Bundle of Sticks (David Zahrt, Business Owner)
David Zahrt owns a bed and breakfast business in the Loess Hills. Hear his position on sustaining a working landscape, ownership rights, and preventing urban sprawl.
Transcript: Bundle of Sticks
Our system is much different than the American Indians. The American Indian couldn't imagine that you'd own land! So, here we are in a completely different system. We brought our system from England and in England they would symbolize when there was a transfer of property, they'd take a bundle of sticks off a tree and hand it to you and say this is your bundle of rights and they'd grab a handful of dirt and put that in your hand and say this is your land. Well, in that bundle, I have the right to do anything I want to! Now, one of those rights is the right to say no housing! And I know people who say, "I want to have the right to do with my property what I want except if you want the right to say no housing, you don't have that right." And I think that's wrong! I think people ought to have the right to say no housing or this will be farmland forever and I'll entrust the right to build houses to someone else. Take an easement is what it amounts to. There's land down here...One of our neighbors has 50 acres which he took a permanent easement on. That is to say, the government paid him $800 an acre to say it'll be wetlands forever. Well, the neighbors didn't like that. And I think the reason they didn't like it because they didn't want to admit we're farming wetlands. But he got his $800 an acre and now that's going to be wetlands. He gave the right, so to speak, to farm it to the government. The government gave him $800 in return for that. So he was exercising his rights as an owner of the land.