The internet has been going crazy with reports of the standoff between the Federal government and supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, and to hear a lot of people, this has been the first trial attempt by the government to confiscate private property. Well, maybe not.
According to news reports, the dispute started way back in 1993 when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) changed their agreement with Bundy, whose family has been ranching for well over 100 years, to include some environmental protections he did not agree with. Bundy disagreed with the changes and refused to pay his grazing fees but continued to keep his cattle on the land. Five years later, in 1998, the rancher was ordered by a judge to remove his cattle from the land and pay trespassing damages. Bundy ignored that order, and in 2013, a judge authorized the government to seize approximately 900 of his cattle that were still on public land.
Things escalated from there. Bundy, whose Mormon family has operated a ranch since the 1870s, tells reporters that he doesn’t recognize Federal authority on public land. Various groups and individuals showed up at the scene to support his claim, including some armed militia members.
Now the camouflage freaks are claiming victory because the Feds backed down and bloodshed was avoided, though I have no doubt that at least a few of the trigger happy folks who showed up at the standoff were disappointed that they didn’t get to go to war.
But cut through all the rhetoric on both sides and it comes down to this – sometimes you have to pay your bills. Bundy isn’t some starving rancher just trying to hold it together from season to season. He’s apparently rather wealthy, in fact. Yet he has refused to pay fees that have been upheld in court more than once. So he’s basically ripping off you and me, the rest of the American taxpayers. Sort of like those big faceless corporations we all bitch about with their tax breaks we can’t get.
So he doesn’t agree with the 1993 changes to his leasing agreement. If I lease an apartment or a commercial building and the landlord changes the terms when it’s due for renewal, I can accept them or move out. Bundy chose to keep using the land and he hasn’t paid his fees. That seems pretty cut and dried to me, no matter how much flag waving and sabre rattling they try to hide behind.
The wingnuts will claim that those fees are illegal. Yeah, I know, I heard you over and over when you claimed the income tax is illegal, too. But guess what? If you don’t send Uncle Sam a check by midnight tonight, the IRS will come knocking on your door. Even though they are nice folks, if I don’t make my payment to my credit union in a timely manner, they will come and get my motorhome. If I break the law and get a ticket I have to pay the fine. I may disagree with the interest rate on my loan or the speed limit. But we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes we have to pay.
Tags: American taxpayers, BLM land, Bureau of Land Management, camouflage freaks, grazing fees, income tax is illegal, IRS, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, paying taxes, standoff between the Federal government and supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy