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Meatout or Getout
Should we follow the advice of localvores to help our local public lands ranchers destroy our local environment? Local ranchers have long received government bailouts with predator control programs and low-cost grazing programs on federal lands. Grass-fed cattle are the primary (if not the only) reason for predator control in the West. Thousands of wolves, grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes, mountain lions and other wildlife are killed each year to protect livestock on public and private lands.
The grasslands of the arid West cannot support cattle grazing. In its recent study, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that livestock grazing is by far the single largest anthropogenic user of land. Livestock are the main cause of damage to riparian areas in the West, which are home to 70 to 80 percent of all Western wildlife. The livestock industry is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions (measured in CO2 equivalent), a higher share than transportation.
March 20 is the 25th annual Meatout Day. We can support our local environment, including our local wildlife, as well as keep global climate change under control by not eating meat, even so-called “local” meat.
Reading Gary Johnson’s remarks (and the tea party’s hopes) that Santa Feans are “undiagnosed libertarians” reminded me of the 1985 art-house flick Mishima. There is a scene that takes place in the ’60s where the ultra-right-wing nationalist (fascist) writer Yukio Mishima enters a building on Tokyo University’s campus that has been seized by bandana-wearing radical left-wing students. Clad in his Izod shirt, Yukio pleads, “We all want the same thing, the end of the capitalists. You should join us!” The communists, knowing better, threw him out.
I know the kind of liberals the tea party hopes to appeal to: the kind against fluoridating water, or who think that childhood vaccinations are a bad idea, or want to return to a gold standard, or who even think that downtown wireless access is going to fry their chakras. Scratch the surface, however, and the similarity ends. These liberals are still concerned with issues of social justice, the reproductive rights of women, the right for gays to marry, feeding the hungry and so on. I doubt the tea party platform will speak to these core beliefs.
Just because tea baggers are not always the best educated does not mean their motivating impulse is wrong. Both the Republican and Democratic parties are basically bankrupt, morally and intellectually, so our only hope (and a slim one at that) lies in third parties. Few people in Congress admit ever having heard of free-market banking, which prevailed in 18th and early 19th century Scotland, allowing it unparalleled economic stability, in contrast to England’s boom-and-bust economy under the private monopoly, Bank of England. Today, Sens. Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman, ostensibly hard-working and conscientious, have yet to cosponsor Sen. Ron Paul’s [R-Texas] “Audit the Fed” bill (although Rep. Ben Ray Luján has, to his credit).
Congress is a cozy duopoly, co-opted by oligopoly Big Business and monopoly Money. These power centers collude to thwart the principles of free-market competition, although they all pay it lip service. Money may not do it so well as advertised, but what does trickle down is culture and, to the extent that the top is corrupt, the country will be confused and dysfunctional.
Ranked, instant run-off voting, public-only campaign financing and monetary reform are the means by which to allow a stable economy and a fair social system. None of these principles are in the interests of Congress.
As a result, America has not even started debates critical to our survival, such as what constitutes real money or a stable money system, and how one can intelligently limit health care in order to make it affordable. Instead, we are stuck on social issues, such as abortion and gay marriage, which are well-settled in much of Europe (interestingly, which has enacted the second, and sometimes first, of the above reforms).
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