FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Selling Off the Public Estate

by PHIL DOE

So the Bush White House, with Tom Tancredo oddly in tow, wants to sell public land throughout the west to help rural schools, primarily schools in California, Oregon, and Washington. It seems these schools got used to a token payment from timber sales on public land. Some cynics might call it payola; nevertheless, the timber has run out, even though the pass-back expectations of the locals have not.

Thus, we arrive at the present national crisis.

Here in Colorado the land on the immediate auction block runs to about 21,000 acres, much of it important recreation land to those unworthy louts who live and work in our cities and hunger for a modest retreat from the work-a-day world. Let them buy their own land seems to be the prevailing logic from the White House.

There are other help options of course. We could look at reducing the future cost of the Administration’s Iraqi adventure, giving that money to schools. In the selling, Iraq was promised to cost only $70 billion and magically lead to flowers sprouting from gun barrels. It is already over $300 billion with no end in sight, and there are no flowers except to bury the mourned dead. But this option has one drawback, the powerful don’t like it. After all it’s their war, and they don’t do the dying.

There is also the option of reversing the Bush tax cuts for those the president has called his base, the Haves and Have Mores. These cuts, in combination with the Iraqi adventure, have led us to the brink of insolvency as the yawning national debt of $8 trillion will increase by over $400 billion this year, with similar deficits as far as the eye can see. But this option borders on killing a gnat with a Bradley Fighting Machine since only $800 million is needed over 5 years for the demands of these rural schools. Based on past handouts, Colorado schools would only get about $12 million of the forest boodle.

Anyway, as the White House has it, the tax cuts are needed to keep the wheels of commerce humming. And you just know that someone will point out that if the Haves and Have Mores don’t get their tax cuts they won’t have the money to buy the public’s land. Where would that leave us?

But since many westerners benefiting from the Bush tax cuts are also jowl deep into the farm subsidy program, this might be an area worth exploring since double dipping can sometimes arouse ire where other kinds of feeding and grunting cannot.

Presently, this give away costs the public about $18 billion annually, most of it going to agribusiness. In Colorado, we ladle out about $300 million annually, with most of it going to fewer than 2000 Have-More farms. In Colorado, alone, we could generate all the money demanded by the entire timber school lobby by cutting the farm giveaways in half for 5 years.

Yet, if we were to pay the demands of just the timber schools in Colorado–they are primarily in the same counties as Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Vail, and Breckenridge–we would need only about $12 million. Mercy, we could make that up standing on our heads. For 5 years, it would mean a cut of less then one percent annually to the state’s agribusiness Have Mores.

But beware. We’d first need the approval of those statesmen and prime movers getting the hand outs. Even the short list underscores the potential problem. It includes former Senator Ben Campbell and Representatives John Salazar and Marilyn Musgrave, not to mention state legislators such as Lou Entz and Jim Isgar. And, of course, we shouldn’t forget Phil Anschutz, Jerry Mcmorris and John Elway in our sampler. Even Aspen, a city not given its due as a hotbed of family farming has pulled in well over $2 million over the past years to the delight of its population of Have Mores.

There’s also the local option. We tell Washington to peddle its schemes somewhere else. We can take care of our local problems without selling off our assets, thank you. All we’d have to do is deny the Colorado Water Conservation Board about 3 percent annually of the $80 million or so it’s been receiving from the oil and mineral severance tax. In five years the problem would be solved, and all of the money could go back to helping CWCB patrons, who just happen to be the same people getting the farm subsidy payments. Oh, what a tangled web we weave!

So, are we really ready to take on this national crisis with some minor tinkering? Or should we just role over knowing that we are bucking the wise reserve of gimlet-eyed Tom Tancreado when he says, “The federal government should sell land that it has no business owning in order to fund more important functions and to return the land to the local tax base.”

Some might question momentarily what land it is he thinks we have no right owning, but no one can deny he speaks with the certainty of the true believer. No tangled web for him.

PHIL DOE, who once worked in the Interior Department, is chair of Citizens Progressive Alliance in Littleton, Colorado. He can be reached at: ptdoe@comcast.net

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 03, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix the ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
Russell Mokhiber
Sanders Single Payer and Death by Democrat
Roger Harris
The Triumph of Trump and the Specter of Fascism
Steve Horn
Donald Trump’s Swamp: Meet Ten Potential Energy and Climate Cabinet Picks and the Pickers
Louis Proyect
Deepening Contradictions: Identity Politics and Steelworkers
Ralph Nader
Trump and His Betraying Makeover
Stephen Kimber
The Media’s Abysmal Coverage of Castro’s Death
Dan Bacher
WSPA: The West’s Most Powerful Corporate Lobbying Group
Nile Bowie
Will Trump backpedal on the Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Ron Ridenour
Fidel’s Death Brings Forth Great and Sad Memories
Missy Comley Beattie
By Invitation Only
Fred Gardner
Sword of Damocles: Pot Partisans Fear Trump’s DOJ
Renee Parsons
Obama and Propornot
Dean Baker
Cash and Carrier: Trump and Pence Put on a Show
Jack Rasmus
Taming Trump: From Faux Left to Faux Right Populism
Ron Jacobs
Selling Racism—A Lesson From Pretoria
Julian Vigo
The Hijos of Buenos Aires:  When Identity is Political
Matthew Vernon Whalan
Obama’s Legacy
Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano
By Way of Prologue: On How We Arrived at the Watchtower and What We Saw from There
Aidan O'Brien
Fidel and Spain: A Tale of Right and Wrong
Carol Dansereau
Stop Groveling! How to Thwart Trump and Save the World
Kim Nicolini
Moonlight, The Movie
Evan Jones
Behind GE’s Takeover of Alstom Energy
James A Haught
White Evangelicals are Fading, Powerful, Baffling
Barbara Moroncini
Protests and Their Others
Christopher Brauchli
Parallel Lives: Trump and Temer
Joseph Natoli
The Winds at Their Backs
Cesar Chelala
Poverty is Not Only an Ignored Word
David Swanson
75 Years of Pearl Harbor Lies
Alex Jensen
The Great Deceleration
Nyla Ali Khan
When Faith is the Legacy of One’s Upbringing
Gilbert Mercier
Trump Win: Paradigm Shift or Status Quo?
Stephen Martin
From ‘Too Big to Fail’ to ‘Too Big to Lie’: the End Game of Corporatist Globalization.
Charles R. Larson
Review: Emma Jane Kirby’s “The Optician of Lampedusa”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail