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Of acres and bears

By Alan Caruba
web posted February 28, 2005

The news of the world comes to you in bits and pieces. If you have a job, are raising a family, or just busy making sure the refrigerator is full and the clothes get cleaned, it is hard to make sense of it. If you take the news provided by the mainstream media as your guide, you are so severely misinformed that making sense of it is impossible.

If you believed the mainstream press, the Earth is doomed to a near-term global warming, the entire East Coast of America will be wiped out by a tsunami that will be worse than the recent one in the Indian Ocean, most Americans are so obese they pose a burden on the health care system, every school child should submit to mental health screening and mandated prescription of drugs, and the new National ID card will make us safer.

These are just a few of the bogus claims that pass for news. Common sense should tell us that the climate is always subject to change, but that change is primarily contingent on the Sun as it goes through its own cycles of activity. If a volcano off the coast of Africa erupts, it could cause a tsunami, but this is an act of nature about which man can do nothing. Americans of all ages are responsible for what they eat, drink, smoke or abuse in some fashion, not the government. Our school children desperately need to be taught how to read -- it only takes about a hundred hours of instruction to achieve this, not twelve years of compulsory imprisonment in the current education system. Their mental and physical health is their parent's responsibility. And a National ID card will give the government -- some faceless bureaucrat or computer -- the right to stop you from boarding an airplane, getting a bank loan, securing a new job or anything else important to your personal freedom and life.

So what does any of this have to do with controlling the bear population of New Jersey or the property rights of people who live there? Everything. If laws are passed by legislators who are ignorant of science or the US Constitution; if your property's value can be destroyed or taken from you by the false application of eminent domain; if your life is put at risk because of animal rights and environmental zealots led by ideologues in government agencies, the freedoms, rights, and protections you think you have are meaningless.

Living, as I do, in the State of New Jersey, it is a microcosm of everything that is wrong with this nation. To begin with, the State is broke. It has been spent into penury by both Democrats and Republicans. Its pension system for public employees is down a billion dollars. Its Supreme Court, despite the State Constitution that allocates this power to the legislature, ruled that billions must be spent to upgrade schools. Its property taxes are driving people out of the State. Its regulatory system discourages corporations from coming here. And it is bent on buying up as much privately owned land as possible, using federal and state funds.

Back in October, I received an email. "My family has owned a small 40 acre farm in Morris County, New Jersey for more than 70 years. The Highlands Bill has drastically reduced the value of our land. The money from the sale of our land was supposed to help pay for my medical costs. I have been disabled with multiple sclerosis for the past 15 years." He is just one of countless property owners in a vast swath of land in seven counties in northwestern New Jersey. They live on some 800,000 acres of New Jersey.

Those outside the Highlands area, designated for preservation because of the claim that half of the State's drinking water supply is endangered from any further development, will benefit because their property values will rise. Indeed, a recent Star-Ledger article noted that "The state's ambitious drive to preserve open space will run out of money in two years at the current rate of buying, falling woefully short of the one million-acre goal and setting up an early return to voters for more cash." Mind you, this is one million acres on top of the 800,000-acre Highland Area. Why the shortfall? It is the result from "frenzied buying and higher land prices" set off by the $3 billion Garden State Preservation Trust, the brainchild of former GOP Governor Christie Whitman.

The farmer whose family poured their life in his farm will not, nor will hundreds of home and other property owners benefit at all. Why weren't the counties and the communities in the Highlands area granted the right to determine how much development should be allowed? What happened to the tradition of home rule? Why are land speculators buying up acres that might then be sold back to the State for millions in the name of preservation?

The end game of this land grab is the denial of any development and you can check out the Wildlands Project to discover they are part of a massive environmental plan to render more than half of the landmass of America (not already owned by the federal and state governments) off limits to any development or use by the citizens of this nation.

Property owners who bought homes on New Jersey's famed shore area have been challenged in the NJ Supreme Court to permit anyone to trespass in order to use their portion of the beach. "If you can't say to someone, ‘Move off my private property', you've lost one of your rights," said Robert Gilson, an attorney representing the Atlantis Beach Club in Cape May County. He's right. But property rights from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean are being attacked and eroded by environmental organizations using massive litigation or, in the case of the Highlands Area, massive deception.

There is a reason the US Constitution's Fifth Amendment specifically guarantees private property rights. They are the keystone of capitalism. Without them, the state owns everything. And everyone. And that's communism.

Welcome to the People's Republic of New Jersey.

And then there are the bears. The most densely populated State in the Union is home to well over 3,000 bears. Nobody really knows how many there are. Those who find them in their backyard think their property, pets, children, and themselves should be protected against them. Recently, Bradley Campbell, the commissioner of the NJ Department of Environmental Protection, thwarted only the second bear hunt in more than thirty years. He is an appointee of former Gov. James E. McGreevey who resigned as the result of a sex scandal. He was hired "nearly sight-unseen" and, according to Alexander Lane, a reporter for the Star-Ledger, "proceeded to craft a broad attack on suburban sprawl, a defining early issue for the governor." When that fizzled, "he turned his attention to bear hunting, toxic waste, chemical plants, rainwater runoff, and on and on, leaving no corner of the environment -- and very few residents' lives -- untouched."

This is why bears and acres are important. When an ideologue, a totally committed environmentalist with no regard to the safety of people or for property rights, is in charge of enacting and enforcing some of the most repressive and regressive environmental laws in the nation, everyone suffers.

This is the legacy of thirty years of unscientific and often insane environmental laws that seek to kill any development for any reason, i.e., jobs and property values, that is going on every day Congress or any other legislature in the nation is in session.

It is an attack on the nation's energy needs. It is an attack on beneficial chemicals that protect people and crops—food. It is an attack on the timber industry, the chemical industry, the mining industry, the building of nuclear plants to provide electricity, the pipelines needed for natural gas, the ability of ranchers to access federally owned grazing lands, the ability of farmers to irrigate their fields.

It is an attack on America no less threatening than the crazed ambitions of Islamists to impose their so-called religion on this nation and the world.

So, when you read the headlines or hear the nightly news on television, you need to understand who the enemy really is and why you are in the crosshairs of their litigation and lobbying efforts. It's about bears and acres. It's about energy. It's about destroying the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth.

Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", posted on the website of The National Anxiety Center. © Alan Caruba, February 2005

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