Got Debt? Sell Something.

Here’s a novel idea.  When we get ourselves into a financial jam, scratching our heads how we are going to pay the bills, we realize that maybe it’s time to sell the boat, or that condo that we only stay in one week a year.  It’s that or take a second job.  Since our time is already stretched to the limit, we reluctantly decide to sell one of our prized possessions.  Who else can you think of who might benefit from this sage advice?  Maybe our Uncle Sam?  You wouldn’t believe how much “stuff” he has lying around.

IBD Editorials has a great article on this very topic.  Our federal government owns so much property, it’s hard to conceive.  According to them, “(t)he federal government owns roughly 650 million acres of land, about 30% of all U.S. territory.”  That’s about a million square miles.  To make it a little more graphically understandable, all in one lot, that would be 1,000 miles X 1000 miles.  Granted, that land is mostly wilderness in Alaska and the West, various national parks throughout the country, etc.  We hate to part with those areas, knowing that their pristine beauty will succumb to housing developers, or airports, or other commercial developments.  Wilderness parks will become research parks.  Progress marches on.

But it isn’t all wilderness that the government owns.  It has lots of commercial real estate that is sitting idle, vacant office buildings falling into disrepair, costing taxpayers millions.  These empty buildings could be sold and put to good use by industrious entrepreneurs.  Get a negative drain off the taxpayers and add revenues to the national coffers, not just in the sale of the property, but in tax revenue raised from new business.  Kill two  birds with one stone.  (Whoops.  I’m sorry if I just offended all you PETA folks out there.)

Care would have to be taken not to flood the market with huge tracts all at once, thereby depressing the market and hurting everyone else in the process.  Sens. John McCain (Arizona) and Mike Lee and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (both from Utah) have proposed selling 3.3 million acres of their land, generating perhaps a billion dollars.  (Wow!  Couldn’t California benefit from this example?)  The backlash from the left is anticipated and will be tremendous.  You’s think we were asking them to sell their children or something (which doesn’t make much sense since they have no problem aborting them.)  As Sen. Lee points out, $1B for 3.3 M acres “won’t make much of a dent in the deficit or debt, but letting the sales proceed sets a healthy precedent. Once the government has liquidated a small piece of its assets, it’s easier to sell larger pieces in the future, which clearly it must do.”

But who says that is bad?  The tree huggers and animal rights fanatics who want to save it all for the bears, coyotes, turtles, snail darters, and all the other animal causes they celebrate, that’s who.  They would just as soon pack up all mankind and send them off to the moon so they couldn’t spoil this beautiful earth anymore.  All mankind except for themselves, of course.  They would remain behind as the all-knowing caretakers, sitting in their caves, painting pictures on the wall of all the animals they had seen that day (using biodegradable vegetable dyes, of course.)

There are many among us hold the wilderness as sacred, the holy realm of the Mother Nature goddess, but the rest of us, maybe we have better ideas.  Let’s use the land God has blessed us with.  Christ’s parable chastised the recipient of the talent who buried it, and then returned it to his master exactly as he had received it.  “If you had at least put it in the bank, I would have earned interest,” he scolded.  You know the rest of the parable of the reward for those who grew their talent.  God gave us the land and animals to use them, charging us to be good stewards of what we received.  “Be fruitful and multiply.”  I believe turning wilderness into useful property, more valuable than it was when we received it, fits God’s plan for our lives.  It’s time for Uncle Sam to get off of some of what it is sitting on.  America needs it, and the government needs not to have the debt.  Win/win.

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