The Environmentalists' Police and Welfare States
The story about the abuses by Fauquier County against Martha Boneta, the farmer, of pitchfork protest fame, just gets creepier and creepier. It also exposes how environmental groups combine unlawfully with government to impose dangerous anti-property rights agendas.
Martha, as you may have already read, was fined by Fauquier County, Virginia for selling her farm produce and holding a birthday party for eight little girls. The Fauquier County board of zoning appeals ruled for the county (surprise!), claiming that even though Martha had a business license, she should have gotten other more restrictive permits, including one that requires farmers to divert water from their crops and livestock to their driveways during hot, dry spells, or else face fines.
Fauquier County also recently passed a winery ordinance that blatantly violates property rights and civil liberties. It gives Fauquier zoning administrator Kimberley Johnson discretion to create penalties and to prohibit private personal gatherings.
A local but powerful group called the Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC) wholeheartedly backed that illegal, anti-liberty winery ordinance. The PEC seems to have an unusual if not disturbing amount of influence over Fauquier County officials.
On the board of the PEC sit some powerful people, including one former IRS commissioner perhaps known best for the suspicious audits of Bill Clinton's detractors during her reign. The people audited included Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Juanita Broaddrick, former travel office chief Billy Dale, and dozens of conservative organizations such as the National Review, the American Spectator, the Christian Coalition, Citizens for a Sound Economy, Oliver North's Freedom Alliance, the Heritage Foundation, the National Rifle Association, the Western Journalism Center, the National Center for Public Policy Research, Fortress America, and Citizens Against Government Waste.
The link between the PEC and Martha the farmer is that Martha bought her farm under an agricultural easement from the PEC. The PEC subsequently made her life a living hell, dictating where fences must be constructed and telling her she could not bushhog her pastures to cut and sell hay. These and other after-purchase bullying tactics were inconsistent with the terms of the easement under which Martha bought the property.
The PEC's agricultural easement authorizes the organization to conduct periodic inspections to ensure that the farm is being used for agricultural purposes. Martha filmed one of those "inspections" with the obvious consent of the PEC's inspector (don't let the inspector's denial at the end of the video fool you).
In the video, the PEC inspector demands inspection of Martha's closet. Watch the video. The inspector's intrusiveness and evasiveness are disturbing. It resembles too closely an authoritarian search imposed on someone suspected of harboring runaways seeking asylum, not to determine that a farm is but a farm for purposes of an easement.
And so we see the mindset of environmentalists. As previously reported, the environmental movement is grounded in Marxist philosophy:
French author André Gorz ... published Ecology as Politics in 1975. In it, Gorz does not mask the anti-capitalist, Marxist agenda of the green movement. He writes, "This is why the ecological struggle is, in its present form, an indispensable dimension of the struggle against capitalism."
It's very important to understand this: for the greens, there is no distinction between their movement and the anti-free-market movement.
Ecology as Politics gets even more interesting. Here are selected quotes: "All production is destruction." "The earth is not naturally hospitable to humankind." "The struggle for different technologies is essential for a different society."
The statist-environmentalist takeover of American farms is now evident. It starts with vast subsidies that certain farms receive from the government. The Environmental Working Group website identifies this farmer welfare, often with large farms receiving the most welfare.
The takeover is also seen with agricultural and conservation easements, where large tax breaks go to groups such as the PEC, the people who donate land into such easements, and even the people who buy property subject to such easements. These and other government subsidies come with conditions that both slowly and quickly destroy private property rights. Government squeezes out private interests in property using bribery, corruption of the law, and then police state tactics.
That such tactics are targeted at farms and farming comes with a host of other issues, including government control over our food sources. For a terrific description of these issues, I recommend Joel Salatin's Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal: War Stories From the Local Food Front. If ObamaCare's control over our health care system is dangerous, just think what government can do by controlling our food sources.
The Heritage Foundation has an excellent free-market answer to the statist environmentalists: a booklet entitled Environmental Conservation: Eight Principles of the American Conservation Ethic. The booklet addresses a number of topics that are antithetical to the statist environmentalist movement and is a valuable read.
In the case of Martha the farmer, she may have private causes of action against the environmentalists for trespasses or torts for interfering with her business, privacy, and property rights.
The bigger issue, though, is to what degree Fauquier County participated as an unlawful combination with the environmentalist statists to violate the law. Martha the farmer and the Fauquier wineries seem to have been caught in the intersection of the environmental statist movement and government police power. It's corruption, and it's lawbreaking by the government.
Martha's lawyers have filed an appeal to wind slowly through the court system. Time and time again, we see lawsuits against government fail because the system is rigged to protect government lawbreaking. Eyes across America will be on whether Martha's case helps expose the lawbreaking and corrupt practices by Fauquier County government. Her cause is bigger than just her lawsuit.