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
"Desert Goddess" Remembers Arizona's Glen Canyon
7 min · 9,158 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...
This Dude Just Used Jelly Beans To Convince Me To Live My Life To The Fullest
3 min · 3,877 views today · After watching this video, I just wanted to make the most of my free time. I also wanted some candy, so we will call that a 2 for 1. - Rafael Casal
Watch a Giant Suction Tube Gobble Up The Earth In This Brilliant Video about Our Economy
7 min · 2,883 views today · Modern production is based on extraction from the planet, and modern finance is based on extraction from the many for the benefit of the very few. What would a new economy look...
I Wish for You... Jeremy Irons is a Grandfather With A Beautiful Message for His Granddaughter
5 min · 1,916 views today · 'War Horse' author Michael Morpurgo and actors Jeremy Irons and Maxine Peake have joined forces to make a powerful new 5 minute film especially for you. Please watch and...
HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream? (2012)
76 min · 1,728 views today · HEIST: Who Stole the American Dream? is stunning audiences across the globe, as it exposes the real truth behind the worldwide economic collapse, tracing its origins to a 1971...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,333 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...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into A Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 1,123 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
Who Are You? This Breathtaking Video Might Change Your Life
2 min · 1,000 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
Blind Man and His Armless Best Friend Have Planted Over 10,000 Trees in China
Kate Good · 953 views today · It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then you hear a story about people overcoming all odds to help others and it completely changes your perspective of the world. The...
Republicans Welcomed Bernie Sanders to Wisconsin By Calling Him an Extremist. His Response? Perfect.
5 min · 883 views today · This was just awesome. No wonder so many people love Sander's message. The opening minutes of the July 1st rally was a classic #FeelTheBern moment, delivered to a 10,000...
Nigerians Are Building Fireproof, Bulletproof, and Eco-Friendly Homes With Plastic Bottles and Mud
Amanda Froelich · 810 views today · These colorful homes are bulletproof, fireproof, and can withstand earthquakes. They also maintain a comfortable temperature, produce zero carbon emissions, and are powered by...
9 Ways We Can Make Social Justice Movements Less Elitist and More Accessible
Kai Cheng Thom · 798 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...
F*ck That: A Guided Meditation for the Realities of Today's World
2 min · 615 views today · Just acknowledge that all that sh*t is f*cking b*llshit — you're here now, in this place, with your inner stillness. Take in a deep breath ... now breathe out. Just feel the...
Feeling the Yern: Why One Millennial Woman Would Rather Go to Hell Than Vote for Hillary
Holly Wood · 585 views today · Stumping for Hillary Clinton this weekend in New Hampshire, hedge fund manager Madeleine Albright squawked, "There's a special place in Hell for women who don't help each...
Alan Watts: The World of Man and Nature
3 min · 582 views today · Words from Alan Watts combined with breathtaking timelapse footage by two amazing photographers, and beautiful music by Carbon Based Lifeforms.
Jacque Fresco - A Story of Change
13 min · 554 views today · "Every action and decision we take - or don't - ripples into the future. For the first time we have the capability, the technology, and the knowledge to direct these ripples."
Varoufakis Leads European Left to Reclaim Democracy From "Authoritarian Technocrats"
Nadia Prupis · 539 views today · Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 seeks to find 'common solutions to common problems,' says former Greek finance minister
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · 360 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...
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 352 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...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 341 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
Load More
Like us on Facebook?