Head to Head: Business owner thinks he’s above the law

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You’re either a maker or a taker in this world. Make no mistake: Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy is a taker.

Rather than pay for the use of federal land like every other law-abiding rancher in the state, Bundy decided 21 years ago that he was above the law. Although he continued to use federal land for his cattle herds, he stopped paying grazing fees.

Today, Bundy owes more than $1.2 million to the American people. For the past two decades, this rich businessman fought against the federal government in court and lost every single time.

Bundy has said he believes, incorrectly, that the land he uses belongs to the state of Nevada. The federal government owns 84.5 percent of the land in the state. It has since 1848 with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War. Even Nevada’s own state constitution recognizes the right of federal property within its borders.

Rather than pay the fees, this business owner mooched off the American people for his own profit. He has used public lands for his own gain, at the cost of taxpayers like you and me.

Bundy appealed to his anti-government militia buddies. He rallied together a group to prevent the Bureau of Land Management from confiscating his cattle in a tense standoff.

We’re not talking about brave freedom fighters standing up to a tyrannical government here. One of Bundy’s supporters, an ex-sheriff named Richard Mack, told Fox News that if hostilities broke out, the militias planned on using the women and children in the crowd as human shields.

There’s a lot to be angry about when it comes to the federal government, but not everyone who breaks the law is automatically fighting for someone’s rights. Sometimes they’re just straight-up criminals.

For his part, Bundy said he doesn’t recognize the sovereignty of the U.S. government. I’m pretty sure he recognizes federal highways that let him travel freely or the U.S. armed forces which keep him safe.

How much money did he cost us when he created a standoff situation? His supporters even shut down northbound lanes of Interstate 15 near the ranch during their protest. How much money did they cost people who were just trying to travel?

It’s irresponsible to blindly throw support behind anyone, let alone a rich business owner who has a history of avoiding payments. Pretty soon, the news about this moocher will die off. His militia pals will have to go home, assuming any of them have jobs to go back to.

Bundy’s supporters are few and far between. Even the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association condemned Bundy’s actions.

“Nevada Cattlemen’s Association does not condone actions that are outside the law in which citizens take the law into their own hands,” read the group’s written statement.

Conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck spoke up against some of Bundy’s supporters on his show.

“They don’t care what the facts are, they just want a fight,” Beck said.

The facts are all that matter. The BLM withdrew because they know they can wait it out. Bundy will be dragged to court again and again if necessary, until finally he won’t be able to afford a lawyer. Instead of paying grazing fees, Bundy might ultimately lose his ranch instead.

Bundy has skirted the law and spent the better part of 20 years portraying himself as a victim. He’s not a victim, he’s a taker.

Jon Parton is a junior in pre-journalism. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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