Libertarian Commentary on the News, 09 August 2015, #15-32A: Pollution

By Nathan Barton

Today, just three articles to comment on, pointing out pollution, perversion, and lack of both individual responsibility AND that of organizations and groups, and its huge negative impact on liberty (and quality of life, to use a modern “dirty” phrase).

Government stupidity hit close to home again for me this last week, in multiple ways. The worst, as far as physical effects, happened Wednesday on a tributary of the Animas River, north of a place called Silverton. (The Animas is a tributary of the San Juan River, which flows into the Colorado River.) This has made national news, but started with reports in the Durango Herald the local daily (and as liberal a rag as a small-city daily can be). EPA was “cleaning up” an abandoned mine that was a major contamination site (been abandoned since 1930 or so), up north of Silverton, and made a stupid decision, breaking open a coffer dam that released several million gallons of bright-orange sediment laden water into Cement Creek. It then poured into the Animas River, which flows through Durango and into New Mexico and the San Juan. 

At one point north of Durango, the pH dropped from 7.8 to 5.8 in less than an hour.  One friend reported his fish in the pond, which connects to the river, started literally jumping out of the water to escape the acidity, and of course died within minutes.

A very good friend and client is just now being hit (on Saturday) with the water, which has As, Cd, Hg, Pb, Al, Fe, and possibly other high levels of contaminants.  His series of five ponds has just recovered from a contamination event last July caused by a storm and three companies’ failure to follow the most basic protection procedures, and he put fish back in just two months ago (they had lost an estimated 15,000 trout last year), and now this… He sampled water and even killed and froze fish yesterday, to provide a baseline; he’ll sample again and recover some of the dead fish (really don’t expect any to survive), and then try to get justice…

He is just one of thousands of people hit by this as many people take their drinking water directly from the alluvial aquifer of the Animas; businesses depend on the rafting and tubing that is so popular this time of year, and the Sheriff has banned ANY body contact with the water – although no sane businessman would risk his customers’ contact with the nasty stuff. The cities and towns have shut down this water supply. Fortunately, most do not depend JUST on the Animas, but Durango, for instance, gets about 75% of its water from the river and its alluvium, so they are hurting. It will likely cause La Plata County to go into a depression as well, since people are being laid off as families change vacation plans, so restaurants and hotels are losing business. Many campgrounds dot the banks of the now-orange river.

And the mine continues to leak at a far faster rate than it did (which was the reason for the “clean-up”). The EPA has admitted, on live camera, that “we accept full responsibility,” but we know how government officials lie or are made to lie by their political masters. None of us expect justice to be done.

Mama’s Note: This is a much worse problem than it appeared to be at first. And no, mouthing the words of accepting responsibility does not usually involve actually making any restitution to those harmed, nor does it ever result in the the elimination of the individuals who are actually responsible.

Actually, I’m kinda surprised that this disaster, this GOVERNMENT-CAUSED DISASTER, made it to the mainstream media nationwide because much of that seemed to be concerned with things like dead lions and evil dentists. Townhall’s Debra Saunders writes a neat column, “No friend to lions” in which she says in part: “More than 200,000 people have signed a petition asking the White House to cooperate with efforts to ‘extradite Walter Palmer (the Minneapolis-area dentist who killed Cecil the lion) promptly at the Zimbabwe government’s request.’ According to reports, Palmer and/or his hunting guides lured the beloved lion out of a game reserve. Palmer then shot Cecil with a crossbow; the wounded lion lived for another 40 hours before he was dispatched with a bullet. I have to assume that those who want Palmer extradited don’t know much about Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe or his sorry human rights record.” [Steve Trenward’s note: I would assume most of the folks don’t give a c++p, but just want this barbarian punished (even if far greater atrocities are committed by governments every day) – SAT] I assume he is using “barbarian” sarcastically, as although big-game hunters are often obnoxious people who have too much money (kinda like fighter pilots) they are generally pretty civilized (in a good way). Certainly better to be around than people who get their jollies killing other people, and not animals. And “Cecil” WAS an animal, certainly no friend to any of those who supposedly loved him. Yeah, I really wish that Palmer had gone to Zimbabwe to hunt down and bag Mugabe: THAT would have truly been a public service.

Debra Saunders has a second excellent column this week, which I guess ties somewhat into the disaster in LaPlata County, in Townhall about a truly gross and sickening situation: the stench of urine which pervades the City and County of San Francisco this summer. I was stationed there twice, and although I lived on the Presidio, my memories of the city itself (except for Ocean Beach and Golden Gate Park) are sadly associated with the stink of urine, and apparently urine so damaged a lamp pole that it recently fell down, crushing a car and nearly hitting the driver. Even the mayor is willing to publicly be disgusted by the behavior of those very much UNcivilized (by my standards) nominally human beings which infest that Babylon-by-the-Bay, and says that personal responsibility is at an all-time low. It isn’t JUST the homeless, which he blames, but many others, who can’t be bothered to hold it in and find a proper location and fixture.

And often, it is tied directly to the disgusting and all-too-public perversions which many in the city practice. Several years ago, as general nudity became more common in the city, there was a public relations effort to get people to at least bring a towel to sit on when they, nude, were sitting on public benches at bus and tram and subway stops, and in the vehicles themselves. This was viciously attacked and condemned as being “homophobic” and “sexist” and “offensive.” It was dropped, of course. Never mind that what nude people might leave on the benches (and in the corners and on lamp posts, apparently) is grossly offensive.

As Debra points out. The city is a cesspool and not just because of the urine: it is an attractive nuisance to drug users who get a free ride, to homeless made so because of government policies and a failure of many people including themselves, and yet every effort by people in the city to get things cleaned up are branded as a crime akin to racism; the idea that a city (or anyplace) should have some “quality of life” is condemned as evil. Of course, why should these derelicts and others in the city have any responsibility or accountability? The governments, from the local districts right up to the infamous US Senators and Representatives from San Francisco (Boxer, Pelosi, etc.) have no sense of responsibility.

I disagree with Debra, who says SF is a vibrant city. Affluent maybe (can YOU afford a $1.5-million townhouse?), but vibrant? It is a stinking, polluted city filled with perverts and those who encourage and facilitate them, who have as little idea of personal responsibility as a puppy, and who viciously attack those very few (like Debra) who try to make the place inhabitable. (By the way, if someone wants to be a pervert, that is their right. But when (as I think both Twain and Heinlein remarked) they start scaring the dogs and the children, there IS a limit. San Francisco reached and passed that limit LONG ago.) Indeed, SF has been like this, more or less, since about 1849 and the Gold Rush. And it is far from alone as far as cities in the Fifty States, or indeed, worldwide, are going. Cities may be “civilization” but they are NOT places for rational, decent people and families, as people like Jefferson and Mises have long pointed out. Liberty does NOT live in any of them.

Mama’s Note: Much of this is directly due to the oxymoron of “public” property and all the other ills of socialism. If all the land, roads included, were private property, and the rights of property owners were recognized, there would be very little of this behavior in “public.”  Whatever “perversions” or filth people want to live with on their own property is, of course, nobody else’s business.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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4 Responses to Libertarian Commentary on the News, 09 August 2015, #15-32A: Pollution

  1. Darkwing says:

    The spill in the rive in CO. This all goes back to the 1872 mining law passed by congress. When I worked for the Bureau Of Land Management in DC. The subject must have come up a dozen times. When I worked for the BLM in CA, again the subject came up a lot. Congress talked about changing it all the time but did nothing, What else is new.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Of course nothing changed. No skin off their nose, really. Now, if those who actually caused damage had to pay for it… But no, that’s not going to change either.


  2. When a politician or government agency “accepts full responsibility,” it always turns out that what they mean by “accepting full responsibility” is “hey, I/we SAID I/we accept full responsibility … what more could you possibly want?”


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