You are here: home   Issues   An energy oasis in the political desert   The wrongs of property rights

The wrongs of property rights

Document Actions
Ray Ring's examination of so-called "property rights" lawyers' legacy missed two key points (HCN, 12/10/07). First, while Mr. Ring hinted at the edges, the article never directly confronted the fundamental contradictions in the "property rights" ideology. By opposing a rancher selling grazing permits to a conservation trust or a farmer selling land for ecosystem restoration, it is made clear that the right of an individual to do as they please with their property is not the core value or central mission of these organizations. In addition, demanding compensation for reducing grazing permits or water delivery reveals a belief that government subsidies are equivalent to private property - but only when those subsidies are enjoyed by those who eschew the concept of government to begin with.

Second, while the life's work of these attorneys has not resulted in a decision of Roe v. Wade proportions, all lawsuits, particularly those that result in protracted court battles, sap agencies' resources and divert attention away from regulation and stewardship. Considered in tandem with the Republican tactic of subduing government by freezing budgets, responding to legal proceedings are non-discretionary activities that further reduce an agency's ability to accomplish anything on the ground. Further, in this type of political environment, agency decision-makers are even more likely to capitulate to interests that conflict with their core mission rather than tempt further suppression from above or additional legal diversions from the right.

In this context, and despite the inherent contradictions between their stated goals and their legal arguments, the Pacific Legal Foundation, the Mountain States Legal Foundation, and their spawn have been tremendously effective at promoting exploitation of the public's natural heritage for private financial gain.

Carrie Phillips
Harwich, Massachusetts

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Rancher vs BLM: a 20-year standoff ends with tense roundup |
  2. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  3. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  4. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  5. The future of the Sacramento Delta hangs in the balance | But few Californians seem to grasp what is at stak...
  1. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  2. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  3. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  4. Will the Colorado River reach the Gulf of California once more? | Photographs of last month's historic water pulses....
  5. Locals resist a Bakkenization of the Beartooths | South-central Montanans oppose new drilling, forew...
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone