Sunday, September 16, 2012

Undermining Liberty to Get at the Land

I feel even worse about the future of America after the Utah Freedom Conference than I did before.

The primary aim of the conference was to use anger aimed at Obama to get at the land.

The Mountain States have large mountain ranges and expansive deserts. Because Western States have little arable land, most of the land is public land.

The highlight of the meeting was a speech by America's Sheriff (Richard Mack of Graham County) who spoke about the long standing tradition of the local sheriff who extolled that Sheriffs have the authority to toss federal agents off the land.

Utah has a long and hostile history with federal agents. For example, after the Mountain Meadows Massacre, Brigham Young had admonished the Saints in Southern Utah to be on the look out for Federal Agents.

In 1869, John Wesley Powell and 9 federal agents headed off into the Utah Territories to survey the Green and Colorado Rivers. Three of the men panicked at Lava Falls. These men climbed the North Rim in search of settlers.

The settlers claimed that the men were killed by a peaceful band of Indians (You know how them injuns are). Letters and diaries from the settlers seem to indicate that they were done in by the settlers who were briefly overcome by excessive righteousness (Sandra Tanner).

Americans love their public lands and open space. Attempts to get at the land will be perceived as an action with a great cost to the many that benefit only a few.

With our captured financial system, few in the middle class will be able to buy the liquidated public lands. Most of it will go to people with inside connections at the banks. Efforts to sell off public lands will turn open lands into gated lands that only the upper income will be able to access.

I fear that a culture war between fanatics screaming "state's rights" and wanting to sell public lands will not play out well. It will be a battle that turns millions of Americans away from the cause of liberty with very little gain.

Selling public land does not advance the cause of property rights.

People often confuse property rights with land. The ideal of property rights is the ideal that individuals have rights to the things they own. For example, I have a property right to this article I just wrote. My mind and my body are my property. I don't own any land, but I do have property rights to my car, my computer and my writings. If someone wanted to buy this article from me and republish it, they would have to pay me. My copyright is a property right.

The ideal of property rights does not say that all land must be privately owned. There is a great deal of land on Mars which no-one currently owns. After people move to Mars, there will be open questions about property rights on Mars.

People who claim that the ideal of property rights demand that all land must be privately owned end up undermining the cause of property rights with an absurd absolute.

Using the anger directed at PPACA (ObamaCare) is unlikely to go well. It will most likely detract from efforts to repeal ObamaCare.

Which leads me to why I am so horrifically depressed … for four solid years I've been trying to find a group interested in discussing Free Market Health Care reform. Despite the fact that I spent my every last dime trying to find groups to discuss this issue, conservatives slammed the door in my face.

After four years of watching Conservatives steadfastly refusing to discuss free market health care reform, they turn on the American people with the aim of using anger about PPACA to close off access to public lands.

This strange ideal that county sheriffs should throw Federal Agents off state lands will not end well. The cause of State's Right harkens back to the Confederate side of the Civil War, Jim Crow Laws and segregation.

There are positive aspects of state sovereignty. When states defend the people against the excesses of the Federal Government, the states look good. When the Federal Government defend people against the excesses of the state, the Federal Government looks good.

I applaud the admirable efforts made by states to defend people against PPACA. However, this cause can quickly go astray when local power brokers simply use anger at the Federal government to grab the land or to grab power.

By focusing on the wrong issue, the Utah Freedom Conference is undermining and not advancing the cause of liberty.

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