Saturday, April 25, 2009

Those Against Pinon Canyon: Is It Really About Private Property Rights?

On Saturday my guest was Representative Sal Pace, D-Pueblo. We talked about his legislation to prevent the Army from purchasing state trust lands for the purpose of expanding Pinon Canyon. I have always believed that the rights of ranchers and private property owners should be protected and I have always opposed the use of eminent domain to take private property from citizens of southern Colorado to expand Pinon.
If you missed this part of the show, you need to rectify the situation by listening to the podcast: Select the April 25th show.
As background, the U.S. Army wants to expand the Pinon Canyon training area. Initially, the Army made a grave mistake by suggesting that eminent domain might be used to force landowners to sell to the government. It was a mistake to threaten the people of southern Colorado.
I think the discussion with Representative Pace, who I consider a friend, proved that many of those opposed to the expansion of Pinon Canyon are using the private property rights issue to make their argument but when it comes right down to it, they are about stopping the Army from acquiring more land - even if a private land owner wants to exercise his private property rights and sell to the government.
It would seem to me that if you really do support private property rights, you would support the rights of landowners to sell their land to the Army - free from intimidation from the government or their neighbors - if they freely choose to do so. Private property rights are complete. If you believe in private property rights, then be consistent when it comes to letting property owners sell their property to a buyer of their choosing. That is, and remains, my position and, I believe, the only logical property rights argument.
I have set out, from the beginning of the discussion over Pinon Canyon expansion, to respect the rights of private property owners. I'm sorry that some who are simply opposed to the expansion of Pinon are selectively applying their private property rights argument.
The other argument that many use is that too much land in Colorado belongs to the federal government. I agree - but I find it curious that Democrats would make this argument - and again they selectively seem to apply the "too much federal land" argument only when it comes to expanding the military and Pinon. That argument doesn't seem to stop the left from locking up more and more Colorado land under government control - liberal environmentalists who think nothing of building hiking trails through your property, or taking your property for the protection of a mouse trample private property rights at every turn. Each year it seems that the left proposes more land be set aside for open space, national forest or wilderness area. Perhaps if we asked our soldiers to put on Birkenstocks, grow marijuana and, instead of protecting America, protect the Preble's mouse, the left would approve the expansion of Pinon Canyon.
In all seriousness, it is unfortunate that so many who claimed to be willing to compromise on Pinon expansion as long as private property rights were respected, seem to now trample the private property rights of those with whom they might not agree. It's unfortunate because the training of our soldiers will suffer.
I will have my friend, Representative Sal Pace, on the show again. I think he is an articulate Democrat on many issues - but I think he has joined demagogues like Marilyn Musgrave and Betsy Markey and has chosen to simply try to block the expansion of Pinon Canyon at the expense of common sense and the true application of private property rights.
Representative Pace introduced HB 1317 - meant to stop the Army from buying state trust land. This vote was truly a vote to simply stop the expansion all together. Only one member of the El Paso County delegation voted the wrong way - Representative Michael Merrifield. Please send Rep. Merrifield an email at or call him at (303) 866-2932 and let him know your disappointment with his vote. Representatives Kent Lambert, Mark Waller, Larry Liston, Dennis Apuan, Marsha Looper, Amy Stephens and Bob Gardner all voted to support private property rights and still respect the training needs for the men and women who serve us everyday.
The bill now moves to the Senate. Please contact our El Paso County State Senators and ask that they vote no on HB1317:
Senator Bill Cadman
Senator Keith King
Senator John Morse
Senator Mark Scheffel
Senator Dave Schultheis


  1. Property. It's the one right with which we, in America, seem to have the most trouble.

    The principle of the American Dream revolves around property. When George Mason penned the Declaration of Rights for the State of Virginia, the third of the inalienable human rights was the right to property (today, it's the pursuit of happiness). It is one of history's great curiosities that Mason, being a slave owner and not so willing to give up his slaves, was in favor of abolishing slavery. The reason? Property rights.

    Today, true liberty with respect to property comes from being able to do with one's property what one wills. If one chooses to build or not, dig or not, sell or not, it is up to that person. What a man does with his property is his own business and no one elses. That is the American Dream.

    Liberals today can't stand true individual freedom and when they start talking about property, it's no different. They want so much to tell a man what he can and cannot do with his property because liberals know that individuals have control when they are masters of their property. The believe that, in the end, a man's land is really a piece of the State of Colorado and part of the US, and that man never truly has the rights to his property. And in the end, an erosion of the basic belief that a man has right to property also erodes the belief that a man has a right to liberty.

    In the end, the entire Pinon Canyon thing is just another example of how the liberals don't appreciate and support individual liberty, except when it furthers their interests. They don't want to see an expansion of the Army's training center, but I wonder how the Colorado liberals would have sounded if Ft. Carson had stayed on the Base Closure List and eventually disappeared into the nether.

    Let the landowners keep or sell their land to whomever they will.

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