For the readers of the Free Press who may be unfamiliar with the TV character Dobie Gillis, you can educate yourself through You Tube and Google.
Suffice to say, the character was based on a small-town coming-of-age American boy instilled with the culture and values of America during the late 1950s and early 1960s. A key part of every episode was a replica of Rodin’s sculpture “The Thinker” in the town park and the presence of an outsider in the form of a beatnik named Maynard G. Krebs who provided an out-of-the-box type of thinking. The series culminated with the release of a movie in 1988, titled Bring Me The Head of Dobie Gillis. A metaphor for the use of money to overcome innate goodness.
The ability of money, technology, and government institutions who crave power over service; essentially those who wield it, is exactly the problem the whole world is facing today. How we confront or accept that situation as a nation will determine whether we keep our freedoms or sell ourselves by pushing the easy button. That easy button being the path of least resistance for problem-solving. Allowing government money and its bureaucracy to be the first solution rather than the last one. We as a people will either rise up on two feet and stand firm or we will capitulate. There is a lot of house-cleaning to do, and a very short time to do it. The problems we are facing aren’t tied exclusively to one political party. Both major political parties, and a suspect electoral process, have had a hand in promoting policies that have brought us to this abyss.
To solve the problems of failed policies, one has to acknowledge and identify them as such. Easier said than done, as rabid, well-funded and well-connected political action committees spring into action gleefully attacking the messengers. As Americans, we need to stop relying on “experts” and “professionals” to do our critical thinking for us. Most of all, we have to decide what we actually need and can afford instead of amassing debt that our children’s grandchildren will be paying for with our votes. It is moral cowardice to vote so some may live well today off of borrowed money. Today’s national debt is unconscionable as our great-grandchildren will still be paying for today’s excesses.. Range Magazine (summer 2021 issue) contains an article by Dave Skinner that delves into some of the primary beneficiaries of conservation easements. Western Landowners Alliance, a non-profit based in Santa Fe, N.M., whose members are “first and foremost multimillionaires — even billionaires — who became wealthy doing other things other than raising cattle. They are now applying their great good fortunes to buy up large scenic ranches and manage them for ‘conservation’ purposes.”
It is the American taxpayer who foots the bill for conservation easements, as well as the many farm programs that are available to the holders of these lands. Skinner concludes his article with this gem. “Let’s call that what it is: Welfare ranching for billionaires.” Conservation easements is one of many policies that we should DE-fund, as well as demand our money back from those who received it, with interest. Apply the money to paying down our national debt. I know, a radical idea, right?
Some non-profits truly do serve the totality of any given area, but given that there has been a proliferation of entities that target select classes within any given community to benefit the few over the many, an overhaul is long past due. A basic step to rein in the explosion of boutique non-profits would be to redirect community grant money to the Board of County Commissioners for decision-making. Think about all those boards that have been created by grant money that have no independent outside audits and therefore have zero accountability to community taxpayers. Imagine, if every community started demanding real audits of boards that claim to serve our best interests, it just might bring fiscal sanity back in style. No more endless pleas for tax increases or interest groups lining up at the commissioners meetings asking for funding of causes that never seem to make an overall difference.
There are glimmers of hope. In today’s news feed, there was an article on the New National Security Act. Although it’s a long way from becoming law, and God only knows what this Congress will do, it would claw back The War Powers Act from the Executive Branch to Congress. As the Constitution delineates that particular power is that of Congress, not the Executive Branch. Perhaps even the Democrats realize the inherent danger of ceding power to the executive branch of our government. Particularly since some are questioning the abilities of our sitting President. As of July 19, 2021, the Biden Administration has issued 52 Executive Orders. Any attempt to limit the executive branch from legislating is a step in the right direction. A giant step would be to actually pay for legislation as you go. An even bigger step, would be for a transparent and accountable Congress.
So, you might be wondering what all that has to do with the title of this column. America has to decide what path it wants to walk. Do we live up to our ideals, or do we let hustlers and their endless schemes derail us. Think locally, act locally. Maybe you will see a Dobie Gillis in the park, thinking about the Thinker, wondering out loud what sort of country he will leave behind for his kids.
Valerie Maez writes from Lewis, Colo.