COVID-19 – “Killing Cowboys” Revisted

By now, everyone knows about the importance of “social distancing” when it comes to fighting disease transmission.   The recommendation to keep our distance and practice good sanitation is just as true for the flu bug and the common cold as it is for the recent coronavirus outbreak. But there is a case to be made that too much sanitizing, and staying isolated in a home for months on end, is actually detrimental to a person’s immune system.

That said,  back in 2012, I wrote an article entitled, “Killing Cowyboys: The Plan to REWILD the West”. It proved to be my most popular and widely circulated rant. The realities that I addressed in that article eight years ago are even more relevant today. Let me explain.

Relatively dispersed populations that are spread out across America’s heartland may actually prove to be much safer havens during times of global pandemic or other upheaval.  In spite of all their conveniences and social opportunities, an urban environment is probably the last place you want to be during a national emergency such as a terrorist attack or a global pandemic. Not only do rural folks cherish their independence, but in contrast to their urban dwelling cousins, many rural folk have practiced aspects of social distancing their entire lives. They just didn’t call it that when they were out mowing hay, patching fences, hunting deer, or fishing a river.

Cowboys, loggers, and farmers make their living directly from the land. These folks don’t spend much time in a crowded mall. People who like to hunt and fish find that a rural lifestyle provides them with more opportunities to engage in the activities they love. Some people are just not cut out for city life and will do anything they can to avoid huge crowds. Such folks prefer the limited choices and extra elbow room found in the local country store to the nearly unlimited choices available in a crowded urban superstore. Small towns allow neighbors to get to know each other, while millions of strangers continuously circle the subways and clog the highways of the world’s biggest cities. 

No surprise then, that we have seen increasing hostility exhibited by rural folks towards “outsiders” who are fleeing urban areas in order to escape exposure to COVID-19.  For some reason, city folks have this idea that country folk are quaint but unsophisticated, capable but ignorant, slow moving, backward, no-nothing bumpkins. They should all just make way for their sophisticated city dwelling superiors.  Filled with self importance, as if the world should revolve around them, “city slickers” are insulted by signs popping up in small towns saying “Don’t stop here, Keep driving”…. or “Don’t Californicate Idaho!” At first, such messages may sound cruel, especially during a time of national emergency when government leaders are calling for unity, but if you really think about it, the sentiment makes perfect sense.   

For half a century or more, big city liberals have dominated the political landscape. City dwellers have historically supported laws and elected leaders that have caused great harm to rural citizens.  Concern over the Spotted Owl population was a tool manipulated by big city environmentalists who used the non-endangered bird to fund raise and enrich themselves while shutting down the logging industry. Likewise, non-endangered gray wolves are admired and loved by vast numbers of latte sipping urbanites who live untouched by the impacts of the wolf proliferation agenda they so keenly endorse. Meanwhile, the stark realities of rural life now include grieving over an ever increasing number of livestock carcasses while keeping a much closer eye on your pets and children.  

According to the last U.S. census, America’s least populous counties are continuing to lose population while our most crowded counties are gaining population.  Over in Europe, the trend towards urbanization is even more pronounced. Once productive fields are being left fallow, and pastures are reverting to forest as young people flock to easier, albeit, more lucrative careers in the cities.

On rare occassions, land abandonment and the resulting REWILDING of entire regions has been caused by something other than political policies or economic conditions. After the Chernobyl disaster, large predators were quick to take over formerly settled landscapes. The region around Chernobyl saw its wolf population grow tenfold after the nuclear melt down forced the human population to abandon their homes and businesses. But even a nuclear meltdown is nothing compared to the devastating effects of the global movement towards urbanization.

Map showing the “hotspots” of land abandonment in Europe. These hotspots identify former agriculture land projected to become REWILDED by the year 2030 (Verburg and Overmars 2009).   Hotspots are expressed as a percentage of each 100-km2 grid cell. Countries in grey have not contributed land abandonment data.

Just as we are witnessing in Europe, the globalization of American markets, the massive importation and reliance on cheap foreign goods, is directly linked to land abandonment.   Viewed as a positive opportunity by environmental elites and REWILDING advocates, not only does land abandonment provide more room for “wild nature”, it allows governments to increase their power by concentrating the human population into less space and more easily controllable zones.

Obviously, a nuclear meltdown is an extraordinary event that results in land abandonment. But other mechanisms can be just as deadly. Let’s look at a few examples.  Massive corporate agri-businesses and inexpensive imports are displacing small family farmers.  Cheap Brazilian and African grown beef is funneling through America’s meat packing industry and onto grocery store shelves.  Merely packaged or processed in the states, these foreign meat products are deviously marked “Product of USA” in order to fool consumers. 

Before a North Face Denali fleece jacket lands on the racks at your local gear shop, it travels through 23 factories in seven different countries and three states in the U.S.   The thread comes from Honduras; brass eyelets from Colombia; polyester yarn from North Carolina; nylon yarn, zipper pulls, and cord from China; and polyester fabric and nylon shell fabric from Taiwan. All these materials are flown to El Salvador, where Brooklyn Manufacturing’s 117 machine operators turn them into the iconic fleece jackets.

The fact is, the market for American grown wool continues to shrink thanks to an increased demand for imported synthetics. The few remaining American manufacturers who still rely on natural fibers can readily import cheap wool from at least ten other countries, so why should they buy “American”? Obviously the future doesn’t look very bright for the U.S. sheep industry or the American cattle rancher if consumers don’t start making different choices.  But the truth is, the average city dweller doesn’t really care where their food or other products come from, as long as the store shelves are well stocked.

But it’s not just farmers and local manufactures and businesses that are being threatened by globalization.  America’s reliance on Chinese manufactured pharmaceuticals is now viewed as an existential threat to our national security. Americans are right to be concerned about where our medicines are made, but we should be just as concerned that imported Chinese and Japanese steel is priced cheaper than American steel.  We should be just as concerned that imported Canadian timber feeds our demand for wood products while cumbersome and often misguided regulations hamper the same industries here at home. 

We ignore the implications of globalism at our own peril.   Last year, over 57% of all furniture bought in the U.S. was imported from another country.  In 2017, American consumers bought $270 billion worth of Chinese electronics.  The list goes on and on.  But these numbers don’t just reflect economic trends, they indicate a potentially lethal vulnerability.  Dependence on other countries to supply us with so many products just because they can produce them more cheaply, is a threat to our national security. And that’s not a good thing for the city dweller in Seattle or the redneck living five or ten miles outside of the nearest town.

Hopefully concern over the COVID-19 outbreak has alerted Americans that “BUYING AMERICAN” and supporting local business is the right and necessary thing to do, even if the price tag is a bit higher.  Hopefully, renewed calls for “COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELLING” won’t continue falling on deaf ears.  It’s time for American’s to make wiser choices about how and where to spend their money.  We do have a choice, and our choices have consequences.

One thought on “COVID-19 – “Killing Cowboys” Revisted

  1. Hopefully concern over the COVID-19 outbreak has alerted Americans that “BUYING AMERICAN” and supporting local business is the right and necessary thing to do, even if the price tag is a bit higher. Hopefully, renewed calls for “COUNTRY OF ORIGIN LABELLING” won’t continue falling on deaf ears. It’s time for American’s to make wiser choices about how and where to spend their money. We do have a choice, and our choices have consequences.

    I’ve been saying–and buying American (at higher prices many times)–for years. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been supportive of President Trump.

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