is a preview of where republicans, specifically those in control of Wisconsin but all of them in general, want to take the country. How do you codify environmental pillage into law?
the bill is an almost perfect example of the conception held my modern conservatives — which is to say, Republicans — of the way things are supposed to work, and an almost perfect example of the conservative idea of self-government as public oligarchy. And the last one is that it truly is an atrocious bill, being, at the same time, an environmental catastrophe, a staggering economic giveaway, and a deliberate and obvious offense against the idea of a political commonwealth.
It is the latter that is the most disturbing. They not only passed the bill, but eliminated any chance the people of Wisconsin had to protect themselves. For example, nobody denies that the massive open-pit mine that Gogebic Taconite plans to gouge out of northern Wisconsin is bound to do environmental damage. The Republicans who pushed for the bill admitted that openly.
And, with numerous groups already vowing to challenge the bill in court, Sen. Tom Tiffany also acknowledged that changes were made to the legislation to put the state on stronger legal ground to withstand such a challenge. “The bill reflects the reality of mining. There are going to be some impacts to the environment above the iron ore body,” said Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst. “If the law is challenged and ends up in court, the judge needs to know it was the Legislature’s intent to allow adverse (environmental) impacts. That way, a judge can’t find fault if the environment is impact.
The legislation was written in such a way as to defang the state’s Department Of Natural Resources, provide what is essentially a liability shield for the company, overturn over a century of environmental protection laws for the benefit of a single company, and it even contained a provision repealing a state legal law dating back to the 1880’s that prevented Wisconsin land from being controlled by foreign corporations or government, leading more than a few people to wonder exactly who’s going to get the 75 kajillion jobs that Walker and his pet legislature insist the mine will provide. In short, despite the fact that polls show substantial opposition to both the bill and the mine itself, and despite the fact that its sponsors admit the destruction it inevitably will cause, the Wisconsin legislature passed a law not only to permit the project to go forward, but to immunize the corporation against any destruction the project might wreak on the state and the people therein. They gave away public lands to this company while arranging that the political entity known as the state of Wisconsin, and therefore the people they ostensibly represent, would be unable to protect themselves from the damage the company will do. Self-government, and the political commonwealth that arises from it, is just something else gouged out of Wisconsin for a buck. This is astonishing. This is something that happens in China.
This is raw state capitalism at its most egregious, and it demonstrates clearly that the conservative movement has plans that go back in history beyond rolling back the Great Society or the New Deal. They are after every progressive advance made since the end of the 19th Century. This isn’t something that the conservative movement is trying to hide.