Our federal government, which already owns 27% of the land mass in America, spends $300 million annually buying new land.
Think about it. The same people who brought us the Post Office, spent $436 on a hammer, and funded a study to measure the average sizes of airline stewardesses’ noses, are now in the natural resource business. This is the stuff nightmares are made of.
Using their patented style of “buying high” and “selling low”, Washington is cutting land deals with resource-based companies while adding new chapters to the government’s waste and mismanagement history.
The House Committee on Government Operations estimates that Uncle Sam has given away $91.3 billion in mining land alone since 1987.
One recent example is the purchase of 2,000 acres of National Park land by the Stillwater Mining Company for a “whopping” $10,810. To really appreciate the “whopping” that came with this deal, you should know that Stillwater, owned by Manville Corporation and Chevron Oil, purchased the land after discovering platinum and palladium in the park. Its value to Stillwater is estimated at $32 billion. Its value to the American taxpayer – the rightful owner of this land – is equal to the price of a Ford Escort without air conditioning.
But not all federal land is “given away”. Some properties actually hang around long enough to be federally mismanaged right into the “red”, leaving a negative scar on the federal deficit. Nothing illustrates this government waste better than the purchasing of additional land to enlarge the Manassas Historical Battlefield in Virginia.
It seems that the Park Service, with no prodding from environmental groups, tourists, or other citizens, decided that a new shopping center being constructed outside of the park was an eyesore. The Service took their problem to a very understanding Congress and came away with enough money to buy-out the shopping mall. And with the paltry sum of $130 million ($200,000 per acre), the ugliness of a taxpaying business was removed from their sight.
With prices like that, it is unnerving to learn that the very same National Park Service is considering enlarging 250 more Civil War battle sites. Soon we will have paid more for these Civil War pork projects than was spent on the war itself.
But there is more to our federal government’s obsession for land. During the seventies, it was determined by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington that increasing the size of reservation land was somehow so important that, if necessary, it should take priority over the health and welfare of the American Indian. Every year since, millions of acres have been added to the reservation land mass while thousands of Indians remain very poor indeed. Fifty million acres of reservation land have suddenly grown into several hundred million acres, and there is no end in sight.
How long can we allow a bloated and indifferent Congress unlimited access to America’s natural resources?
There is little question that America is just a few interest points away from bankruptcy. With the national debt stuck somewhere between $4.5 trillion and $6.5 trillion (depending on whose accountant you believe) every billion that can be saved or earned is well worth the effort.
Contact your state and federal representatives and tell them that America is “no longer for sale,” and that we, the people of the United States, would be better served if they got out of the land business.