THE ENVIRONMENT, GOVERNMENT, & CORRUPTION
A Synopsis of a Speech by Jim Beers
In order to discuss this topic, a word or two about my background is probably advisable.
I have a Bachelors degree in Wildlife from Utah State and a Masters
degree in Public Administration from the University of Northern Colorado.
I worked summers and autumns on a State waterfowl refuge and with
law enforcement for the State of Utah while in college. My Navy service
consisted of line officer duties aboard a ship in the western Pacific
and as the Naval Courier Officer on Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
I worked for myself as a
While in Washington I worked a second job for 9 years while my children were attending college. I worked as a security guard and supervisor for a private contractor and most of my time was spent at the National Archives guarding the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and a copy of the Magna Carta. Conversations with authors, teachers, and civilian Constitutional enthusiasts instilled both knowledge and a deep respect for those documents and what they do.
The combination of wildlife biologist and Constitutional study forged some unique perspectives. I noticed that the 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 and this authorized the Federal government to levy taxes on income. For me this was right at the emergence of National Wildlife Refuges and National Forests and would have formed the basis for employing more Federal workers and buying land. The 17th Amendment, also ratified in 1913, eliminated the appointment of US Senators by State Legislatures and established their election by popular vote. This one really intrigued me. Would US Senators appointed by a State Legislature pass a law like the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that transferred State jurisdiction over long lists of plants and animals to the Federal government? Would a State Legislature reappoint a US Senator who passed legislation that took property without compensation like the ESA or closed large portions of public lands to access and uses like the Wilderness Act? Would a US Senator appointed by a State Legislature pass a Ponzi-scheme like Payment-in-Lieu-of Taxes (PILT) to pay local governments for lost taxes due to Federal land acquisition and then let it go under-funded for decades? Would a US Senator appointed by a State Legislature pass a law earmarking revenue from uses on National Wildlife Refuges for local governments and then allow agencies to claim much of the revenue to "administer" the uses and then cooperate with the agency to reduce uses on the refuges? The answer to all of these is of course, no. State Legislatures today all want Federal politicians who bring home the Federal bacon like Senator Byrd of West Virginia, not Federal politicians that work to please bureaucrats, environmentalists, and international organizations.
When I arrived in Washington in the early 1970's, a cadre of early environmental/animal rights Federal employees were hard at work with the UN bureaucrats and international environmental and animal rights organizations. New migratory bird treaties were negotiated with Japan and the Soviet Union ostensibly to "protect" "unprotected" species. In reality it was a ploy to transfer jurisdiction from States to the Federal government over many species purposely excluded from earlier treaties such as cormorants, hawks, and owls. The Animal Welfare Act was passed and (illegally since there was no treaty or Constitutional Amendment) transferred jurisdiction over animal standards and treatment from State governments to the Federal government. The Marine Mammal Protection Act to "save" porpoises, seals, whales, polar bears, sea otters manatees, walruses, et al. was passed at this time. While this seizure of State authority over animals in inland waters was passed with the assurance of management and use of these resources after "Optimum Sustainable Populations" were achieved, 30 years later there is no management or harvest of any of these species or control of the harm they are causing. Simultaneously the Endangered Species ACT was passed based on a "Convention" administered by the UN. This was not a treaty as specified in the Constitution to justify seizure of State jurisdictions by the Federal government; it is an agreement that is often violated and enforced only sporadically by the UN. Nevertheless it was the basis for the launching of the ESA and taking away State authority and leading us down the path to where we are today.
Two other things occurred in this frenzy of environmentalism. Equal
The other thing that happened was the establishment of the Senior
Executive Service (SES). Previously top agency managers (GS-16, 17,
& 18) were older employees that had worked up through the areas
they oversaw. They generally held these positions in the "sunset"
of their careers for only a few years. The Senior Executive Service
was formed and replaced them with "managers" whose high
salaries were tied to Congressmen and who received unlimited annual
leave accrual. This latter meant they took little, if any annual leave
and retired with 1 to 2 years salaries consisting of hundreds of thousands
of dollars as a retirement bonus. They received all these royal perks
because they would be "moved around" and go from "agency
to agency" and "Department to Department." Only it
never happened that way. The government-wide hiring system and promotion
system was dismantled because of EEO and the SES hiring system soon
became a political "gift that kept on giving." SES managers
were transferred only rarely and then only within
During the mid 1990's I represented the State fish and wildlife agencies in their confrontation with the European Union that planned to outlaw trapping by banning fur imports. I worked with State Department and US Trade Representative personnel who felt no affinity for fur or trapping. FWS was meeting with animal rights groups opposed to what I was doing but FWS publicly claimed to support the States while assuring the anti-trap groups of their support. When the European Union backed down in the late 90's FWS managers were furious because they had promised the animal rights crowd that it would not happen. About that time I reviewed an annual pile of applications for grants from the excise taxes collected from guns and ammunition and earmarked for State fish and wildlife agencies. When I found an application for anti-hunting activities from the Fund for Animals ineligible, FWS managers tried to get me to change my recommendation. When I refused I was shunned and told I would be forced to take a demotion and transfer to Boston (Siberia for old FWS employees.) When I fought it, FWS threatened in writing to withhold my pension for 5 years, make me ineligible for Federal health insurance, and even called the police to our office on a Monday morning because they said I would be "dangerous." (Remember I did security work and had several gun permits, so had I walked into that I would probably not be here today.) I was told to stay home and for 10 months I drew a salary, accrued leave, and did not do a lick of work for FWS as my lawyer fought them.
While explaining my plight to my lawyer and some concerned friends, I mentioned something that turned out to surprise even me. I mentioned that FWS had been using more of the excise taxes than they were authorized to do. They were using it for travel and furniture and favors for top managers and so far as I knew it went into $5 to 10 million per year. Some Congressional staff heard about this and when I explained it to them they sent in General Accounting Office (GAO) auditors to check the books. A Congressional Committee had hearings and asked FWS to provide all of their use of the funds for the past two years. FWS sent Congress 19 boxes (18" high) of computer printouts for ALL expenditures claiming they couldn't segregate the excise taxes. I was told later that they thought it was really funny because no one in Congress could decipher or would have the time to go through all those printouts. I went through them for the staff and what I found confirmed what the GAO auditors found. This is the first of FIVE ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNMENT SCANDALS OF THE PAST FIVE YEARS.
1.) Pittman-Robertson / Dingell-Johnson excise taxes diverted from State agencies:
The GAO auditors found $45-60 million had been taken by FWS from
state funds in a two-year period. The money was used to do two things
Congress had specifically refused to fund - introduce wolves into
Yellowstone Park and establishment a new California office. In addition
the funds paid for bonuses for top managers and for office support
having nothing to do with State agencies or Wildlife Restoration (the
purpose of the Act under which
The result: no one in FWS was even disciplined for the misuse of the funds; the funds were never paid back (as the States would have to do if FWS found them misusing the funds); the wolves have gone far beyond Yellowstone; the California office is operating; but the law was changed -which leads us to scandal #2.
2.) Today (summer 2004) the American League of Anglers and Boaters
and the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA)
has worked with FWS to undo the law reforms enacted five years ago
While this goes on, the partnership of FWS, States, and manufacturers is deteriorating and no one even speaks about it. The Internal Revenue Service believes the following:
The fishing tackle manufacturers are underpaying their excise taxes to the tune of $50 million per year.
The gun and ammo manufacturers are underpaying their excise taxes by about $20 million per year.
The archery manufacturers are underpaying their excise taxes by about $11 million per year.
Additionally the archery manufacturers have Congressmen proposing to lift the excise tax on bows under 30# since they "aren't used for hunting." If this flies what about handguns and target guns and their ammo that "aren't used for hunting?" The losses here will go into many, many millions of dollars.
Also the tackle box manufacturers have Congressmen proposing to eliminate the excise tax on tackle boxes which will amount to several million per year.
Finally, FWS is using the excise taxes today to furnish space for and pay for administrative support for the FWS migratory bird program that has suffered from neglect because it is primarily a management arm for hunting harvest of migratory birds. So the taxes are still being misused in Washington, the manufacturers aren't paying what they should, there are proposals to reduce the amounts collected dramatically; and the silence is deafening from the States and the Washington NGO's.
3.) Two years ago I was asked by a group of Nebraska farmers about waterfowl pollution where hundreds of thousands of birds sit on the same ponds and loaf in the same fields for months on end. FWS and State bureaucrats were murmuring about endangered piping plovers along the Platte River and reintroducing endangered pallid sturgeon in the Platte River. Their goal was to reduce irrigation and acquire land by painting farmers as polluters and water users that should be bought out.
What I found is that there is practically no information about wild
FWS had nothing. The State waterfowl biologist had nothing. Literature searches for wild birds had nothing. I looked at domestic duck production and hit the jackpot!
There are two kinds of Federal Feedlot Regulations, everything except ducks and ducks. There is a roomful of research on duck feces; streptococcus, staphylococcus, orthophosphates, nitrates, volatile solids and other contents exist in amounts sufficient for the Federal government to regulate all domestic duck flocks of 5,000 or more. Most small to medium producers have been forced out of the business in large measure due to this regulation. Double lagoons are mandatory. Aeration on site is mandatory. Storm runoff invokes heavy fines. Producers are cautious about complaining because they fear Federal inspectors and their power. Consumers pay a high price for this but who is right?
If millions of ducks and geese can concentrate for months and not evoke any governmental concern; how can the presence of a flock of 5,000 ducks be the cause for intense government scrutiny and control? Something is not right here and it is not the birds.
4.) For 20 or more years the US Army Corps of Engineers has been dumping millions of gallons of vile toxic wastes several times per month at night from the Washington DC water treatment system through a National Park into the Potomac River onto three sites, one of which is the sole spawning ground of the long-Endangered shortnose sturgeon, under a permit from EPA approved by FWS and the National Marine Fisheries Service right under the noses of the DC government and the State of Maryland. High paid NGO Executives and powerful politicians and bureaucrats drive by the area every day and many recreate in that stretch of the River. A Washington conservation group sued the government to enforce the ESA like it does on the rest of us and the government delayed and the court still fritters and the group went broke.
The sludge should be trucked out for disposal but powerful Washingtonians
"don't want all that truck traffic." The last laugh may
be on them. Periodically there are discoveries of WWI ordinance in
NW Washington when digging goes on. During and before WWI, NW Washington
was the site of a massive (for then) chemical weapon research effort.
What was then farms was taken over by the government, cordoned off
and a series of pits dug and
5.) Federal Budget Growth - When I retired from FWS I was asked by the National Trappers Association to attend some "Budget Briefings" at the IAFWA in Washington. What I found was very disturbing.
Each year the President submits a Budget to Congress. The President
sets strict limits on what agencies may request and the information
is strictly embargoed before it is submitted to Congress. Each agency
has initiatives in their offices that would take the entire budget
if there was an opportunity to do so but the Presidential limits prevent
them from submitting them. Congress considers the budget and seldom
cuts things but
Remember all this as you hear:
-Bureaucrats and NGO's lobby for a Federal mandate to give State authority over Invasive Species to the Federal government where it will become a mandate to "Restore Native Ecosystems."
-Bureaucrats predict wolf behavior and declare "habitat needs" for Indiana bats, piping plovers, and the ubiquitous Prebles Jumping Mouse.
-Bureaucrats use Critical habitats, Wilderness designations, Roadless rules, and other quasi-environmental excuses to close down sheep hunting, predator control, ranching, logging, circuses, rodeos, hunting, fishing, trapping, farming, rural lifestyles, and rural livelihoods and communities.
-The National park Service closing down public highways.
-Bureaucrats and politicians say they "need" billions more
-Federal bureaucrats saying they should have "more authority" over anything unrelated to national defense.
The US Constitution placed ALL of the matters we have been discussing
under the authority of State governments for one simple reason. The
lower the level of government responsible for anything, the more RESPONSIVE
that government will be to the people. You may not like your current
Governor (in all truth I do not care much for mine) but it is a lot
easier to get his attention or get rid of, than bureaucrats and politicians
feeding at Washington DC beaneries. There is no doubt that we need
a strong Federal government TO DEFEND US; we don't need any government
that forces predators on us, takes our property without compensation,
and increasingly oppresses us by enforcing more and more new authorities.
My experience is just a narrow slice of the Federal pie but I do not
doubt that such scandals exist in one form or another all over Washington.
The scandals I have mentioned today are first and foremost the result
of too much power and money growing
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