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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Selling the Tree Farm

Suppose the government were to sell off all of its assets, the national parks, the White House, dams, tanks, government buildings, desks, chairs, the miles of ocean front land between Los Angeles and San Diego used as a military base, every bit of government property sold to the highest bidder. If the government completely liquidated, would it have enough to pay off the national debt? While it's an interesting exercise to think through, and the (highly speculative) estimates I've seen place the total value of government assets somewhat close to the value of the debt, I didn't expect the government would actually try to pay the debt this way:

Selling the Forests, Editorial, NY Times:  It's rarely a good idea to sell off assets to pay normal operating expenses. It's an even worse idea when the assets are chunks of national forest. But that's exactly what the Bush administration wants to do. Washington has long sent money to isolated local communities surrounded by national forests. The communities cannot tax federal property, so the money helps pay for schools. The grants were calculated as a percentage of timber sales. When the annual harvest declined, partly as a result of court rulings in favor of various endangered species, the money was taken from general revenues. President Bush's 2007 budget proposes to raise the money by auctioning off about 300,000 acres of federal forest in 41 states, at an anticipated price of $800 million. The administration recently sent a bill to Congress that would give the Forest Service the authority to conduct the sales. ... In addition to the forest sale, the administration also proposes to sell a half-million acres managed by the Interior Department, not for any purposes related to stewardship of the public lands, but simply to reduce a national deficit already bloated by tax cuts...

    Posted by on Saturday, March 25, 2006 at 02:40 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Environment | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (31)


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