Saturday, May 10, 2008

Extortion is fine as long as the aims are good, even if hypocritical

Suppose you owned some land and you wanted to build on it which is your right, and then someone comes along and says we will let you build on your land if you give away the major part of it; what would you say? What would T. Jefferson, J. Madison, J. Adams say as they rolled over in their graves? Maybe something like this: "Is this what we fought our revolution for?"

If it wasn’t land but your wallet and your money, that would be a felony. It still would be a serious crime if the felon bargained with you so you could keep part of your money. Why then is it acceptable now in our politically correct society for you to have to give away part of something you own in order to be able to use the remainder of it? The answer is that in the name of conservationism and protection of species extortion, robbery and theft are quite alright.

Modern day environmental felons don’t have to wield a weapon; they can use the courts to do their dirty work. Of course, it helps that while they are depriving you of your money, they are also using the money you gave the government in taxes to finance their assault on your property rights. Anything works in the socialist society these days as long as it’s done in the name of some bazaar notion of "doing good".

Recently in California the largest display of larceny ever seen occurred when the Sierra Club succeeded through extortion in depriving Tejon Ranch land owners of 240,000 acres – 375 square miles – in deal to allow development of what’s left. The very fact that the organization’s ideals can be bought is itself repugnant and serves to illustrate the hypocrisy of conservationists and other similar high minded organizations. If developmental use of the land would be detrimental for some odd reason, why does it become acceptable if a sufficiently high price is paid?

The land larceny was aided and abetted by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who applauded the land grab: "When forward-thinking people, like the people that are standing here with me today, are willing to sit down and make something positive happen … all battle lines are terminated. In other words there is a better way and that better way is in full display right here today in this stunning California landscape."

The Governor makes it sound as if the land owners were "willing" participants of the land give-away. What he deliberately overlooks is that the alternative to "sitting down" was to spend enormous amounts of money in endless litigation in an attempt to use the land owned in a lawful and constructive manner. Unless land owners agree with some catastrophic land use deprivation, those self-anointed guardians of the all species and wildlife, and the "environment" will do without force of arms but with aid of judicial activists what was unthinkable when the country was formed.

To give some perspective to the scope of the land grab, the land "willingly" given away is eight times the size of the city of San Francisco and roughly the size of Los Angeles.

The Tejon Ranch Company has been trying for years to develop several projects on land they own but some of the state’s prominent conservation and environmental groups stood in the way, until the owners agreed to give away a majority of their land holding for purposes these groups deem sufficiently worthy to overcome their commitment to preserve the environment for their lofty purposes.

The deal results in the largest parcel of land designated for conservation in the state’s history. In order to accomplish projects intended by the land owners, the Sierra club agreed not to challenge proposed development of the remaining land. Other conspirators in the extortion plot are the usual suspects: the Audubon Society, the Conservation League and Endangered Habitats League – all recipients of tax dollars.

This is not the only successful effort by those willing to sell their approval by agreeing to forego litigation. California environmentalists having the unlikely name "Get Oil Out!" recently agreed not to oppose an oil company’s off-shore drilling in exchange for money, land and a promise to shut down operations in Santa Barbara County in 14 years. (Note "money" is a part altruistic solution.)

The opportunities for depriving land owners of their legitimate rights are endless, not only in California but all over the country. As long as they have willing accomplices in the courts and in the government, the threat of expensive endless litigation will be a device to be exploited at will to achieve the socialist dream.

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