SARGE: Toeing The Line In The Sand

Yesterday, I spoke of the pyramidal structure of government. It was said the people are the foundation of the pyramid with the different layers forming until you got to the top where the president sat. This is a “top-down” administration in my example. The weight of the structure presses down on the foundation at all times and as the government draws more and greater power the weight becomes oppressive. The best and easiest way for government to maintain this status is to enact more onerous laws and regulations.

American government is a rapidly mutating, transfiguring entity. As originally envisioned it was an exercise in idealism merged with practicality. We needed a relatively strong government to represent us against older and more established nations; but we wanted the control of that government to be in the hands of the people lest they be overrun by despots seeking to imitate the potentates we’d stand against.

This required a delicate hand on the ship of state’s wheel no matter where it sailed. Whether in the great oceans of international commerce or in the shallower waters of government navigating issues affecting the nation’s population, a qualified, time tested and proven commander was necessary to keep the ship from running aground or from foundering in the next storm to hit.

Washington piloted the newborn nation through rough patches involving old enemies and new friends. The British and the French were antagonistic. France sought military alliances assuring we’d side with them against Britain. It wasn’t forthcoming; for awhile.

On the national level, Washington distilled fine whiskey; but he was required to enforce laws enacted to levy taxes on distillers. Treasury Secretary Hamilton wanted a steady source of revenue. He sponsored an excise tax that Congress instituted in 1791. The citizens still felt negatively toward taxation. Western Pennsylvania farmers, many of whom distilled whiskey and profited from its sale, were hostile to the idea.  The dissidents’ actions grew more brazen and violent. Hamilton tried having Washington send Federal troops to Pennsylvania to quell the uprising and enforce the new law. Washington instead balanced the need to enforce the law with selecting who enforced it. He federalized Pennsylvania Militias as was his constitutional right and placed neighbor against neighbor to bring about understanding.

When the federal force arrived, the rebellion was collapsing on itself. Most of the rebels fled. Two dissidents were convicted of treason. Washington pardoned them. Alexander Hamilton thought he’d won a major victory. The fledgling federal government proved it could keep order. This was a necessity if the U.S. was to avoid instability. But many thought resorting to military force was a dangerous mistake. It convinced them Hamilton, as an individual, was a dangerous man.

Today the same circumstances are playing out in Nevada. A rancher, using government land for grazing has refused to pay his grazing fees required by law for many years. He rejects the government’s control of this land because his family has generationally used it and pre-dates the establishment of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). He believes his family should have been “grandfathered in” and should be beyond the law. He believes the State of Nevada collect fees and not the BLM. This livestock seizure was done by using the Endangered Species Act’s regulations protecting the Desert Tortoise. This has degenerated to the point of armed confrontation with the government, the ranchers and the “militias” attracted to the cause, squared off against each other with guns drawn, snipers emplaced and women and children placed in harm’s way.

A truce of sorts was enacted when the government returned the rancher’s seized cattle and the BLM retreated. But this isn’t over with yet. This is more than a matter of David versus Goliath. It’s a matter of the Tenth Amendment and the federal government’s continual trampling of States’ Rights for the benefit of the over-arching state. The BLM backed off when they saw governmentally sanctioned armed aggression against American citizens (both men and women) was a public relations and political nightmare for the Democrat Administration. Only then did they back down: for the moment.

Stay tuned! This isn’t over with yet!

Thanks for listening.

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