People would consider it ludicrous if we suggest that we privatize the air. But there is a company today in Japan that is selling oxygen in China where the air pollution is very bad. People also surprisingly would consider it ludicrous if we suggested that they must buy water. But in the US we essentially do that today paying Coca Cola and Pepsi 10,000 times more to buy bottled tap water which doesn't have to meet any of the quality tests for municipal water (and a third of a bottle of water equivalent in gas to ship it around.)
Surprisingly people today won't look back and say we have a right to growing our food the way we have a right to air and water. And yet that's what's happened two hundred years ago when the right to land was privatized and a bank system to finance purchase was setup. The creation of the federal reserve and the privatization of the creation money put in place the ability to enforce property rights on privatized land.
What sprawl did was extend the area of where banks could function. The result was exponentially larger consumption of resources like water and wetlands and deterioration of both the commons and the resource basins (like air) and their ecological services. For example Rice harvest in CA was delayed because smoke from the fires stunted growth. Even in sparsely populated areas fire departments were restricted by sprawl to "save lives" instead of keeping large tracts from burning.
The larger question to address concerns this corporate warfare state; that cannot sustain itself; and is taking the country to a similar post soviet union Russian debacle; which we can see in the story of GM, Ford, etc.; primarily because the end game around declining oil resources for the range of banks will place unequal down-spirals on the value of money.
Instead Congress in the pocket of the fossil fuel special interest is betting that the fossil fuel era can be extended with a global decline in fuel prices from decreased consumption due to the ongoing credit crisis and praying that the effects of peak oil can be postponed.