The Roanoke Times editorial page, however, sees it as a tidal wave. A call to action. A mandate:
These forests aren't for saleOh, I was wrong. It wasn't even 4,000. It was nearly 4,000 respondents.
The people have told the government: Stay off our land, our natural legacy.
What part of "no" doesn't Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey understand?
Nearly 4,000 people told Rey they do not -- repeat, do not -- want the federal government to sell off national forests. Doesn't matter whether it's just a sliver here or there. Doesn't matter whether the money will go to poor, rural school children. No sale. Period. (link)
If the sale involved just those 131 acres of inaccessible land up in Roanoke County and there were 4,000 people from the area who wrote in opposition to the plan, I'd say the Times has a point. But the land that is going to be sold off is scattered (in "a sliver" here and there) across the USA and those who wrote to the Agriculture Department were (mostly urban tree-huggers and local congressmen who have twisted priorities - more on that in a moment) presumably from all fifty states. That would be 4,000 concerned citizens out of 280 million people.
0.0014% of America cared enough to write.
What separates cynical editorialists and calculating politicians from those of us who see an opportunity to make good use out of this otherwise useless property is that line;
Doesn't matter whether the money will go to poor, rural school children.I have no doubt that the editorial staff at the Times - a group made up of people who are hoping to get a real gig at a real newspaper far, far away someday - cares more for our worthless rocks and bushes than they do for our poor. Even our poor, rural children.
But I don't. I won't.
There is a plan afoot. And all you folks here in Southwest Virginia are caught up in it - whether you know it or not. Whether you like it or not.
This area of the country has been designated by the rich and powerful to be a forest land. Their plaything. One big park. A stopover point on their way from their urban northern dwellings to their vacation homes in West Boca. They expect to see - and will have - their rock formations and creeks maintained in such a manner as to afford each of them a brief feeling of ... pleasure, before they hop back in the SUV and head on down I-77.
Congressman Boucher knows that. He also knows why he's allowed to keep his cushy digs up in DC. He quickly came out against helping the poor children in his district and even dreamt up the unique position that selling useless land to individuals who would then pay property taxes on it - every year, forever - would be damaging to our economy. (!)
Representative Bob Goodlatte, a Republican who should know better - and who should be ashamed of himself - has come out against selling off the few targeted acres of completely useless federal land in his district as well, saying,
Supporters of the sale proposal suggest that these forest lands are isolated and hard for the U.S. Forest Service to manage. Nevertheless, the idea of selling capital assets to pay for short-term needs sets a bad precedent.Short-term needs.
The colloquial expressions used in these parts for "short-term needs" are food and clothing. Poor people, American citizens all, who routinely line up at the Bland Ministry Center for handouts can afford to think only in terms of short-term needs. Once they find their next meal, they too can fret over that speck of wasteland in Catawba that Goodlatte chooses to protect - at all costs.
Of course those wretched people who come begging lack proper hygiene and are often foul-smelling. And they don't vote. Not like environmentalists. And environmentalists not only vote, they contribute lavishly to political campaigns. (Right, Rick?)
Besides, the plan calls for the masses of the unwashed, the impoverished people of Bland County and Tazewell County and Dickenson County and Scott County and Giles County to pack their bags and move to New York anyway. Those that haven't already made the migration will be doing so soon. It's the plan.
This is to be forest land in the future. One big park. The few of us who will be allowed to remain will do so to facilitate the amusement of rich northerners and increasingly wealthy politicians. If you don't play the banjo or cook a mean Big Mac, get out now.
I think it's the arrogance that enrages me the most; the in-your-face "Doesn't matter whether the money will go to poor, rural school children," we'll not sell off those trees attitude of the political elite. The "Let them eat cake" hauteur of the rich and powerful.
You all need to understand - they have acquired a casual interest in our property. So vacate. Now.
And stop whining about that economic crisis.