‘In 1970, a Senator from Wisconsin named Gaylord Nelson raised his voice and called on every American to take action on behalf of the environment,” read President Obama’s Earth Day proclamation last year. “In the four decades since, millions of Americans have heeded that call and joined together to protect the planet we share.”
Well, I’ve got news for our President. Millions of Americans who had never heard of Gaylord Nelson “took action on behalf of the environment,” decades before the good Senator “raised his voice.” More newsworthy still, most of these belonged to those insufferable rustics who “cling to guns and bibles.” To wit:
The Pittman-Robertson Act (1937) imposed an excise tax of 10 per cent on all hunting gear. Then the Dingell-Johnson act (1950) did the same for fishing gear. The Wallop-Breaux amendment (1984) extended the tax to the fuel for boats. All of this lucre goes to “protect the environment” in the form of buying and maintaining National Wildlife Refuges, along with state programs for buying and maintaining various forms of wildlife habitat.
For the last couple of decades hunters and fishermen have contributed over $1.5 billion per year towards Senator Gaylord Nelson’s lofty goal. To date, hunters and fisherpersons have shelled out over $20 billion “on behalf of the environment.” A study by the National Shooting Sports Foundation found that for every taxpayer dollar invested in wildlife conservation, hunters and fishermen contribute nine.
So please note: to "preserve nature," they don’t tax Birkenstock hiking boots and Ying-Yang pendants – but do tax my shotgun. They don’t tax Yoga manuals and Tofu tid-bits wrapped in recycled paper – but do tax my 30.06 deer rifle. They don’t tax binoculars or birding Field Guides with cutesy photos of the red-cockaded woodpecker and spotted Owl – but do tax the shotgun shells I blast at Mallards before arraying on my grill as Duck-K-Bobs (cooked rare and lovingly basted with plenty of butter, Cajun seasoning and teriyaki sauce).
Going further, they don’t tax Kayaks and rock climbing picks and ropes – but do tax my compound bow and rifle scope. They don’t tax the plastic water bottles on Mountain bikes (or the mountain bike itself, come to think of it) or the cutesy spandex shorts these yo-yos wear – but do tax my duck decoys and camo pants. They don’t tax Yanni and Enya CDs – but do tax the arrows I fling at Bambi before he sizzles on my grill as Bambi-burger (lovingly draped with thick bacon slices that dribble their appetizing fat into the meat while cooking. Then a chunk of cheddar cheese melted on top.)
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.