Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

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"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

17 November 2008

Excessive Federal Land Ownership

The map above shows the fraction of each state owned by the federal government. It is clear that federal land ownership, especially in the West, is excessive. The federal government owns 84.5% of Nevada. For all intents and purposes, Nevada is really a little state. In fact, so much of the state is owned by the federal government, that people in Reno have difficulty finding land on which to build a home. As a result, home prices are unreasonably high there. Meanwhile, the federal government is under-utilizing the land.

Since the federal government has just taken on more than a trillion dollars of additional debt with the failing bailout, this would be a great opportunity for it to sell most of its land holdings to reduce its debt and as a strong stimulant for the economy. Putting most of the federal lands into private hands would ensure their more productive use. Property owners would also have much greater reason to improve and safeguard their property than the federal government does. A great deal of oil and natural gas field development could then take place. Private individuals would find ways to put land to use better for ranching, farming, housing, retail, and lumbering as it best makes sense. Private investment has always been superior to communist ownership of property in common.

The states listed in the order of the most federal ownership are:

Nevada 84.5%
Alaska 69.1
Utah 57.4
Oregon 53.1
Idaho 50.2
Arizona 48.1
California 45.3
Wyoming 42.3
New Mexico 41.8
Colorado 36.6
Washington 30.3
Montana 29.9
Hawaii 19.4
New Hampshire 13.4
North Carolina 11.8
Michigan 10.0
Virginia 9.9
Florida 8.2
Vermont 7.5
West Virginia 7.4
Mississippi 7.3
Arkansas 7.2
South Dakota 6.2
Wisconsin 5.6
Minnesota 5.6
Kentucky 5.4
Louisiana 5.1

Five states are mostly under communist ownership. Sixteen states are 10% or more owned under the communist system of common land ownership, in which no one really owns anything. Another 11 states are deprived of more than 5% of their land, making a total of 27 states in which the federal government owns 5.1% or more of the land.

The states with the lowest federal land ownership are:

Rhode Island 0.4%
Connecticut 0.4
New York 0.5
Iowa 0.5

Thanks to Paul Cohen for sending this map to me.


Anonymous said...

This looks interesting. some places...where do people live with all that government land?

I agree about the house prices being pushed up. I've heard that in Houston, a city with no zoning, housing is very affordable compared to other US cities with zoning...oops, wrong issue.

Or not? Both are examples of meddlin' highfalutin' govenors. :D

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

Hi Miss Breeziness,

I agree entirely with you. When a local government restricts land use for building homes either because it wants green-space or because it does not want to build roads and schools, it drives up the price of homes. When the federal government owns unused land, it drives up land costs and in some cases, such as in Reno, Nevada, home prices. The resulting high cost of homes causes people to clamor for affordable housing. Instead of addressing the real problem, the politicians then try to make mortgages more easily attainable by forcing or inducing financial institutions to loan money unwisely. Result: Many local housing bubbles burst and many insolvent financial institutions.