Lessons from Buford

As our country careens through its third year of not having a budget despite borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend, there was good news out of Wyoming. We can always sell stuff.

Buford, Wyoming is located on Interstate 80 between Cheyenne and Laramie. It consists of 10 acres of land, a gas station, a trading post and a café. It has a population of one and the one is Mr. Don Sammons.

Apparently Mr. Sammons either got tired of Buford or lonely so he decided to sell it. According to the auctioneers, there was worldwide interest in owning a frontier town, even one that is very windy and located 8000 feet above sea level.

The winning bidder was an unidentified man from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We used to call that Saigon at least that was what Mr. Sammons called it when he defended it in the 60s while serving in the Army.

In these troubled times any real estate sale is good news, but there is better news than that. The unidentified buyer paid $900,000 for the 10 acres and we established the precedent of selling a town, albeit a small one.

How about a County? A state? Let your mind wander because, if we stay on our present financial course, you might have to.

Here’s the math.

There are 3,790,000 square miles in the United States, each and every one of which contains precisely 640 acres.

It’s okay to use a calculator but it results in 2,425,600,000 acres, each of which is presumably worth about $90,000 to an unidentified Vietnamese buyer. Maybe more to an unidentified Chinese buyer?

Theoretically, if the clever auctioneers from Williams & Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma were able to get $90,000 for every acre in America, they would end up with $218,304,000,000,000. That is a goodly number of trillions. With the national debt at only $15,638,000,000,000 (a much smaller number of trillions), we could sell the whole place and pay the national debt almost 14 times over. Well, not the unfunded liabilities but at least the debt.

This is the sort of thinking that comforts politicians in election years and we should all thank Mr. Sammons for showing us the way.

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