Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Imminent Domain

Does it bother anyone else that the government now holds close to 90% of all mortgages? I refer, of course, to the $200 billion dollar bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Before bailing out mortgage companies, the United States government had direct ownership of nearly 30% of its total territory. These federal lands are used as military bases or testing grounds, nature parks and reserves and indian reservations, or are leased to the private sector for commercial exploitation (e.g. forestry, mining, agriculture). They are managed by different administrations, such as the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the US Department of Defense, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the US Bureau of Reclamation or the Tennessee Valley Authority. This map details the percentage of state territory owned by the federal government.

The top 10 list of states with the highest percentage of federally owned land looks like this:
  1. Nevada 84.5%
  2. Alaska 69.1%
  3. Utah 57.4%
  4. Oregon 53.1%
  5. Idaho 50.2%
  6. Arizona 48.1%
  7. California 45.3%
  8. Wyoming 42.3%
  9. New Mexico 41.8%
  10. Colorado 36.6%

Notable is that all these states are in the West (except Alaska, which strictly speaking is also a western state, albeit northwestern). Also notable is the contrast between the highest and the lowest percentages of federal land ownership. The US government owns a whopping 84.5% of Nevada, but only a puny 0.4% of Rhode Island and Connecticut. The lowest-percentage states are mainly in the East, but some are also in the Midwest and in the South:

  1. Connecticut 0.4%
  2. Rhode Island 0.4%
  3. Iowa 0.8%
  4. New York 0.8%
  5. Maine 1.1%
  6. Kansas 1.2%
  7. Nebraska 1.4%
  8. Alabama 1.6%
  9. Ohio 1.7%
  10. Illinois 1.8%

Even the 10th place is still below the two percent mark.

Where's that right to private property when you need it, if the government can now exercise fiscal controls to get you out of your house WITHOUT having to go through eminent domain payments?

h/t StrangeMaps


jim_l said...

Chris -

You need a few more facts to bolster your argument. How did the government come into ownership of all that land? Was it all by eminant domain? Or was it through things like the Louisiana Purchase? My home town in CT was founded in 1639, long before there was a government buying up property through eminant domain (they were pretty much taking it from the Indians, just like in the west). Much (not all) of the land in the west until recently (think A/C) was barely inhabitable. C'mon Chris, you really jumped the canyon on this one. Contrast all this to our church which somehow today lost ownership of our property to the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery, even though we paid for it, have the deed in our name, and have occupied it since its construction.

Rev'd Chris Larimer said...


If I misconstrued my argument as land-grabbin' by eminent domain, I'm sorry. My blog title was a pun on eminent domain and the sudden governmental ownership of our land. As usual, my puns are too clever by half.

On the more important issue of EOK on Kirk of the Hills, you have my deepest sympathy. When the PCUSA decided that it would not be Presbyterian in theology or polity, I decided it was time to leave. It only cost me a career-choice (though not my calling).

If there's anything I've said in this post (or any other) that you find hurtful - in particular to your current situation - let me know. I'm done wounding other faithful Christians.

jim_l said...

Hey, nothing hurtful in there, so please don't feel you offended someone. I just didn't get the joke! Strange day today - I'm usually all about satire.

will said...

Joke aside - you raise an interesting question: does the government now hold 90% of mortgages? If so, then, yes - it could somehow use those as leverage at some point. Hmmm. Moving away from private property?

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

That big red spot in West Virginia is where I went to High School.