Monday, December 10, 2012

Ken Ivory & Federal Dominion

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness
Ken Ivory
The matter of federal dominion
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            No definitive proof would ever prevail in revealing the truth, but one of the original “five angry ranchers”, Tom Cooper, lost his life in the pursuit of his constitutional promise of ‘Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness’.
            Tom fought continuously for six years to prevent the designation of national monument, wilderness, national conservation area, or overlapping combinations thereof on lands him and others ranch in Dona Ana County, New Mexico. In the midst of the relentless onslaught of the threat of the federal designations and the unending demands of his own businesses, he suffered a catastrophic aneurism. He didn’t survive.
            The genesis
            In an earlier era, another five men stood against the tyranny of a similar force that compromised hopes for their life and liberty, and their pursuit of happiness. Their names were Adams, Adams, Warren, Hancock, and Franklin.
            The force was King George and everything in his field of view compromised any permanence of fundamental, human rights. They knew what limitations they faced in the dominion of his presence. If he wanted it, he took it. If he desired it for trade, he brokered it. If he deemed it necessary for collateral, he seized it. All mankind within his kingdom was subservient. He was king.
            The cornerstone of the outcome of that great conflict and its suppression of tyranny and the matters of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was … the blessing of private property.  
            The western states conflict
            The West has always been a region of conflict over original intent.
            Years after the Declaration of Independence was signed and men gave their lives for the idea of human sovereignty, a skirmish broke out in the West that again threatened the peace and tranquility of the nation. The legislature of one of the states threatened with a modern brand of King George tyranny wrote, “this state … has the exclusive right to the soil and eminent domain of all the unappropriated lands within her acknowledged boundaries”.
            Another wrote, “…it is deemed a matter of the utmost importance to the interests of the State that it should have and possess the sole and exclusive jurisdiction of the unappropriated lands within it limits.”
            Yet another wrote, “the system of disposing of the public lands of the United States now pursued is highly injurious … to the States in which those lands lie, and to none, perhaps, more so than to the State of Missouri” … Missouri?
            The years were 1828-1833 and the ‘western states’ were not the western states as we know them today. In fact, the list of states demanding constitutional equality included Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, and, as noted, Missouri.
Documents from each of those states demonstrated outrage over the breach of constitutional promise regarding the disposition of lands within their boundaries. The federal government had reneged on the promise to seek permanent title only to lands “for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock Yards, and other needful buildings.”
Missouri’s stance on the matter was pertinent to the day. Their legislature reminded the federal government its best interest is also the best interest to the individual states. The rationale was to enhance the ability of the individual states to increase the revenue of the states which, in turn, reduced the national debt and contributed directly to the health and well being of the citizenry.
Such public lands were in form and function blessings to be bestowed for the purpose of building wealth and firm underpinnings of economy. The Congressional Public Land Committee of 1828 agreed. In their report to Congress, the committee reminded law makers such disposal of lands was essential to the education of youth. Furthermore, without such lands the states could not increase the comfort and wealth of the frontier without the ability “of taxing the soil” to pay for such mutual benefits. Most importantly, it was essential to the general welfare that new states share an equal standing with original states in order to gain the foundation necessary to create permanent wealth and well being.
The outcome was the idea of equal footing. After all, the Constitution substantively outlined such equality of federal actions.
Recapitulation of the Western States Conflict
The equal footing doctrine was recognized, clarified, and honored in those western states. Today, government ownership of lands within their boundaries is less than 10% of the land mass.
Fast forward to the next generation of states and the common theme tediously reappeared. Left unto its own recognizance, the federal government has no memory and no mechanism to assure constitutional discipline. The states west of the 100th Meridian have a combined government ownership of about 61% of the land mass. Since statehood, they have faced the same matter of tyranny that plagued the five original revolutionaries, and, now, the five angry ranchers.
Dominion of the landscape by a king in any form has consequences, and those consequences are not arrayed in the favor of the citizenry. They are placed in the favor of those who extract indirect rather than direct wealth from the soil those legislators in Missouri wrote about in 1829.
The states of 1830 prevailed with the matter of equal footing because they had no proxy for the attributes of wealth that came from the soil. The world today is much different. Today, there is a whole segment of society that derives its well being from indirect extraction of wealth from private lands and property, and … the national treasury.
A new Champion
In 2010, a Utahan by the name of Ken Ivory won a seat in his state’s House of Representatives. He gave up a law practice in West Jordan, Utah in pursuit of ‘securing the blessings of liberty” to his posterity.   
Representative Ivory is not just an attorney. He is a constitutional scholar. In a parallel devotion to service, he has help create and serves as executive director of the American Lands Council (ALC). In his commitment to ALC, he travels the country speaking and teaching constitution originality.
He is a primary force behind Utah’s landmark legislation, H.B.148- Utah’s Transfer of Public Lands Act. In that legislation, the state of Utah has served notice to the federal government to extinguish title to specified public lands within the state by December 31, 2014.
In discussing the bill, Ivory matter-of-factly reminds audiences that it is no longer a belated matter of equal footing. It is now a matter of American survival. Utah estimates it runs a minimum annual loss to federal dominion of lands to the tune of $5 billion, and that doesn’t reflect the opportunity cost to private citizenry had those lands been conveyed to the state.
In a recent study, Utah was judged as one of the five best managed states in the union. Absorbing its estimate of losses predicated on federal dominion, one has to only wonder what losses are to states like California that are considered among the five worst managed.
The problem is simply immense. It isn’t limited to those programs that are government driven. It affects all aspects of the states, and, thus, the nation. Whole industries are being victimized directly and indirectly from the oppressive dominion. Mining, logging, ranching, energy, and support industries are impacted by the inability to make any long term plans and goals, to secure capitalization, and to seek parallel enterprises.
Incentive is being demolished. It is a debacle of gigantic proportions.
We, the minions
In his recent presentation in Deming, New Mexico, Ivory stood in front of a polarized audience. Those that represented the segment of society that sought to produce wealth from primary enterprises were clearly drawn to his staunch adherence to matters of private lands rights. Those representing the social forums that rely upon the harvest of wealth extracted from primary producers were clearly antagonistic to his position. Their rebuttals were venomous
The divide harkens back to the fact that the world is much different than it was in 1830. Today, there is the growing realization that more people make their living off the system than from primary productive efforts reliant on the natural abundance from the system. It is not helped nor is it being changed in Washington, and, now, the realization is becoming more abundantly clear that it is a problem on both sides of the aisle. If Utah prevails in the pernicious world we live in, it will be a monumental accomplishment.
Ken Ivory may be a future senatorial candidate. If he is, he brings something to the national scene that isn’t new. It is as old and pertinent to the American model as “We, the people.”
His fight, though, is our fight, and … it is a fight we can ill afford to lose.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “May I be the first to nominate Representative Ken Ivory to the seat to be vacated by Utah’s senior senator?”


Having been part of the original Sagebrush Rebellion, this entire concept is of great interest to me.  It involves history, the concept of federalism and the Constitution.  

I will always remember attending the LASER meeting in Salt Lake City, right after Reagan had been elected President, with the leaders of the movement in NM and historian J. Evetts Haley.  It was exciting times and little did I know that a few months later I'd be appointed to a senior level position at Interior.

To educate yourself and make up your own mind on this issue, you can't do better for a start than visiting Mr. Ivory's American Lands Council website and download his talking points

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