Pursuit of Happiness in Today’s United States: Dream or Reality?
The Patriotic Answer of American Stewards of Liberty
Our Founding Fathers knew the human heart. They knew that with time, people tend to focus on and abuse of power like in Europe. They knew that rulers tend to redistribute power and money among their subjects counting on a central government that people are unable to touch. They knew that unless the principle of state and federal sovereignty was carefully perpetuated, the healthy independence of each would be fatally compromised. If the federal government became dominant, it would end local self-government and the security of the individual.
Therefore they focused on the importance of the individual himself, on the power of a functional traditional family, and therefore on the power of the group of families represented by the county and state governments.
Vital to the security of individual is private property as well. As John Locke states, the lack of legally protected exclusiveness of property would completely destroy the incentive of an industrious person to develop and improve more property. Furthermore, the confiscation of private property would attack the person’s life, energy, and ingenuity – in other words, the essence of life itself. “Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common as the gift from God to all men, yet every man has a ‘property’ in his own ‘person.’ This, nobody has any right to, but himself. The ‘labour’ of his body and the ‘wok’ of his hands, we may say, are properly his.” Locke also reminds that private property starts with the first gathering of the fruits taken from such land.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland told the New York State Bar Association on January 21, 1921 that “it is not the right of property that is protected, but the right to property. Property per se has no rights; the individual –the man- has three great rights, equally sacred from arbitrary interference: the right to his LIFE, the right to his LIBERTY, and the right to his PROPERTY … these three rights are so bound together as to be essentially one right. To give a man his life but deny him his liberty, is to take away from him all that makes life worth living. To give him his liberty but take from him the property which is the fruit and badge of his liberty, is to still leave him a slave.”
The Founding Fathers knew that a just government, unlike the Crown of England, must protect property. John Adams professed that property is sacred as the laws of God and that “Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.”
Under our current political power, how can we secure our property and, therefore, our own existence?
I say we can by following our Founders’ road map. We must go back to the power of the individual and of local government. We must start by revising our own life and our family’s, making sure that we honor our value and principles regardless of the circumstances and monetary gain. We must start getting involved in the administration of our industry and local government to influence other people, their policies, and their decisions.
One way to efficiently and effectively do that is coordination that helps to preserve our rights to our land and business.
American Stewards of Liberty, the fusion of American Land Foundation and Stewards of the Range – an organization not much larger than our EWA – has successfully stopped the federal and state government power grab around the Country by taking advantage of a law passed by our Congress in 1976 that actually adheres to the original intention of our Founders.
Specific federal and state statutes require administrative agencies to “coordinate” with local government in developing and implementing plans, policies and management actions. By these statutes, the local government, such as a county, has the same rights that state and federal government agencies enjoy during negotiations, making the coordination process the most effective method for protection of the rights of citizens to own and use property. Coordination helps individuals and communities to protect their economical stability and their social and cultural cohesiveness.
We know way too well that the only impact we have as single citizens is to testify for three minutes in front of an agency on the effects of the new regulations on our lives. The agency’s responsibility is to summarize the comments. However with coordination, the agency’s responsibility toward local unit of government is much broader.
In California Native Plant Society v. City of Rancho Cordova, the Court said this of “coordination”:
“… the concept of ‘coordination’ means more than trying to work together with someone else. Even under the City’s definition of the word ‘coordination’ means negotiating with others in order to work together effectively. To ‘coordinate’ is ‘to bring into a common action, movement, or condition’; it is synonymous with ‘harmonize.”
In Texas, the coordination efforts of a few tiny towns have destroyed the Texas Trans-Corridor in its designing stages.
Local government is identified as any political subdivision under state law. When it coordinates, it should expect the federal and state agencies to treat with it with equality and good faith to commonly achieve a solution that satisfies both federal (or state) and local plan, policy, or action.
The National Forest Management Act requires the Forest Service to coordinate with local government and to “develop, maintain, and, as appropriate revise land use resource management plans. . .coordinated with the land and resource management planning processes of State and local governments and other Federal agencies.”
Both the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service issued rules for implementation of “coordination” and the rules reflect the statutory mandate of seeking consistency between federal and local plans, policies and actions.
It is this “consistency” requirement that gives coordination real teeth. When a local government adopts a policy or plan that is in conflict with the federal or state agency’s plans, it is the duty of the agency to make their plans “consistent” with the local plans. This is all done through the coordination process taught by American Stewards.
Every other natural resource management statute includes the “coordination” requirement that Congress has passed since 1976. Even the Homeland Security Act requires coordination with local government AND with local officials.
Furthermore, in 1982, also the Secretary of Agriculture issued the first rules to define coordination as required by the National Forest Management Act.
Local governments must be aware of the difference between “coordination” and “cooperation” as the latter does not imply equal status in the negotiations. In other words, with cooperation federal or state agencies can ignore the input given by local officials. The Fremont County, WY. Commissioners advised the Forest Supervisor that they no longer intended to act as a “cooperating agency” with the federal government because the agency appeared to listen, but would not include their comments in any of their plans or reports. They resolved, therefore, to coordinate instead. Go to AmericanStewards.us and read the difference between Cooperative Agency and Coordination and why it is so advantageous to coordinate.
Local government must also be vigilant of the difference between “coordination” and “consultation.” In the act of consultation, the agency is only required to listen to the local government, not to engage it on an equal basis nor to determine if there is a conflict between federal/state planning and local planning.
The coordination mandate is found in the Federal Land Policy Management Act and is then specified in dozens of other federal statutes like the National Forest Management Act, National Environmental Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and even the Homeland Security Act. Because both are federal statutes passed in accordance with Congress’ constitutional power they are the supreme law of the land. Consequently, the coordination requirement is the supreme law of the land.
Coordination can only be done by a local unit of government. Here’s where local control and coordination go hand-in-hand and why local politics are so crucial to this process. For example, counties, incorporated cities, water districts, school districts or any other political entity with local planning, taxing, enforcement, or regulatory authority can coordinate. Identify which local unit of government will serve your interests best.
You must educate yourself by understanding well how the process works. You can visit www.americanstewards.us and read their pamphlets and statutory information. Read through case studies and letters written by local, state, and/or federal government agencies available at American Stewards of Liberty, and attend their workshops.
Meet and know your leaders. Read all you can about them and discuss with them to learn their personal understanding and perspectives of things and their political positions. Determine if they are your allies or foes and pick the local government unit that works best for you. Success depends much on how unified your local board is and one that won’t be rolled over by agency pressure or become politically split. Unity is strength, as always.
Meet one-on-one with your local leaders. Your county judge, your commissioners, mayor, chairman of the board. Be active in their re-election or in supporting their opponent if they work against your interests. Educate them about the process. You will be surprised to know that most of your local leaders have never heard of coordination. Arm yourself with documents, facts, evidence to explain them why you think that the local government should become involved in that particular local issue.
Carefully determine if you want to work with your local government quietly or publicly according of the political climate. Study thoroughly your opposition. Identify advocacy groups that work against you before you make your efforts public. If you know your elected official well and you recognize them as friendly to your needs, they can advise you on how to proceed and of the dangers ahead.
Once you have a local unit of government ready, have them execute a simple resolution and start the process by deciding on a policy or plan. Determine priorities issues that must be resolved and their outcome. Depending on the issue you are addressing, formulate a local policy and adopt it. It can be as simple or detailed as you want to make it. It should consider the economic, environmental, social, and public safety concerns that affect your community. For example, you might want to consider your tax base, stability of local citizens and businesses, ranching revenues, protection of private property rights, etc.
You must gather together people who become your resources to depend upon for your research, expertise, advocacy, and support. This group of people can be as informal or formal as you deem best for your local community.
Remember, local units of government and their elected representatives are the ones who will perform the coordination process with federal and state agencies. Your job as a support group is to serve if asked, make presentations if called upon during coordination meetings, and provide support with research and documents that help further the cause and focus the efforts of the coordination process.
These groups can include various industries of the area, affected individuals, landowners, businesses, and organizations that have a vested interest in the process. If there is no such group, you don’t need to recruit one. If there is such a group, they can be invaluable to you as advisors on policy and strategy. If you have such a group, name them as an advisory committee or a work group and let them help you set local policy.
Follow Open Meeting requirements for public meetings, such as posting notice 72 hours prior to each coordination meeting and be prepared very well for the first meeting. This first meeting will set the tone and will gain the respect of the agencies you are coordinating with. Study the agency, its statutes and regulations so that you can catch them by surprise with questions whose answer or consequences they have not thought yet.
Be tough, but always very respectful. Following the meeting prepare for follow-ups, press releases and the like. Remember that coordination is a process. Victories come after long hours of work, research, meetings with agencies, discovery, and diligence. Perseverance is a virtue. If you prepare and realize victories, be small or large, you will succeed at this. Set your goals, work extremely hard to achieve them and watch how the coordination process produces miraculous results.
That is the reason why we need to change as individuals and be dedicated and ready to sacrifice ourselves for our Country following the example of our Founders. Our property, liberty, and life depend on us.
Remember to call the offices of American Stewards to assist you along the way.
Coordination worked to stop the Trans-Texas Corridor thanks to five small towns (one, Holland, TX, counted slightly over 1100 inhabitants in 2009) and their local districts who coordinated with the largest state agency in the nation: TX DOT.
Fremont County, WY, successfully used coordination with the US Forest service on the revision of the Shoshone National Forest.
Logan County, Kansas successfully used coordination to protect their right to control the Black Footed Ferret and to prevent the US Fish and Wildlife Service from introducing additional rodents in their area.
The Glen Lake Irrigation District (GLID) in Montana also successfully used coordination saving the districts hundreds of thousands of dollars they would have spent to comply to new regulations. US Forest service wanted to impose on GLID a permit, but desisted after three years, admitting they had no authority to require the permit or modify the district plan.
These above are just a few examples of more than 50 coordination strategies already under way. In stopping the Tran-Texas Corridor, coordination saved over 586,000 private acres in Texas from being condemned and paved over.
American Stewards of Liberty have done an excellent and patriotic job in protecting our unalienable rights endowed by our Creators among which the pursuit of happiness, and therefore of liberty and life. They are truly stewards of liberty. The next move is on us, who must not feel frustrated by our political climate, but empowered to change the course when the government threats our use of our property. And that can only be done by changing ourselves and by sacrificing our time for our Country and by supporting the organizations that empower us to do so.
American Stewards of Liberty at www.americanstewards.us
A Miracle that Changed the World. The 5,000 Year Leap, by Skousen
Principle or Expedient? Annual Address to the New York Bar Association, 21 Jan., 1921, p.18)
Second Essay Concerning Civil Government, Locke, pp 30-31
The Works of John Adams, by Charles Francis Adams, 1850-56, p.290