If one were to attempt establishing a birth date for the modern environmental movement, evidence clearly points to the early and mid 1960's. Almost overnight we went from the long-held premise the world and its resources were created for benefit of man and private ownership of resources was best to insure resource conservation and renewal, to accepting the dogma that resources of and by themselves have some mystic value and only collective control of resources under government can adequately protect them.
Another event of world significance occurred as the modern environmental movement was being formed. That event was collapse of the Bretton Woods agreement. The synergism of these two events has had greater impact on the constitutionally protected rights of Americans than any other two events in the nation's history. Under the guise of protecting endangered species, wild rivers, old growth timber, clean water, clean air, and a host of other frauds: property, wealth, and personal freedom is being confiscated by government at an ever accelerating rate.
The Bretton Woods agreement emerged from a meeting of allied nations of WWII as the war was concluding. The meeting, held in Bretton Woods, NJ, in 1944, was prompted by the urgent need for a stable world foreign exchange system to deal with postwar rebuilding. The world's foreign exchange system had been experiencing instability, sometimes bordering on chaos, since the breakdown of the world gold standard at the onset of WWI. That instability had been a major contributor to a worldwide depression and a second World War. The US was so impacted by collapse of the gold standard and the ensuing depression of the 1930's that in 1933 President Franklin Roosevelt invoked the War Powers Act and by executive order confiscated gold held by American citizens. This gold was used to back the foreign exchange capabilities of the US in world trade.
Prior to 1933, a US citizen held gold and gold-denominated currency and bonds as primary forms of money. Currency and bonds were freely convertible to gold upon demand. After 1933, if a US citizen was caught with a gold coin, he was subject to a $10,000 fine and/or 10 years in prison. Gold-backed debt instruments of the US were converted to non-gold backed debt instruments.
This posed a major dilemma for holders of US treasury bills, bonds and notes. The question became if treasury debt instruments are not convertible to gold, what are they convertible to? The federal reserve notes they would have to be redeemed for were again nothing but lower denominational debt instruments. Where was the real collateral value behind US debt? The standard answer was--the natural resources and all other assets of the US provided collateral value backing treasury debt.
Bondholders were assured there was far more oil, gas, gold, silver, iron, copper, timber, and other resource values in federal lands of the Western US and Alaska than there was debt. Bondholders were, if anything, over collateralized. Besides, they were assured: because the debt was internalized, meaning only US citizens could own US debt, we owed the debt to ourselves. The new treasury debt offerings, even though not backed by or convertible to gold, were adequately if not abundantly secured.
Under the Bretton Woods agreement the US dollar, convertible in foreign exchange for gold, became the world's key currency. Foreign holders of US dollars could demand gold convertibility and it would be honored. It remained illegal for US citizens to hold gold. The Bretton Woods agreement held together for 20 years but by the early 1960's signs of disintegration of the arrangement became apparent. As the US continued to borrow money on its assets and to issue debt currency and other dollar-denominated debt instruments, foreign holders of dollars became uneasy as to the convertibility of their holdings to gold. France's Charles de Gaul was the first to sound the alarm demanding that France's dollar holding be exchanged for US gold.
This uncertainty was aggravated by excessive borrowing brought on by US involvement in the Vietnam War and huge domestic spending to support the "great society" programs of the Johnson administration. The selling of US debt to foreign interests (externalizing the debt) was necessary to support these efforts. There was insufficient lending capacity domestically to support this massive increase in spending.
When it became apparent to foreign holders of dollars and dollar-denominated US debt instruments that the US may not be able to redeem these holdings in gold, foreign cashing of dollars for gold increased.
When Richard Nixon took office in 1968 the problem of convertibility was at crisis stage and the Bretton Woods agreement was rapidly falling into disarray. On Aug 15, 1971 Nixon sounded the death bell for the Bretton Woods agreement by closing the "gold window."
Alarm quickly spread among foreign holders of US debt. They asked the obvious question. If US debt was not convertible to gold, what was its value? What collateralized US debt? In an effort to stave off a world financial crisis, natural resources and other assets were pledged as collateral for foreign held debt. This, in effect, left domestic holders of US debt unsecured. Their collateral base shifted to secure foreign held debt and stave off a massive liquidation of US debt instruments by foreign debt holders
This action, in turn, raised further questions by foreign debt holders. If the natural resources of the US were collateral for foreign held debt, why were domestic mining companies, oil companies, and timber companies continuing to develop that same resource base? This question had been anticipated during the previous decade and had manifested itself in passage of the Wilderness Act by Congress in 1964. It led to creation of the Environmental Protection Agency by executive order in 1970. The official sanction for the environmental movement had occurred.
The environmental movement has accomplished two major goals since the 1960's. It has been effective in driving domestic mining, oil, and timber companies off the resource base and into hands of international entities which also represent holders of massive amounts of US debt obligation.
The environmental movement has also been very effective in forcing transfer of private land into hands of government. When one follows the money trail to find out where the environmental groups obtain means to finance litigation, legislation, and propaganda to achieve these ends, that trail leads to major corporations, banks, and foundations whose investment portfolios are top heavy in unsecured US debt obligations. Only a massive increase in the government's asset base can make that unsecured debt good.
In simple terms, the resource base of the US has been mortgaged by a profligate central government and the creditors are positioning themselves for foreclosure.
The environmental laws passed by Congress have facilitated this process. Since the breakdown of the Bretton Woods agreement, Congress, by following the environmental agenda, has reneged on its primary charge of protecting the citizen's private rights and has unwittingly engaged in plunder of the people's property.
HR 701 and its companion bill, S 25, represent the latest and most blatant activity of Congress to disenfranchise the American public from the cornerstone of civil rights, private property.
Ironically many members of Congress, who have loudly decried the president's use of executive orders to circumvent the will of Congress, voted for passage of CARA. When the executive branch of government gains control over a major portion of the productive capacity of a nation, it no longer needs approval of its citizens or their representatives to determine policy. It can rule by decree.
Congress, by its failure to exercise its constitutional charge to protect private property, has created an executive branch that no longer is dependent on approval of the people or their representatives to make policy. The executive branch has gained independence from the people and Congress with an independent asset base and ability to borrow against that asset base. Rule by presidential executive order has often rendered the role of Congress irrelevant. HR 701 and S 25 would complete the process by making possible conveyance of virtually all private property into the hands of government. This legislation amounts to a death wish by a Congress that long ago forgot the essential principles upon which a free society is based.