from the Congress Action newsletter

The Federal Kingdom

by: Kim Weissman
December 19, 1999

It is remarkable how willing, even eager, some people in this country are to abandon representative government, and to adopt dictatorial solutions to (usually non-existent) problems. And it is frightening to realize how many people apparently believe — and certainly act as though they believe — that the Soviet Union had the right idea all along: turn the entire population into serfs, make everyone dependent on the government, let government control everything and run every aspect of our society and our lives, and all will be well.

There will always be some people who think that they are superior to everyone else, who have no patience with democratic institutions, who believe they some right to dictate to others. Freedom and the democratic process embodied in our Constitution are just too troublesome for them. They want their agenda in force, and they don't care how they get their way. The growing problem is that these petty tyrants are being cheered along every step of the way by increasing numbers of people who, due to an intentionally dysfunctional education system, haven't the faintest idea of how our government was designed to work, or why; and who have no conception how fragile our freedom is. But at least they can plead ignorance. Worse are those who recognize the destruction of our Constitutional system, yet who tolerate it because they agree with the goals of the usurpers, and think that achieving those goals is worth a "minor" sacrifice of freedom. Tyranny seldom comes all at once, it usually grows in small incremental steps until one day there is no freedom left.

Last week this newsletter detailed the usurpation of congressional legislative authority in the area of gun control. Congress refused to enact the laws that Clinton wanted, so he will do it himself by way of trying to intimidate the firearms industry with threats of a federal lawsuit. Clinton mouthpiece Joe Lockhart explained the administration's intent: "Should [the legislative branch] choose not to [pass laws], we have other ways of doing it."

The practice of evading the legislature and the process of self-government is nothing new for this administration, whether by perverting the judicial system as in the anti-gun lawsuit, or the use of presidential decrees such as Executive Orders. "Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kind of cool." – Paul Begala, former Clinton aide, referring to the use of Executive Orders to circumvent the legislative function of the Congress and to override the will of the people.

Clinton's latest outrage involves yet another land grab to add to the federal kingdom. Environmental extremists have long used endangered species or wetlands as an excuse to encumber, or simply take, private land, but that case-by-case process is apparently too slow. Clinton wants to achieve the same goal in massive chunks, and has been doing just that.

In September 1996, he grabbed 1.8 million acres of land in Utah and designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. That the land in question included 200,000 acres that had been designated as trust land in Utah, generating $2 billion in annual revenues from sale of the coal reserves to pay for public education in Utah, bothered Clinton not in the least. That particular land grab was unilateral, without congressional consultations or public hearings, without any deference at all to the people most directly affected, and over the strenuous objections of Utah's governor and Utah's entire congressional delegation, including Utah's democrat congressman who called it "more a political issue than an environmental issue."

A federal bureaucrat from the nation's capitol visited a distant part of the country, saw something he wanted for purely personal reasons — winning votes from environmentalists in the upcoming 1996 election — and simply took it. That sort of arrogance went out with the Divine Right of Kings. At least it was supposed to in this country.

In his 1997 State of the Union speech, Clinton designated ten "American Heritage Rivers", requiring that any development in the area first be approved by a federally designated "River Navigator", with approval of the plan required by all of the following bureaucrats:

  • the Secretary of Defense,
  • Attorney General,
  • Interior Secretary,
  • Agriculture Secretary,
  • Commerce Secretary,
  • Transportation Secretary,
  • Energy Secretary,
  • the Secretary of HUD,
  • the Environmental Protection Agency head,
  • and the Chairmen of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,
  • the National Endowment for the Arts,
  • the National Endowment for the Humanities.

World Heritage Sites, designated pursuant to a Treaty which allows international busybodies to dictate land use within the United States, continue to proliferate. And the Forest Service is even now working on what critics charge is a seriously flawed plan to severely restrict access to 50 million acres of national forests, following what critics claim are a series of rigged public hearings.

Now we have Clinton's latest scheme to grab even more land for the federal kingdom. This time he intends to designate over one million acres in Arizona and ten thousand acres in California as new national monuments. Once again, damage to the local tax base, destruction of local businesses, and the objections from Arizona's governor and Senator Kyl don't concern Clinton at all.

And in case anyone doubted that radical environmentalism is the new home of socialism, consider the reaction to this scheme from a spokesman for an allegedly mainstream Sierra Club. The land grab "just makes common sense,'' to a Sierra Club spokesman. "This Congress has been very reluctant to protect land. The time has come to make a move.'' Once again the totalitarians have their agenda, Congress refused to do their bidding, and that refusal is taken as a license by these arrogant despots to simply take what they want.

The federal government now owns or controls an astonishing 24% of all land in the United States — over a half billion acres.

Federal lands include

  • 80 million acres of National Parks,
  • 92 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges,
  • 191 million acres of National Forests and Grasslands,
  • 90 million acres of Natural Landmarks,
  • 90 million acres of Wilderness Areas,
  • 100,000 miles of Wild and Scenic Rivers, and
  • 29,000 miles of National Trails.

Not enough for King Bill, who apparently will not be satisfied as long as a single acre of land in the entire country remains outside of federal control. And none of this includes all of the private land encumbered or rendered useless by restrictions due to alleged wetlands or endangered species. Nor have we even mentioned the millions more acres controlled by the States as forests and preserves, or the additional land restricted by zoning and other land use regulations. And just as a side note, in the realm of environmental extremism President Clinton doesn't hold a candle to a would-be President Gore.

To our nation's Founders, the protection of private property was among the most important functions of the national government. Environmental extremists have a new idea: the theft of private property is now among the most important functions of the national government. James Madison believed that

"Government is instituted no less for protection of the property than of the persons of individuals. The one as well as the other, therefore, may be considered as represented by those who are charged with the government."

Protection of private property was so important that the Founders wrote that protection into the Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Remember the Bill of Rights?

The above article is the property of Kim Weissman, and is reprinted with his permission.
Contact him prior to reproducing.


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