Teddy Roosevelt’s land-use policy

Letter to the Editor


Editor, Index-Tribune:

Regarding the ongoing controversy over Drakes Bay Oyster Company: Teddy Roosevelt had a very different take on matters of land use … He thought the land was there to be used, not prevented from being used. And the fact is, there is a business, a business that is property, and our government is there to protect property, not let property disappear by default by refusing to renew a public lease based on internal agency policy. And if they do, they must compensate for the loss of that property to its owner by the terms of our national contract.

Oh, and if we all own the land collectively, I’d like to either renew the lease on my portion of that land, or just sell it if I can’t ‘cause I could sure use the money!

Phineas Worthington


  • Fred Allebach

    There you go again. Nice thought provoking letter! Here’s an alternate take on the
    oyster situation: The American Revolution enshrined the merchant class over the
    aristocracy. Freedom of contract is the business class’s highest value. The
    oyster guy’s contract ran out and was not renewed. The oyster guy and his
    supporters then feel this isn’t fair and want to break the rules of their own
    sacred game. Aside from all the other hot air, this is basically what is
    happening out there. There couldn’t be a higher order of hypocrisy. If McDonnell
    Douglas doesn’t get the new fighter contract, do they go to the Supreme Court
    to force it? No. This just doesn’t fly. Whether one likes oysters or not,
    supports local ag, individual rights, labor rights, wilderness or whatever, immaterial.
    No one has the right to force a contract on an unwilling party. If this becomes
    precedent then I’ll use it to force my CDs to earn a higher interest rate.

    • Phineas Worthington

      The founders believed that contracts were made by equals. In any contractual agreement between private parties and government, there is not even a pretense of equality. And the fallacy of collective ownership is refuted easily because the real test of ownership is whether or not you can sell it. Thanks to Walter Williams for that little gem of logical wisdom!

      • Fred Allebach

        Pt. Reyes National Seashore and the Department of Interior are logical fallacies and have no standing to sign contracts? How are they getting away with building any roads or doing any other business? How does the private military industrial complex conduct business with their biggest collective client? Come on. Practically speaking, the oyster guy is SOL on the contract issue alone. All this floundering around on hypothetical side issues is just sour grapes. You’d think the business class would abide their own highest value, that no one or no entity is obligated to sign a new contract, period.

        • Phineas Worthington

          The Government owns the land, but only one bureaucrat, Mr. Salazar, is making the decisions about how that land will be used and disposed of. And he made an arbitrary decision to make the land go back to the wild and he alone is exercising that to the great detriment and loss of a business owner and everyone associated with it. If we all own the land collectively, lets all 350 million of us have a vote on how the land shall be used and disposed of, then the myth of collective government ownership might have some actual merit.

          And I don’t know how you can place any value on contracts without reference to the underlying principles of rights of individuals as free agents and their rights of free trade to make those contracts as equals. You’re a very confused man Fred.

          This discussion illustrates perfectly my main criticism of Jefferson in his writing of the D of I, the idea that rights are self-evident. They are not. They are indeed complicated abstractions that need to be relearned by a fair majority of today.

          • Fred Allebach

            I guess you just can’t face up to the reality that nobody has a right to a new contract, period. The oyster guy situation is really simple, not complicated or arbitrary. An election won, power taken and issues decided based on the principles of the winners. The principles in question are as legitimate and valid as any others in the American fabric, but that is not the issue.

            The contract is up. Game over, not renewed. It doesn’t matter why. Apparently you can’t abide your own highest principle, freedom of
            contract, when things don’t go your way in a deal. This principle is obviously then not a literal, fundamental truth. You’re being an inconsistent fundamentalist. For my money this oyster thing is just the sour grapes of losers who abandon their own core principles to win at any cost: Machiavellian, nothing more.

          • Phineas Worthington

            Fred, the definition of communism is when government owns the means of production. Land is clearly a means of production. And in this case, government clearly owns the land and its productive capacity.

            Contracts, legitimate contracts, can only be between equal parties.

          • Fred Allebach

            Phineas, land is a natural resource, means of production are socio-economic things that have to do with how resources are processed, in another class, so your logic is off to bad start. See Chris Scott’s logical fallacy comments. And in the real world, a contract is a contract, if it exists it is legitimate, are you now coming over to the equality camp? I’m all for creating level playing fields.

          • Phineas Worthington

            Natural resources, like land, are certainly means of production. Ask any farmer. As are many other things.

            The premise stands, the logic is inarguable. You and Chris are very intellectually confused by your moral relativism and stolen concepts.

            All governments have a monopoly on legal force. Individuals do not. As such, no private party can be an equal in any transaction with government. That is why lien rights are forfeited by contractors in any public contract, it is an unequal relationship by its very nature. Governments don’t have rights, individuals do.