Land in the American West: Private Claims and the Common Good. Edited by William G. Robbins and James C. Foster. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000. Pp. xi, 222. $20.00
Mark Kanazawa ()
The Journal of Economic History, 2001, vol. 61, issue 2, 559-560
Over the years, land use has been the focus of much attention by students of the American West. A recurring theme in a large number of scholarly studies has been a marked tension, in many contexts, between private land use and the so-called common good. Private land use practices, which include water use, mining, grazing, and timber cutting, often appear to militate against the common good, loosely defined as the best interests of society at large. This has led to numerous calls for regulation or planning efforts in order to promote the common good, often in the face of fierce resistance from private land owners and proponents of smaller government. Such real-world conflicts have spurred considerable debate among economists regarding the relative virtues of largely free-market solutions versus some form of government policy. In recent years, as population growth in the West and environmental advocacy in general have both boomed, so have the frequency and sheer economic magnitude of land-use conflicts. Consequently, the rift between the governmental and free-market positions relating to land use in the West has widened into a full-fledged gulf.
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