Public and Private Interests in the Federal Lands: Toward Conciliation
This paper charges opponents of public administration of the federal lands with failure to be precise in their use of the term "efficiency" and presents an alternative conceptual view of the economics of public choice. The author maintains that the use of incorrectly understood "efficiency" criteria and analysis biased towards monetary values and maximized production disregards many of the goods and services from the federal lands. He contends that concerns for distributive ends, procedural and historical principles, and nonmonetizable, discontinuous, and complex values associated with personal rights, public goods, and communitarian and ecological goals are central to federal land decisions. Furthermore, he argues that: market processes are derivative of a larger social system and do not supersede that system; there are an infinite number of output combinations from the federal lands that will qualify as being socially efficient; and traditional arguments for private enterprise are prejudiced, not soundly based on any analytic structure, and can be of little help in resolving current and future issues associated with administration of federal lands.