In the United States, private ownership of land is not a new idea, yet the federal government retains title to roughly a quarter of the nation's land, including national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. Managing these properties is expensive and contentious, and few management decisions escape criticism. Some observers, however, argue that such criticism is largely misdirected. The fundamental problem, in their view, is collective ownership and its solution is privatization. A free market, they claim, directs privately owned resources to their most productive uses, and privatizing public lands would create a free market in their services. This timely study critically examines these issues, arguing that there is no sense of "productivity" for which it is true that greater productivity is both desirable and a likely consequence of privatizing public lands or "marketizing" their management. Lehmann's discussion is self-contained, with background chapters on federal lands and management agencies, economics, and ethics, and will interest philosophers as well as public policy analysts.
- Publication Date:
- 25 / 02 / 1995