About theartfuldilettante

The Artful Dilettante is a native of Pittsburgh, PA, and a graduate of Penn State University. He is a lover of liberty and a lifelong and passionate student of the same. He is voracious reader of books on the Enlightenment and the American colonial and revolutionary periods. He is a student of libertarian and Objectivist philosophies. He collects revolutionary war and period currency, books, and newspapers. He is married and the father of one teenage son. He is kind, witty, generous to a fault, and unjustifiably proud of himself. He is the life of the party and an unparalleled raconteur.

Privatizing Public Lands Doesn’t Mean Turning Them Into Shopping Centers

Privatizing Public Lands Doesn’t Mean Turning Them Into Shopping Centers

TAGS The Environment


Protected public lands in the United States — including national forests, national parks, and similar areas — cover nearly 500,000 square miles, or 14 percent of the land area of the United States. The existence of these government-controlled lands gives the federal government immense power over much of the United States, and in some US states, the federal government controls a majorityof the land area.


Thanks to the popularity of some public lands, known for their natural beauty, federal control of so much land nonetheless remains popular, and the idea of privatizing these lands is considered a radical idea, to say the least.

But what if these lands were somehow removed from federal control. What exactly would happen?

It is often assumed that public lands would be immediately strip mined or turned into housing developments.

The economic realities, however, suggest otherwise.

After all, because national parks, for instance, have economic value as nature preserves, privatization would not mean bulldozing over every last leaf, tree, and twig in the parks.

But, to the extent that people will turn portions of these parks from their current use as nature recreation areas to other purposes, it will be to address truly urgent economic needs.

Valuable Tourist Attractions

A potential intermediate step toward outright privatization, the case has been made to transfer control of federal lands to state and local government control. To address concerns with such proposals, Ryan McMaken explains :

Contrary to the myth that public lands would immediately be sold to rapacious developers and oil drillers were the lands to fall into the hands of state or local governments, the reality is that public lands such as those in national parks are usually viewed very favorably by surrounding communities and by the voters in the states in which they are located.

As tourist attractions, and as giant recreational areas for locals, public lands are quite valuable as indirect sources of revenue for both private- and government-sector institutions in the area.

This line of argument for decentralizing public lands from federal to local government control also applies to outright privatization. If popular opinion now heavily favors the national parks, “America’s best idea” — and is repelled by the prospect of diminishing them — would not these opinions be reflected in the marketplace as well?

Consider how markets would respond. Considering the role of social media, any developer who tried to build a shopping mall in the middle of Yellowstone would seriously risk supplier and consumer boycotts, shame campaigns from environmental organizations, and the general ire of American society. Additional pressure would come from businesses that currently exist just outside these parks and depend upon them to attract customers into the area from around the world.

In part for this reason, if these parks were privatized, their new owners would likely to a large extent direct their use in ways that preserved their natural beauty, following consumer demand. For example, large portions of the parks would simply continue to be recreational areas for hiking, camping and visiting, but under private owners and land conservation trusts with their own money at risk, not taxpayers’. Given the state’s abysmal environmental record, the shift from government to voluntary management is overdue.

There’s no need to rely on speculation to see the voluntary sphere’s immense provision of nature recreation and preservation. The evidence already exists. Americans spend $887 billion annually on outdoor recreation, the largest categories being trail sports, camping, and water sports. Americans willingly pay more to enjoy the outdoors “than they do on pharmaceuticals and fuel, combined” with $117 billion in change.

Beyond outdoor recreation, the market stewards nature in more direct ways as well.

In 2015, private land conservation trusts in the U.S. protected fifty-six million acres, double the acreage of the national parks in the continental U.S. These trusts demonstrate that the public is willing and able to support the environment out of an appreciation of nature, and doesn’t need to be forced to contribute through taxation. These trusts have “Nearly $2.2 billion in endowments and funding,” over 4.6 million active financial supporters, and received 6.2 million visitors in 2015.

At an even larger scale than voluntary land trusts, 441 million acres (the majority) of the country’s woods and forests are privately owned, “Of those, 95 percent are classified as ‘Family and Individual’ ownerships, 4 percent are classified as ‘Corporate’ ownerships, and 1 percent is classified as ‘Other Private’ ownerships.”

Private owners of ten or more acres rank the top five reasons for their ownership as, “Beauty and scenery,” “Part of home,” “Wildlife habitat,” “Pass onto children/heirs,” and “Privacy” in descending order. The number one “issue or concern” among owners of any amount above one acre is “high property taxes.” If the goal is to foster more woods and forests, one step would be eliminating property taxes such that people aren’t punished for maintaining or expanding value-adding forests.

Thankfully, as nations develop and disposable incomes grow, we can expect the market for beauty to blossom further. People enjoy living in the shade of oaks and going hiking, if they can afford to. Once basic necessities are met, people can increasingly turn their incomes to aesthetic, recreational, and charitable pursuits, which in turn fuels enterprises like residential landscaping, camping, conservation trusts, etc.

Might some privatized areas allow drilling and resources exploitation? Yes. But that happens already:

In some national parks, the federal government owns the surface lands and private companies own some of the mineral rights below the surface. This situation is called a “split estate,” . . . There are currently 534 active oil and gas wells across 12 units of the National Park System. There are 30 additional national parks with some “split estate” lands, but no active drilling at this point. 1

Land Use that Serves Humanity

If the public lands were privatized, some of it would likely be used for purposes that don’t necessarily preserve the wilderness such as drilling, mining, etc. This prospect is alarming to many, but shouldn’t be. This is because there’s no reason to assume that untouched land is necessarily the best use of land when human beings still need housing, food, and other goods that require land to produce.

Fortunately, the marketplace can help human beings strike a balance between nature preservation and other undertakings in a way that proportionately serves human needs.

How much of the country’s wilderness should remain untouched? Certainly not all of it. After all, preventing any human development whatsoever would require vacating the country of humans. The question is, what mechanism should decide how much and which land should be kept wild, and how much and which land should not for the sake of development, balancing the demand for wildlife preserves with the demand for all other goods?

If these decisions concerning tradeoffs are left to people acting voluntarily based upon private property, the question would be decided using prices and the information about supply and demand contained within them. In deciding whether to use any given allotment of land as a park, or whether to use it for something else, business owners calculate the anticipated revenues minus the anticipated costs, or profits, of each potential option.

When people anticipate the profitability of the projects available to them to decide which to pursue, they’re not engaged in something per se nefarious, as is often the connotation of the word “profit.” Close inspection of profit-seeking reveals two useful processes at work.

First, entrepreneurs strive to maximize revenue by finding the way to most satisfy the wants that consumers will demonstrate through what they choose to buy. The higher the price consumers are willing to pay for the entrepreneur’s good or service, the more that consumers demonstrate that they expect to benefit from whatever it is they purchase.

Second, entrepreneurs attempt to minimize costs by using up the least dear (urgently needed elsewhere) combination of resources as inputs in providing the consumers’ desired outputs. The more urgently a particular input is needed elsewhere in another application, the higher its price will be. As a result, when entrepreneurs seek to minimize their costs, they, consciously or not, are seeking to accomplish their goals while least inhibiting the resource needs of others.

That is: they’re maximizing revenue and minimizing costs to maximize profits. If a plot of land is more profitable as a drilling operation than as a piece of a recreational park, that means people express greater demand on the margin for additional fuel than for one more camping spot.

Using the government thumb to tip the scale in favor of nature recreation over fuel provision by limiting drilling on public lands prioritizes giving wealthy Americans marginally more camping spots at the expense of raising fuel prices globally for the less privileged.

A balance must be struck in the use of resources between nature preservation and all other potential uses. The market has assigned to nature an enormous, multifaceted lot. Privatizing public lands while removing taxes on property and outdoor recreation will further boost the voluntary stewardship of natural preserves. Meanwhile, market freedom will also grant the flexibility to utilize portions of these parks to serve the consumers’ most pressing economic needs outside of nature preservation.

  • 1.Nicholas Lund, “The Facts on Oil and Gas Drilling in National Parks,” National Parks Conservation Association, npca.org, 2017.
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THEY are the racists

It’s not “racism” to hold people accountable for their words.

If you knew somebody who told you, over and over, “I hate you. I can’t stand the sight of you. I don’t want to be anywhere near you. You are evil, rotten and depraved,” it would not be racist to say, “Well, go then.”

These horrible women elected to Congress by profoundly ignorant people are not the victims of racism. Racism is when you single out someone for their race, and judge them as unfavorable (or favorable) because of their ancestry and genetics — and for no other reason.

That’s what THEY do. They say anyone who’s white cannot understand the plight of those who are not. What does anything cognitive — like understanding — have to do with one’s genetic make-up? To assert that is itself racism. They disparage Jews on a daily basis. They say 9/11 was not really a big deal. It was the biggest attack on American soil in history. It was the biggest attack on freedom in world history. They say all private property and wealth is theft, that it belongs to the government. They claim that to suggest otherwise is racist. What does race or racism have to do with your views on the morality and legality of private property? Why is President Trump put on the defensive for EVERYTHING — while progressive leftists are put on the defensive for ABSOLUTELY NOTHING?

How sustainable is a situation like this? It’s more than a powder keg. It can’t and won’t go on like this. That’s a guarantee.

President Trump did not tell these women to leave America because of their race, their ethnicity or anything else. He told them to leave America because all they do on a daily basis — using a sympathetic and evil media as a platform — is say how they despise America.

We live in an era where stating or asking the obvious — the virtually self-evident — is now a moral crime. Before long, if these women get their way, it will be a legal crime, punishable (perhaps) by death. Socialists and Communists punish dissenters with death. So do advocates of Sharia law. These women advocate such things. The rest is just a matter of time.

If America ever becomes a dictatorship, rational souls will look back on President Trump’s “racism” as nothing of the kind. They will see it for what it is: The last gasp of a culture and government truly gone mad.—–Dr. Michael J. Hurd



The Marxist-Fascist Health Plan

Single-payer healthcare programs for all operated by government is nothing new, even by Bernie Sanders’ standards. The National Socialists of Germany inherited a socialized medicine and welfare society in 1933, and made it stronger. Hitler quickly ordered the National Socialist People’s Welfare (NSV) organization to “see to the disbanding of all private welfare institutions,” which began the Nazis’ effort to completely nationalize charity and healthcare in Germany.

And yet, the banning of privately-operated welfare and medical organizations implied far more. By banning private healthcare and welfare in Germany, the Nazis exhibited their true red-revolutionary colors, following in the socialist footsteps of the Soviet Union. Even today, most American left-wing progressives would be hard pressed to deny Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) the opportunity to do social work. So, does this place American progressives on the far right because the Nazis’ social welfare programs were so extremely left-wing?

One of the biggest cheerleaders of mandatory socialism was Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister and briefly the Chancellor of Nazi Germany. Considering himself a communist in his college years, Goebbels, continuously applauded the generosity of Hitler’s welfare state, boasting in a 1944 editorial, “Our Socialism,” that “We and we alone [the Nazis] have the best social welfare measures.” He did not stop there. He proclaimed that “English capitalists want to destroy Hitlerism” because of the Nazis “generous social reforms.”Killing History: The F…L.K. SamuelsCheck Amazon for Pricing.

But did everyone receive socialized healthcare and welfare? What about the Jews in Germany? Well, at first the Jews and minorities were able to participate in the Nazi social safety net, until 1938. By this time the Nazis’ Völkisch equality policies no longer applied to unpure races and capitalistic classes. Instead, they correlated more to George Orwell’s Animal Farm allegory about the hypocrisy of governments who seek control by promising complete equality, but instead bestow power and privileges upon a small political elite—immortalizing Orwell’s phrase: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Of course, this same hypocrisy has occurred in every Fascist-Marxist and “social justice” nation, especially the Soviet Union. Here, equality became another word for inequality.  The bourgeoisie in communist Russia suffered the same fate as the Jews; some 7-10 million Ukrainian Kulaks were denied food and perished. In late 1929, it was Stalin who demanded the liquidation of the Kulaks as a “class enemy.” He defined wealthy Kulaks as “peasants with a couple of cows or five or six acres more than their neighbors.”

For socialists, equality is an empty phrase. Today, it is recognized that Nazism included many of the same tenets as Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism. Hitler even admitted several times that he was a “Social Democrat” who favored a “national Social Democracy” movement.

The real motive behind Bernie Sanders’ call for “Medicare for all” is to confiscate wealth, redistribute it and turn America into another impoverished Venezuela, where despite their policy of a guaranteed social safety net, there is no food, water, medicine or freedom, except for government apparatchiks. It appears that under fascist socialism, some are indeed more equal than others.

Understanding Antifa


What do Antifi members hate, and why do they hate it?

They hate achievement. They hate prosperity. They hate economic and scientific progress. They hate INDIVIDUALS.Antifa losers only understand and care about the mob. The mob has no self. They have no selves — and it’s why they identify.

The mob is not a principle. The mob is a temper tantrum — demanding full power over others they despise, power for the sake of power so they may unleash their hatred on peaceful, life-loving victims.

They loathe freedom.

Why do they hate these things?

Because they loathe themselves. On an almost incomprehensible level. Their actions prove it.

THAT’S what you have to understand, in order to see what we’re letting tear our country apart.

They call non-racist, non initiators of violence “Nazis”. Yet they are the most Nazi thing America has seen to date.

Their official movement is the Democratic Party, who will never denounce Antifa. You have to understand that Democrats and the Antifa terrorists are on the exact same page. Today’s Democratic Party is not the movement of even five years ago. Things have changed. If you evade this knowledge, you’re going to pay with the equivalent of Antifa in charge of the government, after any election — including the next one.

It can happen and it will happen. Only if we let it.

They’re nothing more than pathetic snowflakes. It takes a very weak population not to crush this threat in its earliest stages. Yet in militantly leftist cities like Portland, Oregon, the police are not permitted to do it. Because the leftists who run those places are on Antifa’s side. Where the police, as a whole, really stand remains a mystery. We’ll probably find out in time.

Antifa’s very existence is a symptom of all the things they, the terrorists, claim is wrong with us — rational, decent, freedom-loving people. It’s the most grotesque illustration of psychological projection of our era, and maybe ever.

What they’re really shrieking about is what’s wrong with themselves. Their violence represents a pathetic, dangerous struggle not to know it.

Borderline Personality Disorder and Snowflake America, by Michael J. Hurd

In psychology, there’s a term called “borderline personality disorder”. Borderline personalities see themselves as victims, even though they’re not victims. Usually, they blame everything on their parents. Interestingly, in their failure to launch, they typically remain at home with their parents into their 20s, 30s and even beyond. This helplessness and failure reinforces their unhealthy narrative that their parents are to blame for everything.

And yet: If their parents are so evil, aren’t they the last people they would wish to live with? Wouldn’t they make it the central purpose of their lives to move away, and get away from their evil family?

Leftists remind me of borderline personalities. In fact, leftism is the sociopolitical equivalent of borderline personality disorder. Leftists HATE America. They HATE the Bill of Rights. They HATE dissenting opinion, even though America was built on dissenting opinion and the First Amendment. They HATE material progress, which is why they embrace socialism and environmentalism, which will rid us of economic prosperity, for sure.

Yet leftists are like the borderline personality. Why stay in the country you HATE? They rationalize that they will change it. Or transform it. But why? By screaming about their alleged victimhood and emotionally blackmailing people into participating in their own self-destruction. Borderlines and leftists both do this!

The rest of the world is based on principles opposite of America’s. Nobody else in the world has a First and Second Amendment. Nobody else, at least no large economy, has the degree of capitalism we have had. Few have taxes as low. So why not go to the places you LOVE and exit the one place you hate?

That’s my question: Both for borderline personalities (on the local level) and for leftists-socialists-fascists on the sociopolitical level.

We already know the answer, of course. Leftists, like borderline personalities, are not curable. They don’t want to be cured. They want to be victims. They want to hate us and blame us — the decent, the productive — so they can feel like victims. They are haters, plain and simple. We — the rational, the life-loving and the healthy — let them control us at our peril.


David Hogg–the Worst Snowflake Ever, by Michael J. Hurd

“Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg says he’s been target of 7 assassination attempts” [from Fox News]

This pitiful snowflake thinks someone is coming to rescue him.

He feels (all this type does is FEEL) that others are responsible for his survival.

No wonder he’s a nasty little punk fascist favoring the obliteration of our Bill of Rights.

He wants to deny US the inalienable right to ensure our own survival. It would never occur to him to ensure his own.


Government College Debt Relief is Immoral–My Kid Shouldn’t Have to Pay Off Your Kid’s Debt

The college debt “crisis” is a moral question, but it is the opposite of what Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, AOC, and most of the Democratic presidential field are claiming.

An individual forgiving a debt they voluntarily entered into with a friend or family is noble and Christian and laudable. This sort of debt forgiveness happens routinely. I’ve done it. I’ve had it done.

Government eliminating debt is immoral. Here’s why.

If I loan someone money, and for whatever reason I choose to forgive that debt, that is my right and it is supported in the Bible. It is certainly part of American tradition, and actually may be far broader than that. It is a good and noble act, if I judge it is not enabling bad behavior. It is my choice because it is both my money and I voluntarily made the loan to the person.

But that is not at all what is being contemplated in this debate over forgiveness of student debt by Democratic politicians. First, of course, there is the need to label it a “crisis.” That is always step one for the next terrible government intervention idea.

What causes the confusion, however, is that the language is misleading when politicians say “we” should forgive this huge student debt issue. If they meant themselves as individuals, then terrific. But they most certainly do not. In truth, they intend to benefit and perhaps profit off this, not sacrifice.

Of course the concept is alluring if you are a college student with a lot of debt and know very little of the real world. Most all of us have debt and at times struggle with it. Who would not like their debt wiped out?

But when the “we” is the government, it means that the government will forcibly take one person’s money, to pay off the debt of another person. This is egregious behavior. The person whose money is being taken did not make the loan, consent to the loan, or necessarily even think the loan was a good idea.

The students and their parents voluntarily entered into those debts in return for the college degrees they obtained. They signed on the bottom line to take money to pay for something of value to them, and promised to pay it back. They knew at each step the cost they were incurring.

They were then loaned the money — with the promise they would pay it back — obtained the thing of value with that money, and now they and some politicians want Americans unrelated to the decision to take out the loan and getting value from the product to pay off the debt…while the students keep the thing of value.

This is egregious. But all the media will ever do is interview students with high debt loads and low-paying jobs. That paints a distorted picture, which of course is what it is intended to do.

I have sons who are plumbers. These young men chose not to go to college and take on debt. They work very hard, often in the Florida heat, and they actually make pretty decent money. They have no debt. I have another son working up the management ranks at Publix grocery stores, and he works long and odd hours. And another son who went to college and has nearly paid off his debt, again with a lot of hard work and now runs his own company — as one of my plumber sons does.

They have friends who are working to get nursing degrees and law enforcement training without taking on debt.

Now the politicians looking to make political hay on college debt forgiveness need to explain how it is moral that these people, and the millions like them, should be forced to pay off the debts of those who voluntarily went to college, and voluntarily took on the debt and now have a degree.

They need to explain the morality that nurses, police, firefighters, plumbers, electricians, A/C repairers, roadworkers, carpenters, roofers, block-layers, secretaries, etc. should be forced to pay off strangers’ college debts that they have no association with.

They need to explain how it is moral to force all who went to college ahead of this current crop, who all either paid off their loans or are getting close, to be forced to also pay off the loans of someone else. My wife and I paid off our loans. Sure the debts were smaller, as were the incomes. But it took a few years — while both my wife and I worked nearly full-time during college to keep them low.

If individuals want to forgive loans, that is their right and it is laudable. If banks and creditors want to, that is their right and their choice. But for the government to step in and do it — meaning all working Americans have to chip in — then we have a very different but clear-cut moral issue.

It’s wrong.