Kicking Uncle Sam off the ranch

By Henry Lamb

Letters from readers are always helpful. The feedback provides a way to measure how readers feel about the issue raised. Here is a question that several readers raised:

    I have recently read your article entitled Higher taxes guaranteed. OK, I have been reading this kind of material from others, and I am starting to become convinced that there is enough being said about government buying up land, etc., but not enough being said about what can be done to stop this government intrusion.

    Concerned land owner,

    Dean Smallwood

It is important to know, and to help others understand, why government should not own the land. Individual freedom arises from private property ownership. Our founders were committed to the principle of private, rather than government, ownership of property, and placed constitutional limits on the purposes for which the federal government may purchase land: only with “just compensation” and with the approval of the state legislature.

By contrast, the first principle of socialism is public (government) ownership of all sources of production. Land is the source of all production. Federal, state and local governments now own more than 40 percent of all the land in the United States. If America is to remain a free nation, it is imperative that government land acquisition be stopped and the government land inventory reduced to those holdings authorized by the Constitution.

How to achieve this goal begins with awareness, but must not stop there. On Nov. 5, nearly 100 communities offered ballot initiatives to increase taxes expressly for the purpose of government land acquisition. Most of these initiatives were adopted, providing funds to continue the government takeover of private property.

What can we do about it? We can work to persuade our neighbors to vote against these ballot initiatives.

Every year, environmental organizations such as The Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land, the American Farmland Trust and hundreds of other groups line up at the federal trough for their annual grants from taxpayer funds to serve as surrogate realtors for various levels of government. These organizations routinely identify the land for government to buy, they often initiate negotiations with landowners, and frequently, they buy the land with tax dollars, and then resell the land to government, often at a profit.

What can we do about it? We can work to convince Congress to stop giving our tax dollars to these organizations. Period.

It is difficult for individuals to be very effective at these tasks, acting alone. That’s why it is important for people who are concerned about this problem to get acquainted with others who share their concern. Working together, even a handful of people can accomplish great things. In every state, and most communities, there are organizations working to promote private property rights in public policy. Some of these organizations are listed here. An Internet search will locate dozens more organizations.

What can we do about it? We can join one or more of these organizations, and work together to stop the government land-grabs that are taking place across the country. Those who cannot get personally, actively involved can certainly write a check to support those organizations that are working on their behalf.

To prevent this transformation of America, we need to do even more. The public attitude has been shaped and prepared to accept the idea of “protecting” land from private owners by a generation or more of environmental propaganda in our schools. For example, the National Wildlife Federation received a $3.8 million grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to produce and provide “educational” materials for elementary schools (Federal Award Identifier Number: X 824877010).

What can we do about it? We can review all the material that our children are required to study in our schools, and work through local, state and national organizations to demand that our tax dollars not be used for these purposes. We must see that our children are not indoctrinated and used to advance a social agenda.

There is much that we can do, and in the last few years, more and more people are doing it, joining together to take effective, coordinated action to advance the principles of freedom, instead of expanding government and government’s inventory of land.