man-made "improvements"


Never mind that in the U.S. it has become all the rage, since the supposed cradle of central planning, the U.S.S.R., crumbled. That raises suspicion about the sincerity of the opponents to begin with, but might be explained as a simple case of rivalry rearing its head. More worrisome is the realization that, in terms of man’s well being, failure may be what planning ultimately aims for.

In other words, planning on a grand scale looks to be designed to destroy the population for whom it claims to provide. Sort of like Temple Grandin adjusting the chute into the slaughterhouse to facilitate the cattle’s transit with no fuss and no muss.

What’s prompting these dark ruminations?

The Georgia Coastal Management Program, which had been rumored, has finally been found, if not in plain sight, on the internet. Initially promulgated in 1997,

there have been numerous changes in the Program specifically related to the enforceable policies that are the basis for Federal Consistency Review. The process for updating enforceable policies of a coastal management program is prescribed by NOAA and involves the notification of new or modified policies to federal agencies and other affected parties.

The mention of NOAA, the people who warn us about hurricanes, makes it sound innocuous, but “Federal Consistency” should give pause. Because, as we find under the heading “Uses Subject to Management,” subjugation is what this whole agenda is about. Subjugation to what, one might ask? Then an old nemesis pops up, the “national interest.”

“National interest” is, of course, the precursor of the “national security” craze and its partner “national defense.” Which, again, sounds innocent enough, as long as the nation is just a catch-all designation for all the people living in these United States. But that’s not what prompts comedian Stephen Colbert’s sardonic reference to his viewers as “nation.” No, the nation, whose interests and security concerns prompt spoofing is not all of us together. Rather, it’s the designation for a secular sovereign, aka the rule of law, which gets invoked whenever people are not doing what they should.

Which is really perverse, when one considers that the law as regards individuals is supposed to be about preventing wrong, not making them do what’s right. If people are to be ordered around, they’re to be compensated with pay. Who knows when public servants’ inability to understand that began, but it was obviously in full flower by 1997 and informed Georgia’s plan.

Chapter 6 makes is plain.

As lead agency for the Georgia Coastal Management Program, the Coastal Resources Division recognizes that there is considerable national interest in the effective management, beneficial use, protection, and development of the coastal area in Georgia, and in all coastal states.

Note that there is no mention of preservation or even conservation.

The following concerns are considered by the State of Georgia to be of such long range, comprehensive importance as to be in the national interest: (1) National Defense; (2) Energy Production and Transmission; (3) Transportation, Ports and Navigation; and (4) Coastal Resources (significant fish/shellfish/crustacean species and habitats; threatened wildlife habitats; public recreation areas; freshwater aquifers; historic, cultural, and archeological sites; barrier islands; and wetlands).

Wetlands, the very essence of the coast, come at the very end, a mere after-thought. One can fairly conclude, I think, that the Coast Guard, a military organization, being in charge is not a happenstance.

Consideration of national interest in program implementation is achieved by the review, certification and permitting process conducted by the Coastal Resources Division.

In other words, the object of the permitting process is not to preserve and sustain the natural resource base, but to promote the national interest, however and by whomever it happens to be currently defined. The opponents of “big government” have reason to be concerned, but they don’t seem to understand that their fearful posture and clamour for national defense is what prompts this essentially useless expansion of the federal role. Useless, because nothing is actually accomplished by having bureaucrats certify that an imposition of man-made structures on our rivers and wetlands is in the national interest. If the national interest is to be served, permits have to be issued and people have to be harassed until they apply.

What we’ve got here is a perfect example of form taking precedence over function. The permitting agency doesn’t care about the cumulative effect of man-made “improvements” (which can, conveniently, be taxed by local authorities), as long as permits, the evidence of their importance, are issued. The health of the environment, including the people living in it, is not an issue. Indeed, the word “health” is not to be found in the entire chapter, not as a rationale for “management” nor to justify regulation.

Justice Anthony Kennedy asserts that permits must be issued, but his explanation that individual applicants have a right to get them falls short. Permits must be issued, once permitting agencies have been set up, because the permits are evidence of the agency’s function–like water flowing out of a faucet.

It is sometimes considered as evidence of Richard Nixon’s good intent that he supervised the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, in light of subsequent developments, one can reasonably conclude that the primary focus was on “protection,” as a response to his perception of threats coming from every direction, and the natural environment was just one more venue to which the protection of the national interest could be applied. In other words, the object wasn’t even to regulate or make regular, but just to exercise control — an attitude which obviously persists to this day, as can be seen in statements such as the following:

The national interest in wetlands is reflected throughout all of the policies, which provide strong protection against unwarranted dredging, filling or other alteration of coastal and freshwater wetlands.

“Unwarranted.” Now there’s a loophole we can drive an army through. Or could, if the military weren’t already exempt from any review. Which is why we have a host of former military installations remaining as pockets of contamination all over the country. The mess left behind by industrial enterprise actually pales in comparison. But, that’s another matter.

That a policy provides protection is, of course, a peculiar, albeit characteristic, notion that informs the thinking of idealists, people who believe that the idea or intent is all that matters, because function will somehow automatically follow what was meant. And indeed, in the company of well-intentioned people, that does sometimes happen. People do what others suggest to be agreeable and compliant.

But, some humans aren’t well-intentioned; some are predatory creatures, out to exploit not only the resources of nature, but their own kind. For them, an amorphous concept such as the “national interest” suits their purpose to a ‘t’. It lets them wreck havoc with impunity; all under the umbrella of the rule of law. After all if a man’s livelihood, or even his whole community, is destroyed in the national interest, that’s just too bad. As long as due process has been followed, the miscreants get off.

So, when you come to think of it, unintended consequences, like collateral damage, aren’t really a happenstance. There’s always a plan. The problem lies not in the stars, but in our priorities or lack of same.


Image: Salt Marsh via (public domain)

Monica Smith

Monica Smith writes Hannah's Blog. Born in Germany, she came to the United States as a child, living first in California, then after an interval in Chile, in New York. Married to a retired professor at the University of Florida, where she lived for 17 years, she moved to St. Simons Island, Georgia, in 1993 and now divides her time between Georgia and New Hampshire. (New Hampshire, she says, is always interesting during a presidential election.) She and her husband have three children and five grandchildren. Ms. Smith says she "learned long ago that I am not a good team player when I got hired at the Library of Congress, fresh out of college with a degree in political science and proficiency in four foreign languages, to 'edit' library cards and informed my supervisor that if she was going to insist I punch the clock exactly on time, my productivity was going to fall from being the highest to being the same as everyone else's. The supervisor opted to assign me to another building where there was no time-clock. After I had the first of our three children, I decided a paycheck wasn't worth the hassle."