DEBATE OF '98- responsibilities of forest land owners

Joseph Zorzin redoak at
Wed Apr 22 03:37:06 EST 1998


> Building a shopping mall does not destroy the land, it just changes the use of
> the land.  Do we have too many shopping malls?  I think so.  So, who's shopping
> mall are we going to raze to plant more trees?  Not so simple an issue, eh?

Yes, it changes the land to NOT land, only a space- a desert. It doesn't
have to be this way and it wasn't before the auto age. We could still be
building old fashioned livable towns and cities, instead of leaving them
for the destitute (the big eastern cities). But our extreme WORSHIP of
property rights hurts all of us in the LONG TERM as we pave over the
planet. But screw the LONG TERM. It's only this month's profit statement
that counts.

> If we legislate that private landowners may only do with their property what is
> in society's interests (an etherial standard at best),  then we have taken and
> converted (e.g. stolen) that property for our own use.  If society says that it
> must be done, then I think the landowner should be compensated at the highest
> possible "use value" of that property.  If that value is a shopping mall, so be
> it.

I think there's a bit of a myth about the primeval right of landowners
to do anything even in capitalist America.

In the late '70's I spent 2 years producing a "tax assessors map" for a
small town nearby (in Taxachusetts). I researched the deeds for almost
all of the properties right back to the land grants from the King of
England, and how he stole it (I mean got clear title) from the Indians.
It was a fascinating project. To get a clear picture of how the towns
were first settled, I read "The Proprietors Book of Records" which were
the documents concerning the laying out of the towns. In most towns, the
first settlers didn't have such absolute rights to do anything on that
land. They settlers were required to plant so many acres, to build a
house (and a certain type of house), to contribute to the official
church, and on and on. There's nothing primeval about property rights-
as if they were little kingdoms and the title holder was The Lord of the
Manor. Just like there's nothing primeval about corporations which
didn't' exist as we know them until the second half the nineteenth
century. It was the obligations to the rest of society that was

And of course ALL the land was stolen from the Indians, so that negates
ALL property rights in some non legal cosmic sense. So called "rights"
tend to have more to do with the wealth and power of the claimants to
those rights than morals and ethics and history. Property is not
sacrosanct. But the long term well being of the planet is.

The worship of the concept of property rights (over humans) gave us the
civil war. Better to talk over the real meaning of property rights to
avoid the current "wars" over forestry.


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