Who is the patriot?

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of
a lifetime.
                                                                     - Adlai E. Stevenson

How do you define patriotism?  A simple answer might be love of and devotion to our country.  
But, is this enough?  I present the following moments in history to help you answer this
question.

Timothy McVeigh’s concept of love of country led him to blow up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal
Building in Oklahoma City.  168 men, women and children died in the explosion.  800 others
were seriously injured.

Abolitionist John Brown considered himself a staunch patriot. And believed all slaves by right
ought to be free.  He subsequently led a raid against a federal armory in order to get weapons
to arm the slaves.  He killed seven of the men that were defending the armory. One of whom
was a recently freed slave.  Brown and his men then carried out several more raids in the
South.  They killed five white slave owners during these raids.  Brown was subsequently
captured and hanged for treason.

A soldier deployed to Iraq was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.   He died defending
the rest of his team against attack by a large enemy force.  He was declared a true American
patriot.

A grieving mother was arrested for protesting the war that took her son’s life.  Despite her
beliefs about the war, she still considers herself a patriotic American.

Some people believe that protesting government policies is unpatriotic.  Yet, our founding
fathers believed that protest was the one way to maintain our democratic republic.  

The Yankees baseball club is the only MLB team to play God Bless America at each game
played in their stadium.  During this time, fans are forbidden to move about the stadium.  
According to Howard J. Rubenstein, spokes person for the club’s principle owner, the policy is
an expression of patriotism.

Arthur Eisenberg, of the American Civil Liberties Union, has a different view point.  He is
looking at filling legal action against the ball club.  Why?  He believes the club owner’s actions
violate the civil rights of Americans by forcing the owner’s view of political correctness upon
the fans.

Many years ago, I was a deputy sheriff in Arizona.  Our sheriff at the time decided the
American flag on our uniforms detracted from the overall appearance of our uniforms.  He
subsequently ordered deputies to remove the flag.  

One of the most vocal opponents of the sheriff’s policy was a deputy I’ll call Jim.  Jim stated
that he was a patriotic American.  As such, he felt removing the American flag from his
uniform was akin to burning the flag.

Two months later, Jim moved back to his hometown in Alabama.  He stated he could not
adjust to living in a state where Whites and Blacks were considered equal.  This concept just
went against the natural order of things he was taught as a boy.  

I learned a different concept of patriotism from my father.  He believed all men were created
equal and America was worth fighting for.  Yet anytime one of his sons discussed joining the
military, he actively tried to talk us out of joining.  

One day I asked him why he so apposed his sons serving in the military.  Especially since he
served in World War II. And he was awarded a Purple Heart.  His answer was quite simple.  He
would be the first to have us fight for our country.  But, his son’s were not state property to die
in somebody else’s war.  

He also felt since politicians start wars they should be the first ones sent to the front lines.  
Maybe then they would be more incline to negotiate peaceful solutions to global conflicts.

So who is the patriot?  Is it the man who takes up arms, or the one who takes up the plow?  
Are you a patriot because a few times a year you fly our flag and set off a few fireworks?  Or,
are you a patriot for defending the civil rights of others.  Are you a patriot because you support
our president without question?  Or, is questioning what government does the patriotic thing?  

I ask you to take a few moments to consider these questions as we approach the celebration
of our nation’s 231’st birthday.  Now ask yourself this question.  What makes me a patriot?


     Mining's fate in the hands of the ill-informed

I recently read one of those cliche “Mining companies are getting a free ride” articles. The
focus of this article was the $5.00 per acre fee mining companies pay to acquire thousands of
acres of public lands. For this $5.00 per acre investment, mining companies rake in billions of
dollars in profits. This pre-school level depiction of mining startup cost may fly with
environmentalist. But, it couldn't be further form the truth. It also reveals the author's lack of
knowledge of the real cost of setting up a successful mining venture.

So let's set the record straight. To start with, mining company profits generally reflect total
profits from all ventures undertaken by a company. One of the companies listed in the article
for instance made over $7 billion in profits in one year. The author implies that all this money
was made off public lands in the United States. The reality may be much different. This
particular company has mining ventures in a dozen countries, not just the United States. The
$7 billion in profits reflects profits generated off all those properties. But, the author of the
earlier article doesn't make that distinction.

There is also a huge gap between acquiring public land for a mining venture and generating
profit off that venture. One company spent three years and approximately $26 million setting
up a mining operation. Part of this money included county, state and federal fees and taxes.
Or, put another way, the company shelled out several thousand dollars per acre in startup
cost. This is a far cry from $5.00 per acre depicted in the other article.

Another company spent five years and $176 million dollars to acquire ten acres and setup a
working mine operation. This is approximately $17.5 million per acre in development cost.
This amount was also far more than the appraised value of the land. Several years later, the
mine closed without the company making as much as a penny of profit. Not only did the
company not make a profit, but the mine owners never recouped their startup cost.

These are the financial risks mining companies take just to open a mine. How many of you
would be willing to take this kind of risk? A mine also has to pay operating cost in order to
generate profit. One company for instance, paid out roughly $200 thousand per year to maintain
its fleet of small vehicles. The cost to maintain its fleet of heavy equipment was ten fold that
amount. The company also had federal, state and county taxes that had to be paid out yearly.
There were building maintenance costs and a $5 million dollar a year payroll that had to be
met as well.

Finally, there is one other cost mining companies pay. They have to set up a reclamation
program for the property when the mine closes. In short, they have to return the land as much
as possible to its original state. Such cost can easily exceed $5 million depending on the sizes
of the mining project.

So as you see, mining companies hardly get a free ride. They invest thousands if not millions
of dollars per acre setting up mining operation on barren land. This money is spent with no
guarantee the company will recoup any of its startup cost or turn a penny in profit. These are
the real costs per acre ill informed quasi environmentalists don't want you to know about.

Published 7/ 2007 in the Pahrump Valley Mirror
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