While most Americans know of the Bundy standoff occurring in rural Oregon at a wildlife refuge, few actually understand the issue at hand. While some cite the standoff as an “illegal occupation” of the refuge by Bundy supporters, in truth, the real “illegal occupation” has been occurring for far too long.
Of course, the real illegal occupation of Oregon land comes not from the ranchers and patriotic protesters, but from the federal government who lays claim to the majority of land in Western states, including Oregon, a state which the federal government claims 53% of all land.
How pernicious is this federal greed? The below video highlights the federal government’s mindset with regards to land in the West.
In the below video, Mojave National Preserve Superintendent Mary Martin in California brags to colleagues about having swindled World War II veterans into relinquishing their land for pennies on the dollar.
At a retirement party in 2005, Martin recalls how she swindled the owners of the land who “were two little guys that had been in the Second World War.”
Admitting that the land was worth $40 million, Martin claims that she secured the land for $2.5 million.
“We did get it appraised and we did acquire it for $2.5 million which I stole the money from Washington to acquire it,” she admits.
She further states that it’s often tough to con citizens because they are viewed as the “bad guys” who are looking to steal land using the weight of the federal government to do so.
“’Lands’ isn’t always supported because we’re the ‘bad guys.’ We come in, and we take this land. And we always take it for less than it’s worth.”
Later during the celebration, a colleague praises Martin as the “acquisition queen” for her ability to secure land for the federal government.
“Acres acquired under the acquisition queen’s regime: 111,550.54 acres,” he boasts.
Unbelievably, the colleague then discusses Martin’s relocation to Lassen Volcanic National Park where he expects her to gobble-up more land for the government. Noting that the acreage of the park is 106,375.36 acres, he also notes that nearby is 5.66 privately-held acres.
“If you own those 5.66 acres, would you be sweating right now?” the man jokes.
To summarize: a group of bureaucrats joined together to joke and laugh about a woman’s ability to ruthlessly acquire land from World War II veterans for a fraction of the value. Then, they laugh and joke about her moving-on to likely engage in the same kind of ruthless conduct in another part of the state.
The protest in Oregon is not about a wildlife refuge, but an abusive and illegal relationship that exists between the federal government and citizens of Western states.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution outlines how much land the federal government is allowed to own and for what purpose. It outlines a need for a federal capital (Washington, D.C.) and allows for the government to possess lands to administrate and maintain a military presence. It reads:
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;—And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
The federal government claims roughly 85% of all land in the Bundys’ home state of Nevada for themselves. According to the Congressional Research Center, the federal government claims for themselves 53% of Oregon’s land. While it is certainly reasonable to allot land for federal facilities such as military bases, how can the federal government pretend that claiming ownership of the majority of land in Western states is anything short of outright federal tyranny?
With bureaucrats like Martin in charge, it seems clear that if we are to regain our freedom, civil disobedience is an absolute necessity and we should all applaud the Bundy protesters for their willingness to call attention to this often-overlooked issue.
Here is a short version of the video: