In a weekend feature story datelined my home town of Floydada, Texas Tribune writer Kate Galbraith wrote of the farmer, rancher, and landowner fight against folks such as Senator Robert Duncan who believe that just because people in the cities need it, other people’s private property should be taken or controlled.

Ogallala commissar Jim Conkwright said his water district’s new rules limiting pumping are necessary to keep the aquifer viable. But that begs this question: Viable for whom? Viable for the people who have paid for it in the price of their land or, those who simply want access to the water without paying for it at market value?

No matter what anyone, including Senator Duncan, tells you this is actually a very basic argument over whether or not we, as a society, follow our constitutions and protect private property. (Our Texas Constitution clearly says the landowner owns the water and the Supreme Court just reaffirmed that issue.)

Sadly my friend Senator Duncan, Commissar Conkwright, and a few well-known New Deal Democrat farmers, are on the Socialist side of this argument and it’s not as complicated as they try and make it. The issue follows the same path as all questions on private property such as, in the long-term, who is likely to be the best steward of resources: private owners who stand to lose much with bad management or, government bureaucrats who lose nothing personally from bad decisions?

Texas farmers and ranchers have paid dearly for land with good water, they’ve bought their access. They’ve also invested huge sums for more efficient irrigation, all without government mandates. Why would any sane person conclude that all would be better with bureaucrats running the show?

Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt has been active in Texas Republican politics since the Reagan re-elect in 1984. He has served as Lubbock County Republican chairman, and in 2006 founded the Pratt on Texas radio network, providing the news and commentary of Texas on both radio and podcast. Learn more at


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