Patagonia Is Mad at Trump For Not Subsidizing National Parks...and Their Business

P. Gardner Goldsmith | February 7, 2018
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What’s your favorite part of the Constitution?

Is it that portion allowing Congress to magically grant the president the power to create “National Parks” and “National Monuments” with a wave of his own ink-filled magic wand?

Sure, those “powers” don’t appear in the supposed rulebook. But they’re so much fun, and execs at the clothing company Patagonia agree. In fact, they are very upset at Trump for reducing the area of land over which the feds execute unconstitutional dictatorial control.

As I reported for MRCTV in December, President Trump recently revised two massive, Executive Order land grabs in Utah made by President Obama and by President Clinton that had banned the use of the land for anything except recreation. Trump cut Obama's “Bears Ears National Monument” land theft by more than half, and Clinton's “Grand Staircase-Escalante” by about 50 percent.

And this has the corporate titans at Patagonia up in their puffy-jacketed arms.

As Tate Watkins reports for Reason:

‘The President Stole Your Land.’ That was the message, in stark white letters against a black background, that replaced the usual bright-colored images of puffy jackets and backpacks on the outdoor retailer Patagonia's website last month. ‘In an illegal move,’ the text continued, ‘the president just reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. This is the largest elimination of protected land in American history.’

No, Patagonia. He did just the opposite.

As I noted in my previous piece, the 1906 Antiquities Act, which is cited by president after president to create these poorly managed “parks” and “monuments” and put them under Bureau of Land Management control, is not only not sanctioned by the Constitution, the Constitution clearly stipulates that there are only three areas of land the feds can control.

They can control Washington D.C., which they’ve done terribly. They can control federal military garrisons, and they can control federal territories. As those territories become states, the Constitution explains that the territories enter with all the so-called “rights and privileges” of all states. And since no state had to cede land to the feds, all new states do not have to cede land to the feds.

But the enviro-cultists at Patagonia (who evidently have not seen how poorly the BLM manages land, or have seen it and don’t care about the brushfires and deforestation, the loss of topsoil and the lack of animal husbandry) seem to think that turning the land back over to the states, and therefore to the people who actually live near the parks, will result in that land being turned into parking lots and high-rises, and will ultimately harm their bottom line as a business that caters to campers.

Here is more from Watkins’ great report:

The outdoor recreation industry certainly thinks its success hinges on public lands. A 2017 report by the Outdoor Industry Association called public lands and waterways ‘the backbone of our outdoor recreation economy.’ Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario used similar language when attacking Utah's elected officials for ‘their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business.’ Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard has complained that Utah politicians ‘don't seem to get that the outdoor industry—and their own state economy—depend on access to public lands for recreation.’

So, here are a couple questions for Patagonia, on both the economic and the ethical planes.

First: if “public lands and waterways” are the backbone of your outdoor recreation economy, how is it ethical to force U.S. taxpayers to subsidize your business via the federal IRS and land bureaucracy? What other “recreation” economies should be subsidized so that people who engage in those activities get a lower-than-normal cost for doing so, thus increasing sales? How about rock clubs? How about movies?

Second, to Patagonia Founder Yvon Choinard: if, as you say, Utah state politicians don’t seem to get that their own state economy relies on access to public lands for recreation, why doesn't Patagonia buy some land and see if you can show its value on the free market?

Simply buy some land, and manage it without forcing people to pay. Wild idea, huh? If people like hiking and biking and swimming and boating on your land, you can charge them for it, and then, they, the individual consumers, can show what they prefer!

Patagonia acknowledging that it relies on the tax-subsidized federal “monument” system is akin to its corporate heads wanting to force taxpayers to subsidize the actual costs of their jackets and hats. They might as well come out and say, “Hey, feds, take money from people who don’t want to buy our stuff, so that we can reduce the prices of our stuff and give special deals to the people who do want outerwear. That way we can beat our competition!”

It’s parasitic and sad, and runs very counter to the public-relations-massaged image of Patagonia’s clientele being rugged outdoorsmen taking on the elements.