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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

4/22/2014 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The issue is chiefly political. For now.

Lawmakers from the Western states gathered in Salt lake City last Friday to discuss what happened on the Bundy ranch in Nevada and to say that it is time for the states, not the federal government, to manage those resources for the good of their people.

Lawmakers met in Salt Lake City to discuss how the federal government has been using lands in the Western states.

Lawmakers met in Salt Lake City to discuss how the federal government has been using lands in the Western states.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/22/2014 (11 months ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: lawmakers, western states, civil war, rural, cliven bundy, summit


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online)  - Saying that "what's happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem," Utah House speaker, Becky Lockhart (R-Provo) summed up the alarm she and other state-level lawmakers from the Western states felt at the federal mismanagement of the Bundy case.

The summit was planned well before the Cliven Bundy incident, but the events at his ranch have brought the spotlight to this important issue.

Pray for our nation.


During a closed-door summit last Friday, state-level representatives from Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming discussed how to handle the problem of taking federal lands back for their respective states. More than 50 political leaders were gathered for the summit.

While the root of the problem can be discussed at length, the central issue is who should control the often vast tracts of land and their mineral resources. Presently, the federal government claims most of the land and mineral rights across the Western states and it taxes income extracted from those regions.

In contrast, Alaska extracts oil and compels private firms to pay every Alaska citizen a stipend every year for what they take. Other western states get essentially nothing when their resources are used.

Oil, natural gas, minerals, trees and water are among the resources in question, as well as the land itself.

Representatives at the summit pointed out that lands managed by the states have been better preserved and provide more value to the state than those managed by the federal government.

The federal government has steadily grown in power and reach over the past several decades. The Obama administration is simply the latest in a series of federal administrations that have sought to exercise ever-increasing power over "public" lands and private people who use those lands and develop rural areas.

Officials in the Obama administration have also been accused of using strong-arm tactics to press ranchers and others who live in rural areas to give up usage rights and water rights, despite having questionable legal authority to do so.

The Obama administration has also overseen the militarization of various law enforcement agencies so that today SWAT tactics are much more commonly used for many situations as well as heavy weaponry, making people feel as though they are under attack or potentially under attack by government forces.

Amid this climate of federal control and coercion, the people are finally lashing back. For the moment, militias and strident conservative groups form the core of the anti-government movement, calling for a return to Constitutional principles in governance. These people represent a fringe element, however that fringe is quickly moving towards mainstream acceptance and support.

While the future portends conflict, it doesn't have to be that way. Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows for peaceful revolution by the states, provided three quarters of the states agree to repair the damage that decades of political wrangling have done to it. As hopeful as this sounds, it is also terribly unlikely.

The only other option beyond this will be mass protest and change by other means. This is not something that should be soon supported because of the inherent danger to life and property that it creates. Nonetheless, if a free people are no longer able to express themselves freely, or to practice their loving faith, or to engage in lawful commerce or exercise their myriad other rights and liberties, then what other option will there be?

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