Sunday, January 31, 2016

#RuralLivesMatter

“I think that there are some positives that could come out of this,” the sheriff tells Bundy.

“We’re getting ignored again, sir,” Bundy replies.
This is a good editorial that pretty much sums up the latest sequel in the drama of America's urban rural divide. I would cautiously bet on the seed planted by Bundy in Oregon to go into full bloom rather soon. Bundy has opened a major Pandora box. There is simply no going back.

But before we get to the final destination, we have one more station to pass by. This editorial-manifesto is about the next station. But this plan is not going to work. There are several reasons for this and among them the urban rural demographic imbalance. The countryside simply doesn't have enough electoral weight while the cultural/ideological gap works against voluntary concessions by between the city to the countryside.

This is an age of growing political polarization in which cities are getting increasingly blue while their periphery stays deep in red. On top of this, the allegation of government mismanagement of western lands on a monumental scale perfectly fits into the conservative perception that the government can't be trusted with running things. The other side is obviously all too eager to argue the opposite.

So, the urban rural divide currently escalating in the west is less an opportunity for meaningful bipartisan cooperation. To the contrary, it has potential to become one of the most polarizing issues on a nationwide scale. This is one issue that can tear the whole country apart.
By Capital Press () {

Date = January 28, 2016

Source = Land management issues remain

For better or worse, the occupation did draw some national attention to legitimate issues concerning the U.S. government’s management of its vast holding of public lands.

Now what?

It will be all too easy for many casual observers East of the Rockies, and even a good many in the liberal urban centers of the West, to dismiss all of this as the machinations of a half-cocked collection of religious zealots, disenfranchised Reubens and anti-government nuts with too many guns and a crazy interpretation of the Constitution.

Unfortunately, that would miss the real underlying issues.

The standoff is diminished, but the anger and frustration of many farmers, ranchers and lumbermen in Harney County and throughout the West remains unchanged. Their interests must now be pressed in the court of public opinion, and non-Westerners made to understand the real issues.

The federal government holds more than half the land in the West. The economic and civic fabric of rural communities depends on trees cut from the forest, livestock grazed on the range and minerals gleaned from the mining claims.

The government once encouraged these activities in the service of the country’s growing population and in fulfillment of its manifest destiny. Now, policies have changed and that same government seems to be draining the lifeblood of the rural West.

Many in the rural West don’t think their government listens to them and that their concerns are given short shrift. They believe that their livelihoods, their very way of life, are in the hands of bureaucrats controlled by interests outside their communities.

They don’t understand how the government can claim to be a good steward while it lets its forests fill with fuel that feeds ever more terrible wildfires that destroy the very habitat it seeks to protect. They bristle at what they perceive to be the mismanagement of these fires that causes their own property to be damaged or destroyed.

They are stymied at every turn by the inertia that attends every decision, every necessary action on a grazing allotment or timber harvest. They are tired of the endless environmental litigation that seems bent on driving even the most conservation-minded producers off public lands.

They watch as their government adds to its empire, using taxpayer money to outbid local buyers and take more land off the tax roles, and erode private economic opportunities.

They want to be good stewards, to do the right thing. But they want a fair shake.

Now is the time to tell these stories, to tell America that rural western lives matter.}