Down East National Heritage Initiative: Serfdom Beckons


Jon Reisman

The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.”- Ronald Reagan

The Sunrise County Economic Council recently celebrated their construction of a federal funding spigot that will pour a continuous stream of planning dollars into Washington and Hancock Counties to fund “sustainable development” (also known as Agenda 21) and “protect and conserve” “heritage” natural and cultural resources such as blueberries, fisheries (excluding aquaculture and the whale threatening lobster industry), Passamaquoddy Tribal sovereignty, Machias Bay revolution naval battles (but definitely not the 2nd Amendment, a consequence of British efforts to confiscate guns from insurrectionists now being revived by President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and William Francis “Beto” O’Rourke).

The Federal dollars will succor the planning community, support climate alarmism and assure that Washington County will be neither prosperous nor independent. It is not surprising that Senator King, representing the Democrats and the environmental left, was the lead sponsor. It is disappointing that Senator Collins was a co-sponsor. She knows enough not to offer similar legislation for her native Aroostook (potatoes, forestry, Micmac Tribal Sovereignty, Franco heritage and more), but her climate alarmism and progressive paternalism (modelled after Teddy Roosevelt) carried the day. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree saw another opportunity to strengthen the environmental left, so of course they hopped on board.

The Downeast Heritage Initiative is wrapped in declarations that it will respect private property and local control, but it is about as convincing as President Biden declaring that banning assault weapons and “high capacity” (more than 10 rounds) magazines is not about confiscating guns. The Initiative will permanently and lavishly fund a leftist planning community that has repeatedly demonstrated a hostility to capitalism, private property and economic and individual freedom. The hallmark of socialist and communist (dysfunctional) economies has always been their fanciful and fictitious “5 year plans”, which usually resulted in poverty, famine and repression (see the Soviet Union, Venezuela and Cuba).

I have little doubt that the environmental left will seize on the “Heritage” designation as a tool to attack aquaculture as a threat to “wild” fisheries and agriculture (unsustainable water use, ecological disruption and risk from chemicals and genetically modified organisms, violation of the Precautionary Principle and whatever else they can think of). That is exactly what they tried with the endangered species Atlantic salmon listing, with some success.
The climate alarmists (thank you for $6/gallon gas by Labor Day and $6/gallon heating oil next winter) have established (through “planning” as opposed to recorded legislative votes and accountability) a goal of 30% of Maine and the United States as public (as opposed to private property, an essential feature of capitalism) in order to save the planet (It won’t but that’s irrelevant to the virtue signaling and bent on destroying freedom environmental left). Maine’s previous goal of 10% public land (established under then Governor King in the 1990’s) resulted in 30% of Washington County in public ownership and control. With land much cheaper in Northern and Eastern Maine than Southern Maine, most of the climate alarmist acquisitions will be in the rural second Congressional District. Washington County will be majority publicly owned, and private property, capitalism, freedom and prosperity will be permanently hobbled, assuring dependence and serfdom. That is the “Heritage” the Downeast Heritage Initiative will grant us.

Effective September 1 2022, Jon Reisman is retiring from the University of Maine at Machias after 38 years.  Mr. Reisman’s views are his own and he welcomes comments as letters to the editor here, or to him directly via email at [email protected].

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