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Sorry Better Idaho, federal control hardly equals freedom

Sorry Better Idaho, federal control hardly equals freedom

Fred Birnbaum
June 8, 2015
Author Image
June 8, 2015

"War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength."

We know George Orwell's famous words that speak to the use of messaging for the purposes of gaining pure political power. The objective: Persuade the masses to believe things that are contradictory on their face.

So it is with Better Idaho and its executive director Derek Farr. For this group, the new slogan is this: Federal control is freedom.

[Tweet "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. -- Orwell"]

Better Idaho, a new left-wing group here in the Gem State, casts itself as a "communications shop for progressive ideas," and now leads an Orwellian effort to convince Idahoans that federal control of land guarantees access and use.

A couple days ago, Farr authored a blog entitled, "Idaho the freedom magnet," in response to a piece I wrote about our state's ability to grow its population thanks to liberty-oriented policies.

In his piece, Farr agreed with my thesis that many Americans see Idaho as a haven for freedom, but he suggested the freedom comes from the federal government's tight-fisted control and ownership of more than 60 percent of Idaho lands.

Farr then fired a shot across the bow. "Of course, some politicians don't appreciate those freedoms," he wrote. "They want our public lands to be sold, transferred, or privatized."

What Farr and his allies in the environmental community are doing is waging a disinformation campaign, attempting to convince federal government-wary Idahoans that the federal government is the benevolent purveyor of peace, freedom and access.

It's a classic case of Orwellian doublespeak, or using deceptive language to persuade listeners to accept two contradictory ideas. Many Idahoans feel the federal government represents the worst of politics: control and regulatory oppression.

Yet, here comes Better Idaho asking Gem State residents to accept the federal government as a the savior of lands, access and economic prosperity.

Orwell also wrote: "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible."

This is that.

The movement to transfer federally owned lands to the state of Idaho is about moving control of public lands from inside the Beltway to Idaho – local control of public lands vs. control from Washington, D.C.

Many people don't realize Idaho already owns about 2.5 million acres. Mixing the transfer of lands with selling or privatizing the lands is a red herring designed to obscure lousy federal land management practices. The federal government already restricts access and use on Idaho's lands and D.C.'s poor stewardship results in catastrophic fires that could have been prevented or their impacts significantly lessened.

Like Farr, I love Idaho's backcountry, but I prefer not to hike or hunt in sooty, charred forests.

Federal land transfer centers on guaranteeing access and use through better management of our resources here in Idaho. In the fact, the American Lands Council, a leader in making the case for the transfer of public lands, states as its organizing principle that we, "retain public ownership of public lands."

The progressive and environmental community are not about freedom, they are about maintaining federal control and oversight of many things in Idaho and seeing Idaho as an administrative unit of the federal government.

If Better Idaho were to offer its apparent motivations for maintaining the federal government's control of Gem State lands, it might go like this: Idahoans can't be trusted to manage their own affairs or handle their lands, so D.C. elites must do it for them.

Idaho can do better than Better Idaho's doublespeak.

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