This Land is Our Land

First Published 10-04-10

In the debate over the Tier 5 Unemployment Extension, the assertion is frequently made that those seeking Tier 5 want something for nothing.  The majority of we 99ers have worked since we came of age and up until jobs ceased to exist in our country.  Some people had thirty years on the job when they were forced onto unemployment.  Those thirty years earned them only 99 weeks of unemployment.  I have to believe that the interest on the taxes paid by an individual over thirty years would equate to more than 99 weeks of unemployment.

Now let’s look at some other people who got something for nothing.  Passed on May 20, 1862, the Homestead Act accelerated the settlement of the western territory by granting adult heads of families 160 acres of surveyed public land for a minimal filing fee and 5 years of continuous residence on that land.

The Homestead Act is looked upon by many, me included, as one of the cornerstones for the building of our country.  But was it not a massive giveaway of public lands and resources that belonged to the people, et.al.?  This massive giveaway resulted in huge increases in farming and ranching, which in turn resulted in the establishment of industrial enterprise, which was necessitated by the accumulation of family fortunes and the desire to manufacture goods to sell to the new middle class.

You might call the Homestead Act a stimulus given to the common man who was seeking the American Dream.  But like today, stimulus back then could not be given to the common man without giving a gluttonous amount more to those who were already filthy rich. (The international corporate mafia)

One of the most controversial of the public lands “disposals” was the railroad land grants, a series of federal and state acts between 1850 and 1871.  Prior to 1862, the grants were made via the state governments; nine states granted almost 49 million acres in railroad land grants. In 1862, with the advent of the interstate transcontinental railroads, the federal government began making the grants directly to railroad corporations.

The total land grants to railroads were 130.4 million acres.  The railroad land grants covered ten percent of the continental United States, yet because of the corridor and checkerboard patterns of the grants; their influence extends considerably beyond that. One historian estimates that railroad corporations controlled the settlement of a third of the country, and an even greater portion of the American West, where most of the land grants were located. Even today, the largest land owners in many Western states are still the land grant railroads and their corporate heirs.

Much of the land has been sold to or spun off into new corporations, and the legacy of the nineteenth century railroad land grants is a remarkable and troubling concentration of land ownership and exploitation of natural resources which was never intended by Congress. The control exercised through grant lands has and continues to translate into economic and political power for the corporations which control them.

Since the original land grant laws were written, a third of the land grants have been reclaimed by the U.S. government because of grantees’ failures to fulfill public policies. But millions of acres are still being held and abused by the corporate heirs of the unenforced public land grants. Checkerboard lands within our national forests are being clear-cut, strip-mined, paved, and developed. Scenic lands and wildlife habitat are being lost. Taxpayers are losing millions of dollars in bad public/private land exchanges. Workers and communities are being poisoned with toxic waste. Corporations are squandering our taxes, writing our public laws, and controlling local and national governments.

(Information source: George Draffton, www.landgrants.org)

So, getting back to today, the richest of the rich are crying foul because our so called representatives have not yet extended tax cuts to the top 2% earners in this county.  They are also the ones pointing their fingers at the 99ers and exclaiming that we want something for nothing.

How about you swindling scum bags be made to give back all you have stolen and we the 99ers, working poor, and disenfranchised can just divide it up through a 21st century homestead act which, coupled with trade tariffs, would end poverty overnight.  And like the first Homestead Act, it would necessitate the rebuilding of our industry in order to provide American made goods to the new middle class who would be driven to keep their money in their country to insure prosperity for their progeny.

It is time for the people in this country to stand up and tell the international corporate mafia, “Get out, this land is our land.”

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