This land is whose land?

The U.S. Forest Sevice has announced its intention to push ahead with oil and gas drilling within roadless areas in Utah’s Uinta National Forest, despite widespread opposition from the actual, legal owners of the land (us). The head of the Utah Petroleum Association, however, knows what’s best for us: “We have to make a decision as a society to allow the responsible development of oil and gas leases on public lands.”

An even more heinous violation of the public trust is underway in Maryland, where Republican governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has admitted an intention to begin selling off state parks and state forests to real estate speculators (a.k.a. “developers”). “We’re absolutely looking at surplusing properties wherever we can,” the newly installed kleptocrat told the Washington Post. “Just having government holding pieces of land that should be developed is a policy we want to confront.”

It may interest cultural conservatives to know that Woody Guthrie’s first draft for “This Land is Your Land” had every verse end with the line, “God blessed America for me.” The thin strand with which I connect all this to the via negativa, however, is the little-known fourth verse (from Guthrie’s final version):

As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
And that sign said – no tress passin’
But on the other side – it didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

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