The revealing story of a rancher and the national debt

October, 1999

Investigative Documentary by David Morgan and Matt Mittan-


After years of successfully ranching in California, Wayne & Jean Hage (she is now deceased) purchased a large cattle ranch in Nevada, Pine Creek Ranch, in the spring of 1978. The acreage involved is approximately 752,000 acres. However, as it is mostly desert land, the land’s ability to support cattle is far less than might be supposed from its size.

Located in the high desert mountains of central Nevada, the remote operation seemed an unlikely place for a war that would rock the very foundation of federal land management agencies. Wayne purchased the operation from the well-respected Arcularius Brothers who sold the ranch because the regulatory pressure by the U.S. Forest Service had become unbearable. Since Wayne had always been able to work with the agency, he believed he could resolve problems that might occur. Wayne soon learned the only way he could satisfy the Forest Service was to allow them to confiscate his property.

One of the first incidents that drew the line between Wayne and the Forest Service revolved around a critical spring that Wayne owned. Situated close to the Forest Service Ranger Station in Meadow Canyon, the district ranger decided they would pipe the water from the spring, through a newly installed $50,000 water purification facility, into their cabin. Wayne learned of this after the project was complete, and rightfully objected. He explained that if they needed his water, they could make appropriate arrangements. They refused to cooperate and would not acknowledge that he owned the water even though he held two court decrees affirming his water right. Wayne even held a field hearing where the state water engineer acknowledged Wayne’s ownership and the Forest Service’s illegal confiscation. But, still today, the Forest Service has maintained a fence around the spring so that cattle and wildlife cannot drink, and the water is still being piped into the ranger’s cabin.

Retaliation Because Wayne questioned the Forest Service’s actions, the Forest Service began an unbelievable retaliation campaign. In a 105-day period they sent Wayne 40 certified letters and personally visited him 70 times, each time citing him in violation of a bureaucratic regulation. Wayne had to respond in writing and take corrective action to each one of their allegations, no matter how trivial. In fact, most, if not all, were wild goose chases or violations the Forest Service themselves had created.

Some of these charges stated Wayne was not maintaining his drift fences. In order to comply with their rules, Wayne would check and mend if necessary the fences in question. One of these incidents involved sending a horse and rider to the top of Table Mountain to ride the 20-mile fence line. After doing this, the rider found only one problem. There was one staple missing. The Forest Service had dutifully marked it with a blue flag.

Also, among these charges were 45 accounts of trespass where Wayne’s cattle were allegedly found in the wrong location. For every one of these, Wayne would send a crew of riders to locate the cattle and attempt to comply with the regulations. Often, there were no cattle to be found, leaving Wayne to wonder if there ever were. Also, on several occasions there were eyewitnesses who watched the Forest Service employees move Wayne’s cattle into trespass areas, and then immediately cite him for the violation.

Over the next eight years he filed three administrative appeals, and won all three. They cost him over $150,000 in attorney and consultant fees, not to mention the countless hours, personal resources, and lost income also expended. Twice, his pickup was shot at while he was close by, a not so subtle warning. His wife and children were run off the road personally by the District Ranger.

Even though he won every case, the agency would create new regulations that would wear Wayne down, force him to expend his time and resources fighting their new regulations, and eventually run him completely out of business. The final straw came when the Forest Service confiscated at gunpoint over 100 head of his cattle. Armed with semi-automatic weapons and bulletproof vests, 30 Forest Service riders confiscated his cattle in July of 1991. Although they had no legal justification for their actions, they took the cattle, handed Wayne a bill for their cost of gathering the cattle, transported the cattle to a sale yard which refused to auction the stolen cattle, and eventually the Forest Service held their own private sale and kept the proceeds.

The confiscation did not go quite as planned, however. They needed to infuriate Wayne to the point that he would also come armed and give them the excuse to eliminate Wayne altogether. Wayne came armed, but with a 35 millimeter camera. Just more evidence for the case he knew he would have to file.

September 26, 1991, after being forced to sell every cow he owned in order to comply with federal regulations, Wayne filed a landmark takings case, Hage v. United States, for the regulatory and physical taking of his ranch.

Criminal Desperation

A year later, the same agency filed two felony charges against Wayne for clearing scrub brush from his legally owned right-of-way. Although the Forest Service knew he was not in violation and admitted this on the record later, they also knew filing criminal charges against him might force Wayne to drop his takings suit. After loosing the case at jury trial, Wayne prevailed before the Ninth Circuit, overturning the felony charges against him. (See a complete timeline of the Hage legal battle by clicking here.)

What’s It All Really About?

In a recent radio interview on WTZY (880AM) in Asheville, NC, Hage spoke about the true nature of the case. What he said was that basically all of this has to do with our national debt. Excerpts from WTZY interview:

“During the Civil War we accumulated $2.8 billion worth of debt which the North owed mainly to the House of Erlinger in London and the House of Rothchild in Paris, who had financed both sides in the War. We couldn’t pay the debt, so for the first time in our nation’s history they decided to collateralize that debt with the mineral estate of the Western lands and Alaska. During the late 1800’s we were able to internalize that debt to where we owed it to ourselves.

In the 1960’s the general teaching of Economics 101 was that we shouldn’t worry too much about our national debt as we owed it to ourselves, and hence it wouldn’t have to be paid off. Besides all that gold, silver, gas, oil and other mineral rights out west more than adequately collateralize it. “We got the land and the mineral rights away from the Indians, and we said, oh, we’ll make a deal, we’ll have a nation-to-nation relationship with you, and we will provide for the education and health care and housing of your people;” – President Bill Clinton, July 12, 1999, Remarks to the National Academy Foundation Conference in Anaheim, California. But during the initiation of the Great Society and the Vietnam War we began once again to borrow from overseas, as we didn’t want to tax ourselves enough to pay for what was needed. We began to “externalize” our debt, a fatal mistake. Well, when we began to externalize our debt heavily, Charles deGaulle of France said, “I don’t think you fellows can redeem your dollar debt with gold.” We said, “Oh, yes we can!” So he said that he would rather have gold and began to raid our Treasury. When Nixon became President, he was faced with this mess and had to close the gold window; we were running out of gold. We, in effect, were running out of collateral. “Finally, the bill includes an unjustified transfer of millions of dollars of mineral rights to the State of Montana. I intend to use my line item veto authority to cancel the dollar drain on the (U.S.) Treasury that would result from this unwarranted action.” – President Clinton, November 14, 1997, Statement on signing the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1998. What Nixon did next, and what stunned a lot of folks, was to set up the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and we began to pass massive environmental laws. And for what real purpose? All of them have had one effect collectively, whether at the Federal, state or local level. The one thing they all do is that they effect the transfer of private property out of the hands of private individuals and place that property into the hands of government. Now what is that all about?

Well, when we ran out of gold and, in order to keep the foreign interests from cashing in their bonds and notes and imploding and destroying the US economy, we had to show them that the resources of the US adequately collateralized their debt. In order for it to be properly collateralized, we had to show them that US citizens and US interests would not be developing, drilling and mining those resources. The effect of this was to disenfranchise American citizens of access to their resources for the purpose of making their resources available to the international financial interests that hold the debt of the US. Indeed, at the present time, about 40% of all our debt is held by and owed to foreign interests. “… This exchange of land, mineral rights, commercial properties, and natural treasures between the United States and the State of Utah is the largest such land exchange in the history of the lower 48 States. The exchange will help capitalize a long-neglected State school trust by putting it on solid footing and allowing it to pay rewards to the children of Utah for generations to come. The United States will obtain valuable land, thus allowing it to consolidate resources within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the Goshute and Navajo Indian Reservations, and the national parks and forests in Utah. I especially wish to thank Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and Kathleen McGinty, outgoing Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), for their contribution to this major achievement.” – President Bill Clinton, October 31, 1998 speaking about H.R. 3830, the “Utah Schools and Land Exchange Act of 1998. Look at the mines. Where I live, in Nevada, we have major mines all around us. At one time they were all owned by US citizens. But now the only mines here that operate are those held by those countries that own the debt of the U.S. If you or I discovered a major gold deposit, neither our kids nor we would ever live long enough to mine one shovel full of it. All the rules, regulations, and laws would drive us under. We would have to sell out for nothing to the government or to a foreign entity, who would find their ability to mine it would be rather easy. (Editor’s note: The recent seizure by President Clinton of over $1 trillion dollars worth of high grade coal in Utah to establish a “park” was settled by the US government paying the owners merely $14 million dollars for research and development costs of the coal. See story on Page 28 of The Asheville Tribune, Hage-Report special edition.)

Another little known but important fact that should be remembered is that treasury bills and debts held by foreign interests are secured while those held by US citizens are not.

Little by little, our entire form of government is being reversed. A fundamental tenant of economics is that all wealth comes from the land; every bit of wealth originates in the land. The cornerstone of a truly free society is the ownership of private property by the people. In such a society the people own the means of production. In a totalitarian society, the opposite takes place. There, the government owns the land, the wealth, and the means of production. They, in effect, rent the land to the people. “As President, I have worked very hard to honor tribal sovereignty and to strengthen our government-to-government relationships. Long ago, many of your ancestors gave up land, water, and mineral rights in exchange for peace, security, health care, education from the Federal Government. It is a solemn pact.” – President Clinton, Remarks to the Conference on Building Economic Self-Determination in Indian Communities, August 6, 1998. And what this means is that in a free society where the people own the land, the government has to come to the people for its operating budget – for tax dollars in order to operate. The government has to listen to what the people have to say. That is the essence of a free society.

In a totalitarian society where the government owns the resources, they don’t have to go to the people for funds to operate.

Our government today owns over 40% of the resource base of the U.S. (Shaded areas of map above.) The corporate U.S. government has come to have its own assets and is having to listen less and less to its citizens. And it is attempting to get more and more property under the guise of environmentalism. If you really want to find out who is really behind all this, follow the money of who is behind and invests heavily in the environmental entities. It is big money, and comes from powerful interest groups from all around the world. A couple of excellent books I would advise you to read are Trashing the Economy and Undue Influence by Ron Arnold if you really want to find out who the real powers are. They can both be obtained from Stewards of the Range in Idaho; their phone number is 208-336-5922  /  208-336-5922 .  Now, as I have said, that if laws protecting private property can be weakened, the value of the property declines. As government regulations increase, the productive capacity of private property decreases and the value of the property itself is reduced. Government ownership of and regulation of the lands and resources of a nation have never in history provided for a free society, nor for a productive one. (Editor’s note: Even today in Russia, after the recent “democratic” revolution, the government owns all of the land. The Russian citizens cannot own land in Russia.) Taking productive resources and lands away from citizens under the guise of “protecting” the environment is simply a method by which the government steals power for itself.

Karl Marx considered the elimination of private property key to the establishment of a socialist government. There was good reason behind this premise. If people had no value left in their property that value must be in the hands of government. The terms property rights and property control are synonymous. Property rights are the ability of the individual to exercise control over his property. It is only through the right to control the use of property that the individual can make the property produce value or wealth. If regulation or law transfers control over one’s property to the government, then the ability of the property to produce wealth is also transferred to the government. Marx was right. The elimination of private property is essential if socialism or communism is to supplant a free society.” During a Congressional hearing, regarding Federal land acquisitions that had been done without State or Congressional consultation, Rep. John Shadegg asked Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to provide Congress with a list of other lands that were being considered for further federal acquisition, Babbitt sternly responded, “No.” After a stunned silence, the secretary added, “I don’t mean to be disrespectful.” However, Babbitt told the Committee that if they did not cooperate, he would ask the President to “use his power” to get more lands with or without their approval. This internet edition of the report is not the complete feature as it appeared in the print edition of the Asheville Tribune. Hard copies of this report are still available. Contact Us for a report. or mail to Asheville Tribune, PO Box 5615, Asheville, NC 28813. For Hage Case updates visit

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