Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Truth is clearly overrated among our kind (6)

After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.
(James G. Watt, Interior Secretary under President Ronald Reagan)

The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation—until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.
(President Woodrow Wilson, 1913-1921)

A bunch of cowboys camping
(Michele Fiore, Nevada Assemblywoman, and self-appointed defender of white terrorists who occupied Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon)

The short explanation continued

D. It's called the Wise Use doctrine (mentioned in “The problem with America is...”) and has been around for some 30 years. It's anything but “wise.” It is part and parcel of Libertarian philosophy. The central tenant is that private ownership is always better than public ownership.

The white terrorists who occupied the Malheur Refuge claimed that they believed in the Wise Use doctrine. The livestock industry, oil and gas and various developers will often profess to be supporters of Wise Use, but it would not be overly cynical to think that philosophical doctrine is not what guides many of these bottom feeders.

For the Wise Use true believer, land is worth only what people will pay for it. If you can't make a buck in some way it has no value. The private market by its very nature exists to commodify natural resources and turn them into consumer goods. Most important, it attempts to externalize expenses.

By some estimates, if the world's largest corporations were actually responsible for their costs of pollution and other damages to the environment, something like one-third of their profits would disappear. Another study estimated that the combined world damage to the environment in 2008 was something like $22 trillion!

Land management in the U.S. is important and in need of intelligent changes and modifications that reflects a 21st century reality, but the Wise Use movement is largely another dreary American hustle that has the stench of the 19th century and the Gilded Age. A number of years ago I wrote a series of articles about one of America's best scams, entitled America's Turf Terror (I). Time to put a stake in the heart of the Wise Use scam.

E. Even though meat consumption in the United States has decreased, it is increasing in the developing world because of rising standards of living. It has been devastating to the planet's rainforests and wildlife.

If one were to take the agricultural business in general in the U.S., billions of dollars is subsidies go exclusively to corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, much of which ends up feeding animals. Western ranchers are one of the largest recipients of federal welfare programs. Something like $500 million in taxpayer money in 2014 went to ranchers getting below-market value leases to graze their cattle on public lands.

F. The Ammon Bundy gang that occupied the Oregon wildlife sanctuary this past January could end up costing the taxpayers several millions of dollars. These ignorant thugs, as we've learned, desecrated sacred Native American sites at Malheur, built roads through Paiute Indian grounds, and trenches dug adjacent to sacred ground contained human feces. So much for the professed respect.

Cliven Bundy, the patriarch of this family, whose ranch in Nevada adjoins thousands of acres of public lands, allows his cattle to graze wherever they wish. He lets them run wild until he decides to trap and kill one. He apparently does not vaccinate or treat his cattle for disease and seemingly does not manage or control breeding. Yup, we'll let Cliven Bundy be the poster child for privatization and welfare capitalism.

Oh yes, not discussed is the progress that could be lost between ranchers and environmentalists because of the occupation, possible revenue and job losses to the county and, last, the wildlife itself. The many birds arrive in the spring to breed. Much work still remains to be done in preparation for their arrival.

Which way to the Emerald City

Prohibition in the 1920s was probably one of the worst examples of public policy that the country ever implemented. But, like today, America was undergoing huge changes.

The W.A.S.P. establishment was losing political power, people were moving to urban areas, immigrants were becoming citizens, African-Americans were going north looking for a better life, women had the vote, and a great many Americans were simply frightened and angry at the speed of these changes.

A backlash occurred. The membership of the Ku Klux Klan grew enormously, especially in the north, religious fundamentalism attempted to push back against science and evolution and politicians railed against the “other.” “I want my country back,” and “it's the government's fault” were heard in the 1920s as well.

Yes, we Americans are mad at the present time, even if in some cases we can't actually explain who or what we're mad at. For many Americans, especially a large segment of white America, there is a sense that they've been duped and manipulated for generations. Well, they have. So what's the strategy?

Sell a country! Why not sell the air, the great sea, as well as the earth?
(Tecumseh, 1768-1813, Shawnee)


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