Public Speaker on Public Issues


Payments to Peasants

- Casper Star Tribune, April 1997

Assume the position-kneel, cast eyes down, hands in prayerful position! Ok-you're almost there-now admit guilt and ask forgiveness. There - you've done it. You've achieved the politically correct position and attitude as required by the social engineers among us if you want to wear the title of American citizen.

Let's get REALLY politically correct. Let's make a global apology to the global village, and then get on with working for a living without guilt. The first part of this suggestion would go over really big with the cultural elitists. The second part, however, would be totally unnecessary and frowned upon. The second part----about working for a living----well that isn't part of our future. Anybody living in or around our national parks, national forests and other public lands can feel secure under the Clinton administration's latest "I feel your pain" proposed economic strategy.

This PAYMENTS TO PEASANTS proposal, masquerading as the Agriculture Reform and Improvement Act of 1998 would eliminate funding to counties and states under the current Twenty-five Percent Fund. This fund (established in 1908) returns 25 cents of each dollar earned on federal land for various commodity activities back to the states and counties from where it came. These monies are to be used for roads and schools. The more money earned the more revenue to roads and schools. Now, however, the Clinton crew is proposing to eliminate the Twenty-five Percent fund, and delink it from any commodity production. They propose that the government simply write those states, with such federal properties within their borders, checks each year for a fixed amount.
Perhaps the spin-doctors can sell it to the public as part of the national welfare program---which it is!

Now, unless you're on the BACK TO NATURE train headed for "pre-settlement conditions", or your personal goal is to be a feudal peasant or surf you might question the motives behind this proposal. You would be wise to. You would be even wiser to contact your congressional delegation and dig into the details.

The "gutting" of the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960 is at the heart of this effort. While much of what you will read/hear about this effort refers to "lower timber revenues" make no mistake, more activities than timber receipts go into this fund for roads and schools. Glossing over that point helps to misinform the public about the broad ramifications of this proposal.

Grazing, recreation user fees, timber, etc. are all part of this fund. The nice thing about the current situation, is that the more money that is generated, the more that comes back for roads and schools. There is no limit on the dollars, and production is guided by compliance with environmental laws. The dollars generated from the Twenty-five Percent Fund have a direct bearing on Payment in Lieu of Taxes commonly referred to as PILT payments. Acreage of national parks (which don't produce commodities) are still part of the formula used in determining how much PILT money is returned to states and counties. Clinton/Gore's proposal however, would be a flat/fixed amount with no increases possible. I guess that while the rest of the world prospers, we're supposed to be content with the luxuries of "pre-settlement conditions".

The proposed shutdown on road building fits nicely into this welfare scenario. Why do you need roads if the multiple use of your federal lands is eliminated? You're not going anywhere, and you are not doing any thing. What a coincidence!

The cumulative effect of yearly reductions in timber harvests is showing up in less money for roads and schools. To "ease our pain" Clinton/Gore suggest that we gratefully take this living allowance, and be certain things are postcard perfect when the world comes to visit. Carnival culture is the role we are to play.

How insulting that this Administration would think that such an ENTITLEMENT program would be an acceptable livelihood for rural America. Contributing to our national wealth, not consuming it, is what we are about. If the Administration did not hold all that we stand for in contempt, it would know and take pride in this.

Unfortunately, the ethnic cleansing of rural America is the ultimate goal
of this Administration. It just goes by names such as reinvention of government, restoration of watersheds, reform of agriculture — and ultimately — removal of the peasants!

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