It is one week before the Inauguration of our new President. This morning's
newscasts were full of reports about our "busy" Senators "working" on
Sunday. Pictures of the esteemed aristocrats of our political class
gathered in little conversation groups busily "legislating" on the floor of
the US Senate occupied every newscast. The media pundits reported that the
Democrats were busy agreeing on an upcoming agenda that would avoid a
beginning of the new Democrat White House marred by any confrontation (s?)
with the Democrat-controlled Congress. How wrong I was as I assumed that
this bit of political puffery was not worthy of note. Hidden in the
pomposity of this demonstration of "doing the 'peoples' business" was a
grandiose move that should disturb Americans of all stripes.
This morning's paper informs us "the Senate advanced legislation that would
set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as Wilderness". Further,
"The measure - actually a collection of about 160 bills" "cleared away
procedural hurdles" for this "massive bill, which calls for the largest
expansion of Wilderness protection in 25 years". "The bill is a "holdover
from last year" and "prevents development of oil and gas on these federal
lands". There are four dimensions to this political chicanery that all
Americans should consider seriously.
First, why oh why in these times of public anguish about "the price of gas",
"the price of home heating oil" (for the poor and aged especially), "our
dependency on foreign oil", "our dependency on oil from those who hate us",
"our dependency on oil from the likes of Hugo Chavez and Putin and
dictatorships like Nigeria and Iran", and " the need for natural gas for
emerging transportation technologies and power production" etc., etc. does
anyone in their right mind support closing "more than 2 million" MORE ACRES
OF THESE UNITED STATES TO OIL AND GAS DEVELOPMENT? Current "Wilderness"
acreage encompasses 704 areas totaling 107, 514, 983 acres. Add that to all
the "offshore areas" closed to development, and the Alaskan acres closed to
development, and the latest political "fad" "Marine Sanctuaries", and all
the "special areas" like the Great Lakes and "Roadless Areas" and Parks
(National and State) and what do you have? You have a nation ruled by urban
elites and a government of aristocrats that are as concerned about the
future of this nation as the government of Rome was under the Caesars (when
they too had abandoned their Republic and laws for "bread and circuses" and
power in the hands of a few).
Second, in these times of "bailouts" and "the worst economy since the
Depression" and "Trillion dollar deficits for years" and cries for 'more'
Federal government powers to 'save us'"; why are we closing MORE Federal
lands to management of renewable natural resources and all the economic
benefits that generates? ALL of those Federal lands (the current 108
Million Acres plus the 'new' 2 Million Acres') declared "Wilderness" were
purchased or kept in public ownership for specific benefits to society. BLM
lands were kept in Federal ownership for the specific purposes of providing
grazing lands and forest products and recreation to ALL Americans. Forest
Service lands were set aside or purchased to likewise provide forest
products and grazing fodder and firewood and recreation to ALL Americans.
National Wildlife Refuges were set aside and purchased to maintain migratory
birds and other wildlife while managing their habitats by such proven
techniques as hunting and trapping and forest and range management regimes.
National Parks were purchased and set aside to preserve specific historic
sites and structures: with the possible exception of Yellowstone that was
never part of a State (an rare anomaly) and that was authorized in the 19th
century with the earliest and unjustified anti-hunting language, nearly all
Parks would benefit from the practice of proven forest, range, and wildlife
management programs. ALL of these lands were intended to, and for decades
did indeed, provide economic benefits to the Federal government AND local
communities AND State governments while for the most part (Parks excepted)
exercising proven active renewable natural resource management regimes that
passed on the renewable natural resources and their benefits for generations
to come. There are three enthusiasts for shutting down the management and
use of public lands by declaring "more" Wilderness: 1.urban elites that are
either ignorant of or simply contemptuous of their rural neighbors,
2.bureaucrats seeking more funding and power to do things they cannot be
held responsible for like "keeping people 'out'" and "educating the public"
about things like why Wilderness fire fuels don't cause catastrophic fires
and why deadly predators are benign instead of managing camping and access
and timber and grazing operations and maintaining fish and wildlife for
public use, and 3.politicians as exemplified by the "have-to-work-on-Sunday"
Senators pandering surreptitiously for the money and publicity provided by
the urban elites mentioned under #1 above.
Third, what is Wilderness? In spite of the pretty pictures in all the
coffee-table books and in spite of all the
teacher/bureaucrat/international-lobby-group-rhetoric to the contrary:
Wilderness is the destruction of the vast majority of benefits to society
that can and should be available from publicly owned acres. In addition to
destroying benefits to society, Wilderness designations create many harmful
consequences for society. Benefits destroyed by Wilderness include (among
many others) productive and diverse plant and animal communities; economic
benefits to local communities and all government levels; access to public
lands by the elderly and the poor and disabled among others; robust
renewable timber and forage resources; and abundant managed fish and
wildlife populations. Harmful consequences of Wilderness include but are
not limited to making energy resources unavailable in periods of extreme
societal need, catastrophic fires in and around Wilderness', plant and
animal disease depositories, hotbeds of deadly and harmful predator
repositories, and elimination of private property such as traditional access
and traditional uses of domestic animals such as dogs. Such land-lockout of
the public on government land is typical of dictatorship officials from
Middle Ages European Lords to Nazi officials like Goering and Zimbabwean
officials loyal to Mugabe: such theft and lockout of the public on their own
land is repugnant to those who understand the role of government and the
rights of individuals in a Republic such as ours.
Fourth, why is this Senate maneuver "a collection of about 160 bills"? Why
is it passed "without amendment" and under "limited debate" (meaning no
public discussion or challenge)? Why is it forwarded on a "Sunday"? The
answer to this is what should bring every American's blood to a boil. The
Democrat Senate was holding these 160 bills for over a year until an
opportune moment. "Working on Sunday" is a time like "late Friday
afternoon" for publicizing bad news since we are all watching football and
paying scant attention. Also, the Democrat Senate has given the incoming
Democrat President a big publicity bonanza as he enters office and has to
deal with tax hikes, deficits, and terror: he can (like the outgoing
President has done with "Marine Sanctuaries") "announce how he is 'saving 2
Million acres' for (?)". "The deficit will be $X Trillion BUT today I have
signed a bill to preserve and set aside form rapacious destruction and rape
and ruin these 'gems', 'keystone', 'ecologically unique', etc., etc.
ecosystems of incomparable value to the American environment". "Thank you,
thank you." Never mind that not 1% of the populous knows where they are or
what is involved. The few being shafted are an insignificant and
inconsequential lot. Those formerly shafted over the years have moved away
and now live in fear in urban apartments where guns are forbidden and the
police and politicians are corrupt (not necessarily Chicago, pick any urban
"haven" from Boston to Los Angeles). The bottom line then is an outcry of
thankfulness and appreciation to the politicians (Democrat Senators and a
Democrat President in this instance) for their "environmental awareness and
sensitivity". Why even the Europeans will express admiration and applaud
this step toward "reducing the US carbon footprint" and "confronting the
threat of 'global warming'".
Conclusion (only to this piece, not to such perverse political chicanery
sorry to say):
More energy made unavailable in a period of economic and international
distress is ignored.
More local communities and rural residents and State and local governments
are losing revenue in a period of revenue shortages not seen since "the
Great Depression" and this is likewise unmentioned.
Diminishment locally and nationally of not only ranchers and loggers and
campers and hunters and fishermen, and other outdoor "users" but also of
local communities and even such things as gun rights as shooting site
disappear with the huntable populations of game.
The myriad harms of Wilderness and the loss of existing and historic
benefits from proactive management of renewable natural resources and use on
public lands is ignored or denied by all the "scientists" and "professors"
that either know better or are simply ignorant ideologues masquerading as
"objective men of science". NOTE, these are the same ones lined up for all
the Federal grants, emoluments, and largesse that is the true grist today of
their tenure, salaries, and retirement.
Finally, the politicians once again work the Madoff-Ponzi scheme and the
general public, just like all the big-shot worthies suckered by Mr. Madoff,
smiles and forks over more money and a bigger share of power to Federal
politicians that promise to be benevolent while assuring us that they are
doing "it" for us.
We don't need to "save" the environment: what we "need" is to use and manage
it wisely. We don't need "more" Wilderness: we need "more" politicians with
brains, a backbone, and a willingness to control bureaucrats and keep
lobbyist claims in perspective. If the Federal government will not manage
these lands on our behalf, they should sell those acreages and use the money
to "save" everybody from the bankers to the UAW so beloved by the outgoing
Secretary of the Treasury that is a former top Executive of The Nature
Conservancy. NOTE, if you don't think TNC is into this up to their ears, you
haven't been paying attention.
Do you think that Rome's plunge into oblivion and anarchy was caused by one
blunder? Or was it the steady growth of power in a dictatorship fed by the
steady loss of rights like this "Sunday-during-the-'game'" theft of
individual and States rights "in the blink of an eye"? You and I know it
was the latter and only a fool would deny the lesson to be learned from this
12 January 2009
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