Politics and the bottom line

  Dear HCN,


Senator Laird Noh's article "The Old West is small potatoes in the new economy" (HCN, 4/10/00: The Old West is small potatoes in the new economy) provided a clear view of the shifting power structure out West.


Sen. Noh's story is a lesson in political power, and the moral of the story is straightforward: Land and resources are power. Regardless of what myth we may subscribe to regarding "local control," power is the bottom line. Out West there have always been just two major power entities - wealthy special interests and the federal government. Those with money out here understand that the only roadblock to total control of the land is the federal government.


The average American citizen (whose interests are represented by the federal government) does not seem to understand the implications of this reality. But wealthy special interests have always understood that the best way to promote their agenda has been to convince the American people that their special interests and the interests of the American people were one and the same. Whether it was railroad barons of yesteryear or the foreign energy companies of today, anyone who has lived here as long as my family has understands that "local control" often depends upon which special interest the local politician subscribes to. In the future it will indeed be difficult for the global special interests to convince the American people, including the rural communities that have always been controlled by them, that these global special interests are local and serving the local interests.


After 100 years one thing has become crystal clear: there would be no issues to discuss - no old forests, no parks or public lands to fight over, if the federal government had not retained and managed these precious lands. Instead, there would mostly be vacation properties for those who could afford them.


For the rest of us, we would be forced to be content with gazing at the landscape from behind fences, unaware that we could have been shareholders of a vast treasure simply referred to as "the West."


Mike Benefield
Burns, Oregon


High Country News Classifieds
  • INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR - HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
    High Country News is hiring an Indigenous Affairs Editor to help guide the magazine's journalism and produce stories that are important to Indigenous communities and...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Staff Attorney The role of the Staff Attorney is to bring litigation on behalf of Western Watersheds Project, and at times our allies, in the...
  • ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT FOR DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
    Northern Michigan University seeks an outstanding leader to serve as its next Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion. With new NMU President Dr. Brock...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Clark Fork Coalition seeks an exceptional leader to serve as its Executive Director. This position provides strategic vision and operational management while leading a...
  • GOOD NEIGHBOR AGREEMENT MANAGER
    Help uphold a groundbreaking legal agreement between a powerful mining corporation and the local communities impacted by the platinum and palladium mine in their backyard....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Feather River Land Trust (FRLT) is seeking a strategic and dynamic leader to advance our mission to "conserve the lands and waters of the...
  • COLORADO DIRECTOR
    COLORADO DIRECTOR Western Watersheds Project seeks a Colorado Director to continue and expand WWP's campaign to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in Colorado,...
  • DIGITAL MEDIA SPECIALIST, THE NATURE CONSERVANCY: WYOMING, MONTANA AND UTAH
    Digital Media Specialist - WY, MT, UT OFFICE LOCATION Remote and hybrid options available. Preferred locations are MT, WY or UT, but applicants from anywhere...
  • GRANT WRITER (PART-TIME, FREELANCE CONTRACT) HIGH COUNTRY NEWS
    High Country News seeks an energetic, articulate and highly organized grant writer to support a growing foundations program. This position works closely with our Executive...
  • EXPERT COMPUTER & TECH HELP, PROVIDED REMOTELY
    From California, I provide expert tech help remotely to rural and urban clients. I charge only when I succeed. Available 7 days. Call for a...
  • ACCOUNTING AND OPERATIONS GENERALIST
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Accounting and Operations Generalist provides accounting and operations related services, including lease administration and compliance support, to the Arizona...
  • LANDSCAPE ECOLOGIST
    Landscape Ecologist, Arizona What We Can Achieve Together: The Landscape Ecologist provides technical and scientific support and leadership for conservation initiatives and strategies in landscape...
  • MULESHOE RANCH PRESERVE STEWARD
    What We Can Achieve Together: The Muleshoe Ranch Preserve Steward lives on site in housing provided by The Nature Conservancy and performs and coordinates construction...
  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF HISTORY - INDIGENOUS HISTORIES OF THE NORTH AMERICAN WEST
    Whitman College seeks applicants for a tenure-track position in Indigenous Histories of the North American West, beginning August 2024, at the rank of Assistant Professor....
  • DAVE AND ME
    Dave and Me, by international racontuer and children's books author Rusty Austin, is a funny, profane and intense collection of short stories, essays, and poems...
  • CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
    Rural Community Assistance Corporation is looking to hire a CFO. For more more information visit: https://www.rcac.org/careers/
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation (ABWF) seeks a new Executive Director. Founded in 2008, the ABWF is a respected nonprofit whose mission is to support...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in natural and human history of the northern Colorado Plateau, with lodge and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, everything furnished. Two bedroom, one bath, large enclosed yards. Dog-friendly. Contact Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    We characterize contaminated sites, identify buried drums, tanks, debris and also locate groundwater.