The end run begins

During a holiday week when the step could be expected to draw little attention, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Dec. 23 announced his agency would review about 220 million acres of land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management to see if it should be designated under a new class of “public lands protection” called “wild lands.”

In essence, the move allows Mr. Salazar’s bureaucrats to fence off from productive human use millions of additional undeveloped acres in the West, sidestepping the legal requirements that actual new “wilderness” designations be OK’d by Congress.

The move was welcomed by the environmental extreme, but drew a strong rebuke from Northern Nevada Congressman Dean Heller, who said “This action is a blatant attempt by this administration to circumvent Congress and create de facto wilderness. If a portion of land is truly deserving of a wilderness designation, this administration should not be afraid to engage Congress.”

“The Obama Administration just left a giant Christmas present under the tree of the radical environmentalists who got him elected, and Western states like Montana are going to get stuck paying for it,” added U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.
The Congressional Western Caucus, which includes Rep. Rehberg, called the policy an “end around” the requirement for congressional approval of wilderness areas.

Secretarial Order 3310 reverses a past policy of the Bureau of Land Management known as “No New Wilderness,” which had been in place since 2003, following an out-of-court settlement between the state of Utah and then-Interior Secretary Gale Norton, appointed by President George W. Bush.

Wonder how they’d fare if any party OTHER than the federal government decided to tear up an out-of-court settlement a mere seven years after entering into it?

The BLM is supposed to manage land for energy and mineral production, livestock grazing, recreation, and — yes — wilderness and national monuments. Secretary Salazar said the new “wild lands” designation would “restore balance” between energy development and protecting wilderness on public land.

This move should not be viewed in isolation. When the public went to the polls Nov. 2, they effectively chose to rein in much of the Obama administration’s radical agenda, instead electing a more conservative House with a mandate to slash government spending and regulation in order to loosen the bonds on America’s hog-tied entrepreneurial economy.

But the current regime appears reluctant to accept that outcome. Instead, while “Cap-and-Trade” may be dead as new legislation, President Obama says “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” and orders the EPA to issue regulations aimed at creating the same result — higher energy costs, less prosperity — by bureaucratic fiat.

“Net neutrality” is another outcome the administration may seek through FCC edict rather than a congressional vote. And now de facto expansion of the millions of acres already off limits to productive human use in the West.

Further limiting grazing, mining, and other economically productive uses of the vast lands controlled by the federal government are supposed to help economic recovery in the Western states? This “restores balance”? Sure, if the “balance” you eventually want to reach is one where there’s no role for mankind on the land, at all.

This is, at heart, a First Amendment issue. The people of European extraction who settled this continent brought with them a religious belief and tradition that they should tame and steward the land, as a place for their descendants to be fruitful and multiply. The persistence of that tradition east of the Rockies stands largely unchallenged.

In the West, however, a new religious faith sees an opportunity to put into effect its new doctrine, that our species is a form of pestilence which must be roped off the land if the land is to remain pure and good.

Americans are free to hold to either belief. But the federal government is barred by the First Amendment by taking any active role in “establishing” either belief as official government policy, by force of law.

In the short run, the best answer is for Western delegates to band together in Washington and enact the Eastern Seaboard Wetlands Restoration Act, requiring that for every 100 acres of additional lands set off limits to productive human use in the West, 100 acres of land within 100 miles of the Atlantic seaboard or the Great Lakes shall be cleared of human habitation and restored to its natural splendor as pristine wetland habitat for ducks, mosquitoes and water moccasins.

Surely the duck hunters, bass fishermen, and cranberry pickers of New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Illinois will quickly climb on board.

When East Coast constituents face real ramifications from the “creation of additional federal wild lands,” we’ll see how enthusiastic their representatives remain about this clever end run around Congress.

2 Comments to “The end run begins”

  1. Ray Cohn Says:

    Ray Cohn Wrote:
    Vin Suprynowicz said: “(What’s that? What about those unemployed through no fault of their own? Get rid of all the government interventions in the labor market, including payroll taxes, and jobs would sprout like fungi. Of course, they might not all be government-approved jobs.).”

    Vin Suprynowicz’s words are a code work for abolishing laws and regulations governing worker safety, pay, child labor, benefits, etc.

    “Of course they might not be government approved jobs,” he boasts. What kind of jobs would they be?

    Jobs that pay $5 an hour or less?

    Unsafe jobs since he no doubt would abolish OSHA?

    Jobs where you would be forced to work a 16-hour day without overtime? Of course, he would abolish overtime and minimum wages.

    Jobs withou vacation?

    Twelve year olds no doubt could do some jobs because the prohibition of child labor is under Suprynowicz’s way of thinking government inteference in the market place.

    If you get laid off or fired, he would have no unemployment benefits. That in his reactionary mind that is an incentive not to work. How would business people find employees willing to work at non-goverment approved jobs at which the employer would pay slave wages?

    And no doubt Suprynowicz would prohibits unions so workers could not organize to improve their lot.

  2. Vin Suprynowicz Says:

    Actually, the freedom of association being recognized and protected from government interference by the Constitution, trade unions are fine. I’d be interested to see any citation in which I’ve said otherwise.

    However, since government has no delegated power to intervene in such matters, we certainly SHOULD get rid of the federal regulations that allow an outfit like the UAW to effectively bankrupt an outfit like General Motors. Current pro-union labor laws have that effect by making it virtually impossible for GM to hire replacement workers, who might not demand a level of guaranteed pensions certain to bankrupt the firm in the face of foreign competition

    Barring such federal “tilting” of the playing field, trade unions are rarely very useful unless the workers have a true monopoly on rare skills. Professional sports unions, for instance, can be quite effective, since the owners know they’re unlikely to do as well fielding teams of “replacement workers” without the skills of the union members. Isn’t it interesting, though, that minimum wage laws do no good for professional athletes, or anyone else with a highly marketable skill, most of whom seem able to command six-figure salaries without government help. I also suspect the National Football League has some kind of an exemption from OSHA regulations, or the OSHA inspectors would surely look at knee-injury and concussions statistics and require that the game be changed tio “two-hand touch,” forthwith.

    Why aren’t NFL players “protected” by OSHA, Mr. Cohn? At the same time businesses can be fined for failing to label piles of sand as “hazardous materials,” who else is exempt, and why? How precisely does OSHA help those who work in our most deadly professions, including deep sea fishing, cab driving, and hard-rock mining? Has OSHA been successful in requiring employers to allow cab drivers to carry handguns for self-defense? Why not? Federal rules overrule local ordinances, don’t they?

    I can find no place in the Constitution where the Congress is authorized to interfere in the labor markets, at all. Why should a 15-year-old who gets his girlfriend pregnant be barred from taking honest work so they can keep and raise the baby? Simply because the government educrats have been allowed to slow down the course of schooling so today’s 15-year-old has only the education of a 10-year-old of 100 years ago?

    Why should employers be barred from offering jobs to unemployed, low-skilled workers at any rate agreeable to both parties? Why do so many trades now require government “licenses” and “permits” — all thinly disguised anti-competitive protection rackets? Today’s massive (and officially understated) unemployment rate is dramatic testimony to the real effect of these government meddlings in the market — all benefiting the labor unions and others involved in “regulatory capture,” but creating nothing but dependency and frustration for the growing class of “permanently discouraged” job-seekers.

    I have neither the power nor the inclination to “abolish” extra pay for overtime — I merely find no place in the Constitution where the federal government can require it. (They really don’t, by the way. I’ve worked unpaid overtime most of my life.) The matter is thus left subject to voluntary negotiation between worker and employer.

    If businesses could hire anyone they chose, under any terms agreeable to the job-seeker, “unemployment” would virtually disappear except among those who choose not to work. Of course, there would be no “unemployment statistics,” since in a free market for labor employers would not serve as uncompensated “tax withholders,” nor would they report their “employee count” to the federal government. Employees would be free to buy “unemployment insurance” on the free market if they so desire — or instead to merely set some of their (much higher) pay aside as “savings for a rainy day.”

    Is freedom really any more frightening than the economic backlash from overregulation that we now face? Would Mr. Cohn rather sit on the dole than go ply his trade in a truly free market? A century ago, millions of people — including my grandparents — gambled their all on a chance to come to this country and compete in just such an unregulated labor market. They struggled, but their grandchildren thank them. Today, given the tax and regulatory penalties imposed on such actions, you’d pretty much have to be insane to start a new business and “create jobs” in this country. This has become so clear that even Barack Obama now claims he’s going to root out and repeal any regulations that hamper business activity and job growth.

    Note he “claims.” Should his minions come trooping back, advising that the most helpful steps would be to eliminate the income tax, all “payroll tax withholding,” the IRS, the EPA, and Obamacare, I believe we can all predict his answer.

    His answer would be to squawk, like Mr. Cohn, that no govenrment edict, no matter how unconstitutional and counterproductive, may ever really be repealed, so long as the original authors took care to give it a nice-sounding name..

    — V.S.

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