Trump reverses Obama’s Executive-branch overreach with this major decision
It’s not a yyyuuuuuge victory, but it’s definitely symbolic. We should appreciate the small things…
Obama used his Executive-branch authority to take thousands of acres of land off the Utah market. Trump has just given it back. At Daily Mail, we read:
President Donald Trump unveiled a plan Monday in Utah to dramatically scale back two national monuments – calling it an important move for ‘states’ rights.’
‘Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They’re wrong,’ he said in the cavernous Utah Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City.
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‘The families and communities of Utah know and love this land the best. And you know the best how to take care of your land. You know how to protect it, and you know best how to conserve this land for many, many generations to come,’ he said.
‘Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away. They don’t know your land, and truly they don’t care for your land like you do.’
The reduction is in the thousands of square miles:
The plan would cut the total amount of land in the state’s red rock country protected under monument status from more than 3.2 million acres (5,000 square miles) to about 1.2 million acres (1,875 square miles).
The best part is perhaps Trump’s antagonistic rhetoric towards federal bureaucrats. Nobody likes bureaucrats.
ECONOMICS OF LAND REMOVAL
Economically speaking, land is a valuable source of raw materials and scarce resources. Land is one of the vital components of capital: land and human labor, over time. Economics deals with the allocation of scarce resources.
If you take land off the market, you make the already-scarce surrounding resources even more scarce. You also lock-out the economic potential and inhibit responsible wealth generation associated with that land.
Property rights are defended by free market economists as being superior to socialism or communism in helping to best allocate scarce resources for the public good, thanks to the price mechanism. Otherwise, when government takes ownership of property and calls it “public” land, this leads to the tragedy of the commons. Since everybody owns it, nobody actually owns it.
So, no one feels responsible for maintaining the resource, or moderating its use. The resource becomes exploited as its price under “public” ownership is much lower than it ought to be. It is rapidly drained.
National parks fall into disrepair. Supposedly “preserved” by government money, they deteriorate. Nobody benefits. The land around them rises in price because it has automatically become much more valuable. This inhibits the ability of future generations of middle-class citizens to afford living in the area.
THE WEALTHY ELITE HIRE FEDERAL SECURITY GUARDS
Some of the country’s oldest elite families, like the Rockefellers, took advantage of these economics.
They built a large mansion on Mt. Desert Island, off the coast of Maine, in 1910. Then, they donated 5,000 acres of beautiful land around it to the government. That land is now Acadia National Park, the oldest National Park East of the Mississippi River.
The Rockefellers repeated this ploy in the 1920s when they bought the land around Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That land would eventually become Grand Teton National Park, to the fury of local citizens who had been manipulated into selling their land to the Rockefelllers.
In the first case, by removing prime real estate from the market and locking it up forever under the control of the Federal Government, the rich were able to preserve their secluded lifestyle. They had nothing to fear from upper middle class (or worse) encroachment.
In the second, there’s now a nice resort area that the Federal Reserve uses each year for their annual junket.
Hopefully this is only the beginning of Trump’s release of Federal control over land.
If he gives the land back to the states, then there’s a good chance the states will sell them into private ownership when the looming budget crises hit. Forced to raise money to pay their debt obligations to pensioners, they’ll sell their land and free it up for commercial development.
Let the price mechanism sort it out. And watch the environmentalists squirm.