By Jim Beers
*("Bread & Circuses" is a metaphor for handouts and petty amusements that politicians use to gain popular support, as opposed to gaining it through sound policy.)
Today's St. Paul paper contains three "teachable moments" on the subject of "bread and circuses". Failing to note their lessons, like a "mind", would be a terrible thing to waste.
"WILDERNESS BILL INCLUDES DISPUTED ROAD" -
Two million more acres of Wilderness have been incubating in the US Congress for more than a year waiting like a baby turtle or a baby snake for the right temperature to "hatch". The reason for this incubation was that announcing and "signing" off on "more" Wilderness has always made for grand theatre and the US Congressmen that will crowd around the President as he "signs it" will be reminiscent of clustered NCAA Tournament college basketball fans all painted up while waving and crowding into the camera for the "folks back home".
Wilderness means the end of the management and use of renewable natural resources. Wilderness means the growth of combustible fuels and eventual catastrophic fires that cannot be controlled for lack of roads and access and fuel accumulation. Wilderness means the end of hunting and fishing for all but the rich. Wilderness means the end of trapping and firewood cutting and pulp cutting for local residents. Wilderness means no access and the loss of recreation and tourism for local communities that, if they survive at all, become like clustered roadside African "curio" vendors in vacated countryside. Wilderness means loss of revenue to federal, state, and local government and thereby strangles roads, schools, ranches, farms, and local communities. Yet, "Wilderness" is a "Circus".
"Wilderness" is a "Circus" to millions of urban and suburban voters who are enamored of the emotional nonsense spread by multi-Billion dollar Interest Groups like the Wilderness Society, the Sierra Club, and The Nature Conservancy et al in everything from coffee table picture books to elementary school propaganda books. This Wilderness Circus is being "dragged out" now because we are all upset about "AIG" and "Bonuses" and "Tax Cheats". So the President and Congress that are seen to have "not read" legislation involving Billions that sent Our Taxes into "Bonuses" and "foreign banks" are now (like carnival barkers or cheap magicians) saying, "look over here" "we" are "saving" 2 more Million acres of land that we already own and manage. It should be enough to make you swoon while forgetting that Senator from Connecticut or what's his name the Congressman from Massachusetts..
One humorous aspect should also be noted. While we will continue to ignore those rural bumpkins that are harmed by these Wilderness Circuses, there is one group that the papers note is upset. The National Wildlife Refuge Association (a group of retired Refuge Managers and Refuge advocates that have US Forest Service and National Park Service counterparts) whines that a road will be allowed on the Alaska Peninsula to connect an 800 resident village to the nearest all-weather airport (oooohh!). Such retiree groups and their old chums in the historical and bird and forest "protection" societies and clubs will always advocate "more" money, people, Wilderness, power, etc. for their special interest and everything else be damned. But in their way, they contribute to the "Circus" by making us all feel bad enough to "call" our Congressman and President and "demand" that those natives "just stay home when the weather is bad", er I mean "save the Refuge" and "protect the public lands". Why comedians don't pick up on the absurdity afoot here is anyone's guess. Non-ideological comedians like The Marx Brothers or Abbot and Costello ("Who's on 1st?") would have had a ball with this.
"OBAMAS ADD GARDEN TO MODEL HEALTHY DIET" -
As American taxpayers, as opposed non-taxpayers, abjure prepared meals in the grocery store and return to the cheaper "cooking from scratch" to save scarce dollars; we are treated to the "Circus" of the First Family "putting in" a garden on the White House grounds. Not "since Eleanor Roosevelt had a Victory garden during World War II" have American taxpayers had someone in the White House that rents a roto-tiller, weeds, manures, and harvests their own food. Could shooting rabbits be next? Probably not since although the White House is currently not under the jurisdiction of the District of Columbia the President and his party that controls Congress has vowed to end the 60 or so years of racial oppression in the District by giving them two Senators and Statehood status and this would allow the District government to impose their anti-gun views on White House grounds. Wait a minute though, since the President's Attorney General is an anti-gun zealot, the fact that the President characterized himself as a protector of 2nd Amendment rights may not be enough to allow him to "plink" rabbits on the White House grounds anyway.
The "Teachable Moment" here should come in mid to late summer. You see, the biggest threat to District of Columbia gardening after theft (which the White House wouldn't have to worry about what with the fence and cameras and Secret Service, etc.) is RATS. Norway rats are ubiquitous throughout the District and are even more efficient garden predators than raccoons. In spite of their control in the District being always a spasmodic thing (when complaints get too loud or when a few scrap dollars are available); the District has always been a favorite "petri-dish" for the animal rights bunch (that incidentally populate this Administration like buffalo on the Great Plains in 1700). They will "sterilize them" and "transplant them" and "re-educate them" but still they will come to a ripening garden even quicker than a garbage bag in the alley. Soooo, will we see White House "control" (i.e. killing) of Norway rats? Will they sterilize them and then cover-up or explain how "they didn't take their pills" or will some of those Administration transplants from Emily's List and Planned Parenthood abort some and "educate" others? Inquiring minds want to know as we all enjoy this Circus.
"SEARCH FOR ENERGY PUTS BIRDS AT RISK, STUDY SAYS" -
"A new Energy Department report" "chronicles a four-decade decline in many of the country's bird populations". We are told, "Energy development has significant negative effects on birds in North America." While the report mumbles about "mountaintop coal mining", "ethanol", "converting grasslands into cornfields", "suburban sprawl" and "oil and gas wells" as bugaboos it soft-pedals the ONLY "four-decade" energy development that coincides exactly with the bird decline - WIND TURBINES.
I have long mentioned the fact that wind turbines, especially the wind turbine "farms" are scientifically placed EXACTLY where winds prevail which is EXACTLY where migrating birds fly. Migrating birds migrate at night and during the day when winds assist their travels. DUH!
I say this not to impugn wind turbine use or development. Wind energy can be a useful adjunct to rural American energy supplies. What makes this a "Teachable Moment" is the "four-decade" absence of all the animal rights/environmental zealots in the matter of wind turbines. Where were the "touchy feely" bureaucrats (US Fish and Wildlife/Park Service/Forest Service et al) that stopped every project or development for farming or rural development? Where were all those "Green" politicians and their "Green" animal rights/environmental "supporters" (NRDC, TNC, Audubon, HSUS, "Defenders", NWF, etc.)? Where were all the University professors of ornithology and all the other "ologies" that are always either lined up at a federal office for grants or testifying "on behalf of" some poor critter or bush that is about to be drowned by a dam or flattened by a falling tree? The fact is that "wind energy" is to America today what cows are in a Hindu village; it can deposit feces anywhere and no one dares say anything. Hence their silence for "four-decades" while they wouldn't shut up given any opportunity to cripple capitalism, rural America, or the Constitution says it all.
This Circus is meant to keep your acquiescence to and support for all the Rube Goldberg energy schemes being perpetrated as practicable for the purposes of supplying America's energy needs in the future. Because of the lack of honest research and public dialogue for "four-decades", the wind turbines are increasing and spreading as their true impacts AND REASONABLE WAYS TO MINIMIZE THOSE IMPACTS remain a mystery that, once again, boobs like you and me must defer to "experts" about. In the meantime, bird "lovers" as opposed bird "users" like me, cheer and write in to "our leaders" telling them to "stop" all that coal and oil and gas development and incidentally make sure that the energy executives don't get paid more than $100, no-no scratch that, $50 thousand per year and if any get a bonus they should be taxed at 100, no-no make that 120%!
Then we smile, sit back and feel good like Romans that just watched a couple of gladiators whack each other to death. Just thinking about all this new Wilderness far away, the President in a wide-brimmed hat with a hanky over his neck hoeing a White House garden, and all this scientific confirmation of why we should stop all energy development and return America to some sort of rural Papua-New Guinea economic Nirvana makes the "Bread & Circuses" of ancient Rome seem to be mere child's-play.
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