When I was much, much younger a well-known frozen food company used a very effective TV ad campaign for their brand that featured a jolly green giant. Ring a bell does it? Well, a different green giant now strides the landscapes of many states here in the American West and Southwest, especially in California. And as we in the small-scale mining community are rapidly finding out, this new green giant isn't so jolly.
The Color of Money
As many of you already know, I'm an ex-pat Californian (New Mexico has been my home for 24 years now) and I have been a small-scale gold miner for over 35 years. I've spoken out numerous times here in Bedrock Dreams about my home state's overall socio-economic decline and the advent of radical environmentalism there. As the once-golden state sinks further into what appears to be a cult-like, leftist miasma where the views of the few rule the many, the state's blue-collar foundations (mining included) have been swept aside or trodden underfoot. In 2012, for example, an unlikely collection of trade unions, small and medium-sized businesses, and even a few large energy companies banded together to create and pass Proposition 23, which would have suspended California's insanely strict anti-global warming laws (as if such a thing existed in the first place) in order to keep energy costs down, create jobs, and help support the state's failing economy. Despite the fact my home state had an unemployment rate of nearly 13% at the time, Proposition 23 was crushed and its proponents literally steamrollered by a well-organized and even better funded coalition of environmental groups that used over 30 million dollars in greenbacks from their supporters (including a number of Hollywood celebs, technology billionaires, and 60s-era trust fund babies) to ensure that their green agenda would not only remain intact, but grow larger and stronger than ever. As we all know, money talks and bullshit walks. So it wasn't their green moral imperative that carried the day for California's environmentalists...it was the color of their money.
(Green...the color of money.)
God Help Us
What does this have to do with you and I? Mining companies and the small-scale mining community have always been viewed with a jaundiced eye by the greenies. In their view, we're bundled all together into the same land-rapist category whether we're using excavators and rock trucks, suction dredges, highbankers, or even the venerable sluice box or dry washer. Just the words "mining" or "miner" will send most greens into apoplectic seizures and you can damn well bet you're going to feel the full force of their sense of moral superiority and angry outrage. Things weren't always this way in California though. The state was founded on the sacrifice and hard work of the early Californios, the gold-seeking Argonauts who came later, and the ranchers, growers, and small business owners who labored to make their golden dreams a reality. Then came the 1960s and my generation. All fueled by social rebellion, sex, dope, and the same tired old leftist and socialist platitudes that had installed luminaries like Josef Stalin in Soviet Russia, Kim Il Sung in North Korea, Chairman Mao in China, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Fidel Castro in Cuba, and Pol Pot in the killing fields of Cambodia. These are the true roots of the green movement, not California's redwoods or giant sequoias. Whether you realize it or not, progressivism is simply Newspeak for socialism and communism. But the green giant striding roughshod through California these days has a bankroll larger than any mafia Don and, to use the Good Book as source material, it wields a club that's far more effective at slaying Philistines than Sampson's jawbone of an ass. In other words, God help anyone who gets in the way or isn't a true "believer."
(Just like Sampson, the greenies are here to slay the Philistines.)
Many Silicon Valley corporations are large donors to the greenies in California. Chief among these is Hewlett-Packard (HP) whose aptly named Packard and Hewlett Foundations have been funneling shitloads of cash into ClimateWorks, a San Francisco-based green non-profit organization devoted to the junk science climate change cause. Depending on what source you're looking at, ClimateWorks and its sister organizations like Sea Change have received upwards of 800 million dollars from the HP Corporation. Yep, you heard right my friend. Nearly one billion dollars to these green crusaders who would have you believe the earth is on the eve of destruction, the poles are melting, and icebergs will soon be sailing into New York harbor. Mind you now, HP is just ONE of many multi-billion dollar corporations funding green causes in California (and elsewhere in the United States). Tom Steyer, one of the richest individual donors to the greenie movement in California, stated in 2014 that he would personally spend five million dollars to help defeat the aforementioned Proposition 23 and also pledged to "invest" as much as 100 million dollars to line the pockets of potential congressional candidates in order to influence federal environmental policy. See what's happening here? With that sort of money floating around, even the staunchest conservative politician in California (is there such a thing in the state?) is liable to have a sudden change of heart and turn "progressive." After all, we all know what drives most (if not all) politicians. Money, greed, and power. With all this stated, how can we as the small guy and gal miner hope to re-institute sanity to California's environmental laws, much less get a permit to suction dredge for gold again? Simply put, the odds are stacked against us. The green movement is not being funded by well-meaning but misguided souls wanting to save the whales or ensure the spotted owl has a safe home in the woods. The greenies aren't sitting in some dimly-lit room in Oakland's projects or the East Los Angeles barrio opening white envelopes with donation checks of five or ten dollars from little old ladies in Pasadena. No sir or madam. It's coming from rich elitists who may (or may not) practice what they preach when it comes to all things green. Moreover, who knows what their ultimate agendas are?
(Money, greed, and power...)
There's more to come in this little expose (ex-poes-ay) of mine, so stay tuned. You might just learn some things you wish you hadn't...
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org