James Oberstar, a representative from Minnesota, is attempting to rewrite the Clean Water Act so that the government has control of all waters—not just those that are navigable. This includes everything from puddles and ponds to irrigation ditches.

Investors Business Daily points out that farmers should be concerned. “The Oberstar bill gives federal regulators the power to police farming practices and to take their land through regulatory restrictions if those practices are deemed to be in violation of the law.”

But everyone, not just farmers, is affected. The economy is an integrated whole; that which affects the businesses of fishermen, farmers, shippers, and energy producers affects the lives of everyone in the marketplace. Oberstar’s bill, by dictating how producers may and may not use water, and thus violating their right to liberty, would throttle the production of everything from fish to cotton to transportation to energy. It would make the production, availability, and prices of all such goods dependent on the whims of bureaucrats.

Further, given its unlimited scope, the bill effectively negates private property. In principle, if the bill became law, the government could take control of any plot of land on which water flows or rain falls. In the 20th century, the Soviet Union, Maoist China, and other governments seized such power over property and citizens. The result? Millions starved to death while millions more lived in squalor.

Will Americans sit idly by while Oberstar and his ilk take one large step in that direction by nationalizing water? Or will we stop them?

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