David Rodeback's Blog

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Friday, September 18, 2009
The Federal Government Can Have One-Sixth of Utah -- on One Condition

There's nothing a multi-term Congressman or Senator understands better than quid pro quo. So if they choose the quid, we get to choose the quo. See what you think.

He Used to Be My Congressman

"All politics is local," House Speaker Tip O'Neill used say, apparently quoting his father.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) used to be my congressman, though I can't say I ever voted for him. His "America's Red Rock Wilderness Act of 2009," or H.R. 1925, will play just fine in his district, believe me. If memory serves -- actual memory, because I was managing a political campaign there at the time -- there are a few precincts in beautiful Ithaca, NY, where Ralph Nader actually beat Bill Clinton in 1996, and Bob Dole finished a distant third.

Hinchey has sponsored this bill every year since 1994, but he's never had an opportunity like this one. Now his plan to turn one-sixth of all the land in Utah into wilderness is scheduled for a hearing on October 1. The bill has 136 cosponsors. There is a companion bill in the Senate, S. 799, sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), with 21 cosponsors at the moment. Maybe neither bill will get to the floor, let alone pass, but stranger things have happened.

On One Condition

I think we Utahans -- and I say this as an erstwhile New Yorker -- could agree to this caper on one simple condition. I was about to suggest that either of two conditions would be fine, but then I realized the problem with the second one, which I'll explain in a minute.

In any case, here's the condition: The same bill has to turn one-sixth of New York State into wilderness -- or one-sixth of Illinois. Or both. And we here in Utah get to choose which acres.

On second thought, let's compromise: one-twelfth of both states. Let's see . . . The land area of New York State is said to be 54,555 square miles, which is nearly 35 million acres, if you're counting. So we get to pick 4546 square miles (about 2.91 million acres) for wilderness in New York. The land area of Illinois is reportedly about 57,918 square miles, or a hair over 37 million acres. So we in Utah get to pick which 4826 square miles to be designated wilderness. That's about 3.09 million acres.

This actually may not be a fair trade; they're trying to steal 9.4 million acres from present and future generations of Utahans, and we're only asking for about 6.0 million acres in return. But we have more acres to begin with, you see, and beyond that, it's for the country! We'll sacrifice!

Don't worry about the settlers on the acreage we choose in Illinois and New York. We'll make them leave. We'll pretend it's the Gaza Strip, and they're Israeli settlers. The Obama Administration will eat it up. Sauce for the goose, you see: a chance to carve up our own country so that we're not quite so hypocritical when we demand that others carve up theirs.

This One Wouldn't Work

My other idea was that the federal government would have to pay a fair price for the land. Here in American Fork, land is selling for between $100,000 and $400,000 per acre. But again, it's for the country, and some of it is pretty far from Ikea, so we'll sacrifice and let them have it for $50,000 per acre.

That will be $470 billion, please.

That's $470,000,000,000. We'll give $172,000 to every man, woman, and child who lives in Utah as of . . . today. (I've spilled the beans now. Any later than today, and we'd get too many carpetbaggers to dilute da loot.)

You see the problem with this one, don't you? It's the US government that prints the money. Actually, this means there are two problems. First, their printing presses are already working overtime to pay the massive bills for Hope and Change, and whatever you call that absurd debacle at the end of the previous president's term. And second, they'd just print more money to pay us, which would devalue every dollar in circulation (it's called inflation) -- because they cannot create value; they can only print money. In effect, they'd steal what value they gave us from every one else who has a dollar. They'd steal it from us, too, though, because in the end the money they paid us wouldn't be worth the money they paid us, so to speak.

Did you follow that? If not, here's the short version: printing trainloads of money to pay for outlandish bills is an amazingly bad idea and a sophisticated form of grand larceny. So let's just stick with our first condition, shall we?

For Perspective

The Utah acreage these mostly-Eastern do-gooder tyrants want to take is . . .

  • more than nine times larger than Rhode Island;
  • about six times larger than Delaware;
  • more than twice as large as Connecticut;
  • about two-thirds larger than New Jersey;
  • more than half again as large as New Hampshire;
  • more than half again as large as Vermont;
  • 47 percent larger than Massachusetts;
  • one-third larger than the land area of the state of Hawaii;
  • and last, but definitely not least, more than one-sixth larger than Maryland.

In fact, three of those states (Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut) combined add up to only about two-thirds the size of that piece of Utah they want.

I've changed my mind. We'll take Massachusetts and Connecticut in trade. Or would you prefer Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Delaware? They add up about the same. We could put it to a vote -- in Utah.

More Perspective

Let's look for a moment at famous land-grabs of the past two centuries.

On one hand, Hinchey and Durbin's Utah target is more than twice the size of Saddam Hussein's attempted land-grab when he invaded Kuwait.

On the other hand, it's still much smaller than Napoleon's attempted land-grab when he invaded Russia, and Hitler's land-grab when he invaded Poland.

Silly Me, to Think that This Final Thought Matters

Can anyone show me the clause in the United States Constitution which authorizes the federal government to seize one-sixth of a state and declare it wilderness?

Heidi Rodeback comments (9/18/09):

Makes me want to vote against Hinchey all over again. (Ah, those were the days . . .)

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