by John D’Aloia Jr.
May 31, 2005
Trackside last discussed the use of the legislative process to feed the insatiable itch for power that overtakes elected officials. This past session a majority of Kansas state senators demonstrated the itch by passing SB45, a bill that would have given local jurisdictions the means to instantly collect past due property taxes by making the delinquency a cause for a court judgement against all the landowner’s resources to settle the tax debt.
As stated in that Trackside, the ability to condemn or control private property is another route to increasing the power of government. With the Endangered Species Act (ESA), those who covet power found a mighty sword to use against both individual landowners and society. The ESA is infamous for its use as a means not to protect critters but to give government and narrow interest groups power over how citizens use their land and how they spend their money. Examples abound – one of the latest revolves around the endangered Riverside fairy shrimp in California. The Riverside fairy shrimp is a fresh-water shrimp, one-half to one inch long, that lives in mud puddles after it rains. The City of Los Angeles is going to have to remove 1.3 acres of top soil, an estimated 468 tons, using hand trowels, to “transplant” endangered Riverside fairy shrimp eggs from the Los Angeles Municipal Airport (LAX for you frequent flyers) to a preserve being created at the closed El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, said preserve to be maintained by the city. The Federal Aviation Administration refused to allow a reserve for them at LAX because it would have meant having the area covered by water for several months a year, attracting birds that could be sucked into jet engines. The debate has been going on for six years. The cost was not stated. The fairy shrimp has locked up thousands of acres in California, taken it off-limits for development. The shrimp’s only value appears to be as an ecofascist tool for gaining control over private property and the use of tax dollars. This is not a productive use of the nation’s wealth or a rationale for making tax slaves of citizens.
Not satisfied with the success in using endangered species to gain power, the ecofascists have drummed up another kind of “species” with which to bludgeon landowners. SAFETEA, the acronym for the massive transportation bill working its way through Congress, is, as one would infer by its title and stated purpose, a bill to maintain and enhance the nations transportation infrastructure. Unfortunately, the Senate version of SAFETEA contains provisions more deadly to our freedom than a few million dollars recklessly spent on home-town pork with some remote nexus to transportation, provisions that if enacted will ultimately be expanded to degrade and erode property rights. Would you expect to find new ways in the bill for government to separate you from your property rights and your resources so they could be placed on Gaia’s high altar? Not really, but that is exactly what is buried in the Senate’s SAFETEA, sections that enlarge the already draconian ESA by creating an Invasive Species Act. The title says it all. The full power of the federal government and every law-suit crazed environmentalist will be brought to bear against invasive species and those who harbor them.
How is invasive defined? Not as gardeners define it – a plant that grows and expands wildly into areas not wanted. (Think kudzu vine.) No, the government definition of invasive is “not native”. While the SAFETEA invasive species provisions may “only” apply to highway projects today (thereby giving environmentalists a tool to shutdown highway construction), the readiness of The Clerks, egged on by interest groups, to expand their jurisdiction – mission creep – is a known phenomenon. Contemplate the implications of this definition. Like to fish for rainbow trout? Better enjoy it while you can. The feds have labeled it an invasive species as it is not native to North America. Own a German Shepard? Not native. Grow Bradford pears? Not native. Grow Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, or ryegrass? Not native. Hunt pheasants? Not native. Have goldfish in your pond? Not native. The list goes on and on, every item on it an opportunity for an environmentalist to paint a target on your property rights and your wallet.
See you Trackside.