The Great American Land Heist: Part 3
Today we bring you Part Three of the Five-Part Series, The Great American Land Heist. For five consecutive days, I will be posting a new article about what may be the biggest threat to the American West since Manifest Destiny.
These articles are meant to inspire action, to stir up resistance, and to make you think. If you like what you read, please, please, sign the petition, write your representatives, tell your friends, and share these articles through your social media channels.
Part Three: Realpolitik for the Land Transfer Movement
Realpolitik: a system of politics based on a country’s situation and its needs rather than on ideas about what is morally right and wrong. –Merriam Webster
Let’s get down to basics.
The two teams competing in the Land Transfer Movement game are not the red team and the blue team. They are the 1%, and everyone else. The reason that we think it is about the red team and the blue team is because the 1% has put a lot of time and money into convincing us that that’s what this struggle is about. The reason the 1% has done that is because as long as we squabble amongst ourselves, nobody will notice when the dust settles and the land no longer belongs to the red team, or the blue team at all. Nobody will notice that the 1% team is winning until it’s too late, and they’ve already won.
Let me try to clear it up for you.
The Koch brothers have been called out across the board for funding and helping to publicize the Bundy debacle in Oregon. It’s no big secret what’s going on. Special interests, big business, and government bullies are trying to stir up your emotions in order to muddy up your brains. “The so-called Sagebrush Rebellion of Cliven Bundy and the American Lands Council is not so much a movement as another special-interest-financed boondoggle,” writes New Mexico Senator, Martin Heinrich, for a New York Times Op-Ed. The 1% is putting up smokescreens, and obfuscating the real motivations behind the land transfer movement. They’re trying to distract us. And they’re succeeding.
Here’s what’s going to happen if we stand around with our thumbs in our asses cheering and jeering at each other.
Lobby organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the American Lands Council (ALC) will research and draft bills to defederalize public lands throughout the American west that have been designated as Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Forest Service (FS), and Fish and Wildlife (FW) and transfer ownership of those lands to the states in which borders they fall. Next, the states will scramble to balance budgets trying to protect their new lands from natural disasters, trying to maintain the lands, trying to operate them, trying to make money off of them. Finally, they will fail, and either the fed will swoop back in to the rescue, or the states will sell the land off to the highest bidder.
Consider the following example.
The 89,000-acre Valles Caldera National Preserve in New Mexico was privatized in 2000 with a bill drafted by “the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based libertarian think tank… At first, Congress instructed the trust to pay for all wildland fire operations at the preserve out of its own budget. A later congressional amendment made firefighting once again the responsibility of the U.S. Forest Service. Soon after, two large fires burned 53,000 acres in the preserve and cost the federal government $56 million in suppression costs alone… Despite the efforts of many trustees and the staff for 14 years, the preserve never managed to earn enough money from hunting, grazing and tourism to pay even one-third of its bills… Ultimately, many factors led New Mexico’s congressional delegation to dump the experiment in 2014 and transfer the Valles Caldera National Preserve to the National Park Service.” (Idaho Statesman)
We can deduce what would have happened had the Valles Caldera preserve stayed in state control and oversight. The two fires that tore through would have threatened to bankrupt the state budget, and the state would have had to sell the land to the highest bidder in order to prevent a disaster of equally large economic and ecologic proportions. And whom do you think the highest bidder might be? Oil, gas, mining, timber. Big business. In other words – the 1%. Not the states, not the liberals, not the conservatives. Not outdoors recreaters, or outdoors professionals, or farmers or ranchers or republicans or democrats.
…unless you consider selling what was once the collective wealth and inheritance of an entire nation to a few greedy vassals (assholes), who aren’t worth your spit, winning.
The Land Transfer Movement is a bad idea for 99% of us. No smokescreens, no posturing, no emotional prodding.