Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Discouraging Word

Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where never is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day

Now that the standoff between Nevada rancher and the Bureau of Land Management has temporarily ended, a few ruminations from the range, or, some discouraging words.

As this story has spread across the internet and television, commentators have interjected or latched on to all sorts of aspects of the controversy--some important, other not so much.

~the national domain or public lands-- and who should own them

~states' rights

~rights of assembly and petition

~fair use of public lands

~the desert tortoise

~wild horses


~Chinese solar power companies

~Harry Reid and his morally obscene utterances

~and most discouraging--armed federal agents facing off against armed citizens

The bottom line is that Clive Bundy is a bit of a freeloader. He believes, perhaps justly, that the Bureau of Land Management imposed too many regulations on ranchers regarding grazing and watering rights and that the the BLM fails to use the fees paid by ranchers to enhance the quality of public lands. He is free to petition the government for a redress of his grievances. Since 1993, however, he has refused to pay the grazing fees that other ranchers pay. This gives him an unfair advantage in whatever competition exists among ranchers in the pricing and marketing of their cattle. Bundy had his say in courts of law and lost.

In addition, he has made some disturbing statements.  He asserted that "I abide by all  state laws. But I abide by almost zero federal laws." What kind of "patriot" is that?

Is that some sort of "authentic frontier gibberish?"

More to the issue, federal laws are the ones that pertain to the national domain. The United States acquired most of its territory through treaties, usually involving purchases or settlements after wars. Consequently, these lands belong to the United States as a whole before any settlement by Americans and applications for statehood.

Some pundits have argued that these lands should belong to the states. That may well be. Perhaps the government should sell off some of the lands and apply the proceeds to the national debt. A second benefit would be the reduction in costs for management of such lands.

Regardless of whether the land should be long to the United States or to Nevada, it does not belong exclusively to Clive Bundy.

Even the Nevada Cattlemen's Association is lukewarm in its support of Bundy. Read its statement here.

1 comment:

CW said...

Very good post, Victor.

I know this is a popular story with conservatives who are happy to see anyone stand up to the federal gov’t for any reason but I agree with you that we should not necessarily be applauding for someone who’s thumbing his nose at the law. The dilemma for me is that I do believe that the federal gov’t and the BLM have lost sight of their proper role as caretakers of public lands, and they’ve ignored the will of the broader public when it comes to policy. We can say that the courts exist to settle these arguments, but Bundy has been to court several times and the public was oblivious to the fight until he took his stand, illegal as it was. If these are public lands then the public should be involved in the debate about how they’re used and the bureaucrats should be listening to what we have to say.