The New York Times recently published an editorial headlined “The Looting of America’s Public Lands” (Dec. 9), expressing outrage over President Trump’s withdrawal of “some two million acres of spectacular landscape from two national monuments in Utah designated by his Democratic predecessors.” In addition, The Times defended the retention of public lands by the federal government, rejecting the idea that any of the federal government’s treasure should be transferred to the states. The Times did not spill any ink over the idea that federal lands should be transferred into private ownership (read: privatization).
The last time the privatization of public lands was seriously considered was in 1981. That’s when I, as senior economist on President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers, proposed privatizing commercial grazing lands and timberlands. The president backed my proposals, which were subsequently contained in the president’s Budget Message for fiscal-year 1983: “Some of…
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