The NCPIRG report richly deserves Paul’s lampooning. Socialists are forever trying to scare people with the old “at this rate, we’ll run out of X in so many years” scam. Back in the early 70s, it was the “Limits to Growth” report, foretelling of the imminent exhaustion of lots of natural resources — unless control were turned over to government.

What the NCPIRG types don’t understand is that land isn’t “used up” once it is “developed.” What has happened is that it has been transformed from a less valuable use into a more valuable one. When land becomes more valuable to its owner as a housing development, shopping mall, parking lot, or whatever than it was as “open space,” he probably sells it. Maybe he even develops it himself. In any event, it has gone from a less valued use to a more valued use.

Authoritarians like the PIRG people think that their “concern” for “open space” should trump the desires of other human beings for land devoted to other things, and they often try to use government to stop development. One thing you never see them doing is offering to purchase land to keep it from being developed. If it mattered enough to them to keep tracts of land undeveloped, they could try to raise the funds needed to buy them. In fact, they could even buy up already developed land and return it to its “natural state.” But they’d rather have a scare issue than title to land.