Public - Taking Care of Public Lands

National Forests, and other federally owned lands.

Back in the 1970's I did some radio shows. They were scripted and short. The following is one of the shows in 1978. Pretty much true today.

"I have in front of me, a tiny little clipping from a newspaper. It is from the Associated Press, and says, "Of the 170 million acres of publicly owned range land in all 11 Western States, 80 percent has been called only fair, poor, or in bad condition, chiefly as a result of overgrazing." That's it. Now I only hope this show is long enough to talk sufficiently about this.

"Have you ever rented a car, power tool, or apartment? Let me ask you a very, pointed, honest question. Do you take care of something you rent or lease, as well as you would take care of your own, if you had one? Do you take care of a Hertz, or Avis, as well as you would take care of a car you owned yourself? Would you take better care of your own house, than you would care for a rented house or apartment? The answer is obvious, and right there is the answer that explodes the long established myth of the so-called 'Public Lands.'

"Of course they're over grazed! It's human nature. Why should a cattleman or sheepman, care about overgrazing? It isn't their land. They don't have to replant the sod or grasses if they're eaten too close. Naturally they don't care. They pay a few bucks an acre, and like all humans, they will get all they can for their money. Eat it right down to the roots, leave, and let the government worry about it.

"The same is true of National Forests, and other federally owned lands. The most disgusting forests I have ever seen, belong to the U.S. Government. In their efforts to keep them in their 'natural' state, the trees are overgrown, fallen, diseased, parched, or anything else that may be conceived. I have spent much time in National Forests, and it seems as if no one cares. No one gives a good damn, because they don't own them. Trash everywhere, and campers start fires, which cause devastation to innocents. On the other hand, the most magnificent groves of beautiful trees in existence, belong to Weyerhauser, West Side, or some other lumber company. The trees are watered, fertilized, cared for, and are simply spectacular. The privately owned trees and forests in America, are cared for, because a profit is to made from well cared for forests. It pays to care for your land, and it doesn't pay to care for someone else's land. It pays to get as much as you possibly can off of someone else's ANYTHING, and to care for and nurture your own.

"In reality, 'public' anything, whether it be be lands, housing, forests, roads, or restrooms even, will always be in a state of bad maintenance and repair, because there is no profit motive involved, or individual ownership. The very term, "public" just reeks of irresponsibility, doesn't it? Do you like 'public' restrooms? Do you like 'public' campgrounds, or would you rather camp in a private KOA or other campground, where there is concern about maintenance, cleanliness, and customer satisfaction?

"Have you ever taken a good look at public housing in major cities? This is such a grand example of 'public,' that it is hilarious. You say they are taking the siding off the buildings to burn it in the stoves? You say they are urinating down the elevator shafts, and scribbling on the walls? Oh my goodness! They ought to know better, oughtn't they? I mean, they should respect someone else's property, now, shouldn't they?

"Why should public lands be any different? Public roads have scales set up to try to keep truckers from tearing up the roads with overweight trucks. They use C.B. radios to avoid scales, so they can get as much as they can. They don't have to fix the roads. Is that evil, or merely trying to get all they can out of something 'public?'

"The great American experiment in private property, was a new thing to the rest of the world. The experiment was ownership of things, and especially land. Private property is basic to America. Weyerhauser will care for its forests, because if they don't, they won't make a profit. The farmer or rancher will care for their land, because a profit is at stake. There is no profit or incentive to care for public lands. You have no stake in caring for your neighbor's house, but you do your own. If your neighbor doesn't change his oil, it's no skin off of your back, but if you don't change your own oil, you may be buying another engine. Simple.

"When the American tradition of private property is defeated by burgeoning government and bureaucracy, the whole land suffers. Land goes to pot, and is ugly, scarred, and worthless. When public housing projects are built, it is an automatic ticket to neighborhood destruction, because public housing residents have nothing to gain by taking care of the place, and nothing to lose, by not taking care of it. It is so obvious, but thousands of bubble headed bureaucrats and politicians just don't understand.

"I am not against charity. I am not against helping one's neighbor. I always try to help the deserving needy, but confiscating my dollars, and giving it to public anything, is pure compulsory theft, and that is an outrage. Since government has no titles or deeds to the lands that are called "public," they in reality don't own them in the first place, and should have them taken from them, sold to private owners, and placed on the tax roles. That would benefit everyone."

Don Stott


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