GOODBYE PROPERTY RIGHTS
Michael S. Coffman
December 5, 2012
Since the early 1970s there has been a systematic and deliberate effort to destroy private property rights in America through the warm and fuzzy goal of sustainable development.
David Rockefeller co-founded the Club of Rome in 1968 as an elite, somewhat occult think tank. The Club of Rome published Limits to Growth in 1972, which called for severe limits on human population and state control of all development in the world to achieve “sustainable development.” Sustainable development was eventually formalized into a United Nations global action plan called Agenda 21, which President Bush committed the U.S. to at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. President Clinton put into action by the creation of Sustainable America in 1996. If fully implemented, private property rights will be a thing of the past.
Concurrent to Limits of Growth, New York’s Governor Nelson Rockefeller introduced legislation to create the Adirondack Park Agency in 1971 patterned after Limits of Growth. It was so successful that Nelson’s brother—Laurence Rockefeller—commissioned and led a study entitled Use of Land: A Citizen’s Policy Guide to Urban Growth as a set of goals for America. Published in 1973, the nationally based Use of Land was a companion to the Club of Rome’s internationally based Limits of Growth. The Use of Land was edited by William Reilly, who would later be appointed by George H. W. Bush as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1989. Reilly also attended the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where he advised President Bush to sign the UN Agenda 21, thereby committing the United States to Agenda 21.
Although utterly evil, the Rockefeller’s effort to destroy the constitutional basis of property rights was brilliant. The thrust of the Use of Land report supported the premise that development rights of private property should be at the discretion of the government for the “good of society:”
“Landowners expect to be able to develop their property as they choose, even at the expense of scenic, ecological, and cultural assets treasured by the public….[However], with private property rights go obligations that society can define and property owners should respect.” (Italics added)
This verbiage could be ripped from the pages of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s description of the general will in his Social Contract, Book 1, written in 1762. In this approach, the government, not the individual defines the property rights permitted the individual. Environmental protection would occur “not by purchase but through the police power of the federal government,” according to the Use of Land. The book then goes on to say,
It is time that the U.S. Supreme Court re-examine its precedents that seem to require a balancing of public benefit against value loss in every case and declare that, when the protection of natural, cultural, or aesthetic resources or the assurance of orderly development are involved, a mere loss in land value is no justification for invalidating the regulation of land use.
Think about this for a moment. Use of Land recommends that the Supreme Court throw away 200 years of constitutional law to justify constantly changing regulatory law. This back-door revision of the Constitution would allow the government to pass laws and create legislation at the whim of some arbitrary natural, cultural, or even aesthetic reason.
Wait a minute! Isn’t that what most environmental laws in the past 50 years are based on? Not only that, but the book’s recommendations are precisely what the Supreme Court has done since the book was published. Page after page of the Use of Land describes what has happened to create the state control of private property in America today.
The Adirondack Park Template
Preceding all of this, Laurence Rockefeller teamed up with his brother, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, to launch a study in 1968 that led to the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in upstate New York three years later.
Laurence Rockefeller provided foundation funding to a dozen activist environmental organizations which joined to form the Adirondack Council in Upstate New York. In turn, the council demanded state control over land-use within the Adirondack State Park—roughly 55 percent of which was privately owned. At the same time, Governor Nelson Rockefeller provided the political hammer to force the APA bill through the New York legislature.
To cap it off, the progressive New York Times promoted blatantly false propaganda to a largely ignorant, but politically powerful urban majority in New York City. The New York Times falsely asserted that unless the APA Act passed immediately, development would overrun the Adirondacks. Although over 80 percent of the Adirondack citizens were against the bill, the cartel’s machine prevailed and the APA Act passed in 1971.
This “unless we do it now the world is going to end” Hegelian Dialectic is standard operating procedure for the global elite specifically, and progressive Republicans and Democrats in general. Two recent examples are TARP in 2008, the Stimulus Bill in 2009, and the increase in the debt cap in the summer of 2011.
The APA perfectly reflects the Use of Land and Rousseau model of state control of private property. It controls all land-use activity on private property within the 6.1 million acre blue line of the park boundary, including the 55 percent that is private property. The Act dictates the number of acres required per home (up to forty acres), all new home construction or renovations, the color of the home, and a host of regulations that have stifled most development.
Except in the exempted cities and communities, driving through the Adirondacks today is like driving through a 1960s landscape. Urban New Yorkers who want a bucolic experience may love the effect in order to sooth their hyper-stressed nerves, but the APA has locked the Adirondack citizens into a European-style socialist time warp that has denied them the rights enjoyed by other American citizens. The raw ugly power of the APA used on the citizens of the Adirondacks would shock most Americans.
Intoxicated by the successful effort to control land development in the Adirondacks, the APA model became the template for sustainable development originally envisioned by the Club of Rome and current efforts to achieve environmental justice across America and around the world. Without knowing it, residents of the New Jersey Pinelands had the APA template applied with the creation of the New Jersey Pinelands Commission in 1978. Likewise, residents of the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon had the APA model forced on them with the creation of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in 1986.
The federal government then attempted a two pronged effort in the 1990s to advance the APA model on a regional scale. The Northeast had the Northern Forest Lands encompassing 20 million acres almost forced on them by the federally driven Northern Forest Lands Council. At the same time, the federal government attempted to swallow up the entire Interior Columbia River basin with the proposed Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project (ICBEMP) during the Clinton Administration. ICBEMP included most of Washington and parts of Idaho
ICBEMP is the biggest effort to date, encompassing most of Washington, Oregon and Idaho, as well as parts of Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada. Both the Northern Forest Lands Council and ICBEMP were eventually rejected by the people, but neither has been fully deactivated. They live on like latent cancer cells waiting for the moment they can once again metastasize.
Real World Consequences
When the Per Capita Gross Domestic Product is plotted over an Index of Legal Property Protection there is a 74 percent correlation between the per capita GDP and the strength of the nation’s property rights. While other factors are involved, property rights show the strongest correlation and the greatest importance. (The index is made up of judicial independence, impartiality of the courts, legal protection of property rights, level of military interference, integrity of the legal system, legal enforcement of contracts, and the regulatory restrictions on the sale of real property. While the exact components of the index can be argued, most indices generally use similar inputs.)
When strangling socialist regulations encumber property rights, there is little to no equity, and therefore little to no capital with which to create wealth. Without wealth, a nation cannot protect the environment. A family whose primary focus is to put food on the table is not going to be interested in protecting the environment. The contrast between the United States, Europe and the Third World is striking. Although they are rapidly disappearing, the U.S. has some of the best defined property rights in the world and its citizens had an average income of almost $47,000 in 2010. In contrast, the average income for socialist Europeans was only $34,000 and that for Third World Nations is slightly more than $1,000.
Economic impact is not the only problem. Without pride of ownership, there is no motivation to care for or optimize property held in common with millions of other citizens. Everyone sinks to the lowest common denominator, the economic structure stagnates, and the infrastructure collapses, just as happened in the former Soviet Union. Although private property owners receive the blame for environmental destruction in the U.S., ironically, mid-twentieth century Americans polluted their air and waterways because no one owned them. It was cheaper to dump pollution into the air or water since they were in the public domain.
The inevitable adverse consequence of common ownership to a large degree explains why Communism and Marxism have been such dismal failures. The environmental devastation revealed in Eastern Europe and Russia as the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s evidences a lack of motivation to protect the environment. America’s waterways and air, unlike its land, are not under Locke’s model of property rights. Consequently, like Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, America’s air and water suffered the same fate as the tragedy of the commons.
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Most Americans are unaware of the rapid loss of legally protected private property rights in the U.S. and the devastating consequences it will bring. If the government can give itself the right to tell us what we can and cannot do with our property, once sovereign citizens will not only lose their ability to create wealth, they will lose their liberties as well.
This article is excerpted from Dr. Coffman’s newest book, Plundered, How Progressive Ideology is Destroying America. (AmericaPlundered.com) Dr. Coffman is President of Environmental Perspectives Incorporated (epi-us.com) and CEO of Sovereignty International (sovereignty.net) in Bangor Maine. He has had over 30 years of university teaching, research and consulting experience in forestry and environmental sciences and now geopolitics. He was one of four who stopped the ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity from being ratified one hour before the Senate cloture vote. The Biodiversity Treaty is one of the major treaties promoted by Agenda 21. He produced the acclaimed DVD Global Warming or Global Governance (warmingdvd.com) disproving man-caused global warming—another major theme of Agenda 21. His last book, Rescuing a Broken America (rescuingamericabook.com) is receiving wide acclaim. He can be reached at 207-945-9878 or [email protected]
� 2012 Michael Coffman - All Rights Reserved