By Chris Rossini
Today marks 100 years of the U.S. National Park Service. In other words it's long past the time to get rid of another bad idea: the belief that government should block off large tracts of land because they think that land is important. How do they know what the best use of the land should be? Answer: They don't.
Preserving and conserving nature should be done by private property owners. It should never be done arbitrarily and through government force. Let's say a private property owner has acres that have a superabundance of beautiful trees. Should those trees be used for firewood, to manufacture paper, to build homes, or are they most desired as a tourist attraction?
Private property, market prices and consumer desires act as a guide to answer that question.
Government does not have market signals to guide them. It's all politics. In fact, government land has been used by the mega-rich as a way to shelter themselves from the hoi polloi.
Gary North has describes how it has worked:
The national parks are not America's greatest idea. They are the super-rich's greatest idea . . . for themselves.
You see, when you don't have private property and market signals to guide you, there's no other choice but to make arbitrary political decisions. We all know that the mega-rich have monopolized that game and that's not going to change. Politicians respond to cash, and the mega-rich have the cash.
Those without the cash run the risk of the feds stealing their land via eminent domain. They've surely done that over the years while creating their "National Parks".
The only way these arbitrary power plays can change is by getting rid of the political scenarios. The lands should be privatized so that they can be put to the best and most urgently desired uses.
But what about all those family vacations? How dare anyone suggest taking that away from middle class Americans? Well, if there's one thing we know about the market, it's that if demand (for anything) is great enough you can bet your last ounce of gold that entrepreneurs will rush to satisfy that demand. Vacationing and tourism are huge industries. They're not going away.
Entrepreneurs will also take much better care of the land since it will be their own property. Governments, as we've seen over the ages, are the biggest polluters on the planet. The U.S. government itself ranks as one of the top polluters on Earth. If government owns something, it's the same as saying "no one specifically owns it." And if no one specifically owns it, no one has any incentive to take care of it.
But don't "The People" own the national parks?
Well, if you believe that, perhaps you should give the government a call and (assuming you get through) you can tell them, "Yes, Hi. I'm an American citizen and I'd like to sell my portion of The Yellowstone National Park. Who should I speak to about selling my share? And what exactly is my share? Can you give me the coordinates on a map? I no longer wish to be an owner of Yellowstone."
See if you're able to say the whole thing without being hung up on.
"The People" don't own anything because there is no such thing as "The People". It's an abstraction, and a very powerful one for politicians to use.
With private property, you can be sure that the owners won't look to punish you out of spite either. For example, when government "shuts down" or goes through its "sequestration" charade, it doesn't cut (or even threaten to cut) its trillion dollar wars that ruin the world. No, they instead threaten to shut down the national parks and monuments that government has built in honor of itself.
Entrepreneurs will always want your business, and will want you to frequent their lands as much as possible.
Many Americans know that socialism is a complete disaster. It's evident even today in countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea. It's evident here at home with government's horrendous schools, pot-hole laden roads, and health care (which they're close to controlling completely).
Meanwhile, private property and voluntary exchange provide us with comforts, conveniences, and services than can't be listed on this page due to sheer volume.
100 years of the National Park Service is enough.
Get government out of land monopolization.