The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, July 11, 2005

Would Someone Explain This To Me? 

I have a question after reading this article about a land deal in Wisconsin:

Gaylord Nelson came up with a revolutionary idea when he was Wisconsin governor in 1961: Use a penny-a-pack cigarette tax to protect thousands of acres of parks, wetlands and other recreational areas from development.

Friends and family will remember Nelson, who later founded Earth Day and became a leader of the environmental movement as a U.S. senator, for that vision - copied by many other states - when they gather in the Capitol rotunda for a memorial service Wednesday.

But Democrats and environmental groups say a plan sent to Gov. Jim Doyle by the Legislature just two days after Nelson died of heart failure July 3 would cripple the modern version of Nelson's landmark land conservation program.

The measure directs the Department of Natural Resources to use the state's stewardship fund - named for Nelson and another leading conservationist, former Gov. Warren Knowles - to buy thousands of acres of protected land already held by the state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

Now then... with that bit of background, you can now predict that Republican in the legislature are backing the measure, while Democrats and "environmental groups" are opposed to it. Here is the biggest reason that these people are opposed to it:

Critics say the measure would drain the stewardship fund to buy land the state already owns, leaving no money to purchase additional land. The plan also would take away authority from the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, which is led by Tia Nelson, Gaylord Nelson's daughter, who is described as strongly opposed to the change.

Now... first of all we could debate the merits of the state needing to purchase land, and having that be a goal of government. I think taking away "purchasing power" from the state sounds mighty fine to me. See Kelo vs. New London for an explanation as to why.

But my actual question is this. If the state already owns the land, then how are you taking money away from the state to purchase it? You can't buy something you already own. That's simply moving title from one part of the state government to another... and ought to be free. This sounds like another bullshit argument along the line of "you raised funding to the schools by 5% instead of the 10% we asked for, so it's a cut". It seems to me like this is just consolidation of public land into one entity to make it cheaper and easier to manage. In other words it will cost less.

So what am I missing?

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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