Across the Great Divide

One Flew East

With the Bundys of Nevada and, now, Oregon claiming individual sovereignty over government and Donald Trump claiming that all we need to do is trust in the skills of his arrogance, pundits are turning to “intellectuals” to explain what is going on. Thomas Edsall, for example, writing in The New York Times, turns for understanding of Trump to what he calls “my best sources.” Almost all of these are professors at renowned universities, part of an intellectual elite that Trump most emphatically does not represent and who are, also, about as far from the Bundys, philosophically, as one can get. Asking them to help us understand Trump’s popularity (or Bundy “activism”) is somewhat like asking the Ayatollahs of Iran to define the culture of Sunni Islam—or vice versa. Each side views the other through a particular and biasing prism. Some of the things they point out may be correct…

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5 thoughts on “Across the Great Divide

  1. What Bundy and his gaggle of Yeehawdists fail to acknowledge is that federal lands came to exist and are maintained by each & every tax paying American. I am deeply offended by what they have done, and their actions are the epitome of ignorance and arrogance. They appear to have a delusional sense of entitlement beyond the pale. While I have never been a “law & order” prototype, my hope is that these very un-American jerks are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    • The trouble with that, David, is that it feeds into keeping the divide wide. You may be right, but you are also wrong in dismissing them so rudely. Yes, they would do the same to us… but let’s not keep the problems going by reacting in kind.

      • With all due respect, Aaron, I vehemently disagree. As an ecologist that has conducted research on federal lands from coast to coast, I feel I present an informed opinion.

        The US Government owns 640 million acres (about 28% of our land mass). The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages 247.3 million acres of the total pie. BLM lands are “undesignated,” meaning the federal government has not designated them for a specific purpose. These lands are available for lease to private parties like the Bundys for grazing, farming, mining, oil & gas extraction and logging. Thus, 38.6% of the lands collectively owned by all US citizens are available for private. commercial interests.

        The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDAFS) manages 192.9 million acres. While there exist a few more restrictions on USDAFS lands, they remain available for sustained yields of timber harvesting and grazing of livestock. Thus, another 30% of the lands collectively owned by US citizens are also available to private interests, albeit not as many as BLM lands.

        The land management system therefore makes a whooping 68.6% of our federal lands available to people like the Bundys wanting to raise livestock for human consumption. These leases are more than affordable, with the added bonus that federal scientists and land managers are working very hard to provide optimal yields of available forage and timber.

        Conversely, the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) manages 89.1 million acres, and the National Park Service (NPS) 79.6 million acres. FWS and NPS lands are off-limits to private interests, period. The Oregon National Wildlife Refuge seized by the Taliklan is not, and never shall be, available to the Bundys or any other private party wanting to set up shop. Thus, 26.3% of federal lands owned by US citizens are absolutely protected.

        The remaining 4.9% of federal lands primarily consist of military bases and federal installations in urban areas.

        In 2004 alone, 40 million acres of federal lands were under lease by multi-national oil and gas companies.

        I believe the gap you speak of has already been more than bridged. As an ecologist, with an obvious bias, I would argue we should flip the equation, and instead of having 68.6% of our federal lands open to development, we make it 26.3%. But I would even settle for a 50-50 deal.

        The argument presented by the Bundys and their ilk is asinine, and with all due respect, they are assholes. In the words of Junior, we should “smoke ’em outta their holes.”

  2. Then we’ll have to agree to disagree. These people deserving of my respect and compassion should have been put behind bars days ago. I have respect and compassion for the 100s of millions that paid for and maintain that refuge with their hard-earned tax dollars. I have respect and compassion for the threatened and endangered species protected by that refuge. I have respect and compassion for the federal employees that bust their butts to make that refuge an island of biodiversity.

    Perhaps I am a cold-hearted SOB, but I have zero respect and compassion for the Bundy Bunch.

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