PART 8 - THE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
by Jim Beers
March 2, 2003
This is part eight of a series.
There are certain groups of people to whom the consequences I am about to describe are truly intended. Communists, fascists, socialists, monarchists, and folks who just plain hate the United States will find these things to be understandable and welcome results of Invasive Species proposals.
The Federalization and reduction of state authorities for Invasive Species is exactly like the Federalization of Endangered Species, the Federalization of Marine Mammals (those not in international or Federal offshore waters), and the Federalization of Animal Welfare. In each of theses areas, after the initial media blitz of propaganda tales, Federalization through new Federal laws resulted. No one was believed who said these things would lead to problems. Those laws passed quicker than Mexican chili through a Norwegian and we all know the results. Invasive Species will be no different.
Today the Federal government claims exclusive jurisdiction over any plant or animal group it names as Endangered or Threatened under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act. Today the Federal government regulates dog breeding, circus animals, farmers who raise animals, animal experimenters, "exotic" animal enclosures, research techniques and standards and many other animal uses under the Animal Welfare Act. Today the Federal government maintains a tight lid on any marine mammal management including total protection from any renewable uses under the auspices of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. These increases in Federal jurisdictions and the concomitant reduction of state jurisdictions affect each of us in our everyday lives.
The US Constitution established a government without a King or a Supreme Parliament. The Founding Fathers knew from firsthand experience and from ample lessons throughout history that any strong central power was eventually abused to the detriment of citizens. So in their real wisdom they established a central (Federal) government that was divided into three co-equal branches. They further limited the Federal government to the important and essential responsibilities of defense, foreign relations, and interstate commerce. They then placed all other governmental responsibilities at the state level. The state level is closer to the people and therefore more responsive and accountable. Day to day things like animal welfare, animal management and use, and maintaining the sort of wild environment desired by the residents of each state is not and should not be a Federal responsibility. Even Federal lands within a state should be managed in cooperation with the state except where an over-riding Federal interest or other landowner interest dictates otherwise. As all of us (citizens, states, interest groups, bureaucrats, businessmen, and politicians) acquiesce in the growth of this trend we steadily change our form of government to where the Chinese, North Koreans, and many Moslem countries are today. That is a government system where all property and all day-to-day activities are controlled and dictated by an unaccountable Federal or central government. Not unaccountable you say? Do you think the current battle over Federal judge appointments portends anything but the appointment of Federal judges who heel to powerful politicians or certain ideologies? Do you not think that if an "urban" President or a socialist President gets elected it will be any harder to seize the reins of power than Hitler did from the German Reichstag (Parliament)? When all the power is in one place, the guy who controls that place controls the power. If this trend continues the future is too awful to contemplate. While environmental groups, animal rights groups, and many urban supporters of rural "clearances" for wildlife and wild areas (i.e. Wildlands) know that what they are doing by Federalizing everything is the only way to achieve their goals, they too will surely see the sad result come home to roost on them eventually. The loss of state authorities and the growth of an unaccountable central power only creates a habitat for a rat and when you do that you can be sure of one thing, a rat will come. We must all understand what this Federalizing of every human whim leads to, before it is too late.
Unnoticed too will be an eventual additional justification for even more annual land purchasing by the Federal government and by state governments using Federal money as the Invasive Species program matures. State land acquisitions using Federal funds may as well be Federal lands because when you use Federal funds you are answerable to all current and futures Federal whims as many states have discovered. Environmentalists will discover that they can justify stopping all grazing or logging in this valley or on these soils because exotic species X seeds are present in the soil or how certain private properties "infect" Federal properties. Stopping uses will diminish profitability and eventually make the properties ripe for The Nature Conservancy or any of a half dozen Federal agencies to buy it out "for the environment".
Land Uses over greater and greater areas will come under Federal control as cheatgrass or purple loosestrife are alleged to be "spread" by discing or grazing.
Transportation of animals and plants will likewise be steadily constricted by Federal regulations as open transportation or swine in trucks or dog kennels are claimed as vectors for (fill in the blank).
All of these lesser-unintended consequences are of little import though eventually. Whenever that point is reached where states realize and accept an "inferior" role in our government vis a viz the Federal government the situation for us will be similar to when England controlled Ireland 100 years ago or like China controls Tibet today. State governments are becoming more and more like interest group clients of Federal largesse and less and less like powerful units of government with specific roles and responsibilities. An all-powerful central government that accumulates all that power for "good" reasons will behave just like George III or Kim Jong Il. That is to say in it's own interest to the detriment of everyone else.
This is why the reform of these other statutes is so important. This is why it is very important to work to reduce the Federal government in these areas of growth. This is why squarely facing reducing budgets, reducing personnel, and reducing authorities at the Federal level is more important today that ever before.
The next Part (9) will end this series and will suggest What (I believe) Must Be Done. I thank those of you who have read these articles and I hope this final one, even though it is tougher to suggest sound ideas than to condemn past ones or explain recent history, is worthwhile and useful to you.
Jim Beers is a 33 year veteran of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and a great advocate of private property rights.
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