Friday, February 17, 2012

Prairie dogs and liberty

Yesterday, I attended a public meeting that illustrated much of what is wrong with the nation. First, a bit of background:

In this part of Utah, we have a rodent named the Utah Prairie Dog. This cute little critter rules Iron County. Why? Because it is currently listed under the Endangered Species Act (EAS) as threatened. This status gives it certain protections which elevate its rights above those of humans. The presence of a prairie dog or its burrow on private property substantially diminishes the value of that property because it cannot be developed, farmed or otherwise used for normal human uses without significant restrictions and expenses. This imposition by the EAS is, to me, a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution:
"No person deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
Although title and tax obligations remain in private hands, the EAS essentially has taken substantial control of portions of private property all across the nation and here in southwestern Utah without due process (ie court hearings and usual eminent domain proceedings) and without compensation. But, we still pay taxes on that government-damaged property. The central government has essentially taken this property to protect (raise) prairie dogs at the expense of property owners. Property owners are not compensated, as required by the Fifth Amendment, for the loss of use and diminished value of their land.

Even though this variety of prairie dog is listed as threatened, they are ubiquitous. They are in our residential yards, alfalfa fields, a golf course, and two airports. They are even digging up our cemeteries!

Over the 40 years since the Utah Prairie Dog has been listed as threatened, the central, state, and local governments have spent millions of dollars and countless man-hours to save and count it -- even to dust it for fleas. After all that effort and expense, no meaningful change in population is evident. It should be noted that nearly every species that has existed on earth has gone extinct without the assistance of man. (That is not to justify man causing or accelerating the extinction of any species -- including the Utah Prairie Dog -- that is not inherently bad such as the smallpox virus.)

Several plans to save our prairie dog have been implemented with no effect. Creating and implemented these plans are extremely tedious and time-consuming. In order to comply with the EAS, they require truck-loads of paper, environmental studies, armies of government bureaucrats from multiple federal, state, and local agencies, and endless public meetings such as the one I attended yesterday. Among these ineffective plans is the current rangewide Utah Prairie Dog Recovery Implementation Program (UPDRIP) which was was initiated in 2009.

Yesterday's meeting was related to developing a new Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) which presumably would succeed where all other efforts have failed over the past 40 years. (This is beginning to look like an intentional eternal jobs program for bureaucrats.) The meeting was, on occasion, quite tense as citizens, property owners, and their local elected officials vented their frustrations.

Early in the meeting, I pointed out the very obvious fact that every member of the team that is writing the new plan is a government employee, that the team has absolutely no representation from the people who are affected by this varmint. The response was that these status meetings are open to the public and that when the final plans are ready, there will be public hearings. Another property owner replied that that is too late -- we need to have a hand in writing the documents now because we are affected by it and we even have solutions. This panel of bureaucrats is so open to public opinion, that every meeting has been abruptly terminated while the public was making its comments. (Isn't it convenient to have a 2-hour meeting to discuss a 40-year-old problem?)

One possible solution the bureaucrats say they are working on is to identify and develop federal land of suitable habitat where the prairie dogs can be relocated. One citizen said that if the government wants to know how to raise prairie dogs, ask any alfalfa farmer in the county -- he's raising lots of them. It is obvious that alfalfa fields make excellent prairie dog habitat. It was suggested that the HCP include establishing alfalfa farms on federal land solely for the use of the prairie dogs. The idea was immediately dismissed as if it were impossible.

As the discussions developed, it became abundantly clear that the root of the perpetual prairie dog problem is attitude. Article I, Section 9 of the US Constitution states in part that "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States...." Nevertheless, it seems that many government bureaucrats (including those in that room) view themselves as dukes and earls and that we commoners are their realm. They see themselves as experts on everything and we peasants are stupid and uneducated dolts. I should point out, however, that government "experts" in the US and other nations have:
▪ sent our best men and women to die in battle for causes deemed noble by the "experts," often with inadequate training and equipment because that's what the "experts" consider adequate;
▪ repeatedly destroyed our economy;
▪ created a national debt which is unsustainable and with no end in its exponential growth in sight;
▪ destroyed our education system;
▪ mandated what crops farmers may grow as well as how, where, and how much;
▪ forced car manufacturers to produce vehicles that don't meet our needs. (Families used to drive big station wagons. Now families must drive big gas-guzzling SUVs because the traditional station wagon was regulated out of existence.);
▪ closed thousand of acres of productive farmland to save non-viable minnows, insects, etc.;
▪ subsidized and bailed-out market failures such as electric cars, solar and wind energy, corrupt banks, and unprofitable manufacturers;
▪ banned traditional light bulbs;
▪ mandated the burning of food (corn) as automobile fuel (ethanol) even though it takes more energy to produce the fuel than it produces itself;
▪ created countless families who now have been totally dependent on government handouts for generations;
▪ forced countless fathers out of the home because his presence limits the amount of government aid the family receives;
▪ murdered millions of Jews, Armenians, Blacks, Chinese, indigenous peoples and other undesirables over the past couple of hundreds of years alone;
▪ closed thousands of miles of roads Americans once used to access "public" lands in the West (now that land apparently belongs only to the "experts");
▪ restricted or banned the keeping and bearing of the constitutionally-protected and best means of self-protection -- a firearm;
▪ closed countless factories by over-regulating industry or because it suits the will of unions; and even
▪ destroyed the flavor of french fries.
There is no question that government "experts" have had some positive impacts. But on the whole, I'd say that their negative impacts have far outweighed any good they have done.

Yesterday, the "experts" rejected every suggestion given by the citizens of our little community -- even offers of volunteer labor to help identify and establish new habitat on government-owned land and to help relocate the prairie dogs! After all, what can we commoners do? We aren't as smart as they are.

Yesterday, I pointed out that this effort to save the Utah Prairie Dog is older than many of the "experts" on the government panel. Frustrated with that simple fact, and to avoid another 40 years of ESA abuses of local property owners and taxpayers, I demanded a deadline, suggesting 5 years. I demanded the right of property owners to shoot every prairie dog that hasn't been relocated by the deadline. I believe that only a firm deadline to save the animal will institutionalize sufficient initiative in those "experts" to get the job done. Indeed, I believe a deadline is actually essential to the rescue of the species because, without a deadline, the "experts" will continue to drag the effort out for decades.
A goal is a dream with a deadline. — Napoleon Hill
But, after all that, one of the things that annoyed me the most was that they kept referring to was the oft-repeated pronouncement that everything must be in compliance with the EAS and that we commoners aren't smart enough to understand or comply with that law.

The leader of the team cut off public input just when I was about to read a pertinent phrase from Article VI of the US Constitution:
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. (emphasis added)
Contrary to the apparent belief of yesterday's government team, the Endangered Species Act is not the supreme law of the land. In fact, it violates the supreme law of the land!

Every one of those bureaucrats (in fact, every federal, state, and local bureaucrat across the nation) must learn enough about the Constitution (which they swear to uphold) to recognize when the laws, regulations, and policies they implement and enforce violate the supreme law of the land. They must muster the courage and integrity to refuse to enforce laws, regulations, and policies that violate the Constitution and the rights of Americans. You see, "...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men..." (Declaration of Independence, emphasis added). Our founders wrote a Constitution that describes a sharply limited form of government and delegated to it only sufficient power to protect our rights -- not to protect prairie dogs and snail darters.

No reasonable person wants to push the prairie dog or the snail darter out of existence for the convenience of anyone. If the government "experts," and the cost of supporting these aristocrats, would just go away, we Americans would be able to keep the resources we need to form organizations (such as the Mule Deer Foundation, Ducks Unlimited, and Wild Turkey Federation) that will actually do something productive to save threatened and endangered species.

Americans are good and generous people (at least we were before government "experts" destroyed our moral fiber). If government would get out of the way and if it were reduced to its constitutional size and power, Americans would be free to take care of themselves, their families, their neighbors, and the prairie dog. Sadly, we no longer have that liberty. Instead, our wealth has bee squandered by government "experts" to satisfy their central-planning objectives.

We are ruled by government "experts" and prairie dogs. I don't know which is worse.
A man is no less a slave because he is allowed to choose a new master once in a term of years. — Lysander Spooner
It's time for voters study the Constitution and to elect only politicians who also study the Constitution and who will ardently comply with the Constitution and who will sunset or eliminate immediately all agencies, laws (eg ESA), regulations, policies, and judicial decisions that are not in full compliance with the US Constitution.

Yes, that little public meeting illustrated much of what is wrong with government at all levels, the least of which is complete and utter disdain for the experience, knowledge, and opinion of the voters.

Do you have enough government, yet? If not, how much is enough?

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