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Utah Phillips

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"We, the American People, are enormously wealthy. You know that? Who owns all of those trees in the national forests? (This is not a rhetorical question.) We do! Who owns all of that off-shore oil you read about in the newspaper, huh? We do! Who owns all of those minerals under the federal lands? We do! It’s public property, you know. But we elect people to go to Washington—who are those assholes?—what have we gotten ourselves into now?—they go to Washington, they lease off what we own, public property, to private companies to sell us back our own stuff for the sake of a greasy buck. That’s dumb." — The Past Didn't Go Anywhere, Righteous Babe Records (1996)

Utah Phillips

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He who owns a veteran bur oak owns more than a tree. He owns a historical library, and a reserved seat in the theater of evolution. To the discerning eye, his farm is labeled with the badge and symbol of the prairie war.

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There is a relation belonging to this species of property, unlike that of the apprentice or the hired man, which awakens whatever there is of kindness or of nobility of soul in the heart of him who owns it; this can only be alienated, obscured, or destroyed, by collecting this species of property into such masses that the owner is not personally acquainted with the individuals who compose it.

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Predictably, under democratic conditions the tendency of every monopoly - to increase prices and decrease quality - will be only more pronounced. Instead of a prince who regards the country as his private property, a temporary caretaker is put in charge of the country. He does not own the country, but as long as he is in office he is permitted to use it to his and his proteges’ advantage. He owns its current use - usufruct - but not its capital stock. This will not eliminate exploitation. To the contrary, it will make exploitation less calculating and carried out with little or no regard to the capital stock, i.e., short-sighted. Moreover, the perversion of justice will proceed even faster now. Instead of protecting pre-existing private property rights, democratic government becomes a machine for the redistribution of existing property rights in the name of illusory `social security.’

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