When The Government Shuts Down, Suddenly "Public" Land Isn't Public, but the Property of the State
By Grant Mincy / c4ss.org

The government shutdown is teaching us a lot about the “public sector” — mainly that it doesn’t exist.

For many folks Autumn is a season for getting out into the wild, for viewing fall colors, building camp fires, breathing in the still sweet air and plainly enjoying the great outdoors — “our” public lands. With the government shutdown, however, it is rather difficult to access “our” national parks and wilderness areas. Public lands are suddenly not so public — access is denied.

This presents a conundrum: If our wilderness areas are really public lands why do we not have access to them? The answer is rather simple — we do not have public parks or wilderness areas; in their place we instead find state territory. We do not have freedom to roam, explore and enjoy uncultivated land because it is property claimed by the state.

The federal government has profound influence on who has access to land, how it is used and where and when such land use can take place. Over one third of the United States is “owned” and operated [PDF] by the federal government. Government institutions and policies have major implications for natural resources, wilderness habitat and the public’s freedom to roam. In the current system, the more power or capital one has, the moreinfluence they have over policy. Because of this there is not only a government monopoly over uncultivated lands but also a pervasive corporate monopoly. We see this with the encroachment on wilderness with road and dam construction, concessions and lodging in “protected” areas as well as timber operations, mining and oil and gas exploration. If you can pay you can play and if the public dissents or wishes not to have wilderness exploited there is a system in place to protect your interests — one need not look further than the jailing of Tim DeChristopher or the government crack-down on environmental activism for an example.

If there were truly a public sector, however, individuals, as equals, could freely participate in decisions that involve our society — including land use. If we were liberated and set forth policy in a true public arena without invasive concentrations of power then there would be equality in access to resources, information and land. With as much as the citizens of this country find National Parks to be places of pride and adventure we should have no doubt that the true free market would develop mechanisms for stewardship of our natural places. In other words, there would still be park rangers enjoying their jobs today — possibly much more so.

Concentrated power, however, seeks to restrict the true market form and with it democratic consensus. This is why we cannot enjoy “public” lands during this government shut down. Democracy is restricted, it is part of the system, it has been removed from the public arena and placed into institutions.

If citizens wish for a public sector that will allow them to freely and responsibly enjoy their natural heritage then we should labor to reclaim the commons. We should labor to free ourselves from corporate institutional supremacy.  If our society was decentralized and democratic our children would always have access to rivers, meadows, forests and mountainous peaks — they would always be able to experience the liberation of wildness.

4.0 · 1
What's Next
Related
Load Comments
Trending Today
The Mental Disease of Late-Stage Capitalism
Joe Brewer · 10,010 views today · I’ve been talking with a lot of my friends recently — in private where they felt comfortable letting their guard down — about the dirty little secret no one is supposed to talk...
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min · 4,287 views today · When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable "trophic cascade" occurred. What is a...
The Asshole Factory
Umair Haque · 4,214 views today · My good friend Mara has not one but two graduate degrees. From fine, storied universities. Surprise, surprise: the only “job” she was able to find was at a retail...
To Save Democracy, We Need to Make Voting Much, Much Easier
Kevin Cashman · 3,581 views today · Political rhetoric in the U.S. is often characterized by sickly sweet appeals to democracy. Voting is held up as the foundation of democracy, or as the most useful or necessary...
Depression Is a Disease of Civilization: Hunter-Gatherers Hold the Key to the Cure
Sara Burrows · 2,703 views today · Depression is a global epidemic. It is the main driver behind suicide, which now claims more than a million lives per year worldwide. One in four Americans will suffer from...
Amy Goodman: How the Media Is Ruining This Election
3 min · 2,292 views today · Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! tells us about Trump-land and how the media is ruining this election. 
The Old Paradigm’s Demoralizing Orthodoxies Make Us Confuse Despair With Realism
Arlene Goldbard · 2,102 views today · Undergraduates ask me how to keep from getting cynical and demoralized, and my first question is how much mainstream news media they consume each day.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,054 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 1,008 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
6 Toxic Relationship Habits Most People Think Are Normal
Mark Manson · 932 views today · There’s no class in high school on how to not be a shitty boyfriend or girlfriend. Sure, they teach us the biology of sex, the legality of marriage, and maybe read a few...
How the World Runs on Looting the Congo
27 min · 913 views today · Every drone flown by the U.S. military has inside a piece of the Democratic Republic of the Congo--a valuable mineral, of which the DRC has trillions of dollars worth buried...
New UN Report Finds Almost No Industry Profitable If Environmental Costs Were Included
Exposing The Truth · 680 views today · If you haven’t been paying attention, I don’t blame you for at first not believing this. After all, companies go to great lengths to greenwash their image and present...
"Desert Goddess" Remembers Arizona's Glen Canyon
7 min · 679 views today · In this excerpt from the award-winning documentary DamNation, filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel interview the "desert goddess," Katie Lee. When the Glen Canyon Dam was...
Brené Brown on How to Reckon with Emotion and Change Your Narrative
Brené Brown · 651 views today · The most powerful stories may be the ones we tell ourselves, says Brené Brown. But beware—they're usually fiction.
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into A Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 628 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The Real Reason America Used Nuclear Weapons Against Japan. It Was Not To End the War Or Save Lives.
Washington's Blog · 557 views today · Atomic Weapons Were Not Needed to End the War or Save Lives Like all Americans, I was taught that the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to end...
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · 480 views today · What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?  Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist...
Rose Pere: We Believe In The Oneness of Everything That Exists
2 min · 417 views today · At her home just north of Tuai, a small town in the mountains of the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand, Dr. Rangimarie Turuki Rose Pere shares some of the beliefs of her...
9 Ways We Can Make Social Justice Movements Less Elitist and More Accessible
Kai Cheng Thom · 398 views today · In my first year of college, I stopped calling myself an activist. It took attending just a few meetings of the campus queer group for me to realize that I didn’t fit in with...
Looking for More Meaning in Your life? Then Be a Part of This Movement. Be a Part of This Story.
6 min · 332 views today · It's happening. A movement of movements representing millions of people in every country of the world, all working to create an ecologically sustainable, spiritually...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?