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Bundy's standoff reveals double standards

On April 28, 2014

The standoff over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s back-paid grazing fees has certainly lived up to expectations in entertainment value for the media.

Bundy, who some see as America’s new hero, has been grazing his cattle on public land for over 20 years without paying the federally mandated grazing fees, and has threatened armed violence against Bureau of Land Management officials that attempt to collect payment by repossession of property in the form of Bundy’s cattle.

The resulting stalemate has gained the attention of the media, which in turn has produced a wide and growing base of support for Bundy’s explicitly illegal actions.

This fiasco is just another sideshow in the never-ending anti-government circus that many subscribe to, summed up perfectly in Bundy’s non-sequitur, “...I don’t recognize the United States Government as even existing.”

As if the United States Federal Government needs Cliven Bundy’s personal acknowledgement to enforce the laws on the books, provide services to its citizens or preserve stability and order.

Bundy does, on the other hand, say he recognizes the State of Nevada and its sovereignty, and claims that “[he] abide[s] by all of Nevada state laws.”

Unfortunately for Bundy and his supporters, the Nevada State Constitution reads “...the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they will forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States.”

Nevada exists as a result of a land purchase from Mexico that also created Utah, Arizona and added the western portions of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

Bundy’s family started grazing their cattle there 29 years later in 1893 on what was already federally owned land.

So while the Bureau’s sending of armed agents to collect property for payment may seem like an excessive use of force, it’s hard to imagine what other options were on the table.

Bundy had refused several court injunctions to pay the back-paid fees, and was also noncompliant with requests to relocate or downsize grazing herds in wildlife protection areas.

Bundy and his wife have both been vocal about their ownership of weapons and willingness to do “whatever is necessary” to protect what they feel is rightfully their property.

One has to wonder what drives a political movement to marginalize and subjugate the most desperate and needy in our society for relying on government assistance, and celebrate and praise the wealthy welfare queens like Bundy who do the same from a position of privilege.

When 1 in 5 American children face food insecurity, we cut food stamps and raise farm subsidies, hoping that companies like Fowler Foods pass the supply-side solution on in the form of savings at the grocery store.

The double standard on government subsidization is more apparent than ever in the case of Bundy, whose wealth has been growing on the backs of the taxpayers for over 20 years.

That’s what I call a real American hero.

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