In How Much Does It Cost to Buy a Congressman I quoted some 2007 figures for political contributions by big defense contractors compared to the enormous returns they got in earmark funds. My purpose was to demonstrate with actual data something we all know intuitively but don’t like to admit – politics is all about the money. My point was that we in the off-road motorcycling community need an organized, national approach to fighting our public and private land battles, and that part of that approach must be financially supporting Congressmen and Senators who are on our side.
One such Congressman is Mike Simpson of Idaho’s 2nd District. Simpson is one of the authors of CIEDRA, the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act, a bill that tries to protect public access to public lands in the face of a caterwauling extremist environmentalism that shows no compunction about lying, falsifying data, and misrepresenting facts in order to steal our right to responsibly use our public spaces. Last year Congressman Simpson appeared before the Congressional Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests. Here’s a quote from his testimony (full transcript in PDF is here):
This bill is a carefully balanced compromise that seeks to protect the needs of the people who live and recreate in the Boulder-White Clouds while creating a substantive wilderness. It’s unique in that we are trying to be inclusive and recognize the needs of motorized users, the community surrounding it, the ranchers who live in the area, even creating new opportunities such as a first of its kind “primitive access wheelchair trail” into the wilderness. The old approach to wilderness of sacrificing the needs of individuals and specific user groups to the benefit of others will not work anymore. I began this process with the assumption that those who are affected by wilderness creation must be a part of the solution. In short, the needs of the people who live and recreate in the area are as important as the lines drawn on a map.
Simpson goes on to discuss how the endless expansion of Federal control over public lands is crippling existing communities by literally robbing them of the resources they need to survive. Of course, the survival of people and their livelihood is irrelevant to greenies. They’d willingly sacrifice whole populations of people to their cause. Oh, not themselves – their existence is, after all, critical to saving the environment. It’s just us regular people they would sacrifice, because they place no value on human life or livelihood.
This sort of crackpot, extremist pressure is rampant in Congress and in our Federal land policies. And we need to fight it in a cohesive, meaningful way. A responsible representative organization for off-road motorcyclists would have a plan for this. Such an organization might not be able to fund or conduct all the work itself, but it would provide the mechanisms and information and thought leadership that makes it possible. And it would find a way to meaningfully support, with dollars, Congressmen who stand up for our rights.
There are others like Mike Simpson in Congress. Do we know who they are? Are we giving them our support? Is the organization that promises to pursue, promote, and protect the future of motorcycling doing anything at all to help us help those who are fighting for our rights?