Monday, May 27, 2013

The Government Owns Most of the Land in the Western US

Back when our country was founded, government ownership of land was considered a bad thing.

When new lands became available west of the original 13 colonies in the 1800's, the Homestead Act was passed to provide an orderly transition to private ownership and development.  But somehow, during the first half of the 20th century, the government decided to transfer all remaining land to various agencies to hold in perpetuity.

Note that the Constitution does not grant the government the power to own land at all.

The magnitude of the problem is shown by this map.

Click image for larger version

I note that the Indian reservations are shown, but although they are officially government land, recent case law and other rulings have made them sovereign -- at least to an extent.

So why does the government own most of the land in the western states?  Why should they impoverish the western states (and not the eastern, mid-western, and southern states) by holding nearly all of their mineral and grazing rights?

No wonder land costs so much in the west and southwest where I want to retire.  The government owns nearly all of it west of the front range of the Rocky Mountains except for cities, strips along roads, and agricultural areas that were settled before the feds started grabbing.

They could sell it all off over the next 10 years, and easily pay off the national debt.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Busy Day at the Cruise Port on St. Maarten

Quite the lineup of ships, including one of the two largest cruise ships in the world at the St. Maarten cruise port on January 27th, 2011.
  • At the left back is the MSC Fantasia Poesia-- 137936 GT/3900 passengers
  • To its right is P&O Oceana -- 77499 GT/2272 passengers
  • At the left front is Aida Luna --  69203 GT/2100 passengers
  • To its right is the P&O Azura -- 115055 GT/3096 passengers
  • The huge one is Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas -- 225282 GT/6296 passengers
  • To its right is Celebrity Solstice -- 122000 GT/2850 passengers
 Click image for huge version.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Federal Budget Chart Showing the Sequester Savings

Using data from the Congressional Budget Office, (Summary Table 1 and Table 1-7), anyone can easily create the following chart showing how the Sequester affects the Federal budget this year and for future years.

Federal Budget Chart Showing the Sequester Savings

Hmmm…. Somehow it doesn't look like a significant cut.

Why isn't this chart the lead story on every news site with the headline, "Sequester Has Nearly Zero Effect"?

One of the rules of politics is that when forced to make budget cuts, you should always cut the most vital things first -- thus punishing the populace and their representatives for even suggesting it.

Mr. O is very good at this; he was trained in Chicago by the best political machine the world has ever known. So he immediately stated that the "choices of Republicans in Congress" will force massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare, as well as police, education, and defense.

But of course there will be no cuts for the $250 million in payments to our "friends" in Egypt, or thousands of new uniforms for the TSA, or uncountable other areas of pure waste and cronyism.

Other Democrats echo the new party line that the Sequester shows the Republicans are "intent on dismantling the government of the United States". (See Robert Reich's blog, and around 60 separate Huffington Post pieces of propaganda articles.)

Ah, if only it were true.

But government spending in 2013 will still be more than 2012 even with the sequester, and is projected to grow out of control as far as we can see into the future.

The sequester "reduction" is absolutely meaningless.