I'm not a big fan of our current political landscape. Take what you will from that, but of the myriad of issues on the table, the one I can lend my voice to and, hopefully, shine a little light upon, is the issue of public lands. 

If you haven't guessed based on my previous coverage, I'm firmly pro public lands. I use them all the time to hike, fish, hunt, dirt bike, and ride both ATVs and UTVs. As do millions of Americans each year.

But lately, we've become out-gunned by developers, so-called conservation groups, and vulture mining and logging capitalists that don't give two shits about the world's natural beauty and why we should keep things pristine and accessible to the public. These groups would rather starve state and federal land agencies of resources and then sell those lands off to the highest bidder. 

And recently, the folks behind the 'Project 2025' Republican playbook stated that they truly, truly, truly hate the idea of public lands by proposing that both the federal and state governments around the country sell off all its public land to "solve the housing crisis." 

Now, that's wrapped in a pretty understandable and neat-sounding bow, right? Who doesn't want to solve an issue that's seen millions of Americans unable to find housing? And I'm not here aiming for the Republican jugular on this, as the Democrats have sold their fair share of land to conspicuous actors, too, and have contributed to said housing crisis. But there's just one problem with the Project 2025 conceit.

It wouldn't solve anything.

Do you know what it would do? Probably make it worse, all while lining the pockets of folks who already have more money than God. It's a scam, plain and simple. A fleecing of the American people and their accomplishment of preserving the world around us for future generations. 

The most recent statements were made by William Perry Pendley, who wrote the Department of the Interior section of the Project 2025 playbook, and was featured in The Washington Examiner detailing his thoughts on how to solve the housing crisis. 

The article, titled "Solve the housing crisis by selling government land," hopes to paint a picture where our public lands are just sitting there, being unused, and ready to wrap its arms around America's hopeful with new housing. "It surprises most people outside the American West to learn that fully one-third of the nation’s land mass is owned by the federal government," Pendley writes, adding, "we should change that ownership pattern."

Pendley then goes on to cite that much of the land the public owns—yes, the American taxpayers—could be sold to housing developers which then could get sold to you and me. He quotes former President Trump's call to release more public land to developers to expand the West and build new "Freedom Cities" within the confines of formerly held public lands. All of which is, again, wrapped in the language of how this would help the average American purchase a home. 

But it's all bullshit. 

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The housing issue we currently face isn't for the lack of space for developers to build new homes. No, the driving force for lackluster home availability is due to a couple of big factors, including corporate buy-ups of single-family homes, inflation driven by corporate greed, and employers not improving wages to keep up with said inflation.

There are other factors, too, with personal, educational, and medical debt being chief among them. But the biggest drivers are the three above, which the sell-off of our public lands wouldn't solve. 

Investors have been on a tear in purchasing homes across the country and trying to flip them for staggering profits. About 26% of single-family homes were purchased by investors in 2023, a number that's stayed around that area each year since 2019 according to CoreLogic. During that period, the median home price increased by 54%. 

It's the same for renting, too, as it's seen massive increases. A 30.4% increase—to be specific—to pricing in that same period. And aside from the corporate buy-ups of rental buildings across the US, it's now coming to light that the feds are looking into whether or not landlords colluded in price-fixing schemes to raise those rents and line their pockets.  

All of these price increases on both homes and rental units have occurred as wages have stayed stagnant and haven't kept up with inflation. To that end, I forgot to mention how corporations raised the prices of everything, surpassing inflation, in order to just make out like bandits in terms of corporate profits. So not only are homes and rental units more expensive, but literally everything is more expensive and you aren't getting paid as much as you once were. 

Where does that leave Project 2025's conceit then? Well, even taking away the investors buying up homes to flip for a profit, as well as those landlords looking to bleed you dry, what all of this means is it's become harder and harder for the average American to even afford a house.

So you'd think more homes would be good, right? Wrong. 

As you dive further down the rabbit hole of actual reality, you find that a whopping 15.4 million homes remained unoccupied. That's right, there are 15 million homes that just don't have people living in them. Now, some are vacation homes and others probably need a good amount of work. But a lot of these homes are just being sat on because homeowners, investors, and flippers just want more cash and aren't willing to face reality. It's cheaper for them to have them sit than for them not to make as much on their investment as they'd like. 

So what do you think more unregulated housing projects would do? Do you think it'd make this problem just disappear? Or do you think that selling off our public lands to the same folks who have caused all these issues would make it worse? Would those same investors holding onto those 15 million homes just buy these new homes up and cause further inventory issues as they price these new homes out of people's budgets? Of course they will. 

And not only will the inventory still be owned by greedy investors holding onto it until they can bleed you dry, but we'd all lose our public lands. It'd be worse in every conceivable way.  

There are a few bills and proposals within the halls of Congress at present looking to address these vacant home issues and investor-led price-gouging, but if you've paid any attention to politics in the last two decades, you'll be as cynical as I am about those getting any sort of traction. Both parties doing something to actually help the American public? Yeah, right. 

And I'm not even getting into the environmental disaster that would be this sell-off, because this is from the same folks that wanted to strip mine a lot of Alaska's pristine wild areas. It's also worth noting that Pendley was forced out of the Department of the Interior under Trump because he held the job illegally and wasn't confirmed by the Senate.

As you'd expect from my prior columns, and this long opposition, I find Pendley's beliefs and argument utterly reprehensible. Not only does it do nothing to solve the housing crisis Pendley supposedly is in opposition to, but it would remove tarnish this nation's long-standing tradition of preserving our nation's wild places. 

Gone would be our access to rivers for fishing, woods for hunting, deserts for riding, and vast open landscapes for enjoying. Instead, we'd have more strip malls, more unoccupied single-family homes, more parking lots, and toxic mining operations. And the few that'd benefit from this plan would see maybe a few extra dollars in their already heavy pockets. 

I don't care what side of the aisle you're on, because at the end of the day, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, undecided or apathetic, they're coming after the places we all love to use.

It's on us to protect our wild places from vultures like Pendley. 

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