Land Use

Utah Gets Ready To Do Without the Feds

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Federal land fault line
American Lands Council

Sometimes, I suspect that a century from now, representatives of the government of the rump remains of the United States of America will go to Salt Lake City to beg the Republic of Deseret for kinder terms on a loan to fund the continuing U.S. war on anything innovative or profitable. The American representatives will have to order chips and salsa before they'll be served the 3.2 beer in which they'll drown their sorrows over the progress of the negotiations. Their hosts will drive a hard bargain, still nursing resentment over long-gone dominance by D.C. Utah is already establishing the grounds for that future meeting. Like most westerners, Utahns are pissed about federal control of land and purse strings. Unlike most, though, they seem serious about reshaping that relationship.

In 2012, Utah passed the Transfer of Public Lands Act, essentially demanding that the federal government surrender the two-thirds of the state controlled by Washington, D.C. Other western states are considering similar measures, but Utah paved the way.

But Utah is preparing to go a step further and plans for a future that isn't funded by federal largesse. The state passed a series of bills as part of a Financial Ready Utah movement. The problem, as the group backing the move explains, is that "More than 40 cents of every dollar the state of Utah spends comes from the federal government that borrows and/orprints more than 40 cents of every dollar it sends to Utah." Since "The current fiscal trajectory of the federal government is unsustainable," (a point agreed to by the Congressional Budget Office), Utahns foresee a day when whatever they want done will have to be paid by local funds.

Recently, Reason Foundation Director of Government Reform Leonard Gilroy interviewed Utah State Representative Ken Ivory, who plays a key role in increasing his state's autonomy. Ivory links his role in taking local control of public land in the state to the state's need for increased financial self-reliance. Said Ivory:

In the 2011 session—when we realized that over $5 billion of our state revenue comes from a federal government that's broke—that's when we started to flesh out how serious those numbers were. Something on the order of 40% of our state revenue comes from an unsustainable source in our federal governing partner. We looked at the magnitude of this risk and started to think about how we could broaden our revenue base and get to a point of economic self-reliance.

You're not going to close a revenue gap in the billions of dollars by tweaking the tax code with minor adjustments; you'd have to more than double the income tax and kill the economy. You'd have to increase corporate taxes by more than 1000%, again, killing the economy in an attempt to close that gap. On top of the general fiscal gap, in Utah we are $2.6 billion below average in annual per-pupil funding. There's no amount of nipping, tucking and tweaking in the tax code that even closes decimals on that gap. The magnitude is tremendous.

Yet, what we know from the U.S. Government Accountability Office is that there's more recoverable oil in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming than the rest of the world combined. There's a study from earlier this year by the Institute for Energy Research that there's $150 trillion in mineral value locked up in the federally controlled lands throughout the West. Right now the forests—which were a renewable resource, with the revenue funding schools, roads and public safety—have been shut down to timber harvesting, and now they're basically tinder boxes. We've got so much dead wood standing in the forests that, in fact, the FBI is even warning our state foresters that terrorists are encouraging wildfires as a form of jihad. The forests are so dense now that the trees can't defend themselves and fend off natural diseases and pests, so forests throughout the West are largely dead or dying just waiting for any spark to ignite the next catastrophic wildfire.

So we looked at these conditions. And as you pointed out, more than 50% of all land in the western United States is owned and controlled by the federal government. This is in a nation that was founded on the principles of inherent, inalienable rights to life, liberty and property. World-renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith made a statement in the mid-1980s that "where the socialized ownership of land is concerned, only the U.S.S.R. and China can claim company with the United States."

Ivory says the enabling acts authorizing statehood for western states, including Utah, contain the same language about transfer of public lands from the federal government to state authorities as the enabling acts for states such as Nebraska. But the transfers took place for Nebraska and other states, and not for their counterparts further west. That's the lynchpin for the drive to take control of lands that are now claimed by the federal government, and to gain the financial benefits from them.

That's not a universally accepted legal interpretation of the enabling acts, but there's no doubt that federal dominance economically hobbles the western states. There's also no doubt that greater financial independence would allow for more policy variation and experimentation at the state level—especially in a region that is rather ideologically distinct from the East. It would also help to insulate states from the ongoing fiscal disaster in Washington, D.C.

Read the rest of the very interesting interview here. And don't miss Jesse Walker's take on how immigration from California has made Idaho more conservative.

By the way, as much as I respect Utah's foresight, I'm hoping that Arizonans get to watch that future meeting in Salt Lake City from the disinterested—in either party—sidelines.

NEXT: This Christmas, Edward Snowden Wants the World to Rediscover the Gift of Privacy

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  1. Utahns foresee a day when whatever they want done will have to be paid by local funds.

    But Ted Turner will put a big fence around Zion National Park, and nobody will be allowed to ride their bicycles in the sand anymore!

    1. Tech titan wants to split California into six states, so Silicon Valley can secede:

      http://www.rgj.com/article/201…..six-states

  2. Racists!

    If a white man were in the Oval Office, they wouldn’t be doing this.

  3. There’s a study from earlier this year by the Institute for Energy Research that there’s $150 trillion in mineral value locked up in the federally controlled lands throughout the West.

    Obama wants us to make use of this trove; Shreeek said so.

    1. Why don’t you go ahead and invoke Krampus on Christmas Day while you’re at it? Shriek is the caganer of HNR, shitting all over a wonderful thing.

      1. It is not often I see someone who knows what a caganer is. Well done.

    2. I’ve heard these sorts of claims before, but I’m skeptical. I think that the Clintons and Obamas of the world mostly just want to try and prevent the freedom states from expanding for partisan electoral reasons.

      1. That may be so. But I would also consider the possibility that the sparse population has something to do with the relative freedom loving nature of some western states.

  4. To close the federal revenue gap

    you’d have to more than double the income tax and kill the economy. You’d have to increase corporate taxes by more than 1000%, again

    This guy is mathematically incompetent.

    The revenue gap could be closed just by eliminating the doc fix, C-CPI COLA adoption, and cutting defense spending 20%.

    1. I think he is referring to closing the gap between what Utah spends and Utah takes in from local revenue.

      1. He clearly was, but literacy is just some Christfag bullshit and shrike isn’t having any of it.

        1. Dumbass – this fucker said they would have to increase corporate taxes by more than 1000%.

          They collected $260 million in corporate taxes in 2012. 1000 times that is $268 billion. He is way off.

          1. Holy shit the basic innumeracy here is breathtaking.

            1000% of $260 million is 2.6 billion, dumbass.

            1. Congrats fluffy, you made Shriek very happy.

              Today, you are its wall, a wall that screams back and tells it “you matter!”

              1. If it makes him happy to make basic math errors and allow me to point them out, then we are going to start getting along a lot better, because I fucking love doing that more than he loves the attention, I guarantee you.

                1. Shreik and basic math have never gone as well together as shreik’s mouth and Obama’s ass.

              2. Today, you are its wall, a wall that screams back and tells it “you matter!”

                Why when I read this I do it in the voice of Rorschach from the watchman movie?

            2. I multiplied by 1000. I made a mistake and own it. Maybe a first here where one admits a mistake.

              Still, the rush here to defend tax hikes over spending cuts is surprising.

              1. Only an idiot like you could interpret an article in which a guy says tax hikes can’t possibly cover a budget shortfall as defending tax hikes.

              2. Maybe a first here where one admits a mistake.

                You’ve yet to own up to being a moron…get back to me when you do and we can talk.

              3. Maybe a first here where one admits a mistake.

                Nah, I’ve fucked up here before and readily admitted it when pointed out.

                Still, a good starting point for you. Kudos. Now, just admit that everything you post is bas-ackwards wrong, and you’ll be golden.

              4. Maybe a first here where one admits a mistake.

                I admit, and have admitted, my mistake with supporting the Iraq war.

                People here admit mistakes all the time. It is just your first time.

          2. This guy is mathematically incompetent.

            HAHAHAHA!

            1. The guy quoted in the article is saying they’d have to double their income tax rate — from current 5% to 10% — which would kill the economy.

              Note that the marginal state income tax rates in places like CA and HI are above 10%.

              Utah being Mormonland, though, their income tax is 5% for everyone.

              OTOH, you could triple the state income tax rate here in Texas — from 0% to 0% — will no ill effects.

              1. Yeah, I miss Texas.

              2. What if they were to double your sales tax?

                1. That would kill the economy.

                  Which isn’t happening anytime soon. There’s a reason Texas added 4 congressional districts in the last reapportionment.

                  1. Here they could triple the sales tax and it’d have zero effect.

                    I think it’s pretty much a misnomer. With the exception of the highest 5-6 and the lowest 5-6, most states are pretty much the same when you factor in everything.

                    1. As someone who moved from #4 on the list (Hawaii) to #46 on the list (Texas), I can assure you that those outliers make a big difference if you’re willing to move to the better ones. Also, it’s not just overt taxes. Laws and regulations like the Jones Act in Hawaii can be a greater burden than the actual tax load.

                      Cost of living here in Austin is about half of what it was in Hawaii.

                      The biggest problem is the deadweight load of the feds dragging you down no matter where you move.

                    2. Cost of living here in Austin is about half of what it was in Hawaii.

                      The biggest problem is the deadweight load of the feds dragging you down no matter where you move.

                      Though I’d say it’s tough to dismiss the utter isolation of Hawaii and that even without regulations it would still be expensive t get shit there (though not as expensive).

                    3. True, everything that comes from the mainland will be more expensive. But Hawaii’s government is home-grown, it has no such excuse.

                      My wife just paid $63 for her annual Texas vehicle sticker. Our daughter just got the $400 bill for her Hawaii vehicle sticker.

                      That’s a heck of an import cost for a 2X3″ piece of paper. 😉

  5. “More than 40 cents of every dollar the state of Utah spends comes from the federal government that borrows and/orprints more than 40 cents of every dollar it sends to Utah.”

    Of course, Montanans look at a similar level of dependence, and use it as an excuse to engage in “economic development” strategies which are largely anti-business.

    1. But teh biznessez ruinz teh enviramentz!!!!!!!1111one!!

      1. Washington state is number 6.

        I am calling bullshit.

        just because Boing gets massive state tax breaks does not mean the rest of the state gets them as well.

  6. SHAZAAAAM!

  7. I don’t think so. Everyone knows the best thing that can happen is for Dumbfuckastan to break off from D.C, New York and California and learn from the destruction they bring upon themselves without the central guidance of their betters on the coasts. And then they come crawling back into the fold.

    1. Only if Upstate is finally freed from downstate.

      1. Yeah they keep forgetting on the other side of, and in “the mountains” are pissed firearm toting freedom loving New yorkers who view Cuomo as a tyrant and “the city” as a worthless appendage better off at the bottom of the Atlantic

  8. You go Utah!

  9. It will be a glorious day when the Keynesian debt binge of the last century finally comes crashing down. The Fed almost didn’t get that bubble reinflated this last time.

    Soon. Very soon.

  10. I’m hoping that Arizonans get to watch that future meeting in Salt Lake City from the disinterested?in either party?sidelines.

    So, you’re pulling for Arizona to be a fully sovereign nation? Or, perhaps, part of a nation that includes neither the federal government nor Utah? Its options are pretty limited on the latter option. A satrapy of California should be no one’s ambition, but to avoid being landlocked they would have to go east and be part of AZ/NM/TX, no?

    1. I think folks in Utah would be fine with being a landlocked nation with 0% federal income tax.

      It’s not like the feds would string a border fence all the way around the state to prevent anyone from getting in or out. At first. Since there would be a fuckton of people piling into the state to enjoy the newfound economic freedom.

      1. Since there would be a fuckton of people piling into the state to enjoy the newfound economic freedom.

        With 3.2 beer? I doubt it.

        1. I can assure you, there are people who get plastered every day after work in Utah.

          You can buy higher than 3.2 beer if you go to a brewpub or the state liquor stores. Annoying as fuck, but if they was the price of getting out of paying almost 40% federal tax rates, I’d be there.

          The bigger disincentive are the winters. It gets FN cold there. That’s a big part of why I recently moved from Utah to Austin Texas.

          1. Austin is one of the most wonderful cities I’ve ever lived in, but face it, it’s a fucking furnace. SLC (I lived there for 6 years) has a lot of snow, but not extreme cold.

            1. Texas is really really hot in the summer. Phoenix is a fucking furnace. After rolling through Phoenix on my road trip this summer with 114 degree temperatures, the 96 degrees in most of Texas didn’t seem too bad.

              I’ll take 3-4 months of heat in the summer as the price of not enduring 3-4 months of cold in the winter, or a mild year round climate like in San Diego but with a really fucked up government.

              It was heading towards 7.4 degrees F when I left Utah, and it was 74 degrees F when I was rolling into Austin a few days later. Note the decimal point difference.

              1. Hah, we moved to Austin during June- we left Butte, MT on June 3, where there was a sideways blizzard and about 10 degrees F (spring was coming, since themps were rising above the -35 they were most of the winter). We got into Austin on June 5, and it was 105.

                I gotta say, I miss the place terribly. Whip In, Strange Brew, Cactus, the Red River district, East Austin, the crepe truck near Barton Springs… But it was a fucking furnace. Lower temp than AZ, slightly, thicker air for more even browning and crisping.

              2. Texas is really really hot in the summer.

                But you don’t have to shovel hot.

            2. Austin is a great place if you don’t mind the unusual number of brain-dead progs.

              The great thing about Tucson is that it runs cooler than Phoenix in the summers. I found the Tucson summer to be more tolerable than most summers I spent in Texas, whether in the humid bits or the drier but much windier bits.

              The high desert climate is my fave. YMMV.

              1. I personally enjoy the company of progs in person. Tattooed lesbian hipsters making microbrews and running restaurants is what makes, say, Portland’s Hawthorne district really really cool. I just don’t like what they do in a voting booth, and have to stay off the subject of politics around them, unless we’re talking weed or prostitution, where I become the most radical person at the table.

                1. unless we’re talking weed or prostitution, where I become the most radical person at the table.

                  Yeah. My theory that prisons should only be used for those found guilty of force, fraud, or government service gets me strange looks.

                2. I personally enjoy the company of progs in person.

                  I do, too. As individuals, they can be quite entertaining.

                  Its when they get enough of a critical mass to form a politically relevant mob that I get out of town.

                  Austin is still short of that, I believe, but it has enough of a critical mass that they feel confident in yapping on and on about their idiotic political and cultural beliefs.

              2. I considered living in Arizona, but the bone-dry air made my lips crack and bleed and my skin dry out.

                Northern AZ and southern UT have some beautiful scenery and less blazing heat, but the towns are too podunk for my tastes.

                1. Breath through your nose.

      2. Obama would kill any oil pipelines coming out of Utah

    2. I don’t think being land-locked is such a handicap in the modern day – there are several, very rich, land-locked states around the world.

      Plus, being land-locked doesn’t mean no access to ports – not even at extortionate pricing. CA isn’t even the closest access to the sea – SW AZ has easy access to the Gulf of California at places like Puerto Penasco in Mexico.

      Or even using the normal Mexican ports and rail/trucking the stuff north.

  11. Funny how the Utah Rep goes on and on about how they need MOAR REVENUE, but never comes to grips with the fact that cutting state spending by 40% would solve the problem nicely.

    1. I agree, but I also like the general trend where this idea is going.

      If states keep the money and resources created by their citizens, then the federal government can’t come back and bribe them with their own funds.

      1. The federal government’s main asset is its ability to deficit spend and to create currency out of nothing.

        The individual states lack both of those things.

        Why raise taxes on your own citizens when you can just get the federal government to borrow that money instead, or print it up on the copier?

        1. The federal government’s main asset is its ability to deficit spend and to create currency out of nothing.

          “I’m Paul Krugman and I approve this message.”

          1. Calling the ability to run up debt and print money an “asset” is like wanting to have cancer because its a sure-fire way to lose weight.

            Yeah, it works in the short run, but sustainable its not.

            1. Yeah, it works in the short run, but sustainable its not.

              What does Krugnutz care…he doesn’t have any offspring….as long as the party doesn’t end on his watch he’s golden!

        2. “Why raise taxes on your own citizens when you can just get the federal government to borrow that money instead, or print it up on the copier?”

          Because then you can decide how the money is spent. For example, the Department of Education gets off on withholding funds if schools don’t meet certain criteria. If fewer tax dollars go to D.C., then D.C. has less money to bribe state governments with. As a result, local governments will be more accountable to their citizens instead of the Feds.

          I’m not saying you and RC are wrong, but I’m arguing for baby steps. If people are going to be taxed, it’s better if those tax dollars stay as local as possible.

    2. People who get elected to office are, with few exceptions, statists, not minarchists or anarchists. The notion of privatizing almost everything the government does is unpossible to them.

      That being said, there are federal mandates that require them to spend money even if they didn’t want to. They couldn’t entirely privatize the public schools, for example, since the feds require them to provide things like the Orwellian named Free And Appropriate Public Educations.

    3. Funny how the Utah Rep goes on and on about how they need MOAR REVENUE, but never comes to grips with the fact that cutting state spending by 40% would solve the problem nicely.

      Sorry, not a square to spare.

  12. never comes to grips with the fact that cutting state spending by 40% would solve the problem nicely.

    But SKOOLZ!

    1. A 40% cut ain’t gonna happen. Either they get control of what ought to be their natural resources, or they stay on Uncle Sam’s tit.

    2. See above. The feds require them to spend money on public schools.

  13. The state of Utah needs to recognize Bitcoin and gold as currency.

  14. Utah will never get the opportunity to go it alone.

    The H-bomb means never having to say you’re sorry.

    1. And I doubt anyone in America would relish being given the excuse he needs to drop one on his true enemies (white anti-socialists) than Blocko.

  15. I heard someone talking about the NSA Data Center in Utah say, “Utah should just not provide them with Utah’s water. Just cut it off.”

    1. Unfortunately, as a government monopoly, utility companies are generally *required* to serve anyone who doesn’t have a delinquent account – they can’t even raise prices without permission.

  16. Suddenly, I find Utah’s ideas very intriguing, and am interested in subscribing to their newsletter.

    And perhaps moving there…

    1. Bring a carload of booze, unless you like 3.2% beer if you get draft beer, and going to state liquor stores.

      People are really, really nice though.

      1. Enough non-Mormons move there and prosper, that’ll change. In the meantime, think of it as propping up the economy of Evanston.

        1. You can get pretty good booze there. Just a lot of annoying nanny-state bullshit you have to put up with to get it, such as draft beer being limited to 3.2% in bars, while no limit on ABV for (the kinda pricy) bottled beer.

          The 5% state income tax was a much bigger annoyance, IMO.

          Portland, OR was microbrew heaven, but then you’re stuck with a prog government. Tradeoffs everywhere.

          1. “More booze” is a definite improvement from when I lived there. At that time, the state stores were few, inconvenient, poorly stocked, closed most of the time, surly and repulsive in a communist-era Eastern Europe sort of way.

            1. The state liquor stores are still a East Germany socialist bloc shopping experience, though perhaps it was much worse in the past. The cognitive dissonance that the Mormon legislators must endure to impose their religious preferences, at the cost of having the opposite of the generally free market ideology that characterizes the rest of the economy, must be a bitch.

              1. I didn’t see surly there, though. Mormons, and Utahans in general, are really nice in person.

        2. Enough non-Mormons move there and prosper, that’ll change. In the meantime, think of it as propping up the economy of Evanston.

          Yeah, most of the people will be arseholes and you’ll still have 3.2% beer.

  17. We’ve got so much dead wood standing in the forests that, in fact, the FBI is even warning our state foresters that terrorists are encouraging wildfires as a form of jihad.

    That’s interesting. I’ve always thought ten Islamo-suckers Believers with BICs could wreak serious havoc in Federal National Forests in August. The only thing that keeps terrorists from being truly effective is (thank God) most terrorists have to be pretty dim to even be terrorists. You’ve got to be underclocked out of the gate to think running into a Tel Aviv Micky D’s with a boom-belt makes any kind of sense.

    But every now and then a competent psycho like Muhammad Atta comes along…

  18. Under this bill, we are receiving reporting from all of our agencies regarding what their percentage of federal funds is and what they would do in the event of a reduction of federal funds. This is a good starting point for information.

    No, that is a good starting point for cutting everything now that they say they would cut if the federal funds stopped.

  19. Here in Colorado the consensus amongst the population seems to be that the Federal government’s control over the majority of the land is a good thing, because it’s thought that it must remain pristine and off limits or it will be destroyed by evil developers.

    Of course, the most vocal are the people who have their “cabins” in the mountain towns that are worth millions of dollars. Many of the real estate listings feature “backs up to public land” as a selling point. Selling off public land, especially land close to developed areas will potentially reduce private land values for people who have enough influence to keep that from happening. Not only that but they have the ability to support green-agenda groups who believe any development is bad development.

    Meanwhile, Colorado continues to rank near the bottom for public school funding, a tax traditionally collected on real estate (but we’re made to feel guilty about that too).

    1. But of course, the land contaminated by Rocky Flats is perfect for new developments.

      1. You mean the same Rocky Flats that was operated under the control of the Federal government?

        1. Sush! They don’t want folks to know that.

          That’s the true beauty of Government Owned – Contractor operated. When the feds dump the plutonium down the drain, they get to blame the evil corporashuns!

    2. Here in Colorado the consensus amongst the population seems to be that the Federal government’s control over the majority of the land is a good thing, because it’s thought that it must remain pristine and off limits or it will be destroyed by evil developers.

      There’s something to be said in favor of maintaining “green” spaces for public parks and things like that, but you’re right that the people calling the most for the preservation of “wild areas” in Colorado tend to live in towns where restrictive development laws have driven up the cost of living and their own net worth. If you look at the workforce in these mountain towns, especially around the ski areas, a good chunk of them don’t even live in the town they work in–they’re bussed in from smaller communities.

      Open space and enviornmental preservation laws in this era is as much about protecting the property value of the liberal swells as it is preserving wild and scenic areas.

  20. “Sure, we prevent you from making money off your own natural resources, but we make up for it with bribes and the opportunity to be denounced as hypocritcal tax-leeches whenever you protest federal abuses!”

  21. If any state could potentially succeed at breaking itself from the federal tit, it’s Utah, but their window of opportunity is pretty small. The more migrants they get from places like California, who’ve already made SLC a dependably blue district in the last decade, the tougher it’s going to be to resist and carry on if and when the feds cut off those dollars.

    I suspect most of the state would be perfectly fine going back to the relatively insulated, communal theocracy they had during the Brigham Young era and telling the US to slag off.

    1. Actually, the SLC Blue thing is what makes Utah liveable. The oh-so-white and Mormon most of the rest of the state is safe and prosperous, but if you want fun, go to SLC.

      1. Actually, the SLC Blue thing is what makes Utah liveable.

        It’s also what would make it unbearable down the road.

        I’d be willing to trade in a few less nightclubs and hipster bars for a better long-term chance at economic and social stability that comes with fewer Social Justice Warriors contaminating the population.

        1. The solidly Red states are places that wouldn’t be much fun for me and my GF to live in. I moved to Austin because thetr you get Blue state culture, but with a Red state government reining in most of the economic idiocy (the plastic bag ban in Austin city limits is annoying, but confined to a small area).

          Perhaps at some point in the future enough progs piling in will ruin Texas, at which point I’ll pack up and move somewhere else that is like Austin now.

          1. What’s the LGBT climate in Austin? Texas being as red as it is I’m assuming it isn’t paradise but is it livable, do you think?

    2. I still think Texas is in the best position to secede. Its got everything it needs to be a perfectly viable nation-state – lots of natural resources, industry, agriculture, etc.

      And, through an accident of history, almost no federal land whatsoever.

      1. Not to mention, a self-contained electrical grid.

      2. Just do it Texas….just to show it can be done!

      3. You don’t need any natural resources or agriculture to have a prosperous nation-state, as Hong Kong illustrates.

        All you need is the ability to drive, fly, or ship in natural resources and food, plus a healthy dose of limited government.

        1. All you need is the ability to drive, fly, or ship in natural resources and food,

          Which is why being landlocked is such a difficult hill to climb.

  22. People who get elected to office are, with few exceptions, statists, not minarchists or anarchists.

    No shit.

    NOBODY EVER RAN FOR OFFICE SO THEY COULD LEAVE YOU THE FUCK ALONE.

    1. I ran for office with the express intent of voting “no” on pretty much everything.

      Got beat (narrowly) by a statist sociopath.

      It’s WINNING that is hard for the leave you the fuck alone segment of the populace.

      1. Lie man. Its expected. Hell, some progs have even come out and said that if what you say isn’t believable to the intelligent person then it doesn’t even really count as a lie – re Obamacare’s ‘you can keep your doctor’ statements.

  23. This speaks to the core contradictions of the west, how it’s politically one of the more libertarian areas of the country. (especially the bits between the Rockies and the coastal ranges) (or at least it was before California metastasized)But, because of the massive amounts of Federal land in the Western states, there was always a strong connection to the feds. The feds of course strengthened that connection through the New Deal, and WWII / Cold War defense spending. Basically, the Government owns most of the West and has a disproportionate amount of its military infrastructure there.

    Having the federal government as a next door neighbor has traditionally been a good thing. Western ranchers have traditionally had thousands of acres of nearly free grazing land to lease from the BLM, mining companies have had cheap access to BLM lands for their mines, and everyone has had access to BLM lands for recreational pursuits and to bring in tourists from back east. So the west’s attitude towards the feds has always been that of the stereotypical Republican Senior Citizen: Get the government out of my life, but don’t mess with my medicare or social security (In this case cheap land and water).
    (cont)

    1. All of that has now changed. The MuirPinchot war has swung to the Muir side, severely affecting public use of BLM lands. Along with the (temporary)draw downs from the Cold War peace dividend, this raised resentment in the west.

      So basically the Western States have a serious problem: federal defense spending has become more and more diffuse (in order to maximize the number of congressional districts in which it occurs), and no one can use the federal lands.

      Normally I’d say that if you lay down with government, you can expect to get insecticide resistant hyper bed bugs, but I have a soft spot for the west. Giving the states control of the BLM land in their borders would be a good first step. (I’d make sure that there were strong provisions that decreased the ability of the feds to declare vast areas national parks before the hand over, and other basic protections.)

  24. Regarding education in Utah, if they’re getting better results while expending less, why strive to spend more? Might be better to investigate ways to spend even less while doing more. Many school systems, for instance, tend to have lots of administrative overhead. Some claim that accepting federal education dollars actually costs money on net, due to compliance costs. There’s room for a lot of out-of-box thinking. Consider James Tooley’s arguments and research in The Beautiful Tree and Reclaiming Education; it is possible that much better solutions exist, and the entangling net of government regulation and provision prevents us from seeing or reaching those options.

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