"No Strings Attached" -- And How Not to Get It

by Erich Veyhl

Downeast Coastal Press 7/25/00

The Appalachian Mountain Club tells us that CARA, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act, should be embraced because it provides free money to Maine with "no strings attached". But many are asking how this can be -- How can money from the Federal government disseminated for designated purposes under Federal law possibly be free of restrictions?

But there is an explanation, which once understood, compels one to agree that the assessment of "no strings" by the Appalachian Mountain Club and the rest of the environmentalists is not only accurate, but from their perspective has been obvious all along because they designed it that way.

The central purpose of CARA is and always has been government acquisition of private property on a massive scale -- by force if necessary -- through an infusion of unprecedented public funds to be automatically provided every year with no accountability to the budgeting process. Most of the money in this $3 billion per year off-budget environmentalist entitlement is either dedicated to or available for acquisition.

The Congressional Research Service's June 2000 "Report to Congress" comparing the various legislative versions of CARA characterizes it generally as an "omnibus bill to greatly expand federal financial support for various land resource protection, acquisition, and restoration programs."

But we see the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, and the viro lobby in general suddenly promoting CARA for its funding of "playgrounds" and "ballfields", implying that this is the main point of the legislation. This is not something the greens ever cared about one whit in the past, so why do we see them promoting it with such seeming enthusiasm now?

Secondary provisions in CARA, such as those which might allow a small portion of funding for "ball fields" and "playgrounds", are in fact in the bill. They were cynically added as pork-bribes to buy off and co-opt competing special interests.

The total for all urban park funding, while carefully selected by the viro lobby for promotion as if it were a centerpiece, is only 2 1/2% of the CARA funding. But 2 1/2% is a cheaper diversion for the Greens than it may seem. The viro political pro's in Washington knew very well that they couldn't get enough support for a massive entitlement just for themselves to indefinitely take over private property. They tried that in the late 1980's with the Billion Dollar Trust Fund and failed. The "playgrounds" and "ballfields" in CARA are the political catalyst -- the spin that gives them political cover to publicly promote the legislation while avoiding public discussion of CARA's actual intent, legal content and consequences.

State conservation agencies, municipal organizations, and "public" organizations like land trusts are intoxicated with the prospects of money raining down on them through different provisions of CARA. The storm provides the intended natural cover for the big green lobby and keeps the competing interests from opposing the viros' main agenda as happened in the 80's.

In Maine, environmentalist activists controlling the editorial policy of major newspapers, including especially the Maine Sunday Telegram and the Bangor Daily News, are ensuring that the general public does not find out what CARA actually does: They simply refuse to report on it. But the establishment press does commit space to smear its opponents. One example: "The howlings of scattered opponents", the Telegram editorialized, are merely "scare tactics of anti-government extremists". The editorial provided no explanation of exactly what in CARA anyone is "scared" of or why.

When a political campaign venomously attacks an opposition that it openly claims to be mere "scattered opponents", while systematically avoiding explaining both its own position and that of its opponents, it is trying to hide something.

The one thing the viro lobby cannot afford, at least not yet, is public scrutiny and discussion of its anti-people anti-civilization ideological vision and its political implementation trampling the rights of individuals. In particular, it cannot tolerate an objective public scrutiny of the provisions in CARA.

Hence the combination of a shrill smear campaign against those defending private property rights, packaged with the systematic misrepresentation of its own bill as promoting "playgrounds" and "ball fields" coupled with vague, undefined appeals for "conservation". It all serves one purpose -- to deflect the public from looking at the actual powers granted by CARA.

But just in case someone might listen to the desperate pleas of the intended victims despite the charade, the editorialists repeat in unison the lie that CARA couldn't be used to take property by condemnation or turn private property into a park in Maine, and that it says so in the bill. If so, then how have mere "scattered opponents" slowing CARA's progress been able to get anyone to think otherwise? It must be nothing more than know-nothing "howling extremists" who should be dismissed without a hearing, the viros tell the public -- and pointedly instruct Maine's Senators not to bother considering it either.

This is all a strategically conceived, absolute lie that is deliberately scripted and coordinated -- there is no other way to put it. Whether any particular pro-environmentalist writer knows that or is simply unduly influenced by the activist sources he sympathizes with is secondary. Either or both are part of the green strategy.

The leaders of the environmentalist movement are not ignorant. The Land and Water Conservation Fund to be fueled by CARA is and always has been intended and used to take over private property for both new and existing government preservation areas (including massive "new parks"). Furthermore, CARA in fact contains nothing to prohibit the use of its expanded funding in eminent domain takings by either the Federal or state governments.

The viros know that. They want it that way. They lobbied in Washington to make sure it came out that way. They intend to convert massive areas from private ownership to government ownership and control, shutting down the private economy. They fully intend to coercively take property from people who don't want to give it up, just as they have for decades. And they will be back to Congress again later for even more power and more money just as they always have.

The result of the green's cynical politicking and disinformation campaign is the seemingly large support from a conglomerate of special interests slurping at the trough in the name of the "public". They support a complex omnibus bill that they don't understand, but in which at least some provisions directly benefit their own various agendas. They clamor for "free" public money to be disseminated through the irresponsible means of an untouchable, off-budget entitlement walled off for political purposes. In many cases they seek also to benefit from the guaranteed use of government coercion to ensure the imposition of their own agendas -- all without regard to the rights of individuals, particularly property owners targeted for acquisition.

But many CARA supporters who were bought off by the green's cynically conceived pork-bribes still don't realize how their new-found "guaranteed funding" would actually work. The Interior Department sets the criteria and must approve most of the spending. And the multitude of secondary factions within each state will have to compete for the scraps while the bulk of the money goes to CARA's central purpose: funding the destruction of private property rights through acquisition (including condemnation), land use regulations and prohibitions, and environmentalist "research" and "education" (i.e., government sponsored political propaganda and spin) driving the whole process. (Did you think that CARA's "habitat protection" and "coastal conservation" funding, for example, do not include land use control and acquisition?)

The characterization of CARA by viro lobbyists as providing money with "no strings attached" has only one meaning: There are no limitations on how the money is spent for their own goals because those goals coincide with the central purpose of CARA -- to fund the environmentalist ideological agenda to take over and shut down the use of private property, as interpreted by the movement's dedicated enforcement arm in Washington -- the Interior Department -- and by the state agencies that the greens control.

There are "no strings attached" for them because they are calling the shots. But CARA most certainly does not provide free money with "no strings attached" for any other purpose.

This is why powerful viro activist organizations like the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy and the Appalachian Mountain Club are so ecstatic about CARA and is why, without even stopping to think, they find it so natural to publicly characterize it as having "no strings attached." They are drunk with excitement. They are the government and CARA is their source of guaranteed money. Once the spending is authorized, they have a clear road ahead, into the indefinite future, with "no strings attached" to what they do with CARA money.

This is not what the American form of government was supposed to be. Special interests who covet other people's property are not supposed to be granted an "entitlement" to the use of government coercion and public funds to take it, "with no strings attached".

Senators Snowe and Collins, as well as the rest of the kindred "moderate" spirits in the Senate, should be embarrassed by their procrastination in taking a position on CARA, to say nothing of their failure to show any principled leadership against this moral outrage. They need to decide -- now -- whether they will act on principle to support their constituents' rights to equal protection under the law, accountability in funding and a Constitutional government, or to cave in to a powerful, well heeled pressure group that demands an "entitlement" to grab what other people have, with "no strings attached."

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