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fascinating insights, can't wait to hear more.

It's an interesting book, albeit perhaps a touch biased in a few places. But it definitely doesn't pull many punches.

What do you think is biased about it, Clark?

What people in America today don't get is that the United States is a colonial power and always has been.

The reality of the status of "Western States" is that they are still colonies. They are treated in much the same way and their relationship with Washington DC exhibits many of the same patterns that marked relationships between 19th century European colonial powers and their far-flung protectorates.

Seth: Yes, few people outside the West recognize how large a percentage of land in the Western states remains under federal ownership and control. The Department of the Interior might as well be named the Department of Western Lands and Territories. And, rather surprisingly, US territories like Samoa and Guam are actually administered through the Dept. of the Interior. As are Native American affairs as well. Interesting.

Not just that, but the primary economic relationship of the West with the rest of the US is one of resource extraction.

Then you've got the whole culture of the local people being largely funded with federal dollars. All those massive water projects - dams, irrigation, canals, pipelines - which allow the West to exist are federally funded almost in entirety. Farmers, ranchers, miners... all basically reliant on federal largess.

And paradoxically bitter about being so reliant. Much like the angry adolescent, who insists on his allowance, yet rages at his doting and overbearing parents.

And of course, tourism...

Whole bunch of interesting similarities. But you'd never get most Americans to admit to empire or colonialism.

You can also add the vast military ranges to the relationship. Federal water projects and the dependence of western farmers and cities on them I recognize, but how are ranchers and miners dependent on federal largess? Do you think those activities would change much if the land that hosts them were privately held? There's plenty of oil drilling and cattle grazing on private land in Texas.

I think it is a highly questionable proposition that the Western states (and states generally) couldn't provide for their own non-defense needs without the federal government taking their money and giving it back with a bunch of strings attached.

Mark,

No water. No people. No west. Period.

And almost every last dam in the West is nearly entirely federally funded.

Miners depend on federal tax break schemes to stay in business.

The same is doubly true of cattle ranchers. Almost the entire Western cattle industry is subsidized by the Bureau of Land Management and obscenely lopsided tax write-offs and loopholes. Not many people know that close to 80% of the cows in the West are actually owned by large corporations such as Anheuser-Busch. BLM permits are so ridiculously cheap and the tax loopholes so useful that raising cattle makes perfect sense as a side business, even though the lack of vegetation and rainfall makes places like Nevada, Utah and Wyoming HORRIBLE places to raise cows. Most cows in the US are actually raised in places like Florida and Louisiana where you only need one acre of land to feed a single cow, as opposed to 100 in the Intermountain West.

Western ranchers are every bit as much federal welfare cases as western farmers. Miners perhaps not so much, but be assured, there is a LOT of Congressional pork being dumped into all of these industries out here.

The existence of pork and tax loopholes is a fairly low standard by which to dismiss an industry's viability. Is there any activity in America that isn't so tainted? There were people in the West before federal subsidies, though not as many. You've heard of the Mormons, for example, and there really were ranches and mines in the 19th Century. Even Las Vegas didn't use federal water supplies until 1971. There were almost 300,000 people in the county then, one sixth the current population.

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