Getting rid of the Navy, then mining …

Received a pleasant call from Marilyn Paige, widow of the late Marine Col. Mitchell Paige, in response to my column of last week about the plans of Paramount Pictures to produce a “G.I. Joe” movie that would transform the American World War II hero into some kind of Brussels-based co-educational U.N. task force.

I believe it would be fair to say we found ourselves in agreement about the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental groups now suing the U.S. Maritime Administration, urging the federal government to get the battleship Iowa and other mothballed naval vessels out of San Francisco Bay.

The groups are concerned that oil, asbestos, lead paint and other pollutants may be entering the waters of Suisun Bay from the rusting ships.

Now, if many of the transport ships in question are obsolete and Congress wants them scrapped, fine. But what can any American be thinking who refers to the battleship Iowa as nothing more than one of a group of vessels that “have long ceased being useful for transportation and are now just floating junkyards”?

Just like the numerous “Guns are icky; they’re good for nothing but killing and they should all be banned” ladies who suffered sudden short-term conversions, asking if I was armed and could I escort them to their cars on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001, how quick would these eco-freaks be to shout “Where’s the Navy? Where are the Marines? They’re supposed to protect us!” if an enemy task force suddenly hove into view off San Francisco, unchallenged and threatening to misbehave?

“You are so right,” Mrs. Paige laughed.

She did offer one correction, though. I had reported Mitchell Paige agreed to have his face featured on the original G.I. Joe “action figure” only on condition the doll would always be a United States Marine.

“I remember you talking to him about that,” she said. “Originally Hasbro was going to make one for each of the services: a Marine G.I. Joe, one for the Navy, a Merchant Marine one. Well, they made the Army G.I. Joe and the Marine, but then something happened at the company and they dropped” plans for any additional figures, Mrs. Paige recalls.

“So he never said he objected to having an Army G.I. Joe, or one for any of the other services. He was just concerned that the Marine figure have the right clothing and equipment, that the Marine figure not be wearing Army equipment. … Two or three times he put a big ‘X’ on the clothing and wrote back ‘This is wrong; this is Army.’ The one that came out was finally right.”

So Col. Paige had no objection to Army or Navy G.I. Joes, and I apologize to all those swabbies and dogfaces out there for giving the impression the colonel was unwilling to share the glory.

But a multi-national task force based in Brussels?

“Mitch hated the United Nations so much that he’s probably rolling over in his grave,” Mrs. Paige laughed.

— — —

Make no mistake, there are forces that want to shut down virtually every American lumber, mining, and ranching operation in favor of turning this nation back into a giant buffalo preserve and United Nations Heritage Area. (Ask the Southern Californians burned out by the recent wildfires in areas where the government has forcibly removed the cattle that used to graze off all that undergrowth before it could dry to tinder. That plus 60 years of Smokey the Bear insisting “Only you can help us stamp out the little forest fires, so when one finally does get away from us it’s guaranteed to be a whopper” … and then they blame it on global warming!)

I see where these characters are now applying the full-court press to Nevada’s congressional delegation, implying the congresscritters must be on the mining company payrolls if they’re opposed to the “modest, sensible reform” of the 1872 Mining Law now proposed in Congress.

Now, if this is “modest reform,” then “modest reform” is also a good name for the process that turned Petunia the pig into the slab of bacon currently keeping cool in my refrigerator. The list of outfits backing West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall’s H.R. 2262 reads like an honor roll of the anti-capitalist branch of the environmental movement, their Web sites full of glowing references to how this “reform” will allow federal land managers to consider other uses for these “special places.”

To really grasp the change proposed here, let’s return to the horse’s mouth. Bob Hopper, who’s operated the Bunker Hill mine in Kellogg, Idaho, for the past 14 years, says the 1872 law “is probably the law that has served the American public the best of any law ever created.” And that’s because of the law’s underlying principle — which is what the greens really hate.

Not only does the 1872 law “make it easy to locate a claim and who owns what and where, but it established that the American citizens owned the minerals, not the government … the right to pursue minerals upon the king’s land … without permission from the king’s minions, and that’s what’s in jeopardy today,” Mr. Hopper explains.

Did you get that? Behind all the nonsense about “selling off ‘your’ land for five dollars an acre” — as though it doesn’t cost millions to find and dig a mine, with most claims turning out to be worthless, making that supposed “five bucks” a mighty expensive lottery ticket — and moaning about how old the law is (not as old as the Bill of Rights or the Christian religion; shall we dump those next?), this is the real heart of the matter.

My friend Lew Rockwell calls the greens “watermelons” — they’re only green on the outside; red inside. What he means is they’re collectivists who hate the very idea of private ownership and private profit. As in the “former” Soviet Union, their goal is that the government should own and control everything, “for the good of all the people.”

Right now the default setting is clear: Find a valuable mineral deposit and the government has to let you claim and mine it. It’s the system that produced all the copper wire that lights our houses, all the metal and mineral wealth that made this nation — yes, all of us — rich.

But under this “reform,” Ranger Rick will get to spend years sifting through the “Endangered Species” lawsuits wanting to turn that piece of mineral-rich land into a lizard preserve, just for starters.

In addition to which, a new 8 percent royalty on gross receipts — not on net profits, mind you — “would put most mining folks out of business,” Mr. Hopper predicts. “Very few companies and very few deposits could stand an 8 percent royalty. It would … actually devalue the value of everything, including the right to sell a developed property.

“If someone would sit down and read this outline that’s going through Congress, it’s absolutely terrifying. They have dictated complete, total control of the American mining industry.

“It would actually start shutting down many companies. It would instantly reduce any exploration or continued exploration on property that this was to effect, which is a good portion of the West,” including Nevada.

And they call it “reform.”

Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of the novel “The Black Arrow.” See

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