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Why don't we sell stuff?

cpwill

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Seriously. The government owns a bunch of crap we don't need - and if the result of selling our land is to reduce the price of housing - that's a good thing in this era of reduced-take-home-pay.

The debate over federal government deficits and debt has consumed Washington for some time, but the arguments for the most part have focused on taxes and spending. One aspect, however, of the debate of American creditworthiness that doesn’t get discussed is what assets the federal government owns. After all, a borrower’s assets should be one of the main factors in determining the wisdom of its borrowing, but when talking about the U.S. government’s debt burden, it seems to get left out of the conversation entirely. And a recent report from the Institute for Energy Research (IER) makes some startling claims about how much U.S. taxpayers own in real assets. According to the report, the U.S. government owns:
  • More than 900,000 separate real assets covering more than 3 billion sq. ft.
  • Mineral rights, on and offshore, covering 2.515 billion acres of land, more than the total surface land in Canada
  • 45,190 underutilized buildings, the operating costs of which are $1.66 billion annually
  • Oil and gas resources on and offshore worth $128 trillion, roughly eight times the national debt of the country
The IER is a think tank that advocates for deregulation in the energy industry, so we should perhaps take these numbers with a grain of salt. Any estimate of oil and mineral wealth in unexplored areas is going to be highly speculative, but even if the true figure is half what the IER estimates, the fact that the federal government owns property worth well in excess of its total debt is instructive in our current debate over government borrowing.
But the federal government owns much more than just land and the minerals and oil beneath it. The federal government also has a very sizable stash of gold. In fact, at 261,498,926.247 oz., it’s the largest in the world. And, in case you haven’t noticed, gold is quite popular among investors who fear the debasement of government currencies in this era of worldwide, aggressive monetary stimulus. At the going rate of $1,660 per ounce, that stash is worth nearly $442 billion. Ever since Richard Nixon broke the link between the dollar and gold in 1971, there’s has been no official justification for sitting on all this gold. And some of it could easily be used to pay down the debt or put toward neglected projects like infrastructure.
And finally, another big chunk of federal assets come in the form of student loans. According to the Federal Student Aid, the office in the Department of Education that manages the federal student-loan program, the feds own $948 billion in outstanding student loans. This appears to be the face value of these loans — the actual market value is probably lower since a portion of these loans are in default and may not be paid back. But the market value for these loans is most likely in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and the performing loans in the portfolio could be sold off to other financial institutions...
 

Ray410

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The fear would be whom Obama would pick to sell it to. You know how he is when he has these tantrums.
 

WCH

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The fear would be whom Obama would pick to sell it to. You know how he is when he has these tantrums.

Wouldn't doubt if the FedGov hasn't already put our lands and buildings up as collateral.

How did we secure all those loans?
 
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Wiseone

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Wouldn't doubt if the FedGov hasn't already put our lands and buildings up as collateral.

How did we secure all those loans?

US debt is not backed up by collateral, its simply backed up by the consistent and never failing ability of the United States to pay it
 

RGacky3

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Seriously. The government owns a bunch of crap we don't need - and if the result of selling our land is to reduce the price of housing - that's a good thing in this era of reduced-take-home-pay.

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Would a private company "just start selling stuff?"

No I don't think so, they would utilize it for revenue.
 

cpwill

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Would a private company "just start selling stuff?"

Sure - private entities sell stuff all the time. One of the great ways to get second-hand cars, for example, is from rental-car places; you know it's been well-taken care of.

No I don't think so, they would utilize it for revenue.

Yeah. The way that you utilize stuff you aren't doing anything with for revenue is you sell it.
 

RGacky3

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Sure - private entities sell stuff all the time. One of the great ways to get second-hand cars, for example, is from rental-car places; you know it's been well-taken care of.

Yeah. The way that you utilize stuff you aren't doing anything with for revenue is you sell it.

That's the thing, the US government basically has a "private enterprise" policy, so they rent out oil lands, for private industry, so that they can make a profit, and not the government (maybe a slight profit), which benefits private industry bcecause the state takes up the externalities.

What the US should do in those cases is set up a state oil company so that they can get the profit, or actually use it themselves to make government revenue.
 

DVSentinel

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Seriously. The government owns a bunch of crap we don't need - and if the result of selling our land is to reduce the price of housing - that's a good thing in this era of reduced-take-home-pay.

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Forget selling the land, move welfare recipients onto in let them farm for their food.

Mineral rights--the current regime wouldn't sell such because then they couldn't prevent exploitation by hated companies.

Underutilized buildings-- have to shrug on this one, other than where they might be located, cannot think of a reason to keep them.

Oil and gas resources-- Get real. Obama and the Dems want to end the use of oil and gas, no way the sell off their control of this asset.

The mineral rights and oil and gas resources, leasing them would actually be the better choice I think. Then not only do they get money for the initial lease, but usually such leases also pay a percentage of what is taken out.

The gold--Come on, you know how the gansta types like their bling, Obama ain't getting rid of bling.
 

Comunitee

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The fear would be whom Obama would pick to sell it to. You know how he is when he has these tantrums.

President Obama does not have tantrums. He is the least emotional President we have had since Calvin Coolidge.

Hopefully, he doesn't have too much else in common with Coolidge.

If I were in his position, I would find out who the Koch Brothers hate the most (among those who can afford it, that is), and sell it to them.
 

Comunitee

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The gold--Come on, you know how the gansta types like their bling, Obama ain't getting rid of bling.
It's the right wing who obsess over gold, people like Glenn Beck, and Ron and Rand Paul.

Besides, if Obama really was "gangsta," Joe Wilson would have been dead before the sun came up the morning after that State of the Union Address. That night, Obama wasn't even black enough to yell back at that redneck, "Read the bill, fool!"
 
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