Nearly 85 percent of Nevada is owned by the federal government. But what does that mean? Pyotr Kropotkin’s The Conquest of Bread describes common ownership as “the chief instrument of production, the land, and the apportionment of the same according to the labour capacities of the different families.” That, however, does not describe the federal government’s iron-fisted rule over public lands, where labor capacities and productivity that benefits the community have very little to do with how they are disposed.
Nevada, for example, generates no nuclear power, yet remains a consistent destination for nuclear waste — “waste,” incidentally, that every other nuclear-powered country on the planet has the good sense to recycle and use via nuclear reprocessing. Similarly, there is nothing productive about air bombing ever-larger chunks of the state, as the Navy promises to do in the near future, especially on lands well-suited for geothermal and solar power, and yet that seems to be where we are heading.
No, Nevada is not so much an independent state as a federally administered colony like the Mariana Islands. Our lands don’t exist to serve us. Our lands exist to serve them.
Nevadans were reminded of our place recently when Nevada accused the Department of Energy of acting in bad faith and possibly shipping plutonium to the Nevada desert. Additionally, the Trump administration tried to “help” big business in its inimitably incompetent way by rolling back sage grouse mitigation rules. Those of us not living in the Trump bubble know that if the sage grouse is ever listed as an endangered species, activity in that part of rural Nevada — including the fun stuff, like hiking, hunting, and off-roading — would come to an immediate and total halt. That’s why Nevada fought hard to introduce rules to prevent the sage grouse from being listed as an endangered species: we want to use our land as we see fit.
An intrepid opinion columnist with libertarian leanings could write a few thousand words (or so) about how our federal bureaucracy is so incomprehensibly cumbersome that relaxing a rule in one part of our vast bureaucracy (the Department of Interior, for example) now causes other parts of our vast bureaucracy (the Environmental Protection Agency, for example) to automatically exercise more restrictive rules, thus making it nearly impossible to control or predict what the federal bureaucracy might do at any given moment. That column will have to either be written by someone else or written on another day, though, because there’s a more important issue to face today.
Nevada is a de facto colony, I say, and colonies don’t control their own destinies.
What do I mean? One good example will suffice:
David Colborne has been active in the Libertarian Party for two decades. During that time, he has blogged intermittently on his personal blog, as well as the Libertarian Party of Nevada blog, and ran for office twice as a Libertarian candidate. He serves on the Executive Committee for both his state and county Libertarian Party chapters.