A giant federal garage sale?

A giant federal garage sale?

October 8th, 2011 in Opinion Free Press

There is talk in Washington about raising money to reduce deficits by selling off unneeded federal government properties.

What kind of properties? Well, among them is 840-acre Plum Island, N.Y., which is close to Long Island. In its attempt to sell the island, which used to be the site of the federal Animal Disease Center, the government is marketing its "sandy shoreline, beautiful views and a harbor," The New York Times reported.

In addition, little-used vehicles, an airstrip and a number of other federal possessions are under consideration for being sold off by Washington to raise money.

What might do more to reduce federal deficits would be selling off some of the literally hundreds of millions of acres of land that are owned -- often unproductively -- by the federal government.

As Leonard Gilroy of the Reason Foundation notes: "The federal government owns nearly 30 percent of all the land in the country. In the West, those numbers soar even higher. The federal government controls more than 84 percent of the land in Nevada, more than 50 percent of the land in Alaska, Utah, Oregon and Idaho, and more than 40 percent of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming."

There are, of course, legitimate reasons for the federal government to own some land -- for federal highways and national parks, among other purposes.

But federal ownership of more than 600 million acres of U.S. land is excessive, to say the least.

Federal lands that do not serve a legitimate, constitutionally justified federal purpose ought to be sold.