Blogs > Liberty and Power > Waldo's Treasure

Jul 1, 2004 9:28 am

Waldo's Treasure

How many times has this happened to you. You are stuck at a dinner party or faculty reception when the topic of conversation turns to the environment. Everyone in the discussion assumes basic agreement that we must do ANYTHING to save spotted owls or speckled minnows or whatever is on the cover of the Sierra Club magazine.

You face a fundamental dilemma. Do you slither off to the bar in search of more booze to help you make it through the night and avoid this meeting of liberals or do you stand up, admit you're a libertarian, and try to argue?

Maybe it's the Irish in me, but I tend to stand up and argue (although Lord knows I've combined strategies by first going to the bar to build up my courage). The biggest challenge I face when it comes to making the claims for markets and the environment is the idea that somehow people won't take care of the land or water on their own. That left to our own devices we chop down all the trees, kill all the bears, and loot the minerals. We need the government to save us from ourselves right?

Next time you face that fight, here is a great example to illustrate the libertarian position on the environment. Waldo Wilcox owned a large ranch in Utah that was covered with a vast archeological treasure, as documented in this AP story that was in my local paper this morning. What did he do? Did he dig up the artifacts and sell them? Did he sell tickets for admission? No, he never told a soul, discouraged hikers, and kept it in tact.

My only concern is that now that the government owns the land it will be ruined, like the national parks throughout the West that are run so poorly by our Park Service. Hats off to Waldo; I just wish he'd kept it himself.

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Jonathan Rick - 7/5/2004

Pat says Waldo Wilcox "never told a soul" about the pristinely preserved ruins of an ancient Indian civilization on his ranch, but as this AP story notes:

"Over the years, Wilcox occasionally welcomed archaeologists to inspect part of the canyon, 'but we’d watch ’em.' When one Kent State researcher used a pick ax to take a pigment sample from a pictograph, Wilcox 'took the pick from him and took him out of the gate.'"

In any event, thanks for articulating a familiar dilemma.

Jonathan Rick