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:
New Mexico 41.8
New Hampshire 13.4
North Carolina 11.8
West Virginia 7.4
South Dakota 6.2
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%
New York 0.5
Thanks to Paul Cohen for sending this map to me.