Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Ugly Facts of Federal Government Land Ownership

There is no legitimate reason the government should own all this land. It should be auctioned off with the proceeds given to the people of the United States. Note well: The government has minute ownership of land in the area of the 13 original colonies. The founders of this country had no conception of massive government ownership of land.

The massive U.S. government land ownership states:

Nevada: 84.5 percent
Alaska: 69.1 percent
Utah: 57.4 percent
Oregon: 53.1 percent
Idaho: 50.2 percent
Arizona: 48.1 percent
California: 45.3 percent
Wyoming: 42.4 percent
New Mexico: 41.8 percent
Colorado: 36.6 percent
Washington: 30.3 percent
Montana: 29.9 percent

(Chart and data via the American Spectator)


  1. Are Indian reservations included in this chart as being owned by FedGov ?

    1. Yes. And please, once again, refer to "Constitution: Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17" for a complete description of the ONLY land the US Government is allowed, Constitutionally, to own (by purchase from the State). It is limited to BUILDINGS for Government use.

    2. At the time of the ratification of the Constitution, the US government owned the Northwest Territory that is now Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois (and part of Minnesota). Owning non-state Territory is an explicitly permissible thing under Article IV, Section 3, as is disposing of it by grant or sale, or admitting a new state from it. Since it already owned that land, simply keeping it was the default condition at the time of ratification. Even under the most narrow reading of Article I, just maintaining the status quo did not involve Congress exercising a power it did not have. Rather, it entailed Congress refraining from exercising a power it did have under Article IV, Section 3: to admit one or more new states out of the Territory, or to dispose of parts of that property.

      Article IV does not speak on the question of what happens to ownership of land when a new state is created out of US territory. Congress certainly had the _power_ under Article IV, Section 3 to dispose of all public land within the borders by transferring title to the newly-created state. However, nothing in the Constitution _compels_ it to do so. Again, just keeping title is the status quo, a non-exercise of power rather than a positive action not authorized by Article I. The United States inherited English common law and traditions of land ownership. To transfer title to land requires a positive action, one permitted under Article IV but not required. It is an action that Congress did not take when it passed the Enabling Act of 1802 to admit Ohio to the Union. Explicit in that act is a clause that Congress, not the new state, would sell public land and devote 5% of the net proceeds to the building of roads (an enumerated power per Article I, Section 8, Item 7) to connect Ohio to the east.

      At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, there were indeed concerns that it was unconstitutional. This was not a default condition of keeping property already owned; it was a positive action to acquire new property for a purpose not listed in Article I. Call it a loophole if you like, but the power can be derived from Article II, Section 2, Item 2: to acquire land by _treaty_. There is no limit placed on what a treaty may accomplish, nor is there any prohibition on the treaty involving the expenditure of funds as one of its terms.

    3. I would add that at the time the transcontinental RR was built, the incentive for the RR companies to lay the tracks was that the US Federal Government GAVE the RR companies every other section of land along the track route.... It did not matter if the land was in a state or territory.... So in 1868, the Federal government had the say over quite a lot of land. BTW... in many of these states, if you did not have federal control, there would be unprecedented mining, logging, construction.... Do we really want a West that all looks either like Los Angeles or like the Anaconda Copper pit in Montana?

    4. It's ridiculous to claim the government shouldn't own this land and that it should be sold and the money given to the people. Who are you paid by to spread such obscene brainwash?

  2. Why in the world are they all mini's shape of the state they are in ?

  3. And by "ownership" we mean "squatting on."

  4. Simply auctioning off the land would result in an unjust distribution of property rights, because distribution of currency in society is not determined mainly by voluntary exchange; instead distribution is heavily influenced by political factors enforced by coercive means. It might be better to distribute property shares equally to residents and/or institute a homesteading program. Regardless, disposing of Federal lands is not an easy issue politically and will not happen without tectonic shifts in Federal power and public attitudes. Many members of the general public regard federal parks and preserves as their lands, and will not support anything that does not preserve the natural character of most of these lands or threatens public recreational use. For these reasons, calling for a general auctioning off of Federal lands is a losing issue politically. There are better ways to fight the battle.

    1. Give it away by lottery. Either way in a decade the most astute businessmen will end up with it. In a free market economy the means of production ultimately end up in the hands of those who can best utilize them. And by free market I don't mean crony.

    2. You could at the very least redistribute the many millions of acres of badly managed BLM land to the states and private parties. There is very little public attachment to what is largely wasteland in the inter mountain west. We could also close lots of unnecessary but expansive military bases which are basically Cold War relics or World War II leftovers.

    3. You are correct about the public not tolerating the desecration of the national parks and forests, which would fall into the hands of the capitalist plunderbund, both foreign and domestic, in event of an auction. If, however, RW wants to motivate the public to launch a witch hunt of libertarians, then auctioning the public lands would work. Probably a Jerry Wolfgang or two would be happy to oblige him, in expectation of getting rid of RW, Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods, Jr., etc. while not doing much damage to the parks and forests before the plunderbund's shills are tracked down and terminated. Can't say truthfully that I'd be motivated to get in Jerry's way, much less to risk my neck doing so.

      RW seems also not to recognize another problem with his demand for an auction. If the government's ownership is illicit, it's difficult to see how it could licitly sell the land. But why be concerned about this detail when you have a free-market dogma to push no matter what? Damn the torpedoes!

      This is a good occasion to recall the Louisiana Purchase, so called. Of course, there was never any purchase but, instead, a mere bribe paid by one gang to another, by the USA to France, to persuade the latter to abandon its own illicit claim and to recognize a claim to the land by the former. Perhaps some of that land is still held by the feds in places such as Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana.

    4. senator feinstein's husband will oversee the sales of billions of dollars worth of US federal owned post offices - and reap hundreds of millions dollars of commissions in the process.

      and not ironically she tried to BLOCK the sale of these same properties - UNTIL HER HUSBAND got the contract - then it was ALL OK!

      shouldn't each property revert to the respective STATE and then perhaps a lottery of each property drawn to different realtors to sell - this way the land, commissions and sales (and profits) would be not in one power mongers hands? but instead spread out among average citizens?

    5. Company On Major Highway Job Fires, Sues VP

      Centerplan's CEO, former Democratic state Rep. Robert Landino, said in an interview last week that he knew Papandrea through state politics, but hired him three years ago because Papandrea had held a responsible position with another construction company.

      Centerplan is a key construction management subcontractor on an ongoing, massive project to reconstruct all 23 service areas along I-95, the Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways and I-395 in eastern Connecticut.

      The project dates back to the administration of former Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2009. Its original estimated cost of $500 million is privately funded under an unusual 35-year concession agreement between the state and a prime contractor, Project Service LLC. Project Service's lead member is The Carlyle Group, an international investment giant. The state Department of Transportation, which is monitoring the project and performing inspections, declined comment.

      According to the lawsuit, Papandrea approved payment of contractor invoices to Centerplan for work that was "performed at [his] residence instead of Centerplan's client projects," thereby obtaining "free labor, materials and services for his residence in excess of $50,000."

      The company claims in the suit that Papandrea "knowingly assisted another [employee] in committing similar wrongful conduct." Centerplan is seeking unspecified money damages and "disgorgement of [Papandrea's] salary and benefits."

  5. which people?..the big people or the little people?

    Charleston Man Receives $525 Federal Fine for Failing to Pay for a $0.89 Refill

    Some of you may wonder why of all the stories out there today I decided to focus on the $525 fine a construction worker in South Carolina received a for refilling his drink without paying. The reason is to highlight the difference between what happens when a peasant breaks the law versus when a banker does it.

    In this case, citizen Christopher Lewis refilled his drink without paying at the VA Medical Center in downtown Charleston. For this horrific offense (a refill costs $0.89), he was hauled into a room by the Federal Police Force and given a ticket for $525. Even worse, he was told not to ever come back to the premises, so he ended up losing his job as well.

    So for this undoubtably minor offense, Mr. Lewis received a fine almost 600x greater than the cost of the crime and lost his ability to support himself. Compare that to the slap on the wrist banks receive when they are caught engaging in criminal behavior that leads to the theft of billions of dollars. At the worst, they pay a fine that is only a fraction of the profits and no one goes to jail, so the law actually incentivizes major financial crime. Meanwhile, if a peasant steps out of line, even for the most minor offense, the full brute force of federal law comes down like a ton of bricks. This is one of the main reasons why the social fabric of society is being torn apart, and unfortunately, there will be a hefty price to pay for it in the future.

    1. I think I saw Jon Corzine get a free refill somewhere once.

  6. Since the federal government's land belongs to the American people, so we are told, then the proceeds of its sale should on principle be distributed to them. Of course the big questions are, "how, to whom and how much?" Also to consider is the settling of the government's debts. Does it makes sense to first pay off the government's creditors with the proceeds of the sale of the government's assets, or should the greedy creditors get scalped for being so stupid as to lend money to the state?

    I recall once reading that the feds own about a third of the land area of the U.S. That means about 1,000,000 square miles or 640 million acres. If each government owned acre fetches on average $10,000, then the sale of all fed lands will produce only about $6.4 trillion, scarcely more than a 3rd of the officially acknowledged debt and only a tenth, or even much less, of FedGov's actual long term liabilities. Of course fully developed urban land and land sitting on mineral wealth are worth much more than $10,000 an acre while uninhabitable wind-swept desert acreage is worth much less. I doubt that FedGov's huge total liabilities can be erased by the sale of "its" huge land holdings. Yet on principle that land should somehow find its way into private hands to be put to productive uses.

    Perhaps each inhabitant of the U.S. would randomly receive title to two specific acres of land in a huge lottery to keep or dispose of as he or she sees fit. That way no insider could be accused of gaming the system for personal gain and no one can accuse unfairness if only employed adults or only American citizens or only net taxpayers are permitted to participate. As in all free market activities, the means of production, land in this case, will eventually be controlled by those best able to consistently satisfy the needs of scores of millions of customers.

    1. Have you seen the lands owned by the Federal Government? What productive uses do you suggest for desert scrub? Ranching? The Federal Government already leases the land for that. Drilling? The Federal Government leases the land for that as well. Why would any investor want to purchase these lands?

  7. Maybe RW hasn't been out west much. A lot of people here like the fact that the land is managed by the government. They do not like it when the government maggot thugs bully ranchers or anyone else; but they like being able to hunt, fish, hike, travel and recreate on public land. The alternative for those who don't like public land: move east where there isn't much of it. I've lived there - it sucks.

  8. @Micah the mini shapes of the states were only used to show the percentage of the owned land and not to depict the actual area or locations of the land owned.