The Goverment Vs Enviroment Essay Research Paper

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The Goverment Vs. Enviroment Essay, Research Paper THE GOVERNMENT VS THE ENVIRONMENT When the subject is the environment, the general public perception is that a resource of such importance can only be adequately safeguarded by the benevolent, all-encompassing hands of the government. Whether this comes in the guise of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, the Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management or any of their variations on the federal, state, and local levels, many citizens fear that leaving environmental (that is, property) stewardship in the hands of “big business” or “selfish” individuals would result in wholesale destruction of our land, water, and air. Indeed, the zeal with which our legal system handles “enemies of the

environment” grows ever stronger. Individuals are imprisoned for dumping dirt on their own land. Entrepreneurs — even with local and state permits in hand — are brought to trial for violating the decrees of the Army Corps of Engineers by creating new lakes and wildlife preserves. Private forest land is declared off-limits to individuals seeking to retire to and build on their own property; selling their own trees will land them in jail. In their efforts to protect the ecology, government agents prohibit development along certain seashores, seek to limit usage of private property that is home to endangered species, forbid lumber harvesting on public lands harboring spotted owls, and bring more and more wilderness under the protective wings of our dedicated public servants.

Yet, as in many other areas of our society, our government reveals its schizophrenic actions by engaging in behaviors that do far more violence to our environment than anything attributable to business or individual citizens. Amazingly, though, the ecological headaches engendered by these darker policies do not detract from the luster of governmental activism. Indeed, as is typical with negative results engendered by State ignorance, ineptitude, and intolerance, the resultant problems lead to even more strident calls for further intervention. This seemingly endless cycle only increases the costs we all pay for such bad programs, not only in monetary ways but in terms of diminished personal freedom and erosion of respect for our legal and governing system. Most of the damage done

to our environment by the State comes when it seeks to help a particular segment of the population at the expense of the rest. With concentrated benefits and diffuse costs masquerading under the mask of “the public good,” these efforts have, over time, created many of the most egregious examples of abuse. Water usage has proven to be a favorite excuse offered for State intervention. Farmers benefit from subsidies designed to lower their costs for irrigating their crops. As a result, areas of marginal agricultural potential (especially in the West) are brought under production. Fragile environments are exploited that might otherwise lie fallow. Not only does the resultant over-production of some commodities lower the prices farmers get for them, the increased acreage put into

crops leads to an acceleration of soil erosion. Subsidized crop insurance further exacerbates the situation. Non-farm citizens also have their water costs subsidized by people in other parts of the country. Dam construction and artificial waterways designed to transport that water enable people to populate such arid regions as Arizona and southern California. Not only does this lead to an explosion in population in these and other areas, natural lands are flooded for reservoirs, water tables are lowered to supply the thirst of new immigrants, and water shortages occur during times of lowered rainfall. Rather than letting supply-and-demand determine the proper usage of water, the government decides how this resource will be distributed. Along with subsidized water, these dams