Sacrificing to the Sacred Owl

In ancient religions, practiced by primitive cultures, it was customary to make sacrifices to sundry gods and idols. Some of the more sanguinary cults engaged in human sacrifice.

We like to consider such practices far removed from our civilized modern society. However, we make far more extravagant sacrifices to our sacred idols than the ancients ever dreamed of making.

While the ancients may have slaughtered the odd sheep or bull or virgin on the altar of an angry god, we sacrifice entire regions of our country, decimating their economies, wiping out employment for thousands of people, destroying their livelihoods and breaking up homes, creating widespread poverty and sending statistics on domestic violence, divorce, and drug abuse soaring through the roof, as once-productive and self-sufficient communities decline into indigence.

And to what powerful god are we making this enormous human sacrifice? Well, it’s not a god, exactly. It’s a Sacred Owl.

The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) was adopted in 1994 to “protect” the Sacred Owl. Nobody actually knew how many Sacred Owls existed at the time; nor did they know how many had existed in any previous period. Nobody had ever counted them. Instead, they created a model based on nesting habitat. Since Sacred Owls nest in “old growth,” and “old growth” was being reduced by logging, the model inferred that the Sacred Owl population must be declining also.

Based on this model, the powers that be concluded the Sacred Owl must be endangered. Since the Sacred Owl also requires younger stands and clearings for forage, the critical habitat designation was broadened to include most of the public forest lands in the Pacific Northwest. This opened the door for the environmental movement to litigate virtually any timber sale on public lands under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act.

Today, the environmentalists claim the Sacred Owl population is still declining at an alarming rate. So we must set aside even more land as “critical habitat,” sacrificing even more production, jobs, and communities. But, if the Sacred Owl population really is declining so rapidly, eighteen years after the NWFP was put into effect, then clearly the plan is not successful and should be scrapped. Why double down on a failed plan?

Perhaps, from the perspective of the environmental movement, the plan hasn’t really been a failure. Suppose, instead, it has been wildly successful. How could that be, if the Sacred Owl population is even worse off today than it was before the NWFP was implemented?

Let’s do a little thought experiment. What if the Sacred Owl was only a means to an end, rather than an end in itself? Suppose for a moment that the environmental movement wanted to eliminate logging on public lands. In order to accomplish that, they would need to find a law that would allow them to challenge any government timber sale and tie it up in litigation until the legal expenses exceeded the revenues.

The Endangered Species Act would serve that purpose well. They would just need to come up with an endangered species that lives in places where logging occurs. Of course, it couldn’t be just any endangered species, like an insect or rodent or fungus. It would have to be something cute and appealing, something cuddly-looking that people who live in cities would want to protect.

Enter the Spotted Owl. With apologies to Voltaire, if the Spotted Owl didn’t exist, the environmentalists would have had to invent him.

Serendipitously, the Sacred Owl has proven very lucrative for the environmental movement. They discovered another law, called the Equal Access to Justice Act, which requires the government to reimburse legal fees for the prevailing party in lawsuits against the federal government.

In the last four years alone, more than 570 lawsuits have been filed under the Endangered Species Act. When the environmentalists lose, it costs them very little because their attorneys belong to the movement. When they win, they can claim up to $500 an hour in attorney fees.

Just since 2009, U.S. taxpayers have paid the environmental movement more than $15 million in attorney fees for preventing the productive and sustainable use of natural resources on public lands.

So it’s easy to see why this owl is sacred to the environmental movement. It’s been very good to them. But how many more jobs, how many more communities, how many more local economies are we willing to sacrifice to this Sacred Owl, and to its high priests in the environmental movement, before we expose this dangerous cult for what it is? How many more sacrifices can our nation afford to make?

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Do Not Go Gentle into the Post-American Era

When the U.S. was a developing nation, we expended our efforts and capital in developing the infrastructure for industry. Our government provided incentives for the development and extraction of natural resources to be used as raw materials to build, not just products, but a thriving national economy. — And that’s exactly what China and other developing nations are doing today.

But, today, the U.S. is doing the opposite. Increasingly, over the past several decades, our government has been restricting the extraction of natural resources and dismantling the infrastructure for industry. Overregulation, combined with exorbitant and ever-increasing union demands, has succeeded in driving much of our industry offshore. If we want to recover our economy, we need to reverse that trend.

The recently published White House Plan to Revitalize Manufacturing, which focuses on federal funding for “green” technology R&D, is not likely to have a significant impact on our national productivity. This administration is thoroughly beholden to the unions and environmental lobbies. In true Chicago style, this administration has used the stimulus package to pay off political debts and, from every indication, will continue the trend of dismantling the economy in favor of political correctness and payback.

Every nation has a historical trajectory. This nation has apparently passed its apogee, and is now in decline. We no longer have the drive to overcome. We’ve become complacent and, instead of striving for ever greater industrial innovation and economic strength, we are focused myopically on the niceties that developing nations cannot afford to consider.

The problem is, there’s no such thing as stasis. A nation, a corporation, a species, an individual, must either advance or decline. That’s nature. And, as we sink into complacency, whining effetely about our declining economy, there will be others advancing to take our place as the dominant world power, industrially, economically, and (eventually) militarily. That’s a historical inevitability. The same pattern can be observed throughout nature and the history of civilizations. The only question is when.

At this point, we could still reverse that trend by, once again, becoming a developing nation ourselves — one can always develop further, if one is motivated to keep striving — but we, as a nation, lack that motivation. We’re apparently content to rest on our laurels as we sink into national senescence while other countries, like China, rise up on the international horizon. The world is always changing. It’s the nature of all things. The only question is, will we, as a nation, go gentle into that good night? Or will we rage, rage against the dying of the light?   (Apologies to Dylan Thomas.)

Unfortunately, I believe I know the answer to that rhetorical question. History is being written even as we go about our daily lives. You can see it in our relations with other nations, as we make concessions that cede our sovereignty in so many minor ways. Stepping back and observing from a historical perspective, we see a once-great nation, that no longer has the will to sustain its rank as the leader of the free world, stepping aside and leaving the field open to whoever will step up and take its place. Sadly, there’s no way to choose our successor. Once we step aside, we can only watch and hope for the best. And if we don’t like the way the world is shaping up in the post-American era, we will just have to suffer the consequences.


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What Have Progressives Got Against Progress?

Liberals don’t want to be called liberal anymore. They prefer to be referred to as “progressive.”

Conservatives don’t mind being called conservative. In fact, most conservatives are proud to be conservative (and equally proud to be American). And why not? Starting with the vision of our founding fathers, the traditional conservative values of independence, individualism, and self-determination motivated the early settlers and pioneers and, later, the industrialists and entrepreneurs who built this country into the greatest and most powerful nation on earth.

But why are liberals suddenly ashamed of the word liberal? Why do they feel the need to redefine themselves as something else? And why have they chosen the singularly inappropriate term “progressive” to describe themselves? It almost seems as if they’re begging the question. After all, what is progress? Reviewing the history of civilization, progress has traditionally been marked by significant advances that made the cultures that developed them more efficient and productive, enabling them to prosper and to expand their territory and culture.

More advanced civilizations often used their technological sophistication to conquer less advanced civilizations and, historically, it was largely as a result of war that progress spread from culture to culture. The conquering armies have not always been the aggressors. It was Japan that attacked the U.S. in WWII. But Japan would not be the major economic power it is today if the U.S. had not defeated it, and rebuilt it as a modern industrial/technological nation.

There have been episodes in history when more advanced civilizations have been overrun by less advanced civilizations that were more focused on military progress. That’s one reason why a nation should never allow itself to become weak militarily, no matter how advanced it may be in other areas. Mr. Obama recently promised to “cut investments in unproven missile defense systems,” “slow our development of future combat systems,” and make “deep cuts in our nuclear arsenal.” Conservatives cringed, but liberals loved it.

All types of progress entail tradeoffs. As vast tracts of land are cultivated, the native species on those lands must either find new environments, adapt, or die. The extraction of raw materials from the earth causes disruption of habitats. The production of metals, plastics, paper, and the manufacture of goods all cause various forms of pollution. But without these trade-offs, civilization as we know it would not be possible.

Liberals don’t believe in trade-offs. They continually seek to enact regulations to curtail any kind of progress that impacts the environment. They want to sequester vast extents of land into national wilderness areas, preventing the extraction of natural resources like minerals, timber, or oil. They want to enact cap and trade regulations that will jack up the costs of the energy we require to live our daily lives, and which is also required to fuel all types of industrial and technological progress.

Progress is always a result of trial and error. Significant advances require significant investments in time, effort, and money, and entail enormous risks because there is no guarantee of success. Who has the kind of money to invest in making progress possible? Capitalists. Why would they be willing to take those enormous risks? Because there’s a possibility of an enormous payoff. They calculate the risk/benefit ratio and, only if the potential rewards significantly outweigh the risks, does it make sense to invest. Yet liberals don’t think anyone deserves such enormous rewards, and would tax their profits to the point where it’s no longer worth the risk to invest. Without capital investment, progress cannot occur.

Liberals like to point out that the income gap between rich and poor is getting greater all the time. But they ignore the fact that the standard of living of the poor gets greater all the time, too. The poorest people today have a higher standard of living than the vast majority of people had a hundred years ago. And the reason they do is all the industrial and technological advances made possible by capitalism. That is true progress. And it benefits the poor as well as the wealthy.

Despite what liberals believe, capitalism is not a zero sum game. When new industries evolve, new opportunities are created. The fact that some people get very rich doesn’t mean other people have to get poor. But those who don’t have the motivation to work hard, better themselves, and pursue opportunities, will always be poor. And the easier the government makes it to be poor, by subsidizing poverty, the more people will take the easy way out.

Liberal ideology is consistently opposed to progress. They continually demand regulations that stymie progress, and they want the government to take more money away from those who fuel the scientific, industrial, and technological advances that define progress. They believe that money should be redistributed to those who don’t contribute to progress, but are its beneficiaries.

Since liberals are so opposed to progress, why is it they want to be known as “progressives?”


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Greenology is a Bankrupt Philosophy

 

Guest Article by Jack H. Swift

This is a first for Government Is Not Your Daddy. I’ve never published a Guest Author before, but Jack Swift is somebody who truly ought to have his own blog. Anyone who regularly reads GNYD is likely to enjoy Jack’s writing as much as I do. He’s top shelf.

The great green movement driven by the Sierra Club, the Audobon Society, and other more nefarious forces appears about to run out of gas. A half century of a reckless orgy of economic extravagance driven by environmental values is finally coming home to roost. We are about to discover that you cannot protect anything if you are broke.

For nearly fifty years the new environmentalists have hounded industrial manufacturing out of business in the interest of protecting the environment. The result has been a constant elimination of jobs and the transfer of manufacturing capacity to foreign shores. That is a monstrous expense in a world economy dominated by balance of trade considerations critical to the value of one’s currency. Industry by industry, it could be selectively justified in genuine feel-good considerations of the intellectually unwary. Collectively, it has been a formula for disaster.

For nearly forty years, the new environmentalists have prevented the development of nuclear power plants as an alternative to fossil fuel powered electrical plants while the nation’s demand for more and more power has increased incrementally. Site by site, an emotional argument in opposition could always be fabricated. The cumulative effect was to have the nation buy into a collective policy recklessly discarding cheap, clean, renewable energy. In the face of growing demand, another formula for disaster.

For nearly thirty years, the new environmentalists have log-jammed the exploitation of our domestic oil resources, be it drilling in ANWR, drilling on the continental shelf, or using the shale on the continental divide. In the face of that constraint nationally, we are today forced to purchase oil overseas in a market controlled by a hostile cartel and foreign speculators. The cumulative effect of that has been a further deterioration of our balance of trade and the subjection of our currency to the artificial inflation induced by regimes bent on our destruction. Yet another unthinking, ill-conceived disaster.

For twenty years, particularly here in the Northwest, the new environmentalists have frustrated the utilization of natural resources, renewable or not. Once again creating a loss of jobs and a dependence on foreign imports. This has been an unmitigated disaster community by community, with no relief in contemplation.

Recently, the new environmentalists are driving for and effecting the removal of our hydro-electric power generation system. Once again eliminating cheap, clean, renewable power and forcing greater reliance upon foreign fuel imports.

Today, the new environmentalists are pressing our representatives Wyden and DeFazio for legislation to effectively turn the rural portions of our state into a great pristine wilderness area.

The forces of the new environmentalism recognize no economic restraint and they are more relentless than a spend-happy teenager.

We have gasoline at $4.00 per gallon, looking for $5.00 by the end of the summer. That cost factor is appearing in every commodity we consume. We cannot avoid it any more than the spendthrift can avoid the interest on his credit card debt. The effect is runaway inflation with further devaluation of our currency. The total impact portends to be an economic disaster on a scale of the great depression.

The message is the fundamental one that one cannot spend one’s limited money on luxuries one cannot afford. Enhancing the environment at the expense of the economy has led us to the brink of national insolvency. Having to work for a living is not nice, but a necessary reality of life. One undergoes the unpleasantness in the interest of comfort and survival. Despoiling the environment to a limited degree is also a necessary trade-off in the interest of economic survival.

Unthinking and injudicious commitment to aesthetic values, emotions, and desires has brought us to the brink.

As a matter of survival, it is time to consign the environmental movement to the stupid bin in the ashcan of history. We need to get about the business of restoring our solvency and we need to do it now.

— Jack H. Swift


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