I am new to this site, and am impressed with what I see to be a great resource.
An issue that has intrigued me since the last Sagebrush Rebellion, concerns the concept of "public lands", the Constitutionality of the concept (which I don't see), the abuse of power by the government, the blackmailing of the Western States to enter the Union on an "unequal footing" with the other States. Has there been any discussion of this in this site? I didn't see anything in a quick "look around", but land use issues are a constant issue for us Westerners, and I would like to know more of the history of the issue, and the Constitutional justification for the governments stealing of State lands.
I believe the issue goes back to the Constitution, and what the Federal government was allowed to purchase in any State, that being property for Forts, Ports, Post Officies, and other needful administrative functions.
The blackmailing of territories applying for Statehood was a development largely driven by the lobbying efforts of Eastern States capitalists who wanted to limit competition from the Western Lands which were rich in resources, and threatened the established resources of said capitalists. We also see evidence of this in the railroad tariffs, which were lower for goods going east to west than from west to east.
But, it also gave the Feds access to revenue streams, and power/control that they never could have imagined, and were unable to impose upon the original States. Therein is another part of the issue. The Western States were not allowed to enter the Union on an "equal footing" with the other States, none of whom were required to give up vast tracts of land to the government as a condition of being admitted. That the Courts have decided against the Western States in matters of territorial jurisdiction is simply a testimony to the extent that even the S. Court will go to protect unconstitutional acts by the Feds.
How right you are PH., Excuse my long absence in replying to this. I was incensed at the time, 11 years ago. But I still wasn't awake. I wrote my Representative a letter (Scott Matheson, the lone Democrat in Utah's Federal representation), got a vanilla reply. I didn't know what else to do, and I think most of the people didn't. Since then, we have a resurgence in States Rights in Utah. State Representative Karl Wimmer has founded the Patrick Henry Caucus, and seems to be effective. He will be running for Federal Representative this time, so keep an eye on him, he's a good guy. I still hope we undo this in the years ahead.
How right you are sir!
It's been going on for some time but is only part of a larger plan.
This has become one of my very big pet peeves, Phillip, so I can tell you that there is no justification, but you can thank John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt for the concept of "preserving natural wonders for posterity and all Americans".
When AZ and NM were brought into the Union the lands were checkerboarded by Sections:Federal; State: private. The Feds decided which of the sections they would take, the private lands were those that existed at the time and the State Lands were set aside to be sold for "education" and used to develop schools and Universities, eventually putting the State lands into private hands. And then there were the lands that were, by treaty, given to the Indian Tribes in perpetuity ( lands that nobody else wanted, then)
When you look at property maps of both States you can see that they are still checkerboarded and there has been massive land grabs by the Feds for "public parks and open space" to preserve and protect the BEST land for posterity. They do it by takings and "eminent domain" paying for the value of the land at that moment in time from both private and the State.(usually they trade the State for equal value but not equally desirious Federal lands that can be in BFE)
The State of AZ currently has a bill that has passed out of committee and headed to the full legislature that will reverse that process on the Feds and take back Federal Land through eminent domain of the States. (here comes another law suit). The Fed'l gov't has been extremely derelict in their duty to preserve and protect the public lands turning them over to a very inefficient, ineffective and understaffed BLM whose sole purpose is to do nothing. Or to the USFS who cannot make up their minds what proper land management should look like so they have just installed toll booths and routed out trails. Now they are trying to do more takings through the EPA regulations and the USFWS declaring critical habitat for fake "endangered species."
There is a map that is currently floating around the internet that shows the amount of public lands vs private lands in the west. The percentages in the west are remarkable ie: 95% Fed'l land in NV the worst example. There is no possible way that the western states can fully develop their property tax base because State and Federal lands are not taxable--ergo the western states are deprived of the same business opportunities that the eastern states enjoy. MANY of the companies that have moved overseas could have moved to the west if there was sufficient lands for them to do so. The West is held hostage--still--by the Feds like they were when they were brought into the Union.....AZ was the last State to join and I guess that is why there is such a rebellious streak that runs through here. AZ is still the "wild west" and we hate the feds!!!
PH--none of that was Constitutional, just me blowing off steam, but I see nullificiation and reversing eminent domain as the only solutions for the western states... short of secession, that is.
All I can say is AGENDA 21
The progressives and aka Federal government is taking over little by lttle until we have no freedom. When we as citizens of this United States cannot own private property then the loss of freedom is evident.
We must get the progressives, liberals, democrates, RINO republicans and all the other idiots that are running our country into hell, out of office and vote in candidate that care about America and not their own personal gain. The majority of people are know nothing of what is going on or are just too busy trying to work and make ends meet, or just don't care.
We have to start with our young people to enlighten them to the horrors that our government is doing to this country and to their future. It starts with their education. I wonder if anyone really does know what our great country stands for? FREEDOM
God bless America
p.s. Look up the "Miami Land Grab" the take over of land and the people of Florida are fighting. We need more support from all over our nation to stop the insanity.
Wow! All your comments are very good and informative. Thank you for starting this important Discussion.
1. First, look at the enumerated powers of Congress:
http://publiushuldah.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/congress-enumerated-p... Study especially para 4 of the paper, which itemizes what lands the federal government is permitted to own and operate, and for what purposes.
In addition, under the Laws of Nations, nations which border on waters have traditionally claimed ownership of waters a certain distance off their shores. Obviously, nations don't want enemy ships patrolling the waters off-shore. This is an aspect of national defense.
Do you see anything in para 4 about "parks", "recreation areas", "monuments", "natural resources", "UN Heritage sites", etc.? No, you don't. Teddy Roosevelt (like other members of that accursed family), was a curse on this Country.
2. It is proper and constitutional for the States and The People to demand that the federal government divest itself of all unconstitutionally held lands. States may properly pass laws taking the "federal" lands within their borders back. Since the federal government is violating the Constitution by holding them, it really is the Duty of the States and the People to enforce the U.S. Constitution against its main violators (all three branches of the federal government).
But we have many problems to face, and we must start from where we are. Consider the national debt of over $14 trillion, a debt which increases more than $4 Billion every DAY. Consider the old people who have been made dependent by the federal government on social security & medicare. How do we deal with these problems?
PH is NOT an economist. However, I ask the economists on our side: Is it feasible to sell off these unlawfully held federal lands to raise money to liquidate the debt and to phase out social security & medicare? Is it feasible for the federal government to operate the oil fields, sell oil, and raise money to liquidate the national debt and phase out social security and Medicare? YES, I know! It is unconstitutional for the federal government to operate oil fields and to sell oil. It is grotesque for the federal government to sell something which it took from the States by force. BUT, we must start from where we are. We can not regain our long lost glory and power unless we liquidate the debt and phase out the "entitlement" programs.
Publius, while I agree that it is "proper for the States, and the people demand that the Fed's divest themselves of public lands", and I believe it is important to do so, it will be a fight, and one which must start in the local communities wherein the Dept. of Interior is acting to further restrict even access to these lands by the public which certainly puts the notion of "public lands" to question.
However, the right of the Fed Gov't to manage public lands is historic, and has been held up by the S. Court. The issue is really to what end does it have the right? Initially, it was to oversee the sale of territories ceded to the Feds by the original States with the intent of paying down the debts incurred during the Revolutionary War. So, your idea of the Fed's selling the lands to pay down debt is not far off its original intent. But, what happened along the way was the Fed's decided not to continue selling lands, or divesting themselves of it, but to hold it, manage it (which they have done poorly), and then begin restricting even access to it by the public for whom they ostensibly hold it in trust.
I believe we must confront the government with this issue on all fronts: local, State, and in the Congress. It has been decades since any bill was introduced to force the wholesale liquidation of these lands. It is far past time to do so again. The advantage to the Fed's is obvious. The Dept of Interior, and the cost of it, would be dramatically reduced; Fed debt could be paid down; the States could begin drawing property tax revenues from it.
Well, Phillip, I am quite dazzled by your knowledge of American History, which is superior to mine. I minored in history, took every American history course offered, but that was a long time ago; I have forgotten much; and when I practiced law, I did nothing else.
I will pull out those supreme Court cases and I will take them on on this issue. Yes, Congress has the right to manage lands which they are constitutionally authorized to own - to-wit: those small bits of land listed in Art. I, Sec. 8, next to the last clause, and the territories in Art. IV, Sec. 3, clause 2. And Congress is supposed to "dispose of" those territories!
Congress and the Executive Branch have no constitutional authority to set aside "wildlife preserves", national parks, U. N. heritage sites, etc. I'll write something up which will give the People and States the confidence they need to tell the feds to get the hell out of their States.
The supreme Court has been our deadly enemy for a long time. I respect Clarence Thomas, but he is a rare jewel. Otherwise, I have no respect at all for that Court. And as a general rule, judges are pretty sorry people. Married men using their power to try to make it with women lawyers (when they are still young; after that, they go after their pretty Secretaries) who appeared before them. Really a disgusting bunch of people. So I laugh at all the deference which The People show these judges. (But I did know some honorable Judges - they are just rare.)
Can you send me the last bill offered to force the feds to liquidate the lands?
Publius, I will have to research the "last bill" attempted, but one S. Court action which comes to mind is the U.S v. Nye County (1996) wherein Nye County (Nevada) argued that the Fed's could only hold land in temporary trust pending eventual disposal, and that retention of the lands violated the "equal footing doctrine". Nye County lost in a ruling that I believe represented the S. Courts inability to understand that "equal footing" is more than just the right of equal representation in the Congress, but must include the right to the resources inside those boundaries. But, the S. Court is notorious for bad decisions.
Re: Congress. Bills were introduced in the 95th, 96th, and 97th Congresses, and again in the 104th and 105th, but never saw the light of day. I'll have to research these again. Its been a few years since I was most active in the last Sagebrush Rebellion.
Ahh, but sell them to whom? The States are broke. We don't want to sell to China or any other foreign interests for that matter. PH, you have however hit on a novel idea contemplated in my own home; That is, the United States owns several "properties" of value- Guam, American Samoa, The U.S. Virgin Islands, Norther Marianna Islands, Puerto Rico (although that one is a commonwealth). Wonder how much these would bring on the open market?
Second, since the Federal Reserve seems to be a substantial holder of our debt (along with China) what is the collateral? Yellowstone? Utah? Idaho? Nevada? Coal? Oil? Certainly not the income tax revenue which no longer even covers the interest on the debt. Or is the ability to influence policy enough collateral for the monied interests? I have noticed a distinct absence of the currency issue from these Constitutional conversations.
Point being; since a signifigant portion of the debt we are all concerned about was created out of thin air, would a "default" or renegotiation be such a horrible notion? It seems that a default would be less like theft and more like exposing fraud.