In 2006, I penned a series of posts explaining the myriad reasons why we (meaning the United States) as a nation need to protect our commons. The shameless efforts of the Bush Administration to sell off public lands and assets to private corporations were what initially drove me to explore these issues, but my frustration definitely doesn’t necessarily end with the corporatists in government; after all, this is what they do. No, the focus of my puzzlement, my exasperation is undeniably the American electorate. “We the people” just don’t seem to care much about our stuff. That’s why I’m updating and republishing my Protect the Commons series.
What are the commons anyway? The commons are those physical, informational, electronic, and intellectual assets that we own as a nation. One example would be Lake Erie, while another might be the airwaves, the electromagnetic spectrum on which so much media rides. The commons also include those assets that nobody can lay legitimate claim to, like, for example, the sky or the human genome.
Because the commons encompass so many different holdings, my discussion of the commons deals primarily with the shared natural heritage of the United States of America, our land, water, and air, as well as the organisms that live in those environs. I plan, over the next week, to explain the value of the commons as well as why we should not accept efforts to privatize public assets. But the first and most important reason, the one you must get your head around before you learn more, is this: THEY’RE YOURS!
What exactly do we the people collectively own?
You’d be surprised at the extent of our estate…
The crown jewels
What are some of the really cool things we the American people own?
The preposterous opposition
It is no coincidence that advocates of privatization are also rampant opponents of conservation.
The enclosure movement
In the modern enclosure movement, we’re all peons.
Breathing our birthright
Clean air is a priceless commodity, as those who live without it know.
Foxes managing our henhouse
Believe it or not, some politicians have been known to work against the interests of the American people.
Keep every cog and wheel
To protect the commons, you have to protect every part of it, even the inconvenient or obnoxious parts.
Wonderful post! This is the basis of all conservation. We should all care about each piece of the giant puzzle because it works together in amazing harmony.
What about those commons that we (U.S. citizens) share with our southerrn neighbors? – Rio Grande and neotropical migrants come to mind… How do we protect those?
Yes, we need more Ted Turners, but one wonders about the descendents of enlightened businessmen a few generations hence. Will their personal land ethic pass on to all the heirs?” Have they created trusts that can’t be violated by money-grubbing grandchildren? I sure hope so. I kind of feel like the “old guv” has been the best custodian, at least of our national parks, if not of our national forests. But even that is changing.