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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Brazen Graft

I'm a pragmatist and so my pragmatist side often is willing to compromise with my ecologist side, or my "good government" side in the interest of people around the country having food on the table. But there is a distinction between getting things done and progress and graft. And our politicians dance near that line all the time, but the Republicans lately have been erasing it. Think Progress alarmistically reports: (http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/02/11/3277571/republican-party-state-public-lands-drilling/)

"[It] calls upon the federal government to honor to all willing western states the same statehood promise to transfer title to the public lands that it honored with all states east of Colorado; and …calls upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the imminent transfer of public lands to all willing western states for the benefit of these western states and for the nation as a whole."

But of course there is a reason the Federal Government controls these lands, and there is a reason we don't want them transferred to states: We really don't want private persons getting permanent ownership of their mineral resources, or grabbing property that shouldn't belong to them. At least with a lease the general public retains some control. But once they are transferred to private alloidal ownership they become the rule of already powerful and greedy land and extraction barons. And there is a tradition of "leases", in this country, managing to become personal property that dates back to when the Dutch leased Manhattan. But at least that can be fought in court. The claim that such sales would be for the benefit of the nation as a whole are of course typical bait and switch "trickle down" promises. If this happened it would be just graft and usurpation as private landlords would pay Government employed lawyers to hand over property that belongs to us the taxpayers for pennies on the dollar. Graft "is the personal gain or advantage earned by an individual at the expense of others as a result of the exploitation of the singular status of, or an influential relationship with, another who has a position of public trust or confidence. The advantage or gain is accrued without any exchange of legitimate compensatory services."[http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/graft

A lot of extraction in this country is accompanied by brazen graft. Graft is so common that the legal dictionary calls the word "colloquial" though it has some pretty definite meaning going way back.

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