Government Spending

What If The Government Gave an Estate Sale?


Over at Big Goverment, Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy suggests the government host a garage sale to pay down its debt:

Here is an idea: Greece is getting ready to sell some of its assets to pay for its gigantic debt (Corfu and the Parthenon are not on the auction block yet), and the US should do the same. According to the Financial Statement of the United States, there is about $2.6 trillion of stuff we could sell (See  Page 49 of the report, it's page 69 of the whole document). A few items on my list:

Loans receivable and mortgage backed securities:  $540  billion
TARP direct loans and equity investments: $240 billion
Property, plant, and equipment: $784 billion
Freddie and Fannie preferred stocks: $65 billion

Whole thing here.

In Hasta La Vista, Arnold: What California's Budget Mess Means for America, suggested the Golden State do the same thing.

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  1. I still think we should sell statehood. Not sure what the right price is–maybe a trillion or so?

    1. Sell the naming rights just like stadiums.

      Where ya from?
      North General Electric. You?
      Eastern Boeing.

      1. Way ahead of you–it’s number 84 in the Top 100 Things I’d Do if I Ever Became a Libertarian President:

        84. Sell sponsorship opportunities for events and federal locations–e.g., the “AT&T State of the Union”; “The Martha White House”; “United States of America, Brought to You by Coca-Cola.”

        Personally, I think the states should have the right to sell their own naming rights. After all, I am a federalist.

      2. I’m from Tropidisneyda.

  2. Camp Pendleton and .
    Marine Corps Air Station Miramar would both bring in a tidy sum, being primo Southern California real estate and all. I haven’t even finished with San Diego County.

    1. Yep…ya think!!??

      Camp Pendleton: 125,000 acres and *17 miles* of SoCal beach-front.

      MCAS Miramar: Over 23,000 acres right smack dab in the middle of San Diego.

    2. MacDill AFB is bay-front property practically in downtown Tampa.

      1. I seem to recall the weaping and gnashing that went on in Tampa when MacDill was on the closure list. Someone did some lobbying. Homestead wasn’t so lucky although the taxpayers were. Repairing the damage from Hurricane Andrew would have been pricey. The Feds just let it go.

        That was also about the same time as Orlando lost the Naval Training Center.

        1. Not me, buddy, I’m all for it. At the time, there was talk that Disney would buy a big chunk of the base for its insidious, yet profitable, purposes. Likely in part for cruises.

  3. I’m not sure that estimate includes all the empty land out west and in Alaska that the government could sell. I seem to have a vague memory that it would be worth about two trillion?

    Plus, why not get rid of Guam or something? I’m sure the Japanese would shell out for a vacation spot that’s worthless to us. (Sorry Guamanians).

    1. I have a cunning plan: Sell Iraq.

      1. Who would buy it?

        About the only interested party would be Iran, and they’re looking at picking it up for nothing under adverse possession.

        1. Well, it’s got oil. I bet Turkey would consider it. Of course, they’d likely evict the tenants, but that’s their business.

          Maybe the E.U.? We could take Greece in exchange. As a U.S. state, Greece would kick ass, what with all of the tourist money. Disney Athens–on top of the Acropolis–would only be the beginning.

        2. Of those who think Iran is going to have an inordinate influence on Iraqi politics, I have met no one who can intelligibly answer the question, “What makes you think Arabs want to be indirectly ruled by Persians?”

          Perhaps you can.

          Note that the coalition most influenced by Iran, the INA, is likely to place third when the election results are final.

          1. I agree completely. The Iranians have nothing but contempt for Arabs, anyway, which would make them very unpopular overlords.

    2. Permanent oil rights alone on federally-owned Alaska lands would be worth in excess of two trillion. One can only imagine how much more valuable the lands surrounding Vegas and Reno would be if let loose from Leviathan’s ownership.

  4. Maybe we could let the “Constitution Arms” guy who wasn’t allowed to sponsor a baseball team buy naming rights to U.S. Capitol building . Nothing like a little cheap irony.

    1. What are you referring to?

  5. The government will just figure out a way to take more of OUR stuff to sell.

  6. Until “Anonymous” can buy Mt. Rushmore and re-carve it into a presidential lemon party, we are all enslaved. And that Crazy Horse monument would make a nice tableau of that guy who died of intestinal rupture when a horse fucked him.


    1. I’d like to buy Mt. Rushmore, build a house on top of it, and pay Martin Landau to live there.

      1. Martin Landau is dead.

        1. Um, not unless he died today. He’s been interviewed about Peter Graves’ death. Now James Mason, who should also live in the house, has passed on.

          1. Here’s what he said:

            Peter was one of the nicest people on the planet. Working with him for those years on Mission: Impossible is among the fondest memories of my life. He was not only extremely talented, but also completely unselfish and always prepared. Peter possessed a great sense of humor, but what impressed me most about him was that I never heard him say a bad word about anyone he encountered. I’d like [wife] Joan and the family and to know my deepest love, thoughts and feelings are with them in this hour of bereavement.

            1. To be fair, that was a statement, not an interview, so maybe he died and has been replaced by Landaubot.

          2. Hmmm… I coulda sworn he was one o’ those celebs who died last year.

            Damn faulty memory!

    2. If I bought Rushmore, I’d install bungee jumps on each president’s head. You’d jump off the nose, and finish dangling underneath. Call it “President’s Booger Bungee”.

      1. Well, that’s a novel approach. I was thinking more Hitchcock homage, of course.

    3. Anonymous has no money. However, we could relocate all of 4chan’s members to an 800 acre underground Federal Mom’s Basement Complex.

      1. However, I am amenable to the idea of remolding the Statue of Liberty into an enormous model of Pedobear.

  7. Earth, this is God.

    I want all you people to clear out by the end of the month.

    I’ve got a buyer that’s interested in the property.

    1. Is that God, or the Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz making way for a intergalactic bypass?

      1. “an”, not “a”.

        Preview, damn you!

  8. Property, plant, and equipment: $784 billion

    I hope Uncle Sam has a better handle on where its property is than the State of Florida

    TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) ? The State of Florida is looking for help finding something you’d think would be hard to lose: approximately 18,000 buildings, owned by the taxpayers of Florida, that state officials can’t quite put their fingers on. What’s more, state officials say they don’t have the people to hunt them down, so they want to use tax money to hire an outside company to find each building Florida has misplaced.

    Damn, I keep insisting that the Sunshine State isn’t any worse than any other state but it’s getting tougher every day.

    1. Well, as you know, we’re simultaneously better and worse.

      Frankly, I’m starting to think Bush was a better governor than I once thought (though I’ve always rated him highly, sans Schiavo). There was some fiscal discipline then, which he forced down the throats of the legislative leadership. All gone, now.

    2. How on earth do you lose a building? Aren’t they, like nailed down? And really big?

      Maybe this is a clue:

      “owned by the taxpayers of Florida,”

      So the State can’t quite find some buildings that it doesn’t actually own.

      Who cares? I can’t find shit in my neighbor’s garage (and god knows I’ve tried), but you don’t see me hiring somebody to toss his place.

  9. For what it’s worth, I get another email from a broker just about every day now trying to sell us a government building occupied by the State of California.

    They’re doing sale/lease backs like crazy. I could forward a couple of ’em if you’d like to see ’em, Nick.

    Usually, getting a sale/20 year lease back opportunity from someone like the State of California would be a breeze, but I don’t think that’s the case right now. …not with the lenders the way they are, and not with the State of California almost sure to cut more staff in the coming years.

    1. I dunno, Ken. Are you sure you want to get into a long-term lease with an insolvent organization?

  10. Selling highly liquid assets like stock doesn’t improve the fiscal health of the government unless those assets are overvalued. Same goes for individual’s fiscal well-being.

    1. Exactly. And if you don’t address the underlying cash outflow issues, which in this case are certainly not caused by the ownership costs of these items, you’ve done nothing except underwrite your continuing follies.

  11. How about all that federal land? What’s 75% of Utah worth these days?


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