Selling Yellowstone

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“The United
States may have run up a huge debt, but it is not a poor country…,”
the
Washington Post announced
on Monday as Our Rulers hit
their credit-limit. “The federal government owns roughly 650
million acres of land, close to a third of the nation’s total
land mass. Plus a million buildings. Plus electrical utilities like
the Tennessee Valley Authority. And an interstate highway system.”
Ergo, “economists of a conservative or libertarian bent”
advocate liquidating some of those assets. “Why … should
the federal government be in the electricity business?” the
Post asks even as it chuckles that of course, “no one advocates
selling Yellowstone”; goodness, even libertarians aren’t
that crazy!

Actually, plenty
of libertarians and anarchists are indeed that principled. Selling
Yellowstone and everything else government “owns” (does
a thief truly own what he buys with his victims’ plunder?)
makes sense on all levels, practically, constitutionally, morally.

Statism relies on many preposterous presumptions. Chief among these
is citizens’ imbecility. We are too stupid and wicked to breathe:
but for government’s benevolently restraining hand, we’d
kill one another or ourselves. And thanks to our blind greed for
profits, we amplify our evil foolishness when we band together to
produce goods or services.

Here and there,
enlightened folks save themselves by ascending to governmental office.
Whether elected or appointed doesn’t matter; when Mr. Former
Citizen seeks salvation from the State, he automatically becomes
Einstein to our Forrest Gump. Governing imbues him with such superiority
that he can ruin – sorry, run our lives for us.

It follows that only politicians and bureaucrats boast the smarts
to manage such treasures as Mammoth
Cave
or the Everglades.
Indeed, statists often incredulously demand, “If we didn’t
have government, who would run the national parks? You can’t
turn those over to private parties – they’d build a mall
in the Grand Canyon or condos overlooking Niagara Falls!”

Right. And millionaires never grab a hammer when they notice a nail
working itself loose on the yacht: they just pound it back in place
with their diamond ring.

Silly, isn’t it? And yet statists believe this is how the world
operates, that only politicians and bureaucrats recognize the best
use for a resource. We mere mortals squander it on a lesser utility.

Of course, that means we forgo some of the profits – just as
our millionaire may drive a nail home with his jewel, though with
a heck of a lot more time and frustration than if he’d relied
on a hammer. Statists steeped in Marxism or Keynes’ nonsense
ignore this inherent contradiction: the entrepreneurs they accuse
of overwhelming avarice will preserve rather than develop the Grand
Canyon precisely because the former makes more money.

Read
the rest of the article

May
19, 2011

Becky
Akers [send her mail] writes
primarily about the American Revolution.

The
Best of Becky Akers

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