12 Jun 2013

Go West, Young Socialist

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I vaguely knew about these stats, but when I saw them in this table (while researching Crown ownership of Canadian land), it really struck me:

Isn’t that kind of humongous? And why don’t free-market types talk about this more? Is this mostly worthless land, of the kind that Lex Luthor snatched up in the first Superman movie? Or is the government effectively withholding half of the West from humanity?

9 Responses to “Go West, Young Socialist”

  1. Mike says:

    Most of the usable land is leased for agriculture or resource extraction.

  2. Ken P says:

    My guess is that it consists of primarily three types of land: Worthless (deserts), National Parks and oil drilling (largely by cronies). There are actually pushes for people to donate their land to the government in their wills to expand government land ownership.

  3. Ken P says:

    ANWAR in Alaska is 7.8 million ha.

  4. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    Right-wingers like Glenn Beck often say that the government owns the majority of the land in this country, when you include all the mortgages owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

  5. Xan says:

    I haven’t looked much into the debate, but from time to time I have heard the governor of Utah talk about fighting to make federally controlled lands state controlled lands. http://elkodaily.com/news/utah-gov-herbert-rails-against-federal-land-management/article_30697a80-c260-11e2-bc97-001a4bcf887a.html

    Also, I think that Clinton angered a lot of Utahns when he travelled to Arizona to announce the creation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, giving the Utah congressional delegation and governor only 24 hours’ notice that he was going to do this. This National Monument takes up 3.5% of Utah’s land. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Staircase-Escalante_National_Monument#Controversy

    I think that there might be substantial natural resources there, but don’t quote me on that.

    As I said, I haven’t put much research into this, but those are the two things that first came to mind when I saw this blog entry.

  6. valueprax says:

    A lot of it is worthless or seemingly worthless from a productive standpoint (assuming you don’t derive a psychic benefit from “pristine nature” and you are talking about “material production” when you say production) such as the Rocky Mountains or the massive desert areas.

    A lot of it is national parks, popular and unpopular.

    And the rest well, it likely does have some natural resource value, and people figured it out long ago, and it’s been a Long War strategy for the federal government to monopolize it and then SLOWLY lease/release it out to private cronies over time to “protect the economic value thereof”.

  7. Matt M says:

    Can’t speak for the other states, but I live in Oregon and my understanding is that most of the government-owned lands here are located in the National Forests, which are densely forested areas mainly located in mountain ranges away from any major towns, as well as in eastern Oregon which is an incredibly sparsely populated desert.

    I guess the National Forests could be logged/fished or whatever, but as of now they are pretty isolated from major settlements and I can’t imagine anyone really wanting to develop there.

  8. Reality Engineer says:

    re: “Or is the government effectively withholding half of the West from humanity?”

    That is an interesting question, i wonder if it were productive land (others claim it isn’t,but I hadn’t looked for sources on it) it might make sense there would be political pressure to avoid lowering land/housing prices.People tend to congregate around existing population centers so it might not have much of an impact, but obviously it is the poor, the least politically powerful group, that would benefit if it did impact prices.

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