Margolis is just envious

  Dear HCN,

"A treatise on columnist Alexander Cockburn," (HCN, 5/11/98), seems to be Jon Margolis' search for a journalistic Viagra. So envious is Margolis that he lashes out the gawky bewailment: "Cockburn has been abusing reality for decades ..." That's bad? I hope someone has, or will, say the same about me.

Margolis' gripes range from Cockburn's anti-corporate populism to his views on U.S. foreign policy. Even a charge of McCarthyism is thrown in for good measure. (I was unaware that Cockburn had been elected to the U.S. Senate and was abusing his official power.) But mostly Margolis flacks for the National Wildlife Federation and the Defenders of Wildlife and their role in Yellowstone wolf reintroduction.

I'm sure Margolis will find this impertinent, but I'm going to abuse his reality about environmental corporations. The National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife, like all corporations and those who run them, are not evil; they are amoral. Regardless of the personal beliefs or ethics of their employees and executives, corporate responsibilities are limited to decisions maximizing short-term rewards and minimizing corporate obligations.

The corporate responsibility of board of directors and managers of environmental corporations is to sustain revenues. The National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife understand that headlines about introducing Canadian wolves in Yellowstone create a fund-raising cash cow. Should it become obvious next week that more money can be extracted from individual and foundation donors by advocating natural re-population of Yellowstone, the National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife will propose extirpation of the introduced wolf populations.

Yellowstone, because of its popularity, attracts this kind of opportunism. Remember the New World Mine near Yellowstone? National environmental organizations drained millions in contributions to oppose the mine. Now that the photo opportunities with Clinton are over, these opportunists are also gone.

Margolis is right about one thing. Babbitt is no rancher; he failed at that too. By the way, Cockburn is a friend. But I have the clippings to prove that he has occasionally severely boxed my ears anyway.

Larry Tuttle

Portland, Oregon

High Country News Classifieds