If Rip Van Winkle woke up in America today he’d wonder what happened to private property rights. Imagine finding out other folks can dictate what you can use your property for; this must be some kind of bad dream, go back to sleep and maybe the next time you open your eyes things will return to how it should be.
Take for example the Pebble Partnership which invested over “107 million monitoring the soil, water and air in order to assure the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) it can mine without causing ecological damage” prior to mining precious metals. They can’t turn a shovel without getting permission from every environmental whack job in the State of Alaska because it might change the way things have looked since before time was measured.
According to an article by Joshua Rhett Miller on the Fox News website environmental groups along with the EPA have halted the development of the Pebble Mine, perhaps indefinitely because there might be damage done to the fishing industry if anything goes wrong.
“If you read the watershed assessment, the conclusion that the EPA came to is that even without a catastrophic dam failure, there would be cumulative effects over time that would have an adverse effect on fish and other animals in the region,” said Lindsey Bloom, an organizer with Trout Unlimited and operator of a commercial fishing boat. “For us, if you look at the Exxon Valdez oil spill or the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf, consumers just balk at the idea of potential pollution in their seafood.”
Pebble Partnership bought the land, not Lindsey Bloom, not Trout Unlimited and certainly not the EPA who supposedly represent the interests of the American people. They’ve invested considerable money towards developing a profitable venture to extract what could potentially come to billions of dollars in gold, copper and other valuable metals; why should they consider the demands of anyone not invested in that particular private property?
“Just as man can’t exist without his body, so no rights can exist without the right to translate one’s rights into reality, to think, to work and keep the results, which means: the right of property.” Ayn Rand
The argument proposed by Trout Unlimited isn’t much different than saying it’s too dangerous to fly because airplanes fall out of the sky every now and then. We can’t have any new dams because now and again they break; property and lives are lost. We might get hit with a huge honking meteor and entire species of animals are gone in a flash. It’s too dangerous to let anyone mine for gold in Alaska or coal in Tennessee and you can forget about drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico; go back to bed.
“The mine has backing from some state officials. In June, state Attorney General Michael Geraghty wrote the EPA to complain of what he called an “unnecessary rush to judgment.” He sought to have the deadline for public comment extended to Nov. 20. Geraghty believes that if the EPA invokes the federal Clean Water Act in addressing the mining proposal, it could potentially “extinguish” the state’s mineral rights.”
The EPA has become so powerful it works outside constraints placed on government by our constitutional framework and has for quite some time. Our nation has progressively moved towards socialism, ignoring property rights of individuals and corporations with impunity. The courts have been used by self appointed social watchdog groups to impede lawful rights of property owners to such an extent that many corporations have abandoned the United States in favor of doing business in other countries where they are welcomed with open arms.
“So great moreover is the regard of the law for private property, that it will not authorize the least violation of it; no, not even for the general good of the whole community.” William Blackstone (emphasis added)
Property rights in America are evaporating like distilled dew which for a moment rests upon the morning grass and is gone. Individuals and corporations no longer determine the use of their own property without first having to please everyone around them. I’m afraid it old Rip Van Winkle were to fall asleep again, as many in America have failed in protecting their rights, there won’t be anything left to recognize; much as Washington Irving’s children’s story ended.
Then, worn and weary, at last laid down,
For his locks were white and his limbs were sore–
And RIP VAN WINKLE will wake no more.
The Moral Liberal’s Senior Editor, T.F. Stern, is a retired City of Houston police officer, self-employed locksmith, and gifted political and social commentator. His popular and insightful blog, T.F. Sterns Rantings, has been up and at it since January of 2005.