To the editor:
Originally, I opposed the position of Cliven Bundy, and I was alarmed that he and a group of loony tunes from across the nation were able to force the federal government to cease its efforts at enforcing the law. Who could agree with a deadbeat who refused to pay the government for the right to graze his cattle on public lands?
But a few days ago, I came across information that made me reconsider my opinion. An article in The Washington Post stated that Mr. Bundy does not owe back payment on grazing rights, but on fines imposed on him for running his cattle on government land from which his grazing rights had been removed. The article stated that back in 1993, when the Bureau of Land Management was handed the task of protecting hundreds of thousands of acres of land for the survival of the desert tortoise, it offered to purchase existing grazing rights from all the ranchers who were running cattle on that land.
Although many accepted the BLM offer, Mr. Bundy did not accept the money — presumably because he did not want to relinquish his grazing rights — and so he continued to allow his cattle to graze on that land, even when his grazing permit was canceled. Subsequently, he has been fined for allowing his cattle to trespass on protected government land.
If this is true — none of the local columns or editorials have stated the case in this way — to me, it puts Mr. Bundy in a somewhat different light. It is one thing to evade paying reasonable rent where it is due, and quite another to continue to maintain a needed tradition despite penalties. I have no idea why Mr. Bundy chose this course; maybe he needs the land in order to graze enough cattle to turn a profit; maybe he feels a legitimate concern for the land his family traditionally used; or maybe he simply resents being displaced by a turtle.
But if The Washington Post report was accurate, Mr. Bundy was perfectly willing to pay rent on the government land he and his family had used for generations. It was only in 1993, when his grazing rights were withdrawn, that his difficultly with the BLM began.
This aspect of the situation offers plenty of room for compromise. Since fines are levied in accordance with the severity of the crime, perhaps the BLM could reduce the fines to a manageable amount if Mr. Bundy would agree to comply with existing law. Or if he needs the land for the survival of his ranch and family, maybe some of the hundreds of thousands of acres could be released from desert tortoise protection, especially since recently, there has been some question on whether the desert tortoise needs any protection at all.
Bias against Bundy
To the editor:
How in the world could you not see that reporter Laura Myers is so biased against the Bundy family that her articles have become unreadable? On the cover of the April 20 Review-Journal, the lead story is “Showdown in the Sagebrush.” I was looking forward to reading it, but the first paragraph shut that down. It ended with, “… turned into an armed confrontation between gun-toting citizens and federal officers.”
What about those armed, gun-toting federal officers? “Gun-toting citizens” would have no reason to even be there without the overreaching federal officers and Sen. Harry Reid’s continuing demonization of the Bundys and the patriots who ally themselves with the family. Continuing to publish Ms. Myers’ articles on anything proves to make the Review-Journal a very short read.
BLM strangles business
To the editor:
The battle between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management is not about personal selfish gain, as Randal Weide wrote in his letter to the editor (“Bundy on wrong side of cattle battle,” April 21 Review-Journal). It is about standing up for freedom of commerce, which is being taken away from the people by greedy federal government regulations.
Mr. Bundy is standing up for his family’s well-being and livelihood. Mr. Bundy’s opinion and intentions are evident in a timeline also published April 21 by the Review-Journal. The timeline clearly lays out that Mr. Bundy paid his grazing fees for 20 years (between 1973 and 1993). Then he stopped paying in 1993 because he disagreed with the regulations that were being placed upon him.
The BLM told him how many cattle he could have and where they could graze. The federal government placed regulations on him that would put him out of business. If the federal government came in and told any type of company how to specifically run its business, and placed policies on it that were burdensome, would the business owner shut the company down without a fight? I don’t think so.
Mr. Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees to make a point, not because he is a criminal. Mr. Bundy is a hard-working citizen who is trying to make a living, and his livelihood is being taken away because of strict BLM regulations. Mr. Bundy doesn’t mind paying the grazing fees (that was evident from 1973 to 1993). What he does mind is people telling him how to run his business.
Shouldn’t the government try to help people keep their businesses and the economy going, not discourage them with strangling, burdensome regulations? The only criminals are the thugs in Washington wasting our tax dollars. Someone needs to regulate them.