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As Long as We Remember...

February 3, 2016

Stay the Course: Protect “We The People”

Tom McLaughlin

Ever since my daughter married into a ranching family in Montana, I have been following the problems out west. The latest fiasco seems to play around a group of people who took over a shed in Oregon to protest the increased sentence given to two ranchers. Here is my perspective.


The land they are protesting belongs to "We The People." You can say it belongs to the American Indians, and it probably does; but that was a long time ago. We have to deal in the reality of today, and the reality is that it belongs to us, everyone.


The land was handed over to the federal government to the Bureau of Land Management, or the BLM. They are managing the land for "We The People." Now, I have no idea about this bureaucracy. I assume that it is like any other bureaucracy in the federal government in that it is slow and unresponsive at worse and makes decisions as quickly and efficiently at best.


The Bureau of Land Management rents land to the rancher to graze his cows. They rent it at a cost well below the market price. In other words, if I owned a piece of land, I would charge you a much higher price than the Bureau of Land Management.


Now, many people want the Bureau of Land Management to sell the land. However, how do you value a piece of unimproved land in the middle of nowhere? The only thing to do is to auction the land. After all, that is a fair way for "We The People."


This results in land speculation. Some people believe they should purchase the land for what might be under the soil. There is so much money owned by so few around the world that they need to park their money someplace and what better place than owning American land.


I am not a miner, or an oil person, so I don't know what could be there; and I have a feeling nobody else does either. However, one can bet that the prairie will be torn asunder to find any mineral or oil wealth hidden there.


There is also the idea of selling the land in small sections to immigrants. They could divide the land into parcels and sell it off to the new comers who want a part of the American dream. That is why the Republicans do not want immigration reform. There is too much money to be made from them. Maybe not today, but in the future after they get established, educated and pay the high rents saving a bit at a time.


The ranchers, well, unless they can compete with the big boys, will have to sell their family ranches to the speculators because they cannot afford the price the speculators will charge to graze the cattle. They will be out of business as some of the speculators revert to corporate ranching because of the tax benefits.


I, as member of the group "We The People," prefer that the Bureau of Land Management continue on with their practices the way they are now because they are not tearing up the prairie. This is a good thing and ranchers are making some money and doing what they love most. And that is a good thing, too.


...Life is good. . . . .


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