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To The Point

by Caren Cowan

The Flop Test

Dealing with government comes with a unique set of rules and regulations. We have learned that the U.S. Post Office is no different. One of the regulations that must be followed is the “Flop Test.”

A single issue of a newspaper or magazine must be able to be pushed five inches (or some other equally arbitrary number) over the edge of a flat surface. If the publication doesn’t fall off the surface, it has passed the Flop Test.

If it falls off . . . you have to pay extra postage to mail each copy.

It seems to me that much of the government might benefit from being subject to its own Flop Test. I could spend days on all the flops created by government management from forest fires to floods to Veteran’s Hospitals to border security, the list goes on and on and on . . .

But the most current of the flops is the government’s management of Ebola at home and abroad. Thankfully, people are surviving the disease in the United States and hopefully the worst has passed. But can you imagine how different things would have been — and how much less risk would have been suffered — if Ebola were a livestock disease?

Using cattle as the example, at the first confirmation of the disease in any country, entry into the United States would have been barred. You wouldn’t find cattle lined up at points of entry with folks taking their temperature.

If a cow was diagnosed with the disease in-country, a quarantine area would be established surrounding that animal. Perhaps a whole state would be quarantined, restricting movement and requiring costly testing for cattle hundreds of miles away.

Nothing would move off the premise where the animal was diagnosed.

It is highly likely that the diseased animal would be put down. Everything that came in contact with her would be tested. Those testing positive would likely be put down.

It could take as much as five (5) years for livestock movement in the region to be back to normal costing area livestock operations hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. The regime described is for a non-fatal disease. If you want something even worse, think of trenches filled with dead animals and burned.

Yet our government has seen fit to take little precaution when challenged with a human deadly disease. This really doesn’t pass a flop test.

While we are on the subject of animals...

It is distressing just how many times we shoot ourselves in the foot. You may remember during a recent New Mexico Legislature that we fought the latest version of the animal cruelty penalties. One of the biggest heart burns with that bill was this definition: “‘tormenting’ means causing great distress or agitation or inflicting physical pain or mental anguish.”

How in the heck do you know when an animal is suffering from “mental anguish?” We were able to get this definition revised slightly and ultimately the bill died. However, we can expect something similar in the upcoming Legislature.

But we bring this nonsense on ourselves. You might imagine my reaction when I saw an ad for an international pharmaceutical company with the following caution: “Remind clients to be on the lookout for fever, depression, nasal discharge and coughing.”

Just for fun, you might want to look up the synonyms for the word “depression” in a Thesaurus. You will find over 40 words including cheerlessness, dejection, desperation . . . you get the picture.

Do you suppose that “lethargic” or “sluggish” might have better captured the sentiment the ad writer or (heaven forbid) the veterinarian was looking for?

We are teaching people to think of animals as humans and it will cost us the use of animals if we don’t start getting it right.

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery?

As we ramped up to the 2014 election, despite the negativity of the campaigns, there were some pretty amusing and/or frightening attempts to reframe the debate over land use and federal oppression. You might recall that there have been two hearings in the past year before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources regarding the treatment of Americans by the federal government.

Testimony in those hearings from a broad cross-section of folks brought out the fact that the treatment of land steward by some, not all federal employees, amounts to nothing less than bullying and abuse. It has reached the point that civil rights are being violated.

As so-called environmental groups poured literally tens of millions of dollars into that negative campaign media and polling numbers for “progressive” candidates across the nation continued to drop, a Colorado newspaper called the High Country News came up with a “new” slant on things. In an attempt to build their readership, they are offering holiday (aren’t we politically correct) “Stand Up To The Bullies” gift subscription and touting their latest editorial campaign entitled “Defuse The West” on their “investigation of bullies, sharp-shooters and fire-bombers who threaten federal employees every day . . . this is truly scary stuff.”

In case you missed the subtly, YOU are bullies, sharp-shooters and fire-bombers. In their constant quest to help the environment, the publication has “launched a sweeping investigation to unearth the official reports, using the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA. We’ve focused on threats and violence against employees of two key federal agencies — the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management — both on- and off-duty, from 2010 to early 2014. The agencies have not yet provided HCN with all of the information we’ve requested, but what they’ve divulged so far reveals an ominous pattern of hostility toward government employees.”

The promo is complete with a Bluto (aka Brutus, you know, the guy Popeye the Sailor Man was always up against) logger with a big fist and a mean sneer. They have also created a map locating the worst incidents of assaults, threats and interference with federal agents across the West.

Those who would drive ranching from lands also adopted the term “land grab” from folks in the West who are suffering at the hands of the federal government’s sweeping designations over hundreds of thousands of acres in a blatant effort to drive people from the land. We in the West are now being accused of grabbing the land.

As hopefully you know, Utah did some ground breaking work a few years ago in demanding that the federal government return control of lands held within the state. That concept has been adopted by a few other states and has been the subject of legislation in New Mexico.

To understand the movement, you must first understand that states in the West were allowed into the Union under much different circumstances that the eastern half of our nation. Great swaths of land were retained under the control of the federal government in western states. Eastern states have no such handicap. For a clear picture of just what the nation looks like in terms of federal lands in each state visit: http://thewesterner.blogspot.com/2014/10/reply-to-heinrich-only-one-seizing.html

As the nation’s population has grown and Americans become further and further removed from the natural resources that provide them the life style and amenities they currently enjoy, the federal government has become more and more controlling of those they can control through land use. I will freely admit that Congress unknowingly set up today’s catastrophes through laws like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the National Environmental Policy Act to name a few.

These laws have allowed elitists, through litigation and rule-making, to nearly strangle rural economies and families over the past 20 or 25 years. Rather than understanding and appreciating the fact that is it the folk in the country who are providing for the cheap and abundant food, fiber and shelter that 98+ percent of the country enjoys and relies upon daily.

Western states are seeing their rural families and economies struggle to their very limit with almost no tax base in the land and no jobs to support the infrastructure that the vast majority of the nation takes for granted. Without taxes and jobs, there are no schools, no roads, no protective services and no health care. However, there are catastrophic fires followed by equally catastrophic floods that render the land useless for generations to come.

If the majority of the land in western states were allowed to be used and managed for the benefit of all, not just those who spiritually want to know there is “wild” somewhere or who see these lands as their personal playgrounds, families and local governments could thrive they way they once did. Instead of charred and carbonized land, we could have a healthy environment that supplies adequate water quality and quantity and wildlife for all to enjoy.

So back to the “land grab.” We in the West are now being accused of a land grab — just for asking for the ability to adequately care for the land, our families and rural communities.

I can hardly wait to see what these guys do to turn the cultural genocide they have been practicing on westerners for decades.

Whatever happened to a handshake?

The two most coveted awards offered to ranchers in New Mexico are the New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association (NMCGA) Cattleman of the Year and the New Mexico Federal Lands Council’s Bud’s Contract Award. We are fortunate to have the bronze statues memorializing those awards and their winners reside in the Board Room. Each of them depicts a handshake.

For generations in the country, your handshake is your word, your bond. Sadly that is no longer the case. And today, your signature on a contract isn’t even enough.

As we are constantly reminded by Whole Foods current television commercials, today apparently your word and your deeds must be verified by a third party. What comes next?

Empty Saddles

We had our share of losses this past month and all were monumental, but two of them hit our hearts hard. Many of you may remember Biz Ladner who served on the NMCGA staff a few years ago. Unfortunately the job didn’t fit Biz, but that didn’t change our feelings about him. He was a happy and loving soul who was taken well before his time and did more than his share of suffering when he was with us. He is deeply missed.

The other was the loss of Grant Gerber. Grant a freedom fighter for most of his life. If there was a cause to be championed, he was in for the ride. Grant accomplishments are many, but one was particularly close to home. It was Grant that brought national attention to the plight of the Town Too Tough To Die, Tombstone, Arizona, when the poor and beleaguered U.S. Forest Service began its attempt to kill Tombstone by claiming the town’s water. That water has belonged to Tombstone for probably 140 years. The issue still remains in the federal courts with the town getting a portion of their water and praying that the wooden structures that make it up don’t burn.

Grant’s last ride was his Grass March across the United States to deliver petitions to our nation’s capitol asking for relief from the suffering being handed down from the government. His horse stepped in a prairie dog hole and went down. Grant was able to push himself away from the falling horse, but hit his head. The rest is history. People won’t know how much Grant is missed for years to come. n