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  • Unconventional Debt Solution: Sell Federal Land

    10/27/2011 11:48:13 AM Posted by Ron Meyer

    By Jen Veldhuyzen

    National Journalism Center Intern, Human Events

    On September 14th, in a morning address to the House, a Texas Representative called for sale of federal lands to pay off the federal deficit and further private sector economic opportunity.

    In his speech, Rep. Lloyd "Ted" Poe said, "Right now we talk about raising taxes, cutting spending, and we need more revenue. Maybe we ought to think outside of the box when it comes to revenue."

    Poe said that the federal government owns 27 percent of the land in the United States.  A report published by David M. Kennedy, Stanford researcher, further confirms that well over half of most western land belongs to the government--including over 80 percent of Nevada, said a May 16 24/7 Wallstreet report.

    Poe said he pulls his proposal from historical precedent. "Let’s do what they did at the end of the War of 1812.  The Federal Government decided that it would sell some of the land to Americans – what a novel thought – and let Americans own America."

    According to data put out by the Chicago Historical Society and other organizations, federal policy between 1785 and 1800 generally retarded land sales, limiting them to corporate buyers.  In 1820 Congress began to sell land to families at $1.25 per acre.

    Federal land sales contributed to the elimination of the federal debt under President Andrew Jackson in 1835, said economic historian John Steele Gordon in an NPR interview on April 15.

    Poe's bill would sell 8 percent of federal land to private parties each year.  He introduced his "American Land Act," to the House in July; it remains in the Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy, and Forestry.

    According to the bill the federal government would sell 8 percent of National Forest Service land each year as well. According to the NFS website, the NFS manages land for power usage and resource development as well as national parks.

    Poe said in his speech that none of the land sold would come from national park land.

    Youth across the nation on both sides of the aisle should rejoice that someone has come up with a thinking-out-of-the-box, non-conformist, yet time-tested way to reduce the federal deficit that looms over our adult futures. Poe took precautions to keep from offending environmental groups, and the bill would not cut any government programs that anyone holds dear.

    Yet only one other congressperson, Rep. Vicky J. Hartzler has co-sponsored, and the bill has received no coverage nationwide. Don’t let the lack of controversy bore this bill into a slow death. This is a bill that nearly anyone could get on board with--especially young people—to protect our fiscal future.

    Jen Veldhuyzen interns at Human Events through the National Journalism Center (NJC). NJC is a project of Young America’s Foundation. 

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