The Nader people did not single out California for its prototypic characteristics -- it is an enormously rich, variegated,...


POLITICS OF LAND: Ralph Nader's Study Group Report on Land Use in California

The Nader people did not single out California for its prototypic characteristics -- it is an enormously rich, variegated, large, burgeoning state quite unlike most others. Yet this study of the incremental violation of California land by the ""institutions of corporatism and private government"" has extrapolative merits. Piggish, myopic land speculators and developers -- rapists largely unaccountable to the public -- are active in every state, ruining productive farmlands, polluting waterways, befouling and destroying wild areas, turning our earth into short-term profits. Nowhere, as this report shows in extensive detail, is the situation more urgent than in California; the state, remarks Nader in his introduction, ""seems bent on pulling itself down by its own bootstraps. The Gold Rush mentality continues unabated, digging deeper into the state's basic wealth with a greed, injustice, and disregard whose costs to the people of California are now unmistakably clear."" Surely unmistakable now, for no thoughtful resident will read the particulars of the massive despoliation documented here without feeling -- to put it forcefully if colloquially -- that he's been screwed. Politics of Land, a condensation of the two-volume investigation issued in limited mimeo edition last fall, not only reveals who owns California (including government land, 25 owners possess 58% of the state's total territory), the extent of government collusion with private interests to circumvent land protection laws, and the deplorable lack of comprehensive planning for new development, but offers serious and sensible recommendations for change (from zoning practices and allocation of state and local funds to lobbying procedures and agricultural land use). When this report was made public in 1971, it was both praised (by conservationists, et al.) and denounced (by Governor Reagan and others of similar mind); now it is available for the wider scrutiny it fully deserves.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1972


Page Count: -

Publisher: Grossman

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1972