June 2014
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Letters To The Ethical Spectacle

Spectacle Letters Column Guidelines. Send your comments to me at jw@bway.net. I will assume the letter is for publication. If it is not, please tell me, and I will respect that. I have gotten into the habit of leaving out full names and email addresses; I have had too many people think better of something they said fifteen years ago. If you want your name and email included, let me know. Flames, however, will be published with full name and email address.


Dear Jonathan:

I think you goofed with your diatribe against Cliven Bundy. You didn't discuss the central issue involved. It was not whether or not Bundy should or shouldn't get away with being a free rider on government land with his cattle. The issue is whether, as Bundy claims, his ancestors were using that land to graze cattle *before* the federal government arrogated the land to itself and decided to charge grazing fees to ranchers. I confess I don't know the legal answer to that issue, but the fact that you and other commentators don't even address that subject shows that you aren't treating the issue honestly, just using it as some example to make some irrelevant point.

I have a good friend who lives in Las Vegas and has gone out to the Bundy ranch to support him in his struggle against what Bundy feels is a brutal and overreaching Bureau of Land Management. The mediaare portraying the people who showed up at the Bundy ranch to support and defend him as stereotypical right-wing nuts, so that they won't have to deal honestly with the reasons that the folks are there, and what they are truly like. My friend is conservative, no doubt, but he's also a strong union supporter. In fact, I met him on a union organizing drive. It goes to show that you have to be careful of painting people in a one-dimensional manner according to your prejudice. As I said, I'm not sure about the root of the legal issues, but it is certain that the BLM handled it badly, killing some of Bundy's cattle (who were not guilty of anything! The BLM agents ought to be criminally prosecuted for that animal cruelty, no matter how the rest of the issues are resolved).

The BLM is getting itself in more trouble because of its bullying attitude on the Texas/Oklahoma border. The border there is a river, and rivers often move over time. The BLM made it's own definition of what happens when a river moves, one that is different from those of the states involved, a definition that is convenient to its own attitude that they can seize anyone's land at any time. The BLM is telling land owners that even though they have had legal title to the land and have paid taxes on it for over 100 years, since the river moved, BLM is taking their land for the federal government. Unfortunately for the BLM, Texas and Oklahoma are not taking the attitude of numb-nuts Harry Reid, who is calling those opposing the BLM terrorists. Those latter states are taking the bull by the horns and going after the BLM. I don't know how it will turn out. But if the BLM is so arrogant and bullying on the Texas/Oklahoma border, might it not be acting similarly to Cliven Bundy?

Sincerely, Bruce Clark


Dear Jonathan,

Since this article is divided into at least 2 topics, I divide my comments into 2 letters. I understand and generally agree with your criticism of Republican attitudes toward "free riders." Union members have experienced this for decades. Certain members of a bargaining unit in a facility claim that they don't want to be members of the union and object to paying dues (or an administrative fee in lieu of dues). However, the union is legally obligated to represent *all* members of the bargaining unit, and those objectors are perfectly willing to take advantage of the wages and benefits that the union negotiates, and take advantage of the union's grievance procedure when they get in a jam with the employer. However, not all "free rider" situations are the same, and therefore the treatment of them must vary accordingly.

I contend that [the rule requiring ER's to treat everybody] is not just a "free rider" situation. I think it goes back to that short phrase in the Preamble to the Constitution that reads "promote the general Welfare." Wikipedia says “This is an itemized social contract of democratic philosophy. It details how the more perfect union was to be carried out between the national government and the people. The people are to be provided (a) justice, (b) civil peace, (c) common defense, (d) those things of a general welfare that they could not provide themselves, and (e) freedom. A government of "liberty and union, now and forever", unfolds when “We” begin and establish this Constitution.”

I contend that the laws prohibiting turning away patients without financial means is not a matter of promoting "free riders," but of promoting the general welfare and of saving the lives of those subservient, officious, greedy assholes who would condemn people to death if they didn't have insurance or other means to pay their hospital bills.

Sincerely,

Bruce A. Clark