Sunday, December 11, 2016

Toward an Omnibus Solution

One Man … One Mob … One Kingdom
Toward an Omnibus Solution
Rejection of Absolutism
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

            Local control of education and the press defends against the wholesale adoption of stupidity. For too long, the loss of local control has given rise to absolutism and innovation has suffered.
            As I write this, I am looking at an undated school picture from the Mule Creek School built in 1918. There are 16 students, the teacher Mrs. Eubanks, and four horses. Half of the students, eight of them, are mounted on those four horses. Barney Bradberry is standing behind the saddle on the hocked up, blaze faced gelding on the left of the picture (with the dog behind its hind legs). Sitting in the saddle in front of him W.L. Colson has his arms crossed in a relaxed, smiling pose. There is no telling what time those boys arose that morning to get their chores done in order to ride miles to school.
            Out in front of the group, stand Floyd Roberts, Charlie Kayle, Allison Lewis, and Vergel Reed. They look like a quartet of rascal characters out of Hal Roach’s Our Gang. Allison has his arms draped around Charlie and Vergel and Floyd is standing there in his big brother’s hand me downs with his hands in his pockets. I’d bet my life he has a pocket knife in one of those pockets. In fact, I’d bet there are at least a dozen pocket knives amongst that crew girls included. Two or three of them would have been sharp.
            What a fascinating study in western Americana that picture is.
Furthermore, those young people, arrayed alongside today’s counterparts, were capable beyond measure. If they had to fend for themselves for the rest of the week without anything but their wits, they would have survived. They would have trapped or run something down to eat. One of the girls could have cooked it, and Mrs. Eubanks would have kept order without thinking twice about hurting somebody’s feelings in maintaining order.
            Left unto themselves, rural societies are vastly more interesting than wilderness.
            Rejection of Absolutism    
            The American Antiquities Act of 1906 and the Affordable Care Act may wind up painting the broadest strokes of this president’s legacy.
As the last days of his presidency wind down, one must wonder just how much either will contribute to the lasting impact he will have made on the wellbeing of the citizenry. I am certainly not a good candidate to espouse the virtues of either. I view the former as a tool to save certain singular objects of importance that immediate presidential empathy should and could be extended for preservation and protection, but the act has been morphed into an executive instrument that threatens rural lives. My experience with the latter has become a frustrating debacle complete with impossible monthly expenses that was transformed into the predicament of no insurance coverage at all, and, at a very vulnerable time in life, it threatened everything.
Both lead to a question. Am I better off because of the application of federal actions against me? Is my community or my industry segment better off because of the implications of either? The answer is the same in both cases.
Nothing I touch is better as a result of the application of either law. The Affordable Care Act took my insurance from me and there is there nothing in the American Antiquities Act of 1906 that suggests a president or a series of presidents could set aside, without congressional debate, national monuments totaling 866,800 square miles. There is no way any citizen can suggest that the 110 year collection of 150 executive fiefdoms, signed into law by 16 presidents, could be compressed into “the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected”. That equates to 497,645 acres per monument or a whopping 4,665,325 acres per participating president. Not even the most openly senatorial leftist could logically defend those figures on the basis of the statutory language.
            There was never any overt intention of morphing the objects intended in the Act equating to “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” into restricted land designations whereby historic uses were squeezed from existence.
            That is why the recent Albuquerque Journal editorial proclaiming “1 person shouldn’t make or break a U.S. monument” was so amusing. As long as the monument declarations were on the creation side of the ledger, the liberal Journal was a supporter of sopping up swaths of rural New Mexico into monuments. It was only when the Trump victory was realized and the advocacy of reversing the presidential proclamations did a collective neuron fire amongst that editorial board and they decided it was politically expedient to array creation and dissolution in juxtaposition.
You can bet your life that no such editorial would have been written if the dissolution part of the adverse authority had never surfaced without the Trump victory. Local communities, customs and culture would have continued to be ignored and vilified for fighting the proposals, and support for the monstrosities would have grown proportionally as distance from ground zero, the domain of local culture at risk, increased.
One Man … One Mob … One Kingdom
            This week, the Dona Ana County Board of County Commissioners is going to act on a local Uniform Development Code (UDC) that has little to do with local customs and culture. It is a compilation of regulatory controls heaped upon the county through the authorship of some unknown character who was represented to the citizenry as “the consultant”.
            Among the collection of egregious regulatory reach in the draft plan, stand two land use designations that simply confirm each and every concern within the debate over private property rights implicit in the Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument. All lands within the monument footprint are at risk of being designated N. All other private lands associated with ranches outside of the monument footprint are being considered for a T2 designation.
            What makes the matter so grievous is the fact that N, signifying natural, is defined as “no farming and ranching”. T2 is defined as conditional farming and ranching, but many historical practices such as concentrating cattle in a corral to brand or to precondition calves is undefined or not allowed. All lands, private, state, and federal, are threatened with the N designation. Even with promise of legal action by the State Land Commissioner and the recommendations of change by the local Planning and Zoning Commission, the matter could be pushed through.
            Leading the charge are two commissioners, Wayne Hancock and Billy Garrett.  
Both are members of the progressive voter pact that has been successful in getting radical liberal candidates elected. They stand with others in their group who advocate that the UDC must first be passed and then tweaked to remove any unintended oversights like these designations.
            Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
            This kind of rough shod assault on customs and culture, though, is no longer acceptable. What has become the political norm is now on course toward change. Hancock and Garrett may get another vote to get this done, but the specter of losing much more than they gain now looms. The Westerner and others are suggesting that President Trump may not have the clear authority to reverse the plethora of national monument executive actions, but he has the authority to reduce their footprint.
            Actually, President Trump could work with Congress for an omnibus legislative package on all monuments to determine the actual impact to local communities and how and what should be done to adjust acreages. The process must include all people not just environmental mobs and NGOs. The nonsensical pledge of economic gain to local economies should be weighed alongside NEPA assessments and how a one man designation actually affects the 90 families impacted by this particular monument directly and the entire region indirectly. This is important when this local county commission is attempting to pass an additional, subversive ordinance suggesting historical businesses are disallowed to farm and ranch on their private lands or lands they lease from the state and federal governments.
            The Albuquerque Journal identified it. No single man should have the right to declare grand, national monuments and no single man should have the right to reverse them. So, Congress should fix it. Let the chips fall where they may, but, under no circumstance, should an American president, one man, or his ardent backers, one mob, carve out historical lands that equate to the very unique customs and culture of local communities to form an arbitrary, natural kingdom without recourse and just consideration for the victims.

            Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher from southern New Mexico. “Subsequent to the noted Journal article, the paper has realigned itself with the president. Neither party seems to have looked up the meaning of “smallest area compatible with proper care.”

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