Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Delta Smelt - A Tax on Water and Food

The Delta Smelt is a little pink fish listed as "threatened" under the Federal Endangered Species Act. In a controversial strategy to keep the smelt's numbers from diminishing further, federal officials ordered dramatic cutbacks in the pumping of water from the Sacramento Delta to central and Southern California. Pumping less means significant increases in water rates for millions of Californians; hence the reason this can be referred to as the Delta Smelt Tax.

However, the impact goes well beyond California. By far the heaviest price for the Federal Government environmental wacho policies that put this little fish before people is being paid by the farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, the fruit and vegetable basket of the United States. As vast quantities of water are withheld from irrigation and allowed to flow directly into the ocean, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland have been allowed to go barren in one of America's agricultural heartlands. Some farmers have seen the allocation of water drop by 90%. This is causing a Great Depression in the San Joaquin Valley similar to the one described in the book, The Grapes of Wrath, as more than 30% of the people are unemployed. And, of course, this action will drive up the cost of food in the United States; hence the tax on all of us.

To make matters worse, there is no proof that turning off the water has helped the fish. State tracking finds the Delta Smelt still on the edge of extinction. There are just very few Delta Smelt out there, which has occurred because of toxic run off from urban areas and non-native species that compete with smelt for food. The fact is that if we want to protect any species from extinction, the best way to do so, is to declare the Delta Smelt and perhaps other species as food and raise them in captivity. The Chinese have a saying, "If the back sees the sun, it is food". Since the Chinese eat virtually everything accept maybe panda bears, all species are therefore food so there must not be any "Endangered Species Act" in China and their animals seem to be doing OK. Matter of fact, smelt when breaded and fried in olive oil, makes a great finger food snack. When I was a child, we had smelt every Christmas as a little table treat. So, the solution to this problem is that rather than declaring the Delta Smelt as "endangered", the federal government should just encourage domestication and food production. Obviously, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of cows, chickens and pigs, is there?

Farmers in California are suing the Federal Government to stop this lunacy. Apparently, there is nothing in the Constitution, you know that little document that is supposed to be the law of the land that allows the Federal Government to ruin their livelihoods and lives. Let us hope that the court sides with the farmers to end the Delta Smelt Tax that is impacting all Americans. We have to take back our country.

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