H.L. Mencken was really on to something when he famously said “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”. (This quote is frequently misattributed to P.T. Barnum, who may well have repeated it a few times himself.) No more true have those words rung than the present day…
This story from The New Civil Rights Movement is perhaps the single most absurd thing our Congress–or more specifically, our House of Representatives–has done in the entire two centuries and change of its existence. Quoting the article:
The new rule, authored by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop of Utah, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, codifies that any legislation to dispose of federal land and natural resources would have a net sum zero cost to taxpayers.
Basically, the rule short-circuits past the part of the rules which require a discussion of the costs and benefits of any such move, since by definition such a move will not cost the taxpayers anything. According to this USA Today story, the vote was split almost completely across party lines, with only three brave Republicans willing to cross the line and vote with Democrats to oppose this absolutely awful piece of junk.
This rule is dangerous because of how short-sighted it is, as the true cost of selling off public lands, particularly national parks and monuments, cannot be measured strictly in dollars and cents. These parks and monuments belong to all of us, the people who cast the votes. And once we sell off something like a national park, there’s no getting it back. Obviously, this is so the oil companies can drill, frack, and screw up our environment even more than it already is. (Some of the oil companies are starting to call themselves “energy companies” but let’s be honest, oil is still the main reason for their existence, without which they’d be folding like houses of cards in a Category 6 hurricane.)
I’d ask what they were thinking, but I already know the answer, it’s obvious, and it really burns me up. It’s a further indictment of the stupidity of the Citizens United decision, as if we needed another.
To just sell or give away, say, Yellowstone Park would be bad enough. To sell or give it away to an oil company for the purpose of drilling and fracking it beyond recognition is unconscionable, outrageous, and patently devoid of any sense of scruples. I haven’t been a big huge nature buff most of my life, but I am on the e-mail lists for the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and the Audubon Society among others. And I’m sure I’ll be getting emails about this with the accompanying pleas for donations in the coming weeks. In better times I would donate, but right now I’m doing good to keep this blog online. I hope someone out there reading this feels generous and/or needs a tax deduction.