Wednesday, April 16, 2014

More on the Bundy Situation

So far, all I’ve written about vis-à-vis the Bundy affair has been about the legal claims of Cliven Bundy, and not the actions of the protesters, or the State of Nevada, both of whom supported him. 

To that, I cannot post fact, only opinion.  My opinion on the matter is that the protesters and the State are fighting a good, worthy fight, but they've picked the wrong poster boy. 

Pictured: Not a bad guy, just someone who is wrong.
 Since the 1970s and beyond, Nevada, and several other western states, have taken exception to the Federal Government owning so much of their land, and therefore having so much influence over their doings. 


The Feds, once very permissive about the use of these lands, have grown increasingly protective of them, and increasingly hostile to people using them outside of a very tightly constrained “allowable use.”  Many lands that were once open to all, are now constrained and restricted in order to please certain special interests and the EPA (which are essentially one and the same).  They change rules without notice, and without explanation, and then enforce them without telling people about the changes.  

Lands that I used to be able to use for hunting and fishing, for instance, are now closed to all forms of access but walking in on foot.  While this may seem like it isn’t a big deal, keep in mind we’re talking tracts of land the size of New England – not something that you can generally walk into.  It is likely that I’ll never again see the tight bend in Moose Creek that I used to go to, because it’s 22 miles into the wilderness, and they no longer allow any travel means but on foot, including horses.  I don’t have the time to put together a trip of that nature (minimum two days in, two days out) and so I’ve resigned myself to just living with it. 

What I’m not doing, you’ll notice, is just going in with my 4-wheeler or pickup anyway, despite the law, because while I don’t think that what the Feds did is right, it is their land and they make the rules.  That’s where Bundy and I differ. 

The tightening federal noose on the use of all federal lands is happening everywhere, and it is not a good thing.  It is being driven by special interest groups in Washington DC who have no clue what it means to live out west, and have tracts of land that big that are essentially useless to all uses but sitting there and collecting dust.  Frustration with the federal government in this issue is everywhere you look, any time you’re west of the Mississippi.  They haven’t been paying attention because the protests have been weak and decentralized, but we can organize and make ourselves be heard without pointing guns at people! 

Shame on you!

Shame on you, too!

Do any of you really, truly think that doing so gained our cause any ground at all?  

Piss off the feds, guys, good plan.  Way to go!  Now they’ll escalate, like they always do, and bring down the iron fist.  Maybe even use this as the final excuse to pass that gun ban.  Fucking genius. 

Ahhh duuurrrr!

It is my firm belief that the Feds need to get out of the land ownership business.  They are a blunt instrument, incapable of adapting to the conditions in the field, because they operate from half a nation away.  Their solution to conflict is helicopters and SWAT teams.  They solve problems by killing people.  They are the wrong folks to be owning land in America.  The lands should be given to the States post haste, with few exceptions, and the disposition of those lands should be left to the State legislatures to decide.

My guess is that this would incidentally clear up Cliven Bundy’s problem, assuming he lives long enough to see it happen. 

It is also why I routinely write my congressman and senator to ask that they consider a bill to relinquish federal lands to the states.  It is a good idea.  It is good policy. 

I understand the pain that the folks in Nevada are feeling.  I get it.  They are losing their livelihood due to the whims of special interests in Washington DC, but the thing is that it was THEY who put their livelihoods in the hands of the government to begin with.  They created a business that required the use of lands that they did not hold the title to, and then just expected everything to go to plan, without planning for any contingency, ever. 

That was monumentally stupid. 

It was a big enough error that it puts them enough in the wrong that grabbing the torches and pitchforks, as they have, is plainly wrong.  The Federal Government was acting as a landlord evicting a tenant.  Oddly enough, at the very same time, a bunch of “Occupy” types were falling out in San Fran to protest some evictions of long time residents from an apartment complex that was purchased by Google.  

So for the first time in my life, I see extreme right-wing militia types fighting the exact same battle as the “Occupy” types in arguing that because someone has rented a property for a really long time, that they should have legal claim to that property.  Does that seem right to you? 

Both groups are very clearly wrong in both situations.  The properties in both cases belong to the owner.  As long as the owner has a contract with a tenant, then he must abide by that contract, but as soon as the contract is up, or the terms of that contract are not being met, then the tenant should expect to get evicted.  Google evicted their folks in San Fran amidst a raucous cry from “occupy” types, and the BLM evicted their tenant amidst the raucous hue and cry of right wing militias.  How fucking weird is that?  How far off the rails have we gone in the situation when we’re arguing the same argument as “Occupy” in San Fran? 

People have accused me of being a socialist for not siding with Bundy, but Bundy’s argument, and the arguments of the people supporting him, are as socialist as the definition of the word can mean. 

So what to do from here? 

Demand action.  If every one of the folks who I’ve seen supporting Bundy on the internet put that effort into writing a letter to their Congressman and cc-ing their Senator, we’d make an impact, and perhaps do some damage.  Shedding blood is not the answer.  Threats of shedding blood are not the answer. 

We’ve picked the wrong hill to die on here.

You can't be 100% right, but can we at least try to find someone who isn't quite so wrong?  

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