I found part 4 of this series on Facebook, and asked Mr. Colborne for his permission to post it. The series was posted to his blog, Retroactive Ramblings. David Colborne is a Libertarian activist in Reno, Nevada, and visits us at IPR sometimes.
If you haven’t read the Cattlemen and Libertarians series, start here:
This will be the last post in this series unless something changes dramatically with Cliven Bundy and his ranch.
When I first started on this series, I did so out of skepticism. Several of my friends and acquaintances in Clark County told me they were heading to this big protest outside of Mesquite because a cattle rancher was exercising his property rights and the government was taking his land away. Once I started to dig into the surface, I realized there was a bit more to it than that. My first instinct once I dug into the issue a little was that the rancher was wrong – he was renting land from the BLM, the BLM decided they wanted to use the land for something different, they went to court, he lost. It seemed at first glance that this was a case of a welfare rancher that felt entitled to public resources, and he was throwing a temper tantrum because the government was finally cutting his subsidy.
I told my friends in Clark County as much. I also still think there’s some truth to this. It doesn’t come close to telling the full story, though.
My friends, not surprisingly, told me I was wrong and that I needed to look deeper into the issues, and so I did. The “Cattlemen and Libertarians” series was, in effect, a running journal of my discoveries while researching the history of public land ownership near Bunkerville. When I first started, I thought I would write a blog entry, dig a little deeper than the news was willing to, then call it a night. It didn’t take long before I realized there was enough material to potentially write a graduate thesis, if I was so inclined (I’m not). If someone is aware of an academic paper tracing how colonial Spanish and Mexican land law affected public land policy and economic growth in the United States, please tell me about it. If there isn’t such a paper floating around somewhere, find a History grad student somewhere and tell them to get to work. I guarantee them it’ll be infinitely more interesting and compelling than a lot of historical work done these days. I’ll even buy a copy of the journal containing the paper if it’s not ridiculously expensive. Heck, if nobody steps up in the next couple of months, I might take a crack at it myself.
Researching these articles was that fun.
Since I know there’s a lot of material in the blog articles and since I know time online is often short, here’s a tl;dr version of the history behind Cliven Bundy’s protest: