I was thinking about getting on my rant soapbox again and jumping on this post, some Oregon rancher (can’t find the URL in my history, sorry), a reasonable guy defending the gun nuts out in Oregon taking their stand against the evil gubmint for demanding what it is owed and that convicted criminals face penalties. His basic point is that (most) ranchers are hard working types supplying the rest of us with beef at cheap prices and getting little in return and then the government slaps them in the face by taking lands owned by the U.S. (that is, you and me) away from people who live next door and want to claim them without paying for them (so much for “free market” economics).
But it turns out I can’t rant about this because I already did in this post. I didn’t remember this and I doubt you will, Dear Reader, but it’s a simple point. The government stole the land, fair and square (irony intended) for the aboriginal peoples and now hold it in trust for all of us – you, me, the ranchers. So if they’ll let the ranchers use it at all they want to charge fees (yee gads, capitalism at work). So this rancher, probably a good guy, is ranting about having some nearby federal acres upgraded to a wildlife refuge and he might not be able to graze his cattle there.
Now actually I’m sympathetic, but not entirely. I like people holding on to a way of life, standing up for their virtue of hard work and effort (and I don’t doubt, for a second, the work that rancher does). But we live in a world where all sorts of hardworking people get screwed by the global economy capitalist, who move money and jobs wherever they want to get the most. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs due to this.
In fact, cattle raising has gone the same way as everything else – high efficiency, low cost. The Nevada and Oregon ranchers just barely manage to compete with Nebraska beef producers (surprisingly to me the second largest in the U.S.) Sure grass fed beef, the darling of the 1% set, tastes a bit better than factory beef but more than likely you, out there, have mostly eaten beef (if you do) from a feedlot, not the nostalgic scenes of the Marlboro Man ranches.
So a small group of people are getting screwed because their subsidies have been curtailed (or, horrors, they have to actually pay for them) and high tech is beating them out. Yes, I’ll miss cattle who moves a few miles from where they were born instead of living in pens. But LOTS of people in the U.S. have suffered the same fate and I don’t hear those gun-toting ranchers making a case for them (as they shop for Chinese goods in their local Walmart).
The land the U.S. government owns, yes concentrated in the west as accident of history, is being controlled by that government, the same government that represents you and me. If I want to do some recreation on some of that land why does some nearby rancher hold more claims than me! His contribution to beef supply is so small (so no economic argument for the rest of us) that some feedlot in Nebraska can increase their penned animal herds in minutes to make up for his contribution, just as Chinese workers make iPhones instead of people in Santa Clara County. He’s getting screwed (sorta, paying fees for my land is not “screwed”) but so are lots of other people.
This land is our land, when it comes to Federal lands – not the ranchers’ land, not the oilman’s land, not the loggers’ land – it belongs to all of us. And if our government decides to take some portion of that land, to preserve species and public access, so be it – the greatest good for the greatest number.
But surprisingly I’ve said most of this before in my previous post. My readers may not look back in my old posts but sometimes I do so apologies for beating the same drum again.