The lesson should be constantly enforced that, though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.
(President Grover Cleveland, while vetoing a bill offering financial aid to the poor, 1887)
By coincidence I happened to see a YouTube video put up by Jon Ritzheimer a few weeks back, one of the gang leaders that occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and who is now in jail. He stood in front of a table piled high with dozens of dildos that his detractors had sent. What struck me, however, was the seeming bewilderment on his face as he swept them off the table and onto the floor.
“Let us do something, while we have the chance!”
(Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot)
But, if you live in a world of paranoia, United Nations' black helicopters invading the U.S., FEMA concentration camps, a dash of apocalyptic Christianity and a distorted understanding of American history, rational thinking is likely to be difficult. You can, nevertheless, serve as a very useful tool for others. (The word collyfoxing is old English and means 'misleading and making a fool of one.')
If you know how it's easy
No, it's not a collection of sociopaths, crazed zealots and the merely pathetic that are the true problem. The real threat to our national parks, sanctuaries, recreation programs, enforcement and sound land management throughout the U.S. comes first and foremost from a loud and powerful segment of the the U.S. Congress, who know quite well who they work for.
The “grand strategy” is to starve all these programs until they collapse. It is not just public lands in the West that are threatened but community parks in both rural and urban areas, historic sites like Civil War battlefields, upkeep on popular hiking trails, dealing with invasive species and maintaining, for example, redwood forests in California to conserve water. Appropriations have been cut in important programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, popular programs allowed to expire and funds diverted back to the oil and gas industry.
In my state of Missouri, hardly a bastion of enlightenment at the present time, the state legislature wants to prevent the Department of Natural Resources from creating a new State Park that would benefit all the residents of the state, keeping in mind that our parks in Missouri attract millions of visitors annually, bring in an estimated billion dollars and support some 15,000 jobs. Most important, it would protect natural resources and be a legacy for future generations. This is an issue that is common throughout the country.
In the West the livestock industry, oil and gas, mining and land developers have always known how to conjure up the cowboy fairy tales about freedom, liberty and the “sacredness” of private property. They certainly know how to purchase politicians at the national, state and local level. When needed they can, of course, always find a bunch of terrorist thugs to break windows, wave guns and yell about government overreach. It's nothing new; they've been doing it for a long time.
To put names and faces to some of the worst elected officials in the U.S. Congress in terms of our national sanctuaries, wildlife and the determination to privatize all public lands, you can probably begin with five in particular. Collectively they have received millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry and agribusiness. They are in the House of Representatives Ken Calvert of California, Don Young of Alaska and Rob Bishop of Utah. In the Senate they are Mike Lee of Utah and John Cornyn of Texas. They all happen to be Republicans—at the moment.
So what does it all mean, what can be done about it and who cares?
TO BE CONTINUED