Suppose I bought all the woods and hills around a thriving valley where farms and ranches abounded and town families prospered from a mix of agricultural support and several small industrial businesses. Suppose further that all the former owners from whom I had bought the land had been considered part of the greater valley community for generations.
What if I:
– Went to court and closed every road through my property that I could?
– Vegetated every closed road so that travel through my property by anyone from hunters to firefighters was impossible?
– Eliminated all grazing and timber cutting on my property?
– Closed my property to hunting, fishing, and trapping and any access?
– Refused to clean up downed timber after a big storm?
– Refused to spray insect-infested trees, or to remove dead ones?
– Brought cougars, wolves, and grizzly bears onto my property and released them?
– Refused to accept any responsibility for human injuries or dead animals resulting from MY predators?
– Made firefighting access and water availability to fight fires that started on my property unavailable UNLESS the valley residents bought ME airplanes and hired many new employees to work FOR ME when they weren’t fighting MY FIRES that could spread to the valley?
– Went to court and obtained a judgment that because I was not commercial and was considered a charitable, scientific entity that Local and State governments not only could not tell me what to do on my property, they and my neighbors would have to accept any impacts my land use practices imposed on them?
Well, of course:
– Sawmills would close because timber harvests that had gone on for generations ceased.
– Sawyers, like ranch-hands, would become unemployed as timber cutting and grazing acreages disappeared.
– Ranches would steadily dwindle in herd size and then in numbers as forage availability dwindled.
– Farms would dwindle as part-time work in the valley and in The Woods disappeared.
– Businesses would dwindle and disappear as transportation into and out of the valley was constricted.
– Real estate values would plummet as farm land became unprofitable and town homes lacked for buyers since there was no work available and predator problems even in town became endemic. Insurance rates skyrocketed since predator damage was the sole responsibility of the unfortunate citizens damaged in any way.
– Hunting, fishing and trapping disappeared. Businesses for guiding, housing and feeding such folks also dried up as access disappeared and predators both reduced game and posed deadly threats to visitors, children, and others considering outdoor activities.
– Local government and State government revenue of all sorts fell precipitously while demands for government “help” skyrocketed. My land went untaxed since it was “devoted to a higher ideal”, businesses closed up, agriculture dwindled, families moved away or went on welfare, and vacant and “foreclosed” home sites proliferated.
As all this went on, I became more powerful. I bought up parcels all over the valley. While I closed them to any use by local people, I bought, or rented at a discount, properties that would further close roads and pinch off increasingly isolated private property of former ranchers and farmers and long-time residents of the valley. Local government did only what I ALLOWED and I stacked the State Legislature with the best politicians that MY MONEY COULD BUY!
QUESTION: Who am I?
No, I am not Henry Potter. You remember him don’t you? Lionel Barrymore played him in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. He was the evil old cuss that made everyone poor and created that gloomy town where James Stewart (George Bailey) contemplated suicide until the angel showed him how important he (and really EACH OF US is) was to his community.
No, I am not some media mogul or Hollywood gazillionaire buying up rural land and then imposing urban standards and fantasies or rural communities.
I AM UNCLE SAM!
I am the US Forest Service. I am the National Park Service. I am the Bureau of Land Management. I am the US Fish & Wildlife Service. I control over 40% of the United States.
I am steadily eliminating all sustainable uses and management of RENEWABLE natural resources on MY LAND. I am eliminating roads and access on MY LAND. I am ignoring enormous fire-fuel accumulations resulting from Wilderness, Parks, storm damage, Roadless Areas, insect damage. I am closing access and roads everywhere to impede firefighting and public access. I am demanding that already-impoverished taxpayers give me more firefighters and expensive equipment to appear to be fighting fires of increasing magnitude and frequency. I accept NO RESPONSIBILITY (exactly as I have established the legal precedence for damage from the wolves and grizzly bears THAT I INTRODUCED AND SPREAD) for fire damage to residences, towns, and businesses resulting from fires STARTED AS A RESULT OF MY ACTIONS AND INACTIONS ON MY PROPERTY! I have spent over 40 years establishing legal precedents that say State and Local governments cannot tell me what to do or not do on MY PROPERTY. I have financially and professionally seduced State bureaucrats and State politicians to become my secret mistresses for whatever I want to do. I put millions of rural employees and thousands of rural businesses out of work and then vow to “reduce unemployment” and “support small businesses”. I pay no taxes and renege on promises to “replace lost taxes and share revenue with State and Local government”. I breed and release wolves on MY PROPERTY to infest State and private “neighbors” and do likewise with even more deadly and destructive grizzly bears and, like Henry Potter, despise and ridicule the ignorant bumpkins he evicts into the snow.
Uncle Sam has exceeded the slumlord Henry Potter in arrogance and evil. I suggest that when they make the movie one day, they consider cutting and pasting Spencer Tracy from the movie “Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde”. The 4 federal agencies cited above go about like Dr. Jekyl daily making scientific pronouncements and seeming good; while in truth killing and spreading evil nightly before reassuming the sweet appearance of a do-gooder.
20 August 2012
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Jim Beers is a retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist, Special Agent, Refuge Manager, Wetlands Biologist, and Congressional Fellow. He was stationed in North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York City, and Washington DC. He also served as a US Navy Line Officer in the western Pacific and on Adak, Alaska in the Aleutian Islands. He has worked for the Utah Fish & Game, Minneapolis Police Department, and as a Security Supervisor in Washington, DC. He testified three times before Congress; twice regarding the theft by the US Fish & Wildlife Service of $45 to 60 Million from State fish and wildlife funds and once in opposition to expanding Federal Invasive Species authority. He resides in Eagan, Minnesota with his wife of many decades.
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