Can't Anyone Solve Problems Without the Government?

Here is today's lament in the Arizona Republic:

Government plans to more than double the size of Petrified Forest
National Park appear to be in jeopardy because Congress has failed to
come up with the cash to buy surrounding properties.

The upshot: An irreplaceable treasure of dinosaur bones and Indian
ruins may be lost as ranchers sell off their properties for subdivision
and development.

And Petrified Forest is not alone. A study to be released April 8 by
the non-profit National Parks Conservation Association, says 56 federal
historic and recreation sites "could lose
land inside their borders to developers this year." Others on the list
range from Gettysburg National Military Park near Philadelphia to
Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco.

Here is an idea:  All you folks who are worried about these "treasures" can pool your money and buy the properties yourselves.  That way you can either take charge of the preservations or donate the land to the government to do so.  This is how many public parks came into being in the first place, from private donations.

Of course, this was back in the days when environmental groups actually spent their money on the environment.  Today, they spend their money instead on lobbying.  The more modern approach is not to spend your own money on the environment, but to lobby the government to force other people to spend their money on the environment.  That is why people have apparently donated $300 million dollars (!) to Al Gore to create an advertising campaign dedicated to trying to spur government action on CO2.  Rather than donating money to help solve the problem, people now donate money to push for government coercion.

Besides representing the modern approach to environmentalism  (ie don't work the problem, just lobby the government to force other people to work the problem), Gore's campaign also represents a new frontier in rent-seeking.  He has managed to get people to donate $300 million dollars to advocate government action that will likely have very little actual impact on the climate, but may have a huge impact on Al Gore's managed $5 billion investment fund.  Congrats, Al.  Even the kings of rent-seeking at ADM would not have had the cojones to ask folks to donate to a charitable advertising fund to support their subsidy requests.



  1. kebko:

    "The upshot: An irreplaceable treasure of dinosaur bones and Indian ruins may be lost as ranchers sell off their properties for subdivision and development."

    That is CRACKING me up! I was just in Holbrook (Petrified Forest) last week. It's no-man's land! It's one of those old route 66 towns that is full of 50 year old motels that you can stay in for $35/night, at least until the walls finally cave in from disrepair. In danger from subdivisions & development! Awesome.

  2. Rob:

    This is why I like the Nature Conservancy. They take your money and buy land. In fact, they even partner with ranchers to lighten their impact while staying in business. I'm sure they have a lobbying arm, but by and large they seem to focus on putting their money where their mouth is.

  3. Les:

    Hardcore activists on both the left and the right suffer from the same principle failing. They claim to want to solve problems, but what they really want to do is Punish people for engaging in activities they disapprove of.

    A property-owner may be selling their pristine land for a non-conservation purpose. Simple, straightforward solution to this problem is to offer a competitive bid for the land. The property-owner doesn't care who he sells it to, just so long as he gets the best deal... but that doesn't sound kosher to the Activist. If you just buy the land then the property-owner profits despite his apathy, that just will not do. He must be made to Suffer for his indifference, he must be Forced to care by using legalized extortion to rob him of the chance to profitably dispose of his property as he sees fit, only then can the Right outcome be achieved.