Trojan horses for landowners

By Steven Martinovich
web posted March 27, 2000

Standing at the Grand Canyon's North Rim on January 11, U.S. President Bill Clinton announced a controversial executive order that would see him use the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate three new national monuments, ostensibly to protect scenic lands already owned by the federal government from future development, mining and timber cutting.

"This is not about locking lands up; it is about freeing them up from the pressures of development and the threat of sprawl," Clinton told reporters.

With a lack of any real protection of private property in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian landowners and developers are under the same gun courtesy of politicians who want to leave an environmental legacy to shore up their reputations or earn the votes of urban environmentalists who never actually get out to see what they demand be protected. Two initiatives in particular threaten the rights of every landowner unfortunate enough to get in the way.

The first comes from federal Environment Minister David Anderson's proposed Endangered Species Law. Incentives are used to encourage landowners to protect endangered species, Anderson's proposal also contains an odious provision called the "Safety Net." Legislation would be passed which would allow the federal government to supercede provincial jurisdiction and monitor how they are doing in protecting endangered species, and reserve the right to step in.

That proposal would apply to both private property and Crown land and could lead to the federal government regulating the use of an owner's land if an endangered species were found on it or adjoining property, a fact admitted to by Anderson though he downplayed by suggesting it "would occur very rarely."

A similar Trojan horse was announced by Ontario Premier Mike Harris in March 1999 with his "Lands for Life" initiative, one that heralded the largest expansion of parks and protected land in the history of the province. A total of 378 new parks and protected lands will eventually be added totaling 2.4 million hectares, and increasing the area covered by such land by one third to a total of 9.5 million hectares. Buried in the accompanying legislation, however, the province was given the power to essentially regulate a piece of land if it were deemed environmentally sensitive.

With their actions, Anderson and Harris have infringed upon the rights of property owners, ignoring the fact that property rights are the foundation of political rights. Property is always produced or owned by people and is needed by people to live their lives. If these people do not own the efforts of their production, they in fact do not own their own lives – turning everyone into slaves. Whoever controls this production or property then decides who effectively lives and dies, which is what happens in statist or collectivist regimes.

These politicians -- and the people who support them -- are not simply working towards pristine lands and saving endangered species, but against industry and even civilization itself. They all share the same basic philosophical position. It is called Intrinsicism. It is the calling card of environmentalists whether "mainstream" or extremist and it tells you how they think.

Land and animals, say environmentalists, have an intrinsic value. They should simply be valued for their own sakes irrespective of any other concern. That means, any use outside of worshipping Gaia is morally wrong, and even inherently evil. Since man is a creature that must adapt the environment and use nature for his own ends -- or in another word, survival -- man is inherently evil and an aberration in the history of the Earth. Their perverse philosophy holds that the more successful that humanity is, the more evil it is.

The theory of intrinsic value relies on removing the concept of a moral value from purpose or good from its beneficiaries. Land takings is anti-man because his inclination towards good means that he must adapt nature to create value, something that is evil to the environmentalists. For an intrinsicist, man is evil because he seeks his good, a clanging contradiction if there ever was one.

Those that support the land takings are supporting the sworn enemies of humanity and intellect itself. If the ultimate goal is promoting nihilism over the production of value, then all that they are doing is supporting their deaths. Those who create value celebrate life, something that Anderson and Harris would do well to remember. That's a constituency worth listening to.

Steve Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario and the editor in chief of Enter Stage Right.

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