May 20, 2024

The Landed Gentry

One of the popular misconceptions in our granola society is that our open space is threatened. Consequently, in addition to welfare and corporate welfare, we now have landed gentry welfare. We purchase land, at almost market value, and even allow the owner to keep it. Although there is a deed restriction prohibiting development, who can guarantee it will be enforced in future generations? In every case I'm personally familiar with, the owner never had any intention of development; In one instance, the owners were compensated over $1million.

In some cases the owners are working farmers, in many, just gentlemen farmers with country homes. An article in Sunday's Morning Call laments the reduction in the farmland preservation funds. Nothing in the land preservation compensation really guarantees continued farming, that would be somewhere between indentured servitude and slavery. In 2006, Pennsylvania spent $102 million in Growing Greener handouts. Although the program has been cut back in recent years, there is a long list of applicants hoping to get some of this handout. The granola eaters should drive across Pennsylvania. There is a lot of open space even in this heavily populated state, over 8 million farm acres. While we close mental hospitals and sell nursing homes, we pay yuppies playing weekend farmer, development rights on land they never intended on subdividing anyway.

reprinted from August 9, 2010 

ADDENDUM MAY 20, 2024:As you can see from the post above, I'm a long time critic of farm preservation. Drive a few miles north or west from Allentown, third largest city in Pennsylvania, and you're in country. Last week we learned that David Jaindl sold a parcel in New Jersey for $27.5 mil that he purchased five years ago for $11mil.. the state bought it for preservation. They could have saved the taxpayers $16mil by purchasing it from Talen as Jaindl did. New Jersey cares less about the taxpayers than Pennsylvania, which is no easy trick.


  1. If you drive I-78 from Harrisburg to Allentown, you will drive past a vast amount of farmland. If you go further west, you'll see farms and forests along the Pennsylvania Turnpike until you get close to Pittsburg, then the landscape first becomes suburban, then you'll go through the urban area.

    There is no shortage of undeveloped land or land in agricultural use. What there is actually is a need to house the growing population. The farmland preservers, along with the mass transit supporters, and even to an extent the Wildlands preservers are the people who want to control your lives. It is the age-old battle of personal freedom versus control of individual's lives.

    Most people aspire to eventually own some land, build a nice home on it for themselves and their family. If you opt to become a city-dweller, that may become a townhouse (In Allentown, row homes are the most common townhouse), or multi-unit condo or apartment dwellers. This is the trade-off between living in urban areas, with all the amenities of life close by, or choosing to live in the suburbs, where amenities are further away, but you can own some land and have some private space to yourself. Eventually, some amenities are built for the suburbanites, however there is still space for those who wish to have their slice of America.

    Agricultural land is found outside of the suburbs, and as the population grows, the cities grow outward into the suburbs, and the suburbs grow outward into the farmland. Our technology has advanced from horse transportation first then to systems such as railroads and streetcars. It was the advent of the automobile and the development of a road network a century ago that fueled populations moving from the crowded urban areas to the suburbs.

    It is the farm preservers that want to limit development and stop the growth of the suburban areas, and keep people bottled up in the urban areas. The wildlands preservers want to do the same thing, limit urban growth, and both of them dislike individual vehicular transport. One thing the United States has in abundance is land, there always has been plenty of land, and the use of that land and its resources is what has allowed us to grow from isolated settlements along the Atlantic coast to a strong, powerful nation from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

  2. Well Put !! anon.7:38am.....As was Michael's Original !.....PJF

  3. Want to preserve farmland and limit sprawl? The solution is pretty simple. Stop expanding and improving road infrastructure in rural and suburban areas. Coincidentally, this happens to be the most economical solution as well.

    1. Are you kidding? They're constantly planting these warehouses without improving the highways. Then we're all driving on narrow roads with potholes.

  4. If you want your mini mansion in the middle of a great expanse of land, fine... PAY FOR IT!!! The devil with these people getting huge tax breaks AND compensation when they neither want to nor are they farming. This is an affront to all the other taxpayers that must pick up the slack... just like the NIZ is!!! You want it, you can afford it, please then pay for it OR kindly reduce your footprint.

  5. A suggestion... go to the top of the Shimerville hill, by the fantastic ice cream stand, and look south... you will see the vast amount of warehouses... it's quite an incredible sight to behold... and they want more????