Been trying for the last several days to make heads or tails of the Oregon civil disobedience case where two ranchers did their best to set controlled fires but were pinched by the government, served a little time, had their case revisisted by a pretty questionable federal prosecutor, and were sent back to jail. And then some social justice activists — and that is what the Bundys are — got involved and took over a federal building while bearing arms and disgruntled (self?) righteousness.
There are all kinds of opinions, some, like HotAir.com, saying there’s a justifiable reason the ranchers occupied the federal building, others, like The Cato Institute, pointing out the bad actors on all sides.
But I, personally, finally got a handle on what I think about after seeing this piece from Patterico’s Pontifications, sepcifically this passage, and the graphic at the top of the page (see above):
Everything takes place in the context of the Fish and Wildlife Service buying up all the land around the Hammond ranch for a wildlife refuge. Apparently owning half the land in the West was not good enough for the feds; they had to have more and more and more and more. Then, the feds allegedly took many seemingly retaliatory actions against the Hammonds after they refused to sell. Then, we come to the arson fires, which as presented on the Internet is a hodgepodge of one-sided accounts.
The U.S. Attorney’s one-sided account is here, in its press release. There are a couple of one-sided accounts sympathetic to the Hammonds here and here. The Hammonds’ brief to the U.S. Supreme Court is here. I am not going to vouch for the accuracy of everything in those accounts, but these pieces will at least give you some idea of the other side of the story.
And what conclusion did I reach? The federal government owns way too much land out that way and enforces their “rights” in a manner consistent with Al Capone and the mafia circa 1925 Chicago. Dan Mitchell has a pretty good piece explaining it.
The point is, if the federal government owns that much land in the West these kinds of altercations between citizens who think they’re free and the bureaucracy that exists to remind them they’re not as free as they think will continue and likely get worse.
If you think that’s a positive or negative thing really depends on where you come down on the notion of a very powerful central government and state’s rights. Just like pretty much everything else these days.
All I know is that it’s getting harder and harder NOT to run afoul of a government regulation. And that seems a problem.