Free Lunchers Eye Western Gold

March 19, 2010Contrarian Comments Off on Free Lunchers Eye Western Gold

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“You may not know it,” says MSNBC’s Brian Williams, “but you own some gold mines — actually, the public land where gold, silver, and uranium are dug out of the Earth.”

That sets the stage for a segment in the network’s “Fleecing of America” series, this one lamenting the 1872 Mining Law and the fact that it does not require miners to pay royalties to the government for the ores they extract.

Well, in fact, you don’t “own” any gold mines. Nor do you “own” the land upon which those mines (like those in our own Silver Valley) are located. At least, not in the usual sense of the term. Nor does the US government — it has sovereignty over them, usually acquired by treaty, but does not, and never has, “owned” them. They were acquired, in fact, precisely in order to make them available to citizens willing to explore them, settle upon them, and make them productive. Most of them are, in fact, now owned by the mining companies which operate them, because the law allowed claims to be patented — transformed into deeds — once someone had made them productive. The Homestead Acts were based on the same premise.

Western lands were not acquired to provide free lunches for couch potatoes who had invested nothing in them — no money, no time, and no effort. But of course, that is exactly what the free lunch lobby, and the congresscritters who pander to them, are seeking — another windfall for their mooching constituents, at the expense of those who produce the wealth they hope to plunder.

“You may be wondering about now,” says Williams, “what you have to show for all this.”

Well, about as much as you have invested. Want some gold? Get off your duff and go prospecting.

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