete with cattle and cowboys. They think of a rugged way of life where the underlying interdependent themes of freedom, hard work, and private property define a proud and formidable existence. The sad reality is, however, that the West is largely public, not private, and the few cowboys who remain are under siege, forced to make a last stand against overpowering federal agencies: the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Park Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency, each of which is intent on driving private ranches out of existence.
Consider just how much of the West is owned by the federal government: 84.5% of Nevada is federally owned; 69.1% of Alaska; 57.5% of Utah; 53.1% of Oregon; 50.2% of Idaho; 48.1% of Arizona; 45.3% of California; 42.3% of Wyoming; and 41.8% of New Mexico. Several Governors in the West have demanded that the federal government cede those lands back to their respective states, all to no avail. The grip held by the federal government on Western lands is tight and growing tighter; every effort is being made by the BLM to drive off of remaining private lands those last vestiges of individual ownership that remain. Grazing fees, license fees for use of rights of way over federal lands, extreme restrictions on those rights of way, and acts of intimidation have forced ranches to close, with the lands then ceded to the federal government.
The removal of Western lands to federal ownership and control has preserved most of the West as a desert wasteland with little development, arid lands bearing little diversity of life. Private lands stand in stark contrast with irrigation, diverse flora and fauna, and successful cohabitation of man and wilderness. The decision to remove from private hands virtually all of the West has done little but invest the government with incredibly valuable real estate and control over jack rabbits, Joshua trees, cacti, and tumble weeds.
Bureaucratic mismanagement characterizes federal efforts throughout the West. The incidence of uncontrollable and devastating wildfires have in no small measure resulted from federal fire suppression efforts which have created an environment rich in undergrowth that is highly flammable. When nature’s tinderbox is transformed into a huge reserve of fuel, the wild fires come and destroy everything: wildlife, forests, fire fighters, and subdivisions. With private ownership, the harvesting of timber, the grooming of lands for further havesting of timber, and the cultivation of lands for ranch use the risks of wildfires go down considerably.
The vast federal holdings in the West are among the many critical, untapped sources for American economic recovery. Imagine if huge portions of Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, California, Wyoming, and New Mexico now held by the federal government were auctioned off to private bidders. Those properties, even with restrictive covenants to protect sanctuaries and pristine environments, would net hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from land sales to help dispatch the national debt. Those sales into private hands would trigger an economic boom from vastly expanded enterprise and development. Tax revenues from that economic boom would also help retire the national debt.
The fate of man, wildlife, and the environment would be enhanced considerably by the privatization of Western lands. Lands now replete with minerals and petroleum reserves could come into production, helping to drive down the prices of precious metals, oil, and gas, and helping to reduce further American dependency on foreign resources. Even liberating half of all federal lands to private hands would have a profound effect on expanding individual liberty, private property rights, upward mobility, and revitalizing the American economy.
Much as the President and Democratic party leaders in Congress would not like for Americans to believe, there is indeed a way out of the death spiral created by over taxation and over regulation. If we roll back federal ownership and control of the West, as we also implement changes to eliminate the administrative state, we can indeed reclaim our Constitution of liberty, restore economic opportunity and upward mobility, and re-establish the United States as a global super power on the ascendancy rather than one on the decline. Although a foundation of government ownership and control destroys private wealth and opportunity, a secure foundation of private property, liberty and free enterprise guarantees freedom and progress, as our Founding Fathers knew well, and ensures that the best days of America are ahead of it.
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© 2015 Jonathan W. Emord - All Rights Reserved
Jonathan W. Emord is an attorney who practices constitutional and administrative law before the federal courts and agencies. Ron Paul calls Jonathan “a hero of the health freedom revolution” and says “all freedom-loving Americans are in [his] debt . . . for his courtroom [victories] on behalf of health freedom.” He has defeated the FDA in federal court a remarkable eight times, seven on First Amendment grounds, and is the author of the Amazon bestsellers The Rise of Tyranny, Global Censorship of Health Information, and Restore the Republic. He is the American Justice columnist for U.S.A. Today Magazine and joins Robert Scott Bell weekly for “Jonathan Emord’s Sacred Fire of Liberty,” an hour long radio program on government threats to individual liberty. For more info visit Emord.com, join the Emord FDA/FTC Law Group on Linkedin, and follow Jonathan on twitter (@jonathanwemord).
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Much as the President and Democratic party leaders in Congress would not like for Americans to believe, there is indeed a way out of the death spiral created by over taxation and over regulation.