Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tea Partiers pose a danger to this nation

No, this isn’t going to be an essay about how the Tea Party movement is encouraging violence. Yes, some conservative elements are throwing gas on a fire with dangerous consequences. But many other liberals have been writing about this so I find the topic a bit stale. I’m talking about taxes.

One of the issues—some may say the main issue—Tea Partiers are unhappy about is taxes. They say TEA stands for Taxed Enough Already. Really? Cause the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities published a report this week stating that “Federal Income Taxes on Middle-Income Families at Historically Low Levels.” Federal taxes as a whole are near all-time lows. How can you be Taxed Enough Already when you’re taxed less than ever before? So we know the Tea Partiers are misinformed. Dangerously so. (This suggests the Tea Parties aren't about taxes at all, but "Taking back America" from those brown skinned gay people, but that's for another post).

Our budget deficit is gargantuan and everyone agrees it is important to balance our budget. To do that, we need to cut some spending. But we also MUST raise taxes. We have the lowest taxes of any developed nation and people wonder why we have a huge deficit.

But politicians are way too chicken to correct the problem. Making the necessary fixes will lose them their jobs because spoiled Americans will throw temper tantrums when their taxes are raised. The entitlement we Americans demand is ridiculous. The right’s crusade against generating income for our government is a cheap campaign ploy that is hurting our nation. Want to win an election? Just bash taxes! Our politicians can't do what's necessary because the entitled public won't vote for them. We will talk about cutting someone else’s programs and cutting costs, so we must also talk about raising taxes. I know taxes sux. Who likes takes? But they’re a critical part of any nation. If you want to cut the deficit, we MUST raise taxes. So either shut up about the deficit or shut up about raising taxes. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Get used to that reality and quit crying.

The Tea Partiers are exaggerating this problem. They are again reminding politicians that it would spell trouble for their election hopes if they did the necessary thing and raised taxes. By whining about taxes, they are forcing politicians to make the same tired promises about no new taxes or cutting taxes. They are preventing us from correcting this important crisis. Even the Dems are on board. Obama has cut taxes on top of the Bush tax cuts (although thankfully Obama is raising taxes for the richest 5% of Americans). This harmful trend is going to increase our budget deficit and create problems down the road.

One more Tea Party observation before signing off. A recent poll of Tea Partiers showed they are generally wealthier and more educated that the average American. So, rich, white Christians complaining that they’re not represented by our rich, white Christian politicians. Forgive me if my heart doesn’t go out to them.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Extremes in the wild horse issue

Some radical wild horse advocates just keep repeating the same misinformation over and over, hoping people start to take it as truth. This is illustrated by this thread on a High Country News article.

A common WH advocate talking point is that horses are native to North America. EPA defines introduced species as “species that have become able to survive and reproduce outside the habitats where they evolved or spread naturally". The early American horse had been game for the earliest humans on the continent. It went extinct about 7,000 BC, just after the end of the last glacial period (as a poster mentions, this was a different species than the horses here now). Thus it did not evolve here or spread naturally but was spread by Spaniards and other Europeans who brought horses to the Americas in the sixteenth century. If WH advocates claim horses are native because an animal they descended from ran here thousands of years ago, then elephants are native too. But you know what? It really doesn’t matter. We humans manage native wildlife and we manage introduced wildlife. But WH advocates want no management of wild horses at all. This is an unreasonable position IMHO.

The second is that wild horses do not destroy native ranges. In fact, one advocate has even contended that they “enrich habitat.” What? Folks, this isn’t that hard. A non-native species in large numbers is not enriching habitat. Then we have a poster who contends that horses do not compete with native wildlife. Whoa. Really? Gee, I didn’t know the forage out there was labeled and horses left the forage assigned to the wildlife alone. These are not well-thought out assertions from people who are speaking from emotion. I agree with what many say about ranching and too much livestock on public land. But this in no way legitimizes their agenda to have thousands of wild horses running free destroying the range. This is like when a 5-year old child tells his parents it’s okay to do something bad because their friends do it. If we don’t let small children get away with this, we shouldn’t let WH advocates get away with it either.

The third talking point is that BLM is lying about science and breaking the law. However, WH advocates sue BLM nearly every time they gather wild horses and they almost always lose. Because the agency knows they’re going to get sued every single time they pick up a WH, they are very diligent in gathering range data in Herd Management Areas. WH advocates tried to stop the massive round up in Nevada several months ago. The judge, again, ruled in favor of BLM and the gather went on. If BLM data are cooked, why are they winning gather litigation? Dozens of judges are not part of this conspiracy. You are losing all these gather court cases because you’re lying about who has the accurate science. And the assertion that BLM is "managing wild horses to extinction" is laughable. There are currently 37,000 wild horses and burros still roaming public lands, up from 25,345 in 1971.

Wild horses are an extremely emotional issue. What we need are fewer extremes. We need logical solutions, not radical ones. We shouldn’t be considering euthanizing horses. That’s extreme. But radical solutions are the only ones acceptable to most WH advocates. In every single issue we see on public lands, there has to be some compromise. But too many WH advocates don’t seem to know the meaning of the word compromise.

Neely writes “Wild horse lovers tend to prefer contraception to roundups,” which is true. However, the fact is that many WH lovers also detest contraception, saying it’s cruel. So as far as population control options available, round ups are out, and so is contraception. What does that leave? NOTHING. No management of wild horses. Let them breed at 20% recruitment rates forever. Let thousands, then hundreds of thousands of horses destroy our native ranges.

Make no mistake, this is exactly what some WH advocates want. There are moderate WH advocates, who do a lot more good for horses than these radical ones: Too bad these sensible voices are drowned out by the radical. There is room for WHs on our public lands. They have a place there. But these lies and extreme positions are not helpful in managing our ranges effectively.