Perspective
Political Correctness Run Amok

 

by Audrey T. Hingley, Contributing Writer


Audrey T. Hingley

We live in a PC (politically correct) country run amok. One example: Cape Hatteras, N.C. Long a favorite vacation spot for Virginians, Hatteras is facing a PC controversy of epic proportions.

In 1953 when Congress created The Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area, land owned by local residents was transferred by the federal government to create the area. The feds promised that traditional access would always be honored. The area was designated as a public recreation area, although Pea Island, boasting 365 species of birds, is managed as a refuge. Locals cite a long tradition of caring for natural resources by those who prize the area’s natural landscape and recreational opportunities.

Hatteras has no boardwalks or numerous large parking lots. Beaches are vast and protected by sand dunes. To reach many beaches, driving is necessary, especially for those who can’t trek long distances in thick sand, and many prime shore-fishing spots are accessible only via beach driving.

In 1972, then-President Richard Nixon issued an executive order requiring public lands allowing off-road vehicle (ORV) use to develop a plan to regulate and assess ORV environmental impacts. Out of compliance for years, Hatteras had developed an interim plan when several environmental groups filed a lawsuit in federal court to stop ORV use until a final plan was approved. The resulting 2008 “consent decree” now restricts pedestrian and ORV beach access.

At the controversy’s center is an endangered shorebird called the piping plover, not native to North Carolina and seen there infrequently. One blogger writes that in 2009, there were only six nesting pairs and four chicks in the entire park area. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service estimates 1,398 breeding pairs in the Atlantic Coast population.

Animal-lovers may be shocked to learn there’s an ongoing federal program to trap and kill predator mammals, with 238 raccoons, otters, foxes, etc., destroyed in 2008 alone because they’re natural predators to shorebirds. One county commissioner wrote of this irony, “Is the life of one species more precious than another? Perhaps their [environmentalists] silence reveals the pragmatic truth that the greatest threat to birds and turtles is from natural predators, not humans.” A blogger opined, “Piping plovers could be falling victim to any number of environmental concerns, but we’ll never know because all the blame is being directed at trucks driving on the beach.”

Weekly reports on the park service website list which access ramps/beaches are closed; since species migrate, there’s no way to predict exactly which areas will be off-limits.

On a recent Hatteras trip we walked to a beach near our rented cottage, but some say there are homeowners unable to access the beach in front of their own property since the ruling. Critics say environmentalists have turned a blind eye to the needs of Hatteras’ people and its number-one industry: tourism. If people can’t access the beach, why come?

Environmental groups’ bias shows as much as that of the pro-ORV people. In one Audubon magazine article, the writer describes “letting off-road vehicles run amok, imperiling birds and people” and claims that “ORV drivers are never silent, and the park service is terrified of them.” Those battling the closures say it’s a David-and-Goliath struggle of the people vs. powerful environmentalists.

The result: People who actually live on Hatteras are battling not only the recession but this new threat to their existence. Handmade protest signs are scattered around the island. North Carolina’s two senators have co-sponsored legislation to allow the park service to continue developing long-term plans to manage access, while a grassroots group dedicated to preserving America’s beaches has been formed (www.PreserveBeachAccess.org).

I love the outdoors and animals. Watch­ing the devastating effects on sea life, wildlife and coastal economies from the Louisiana oil spill illustrates the fragile nature of balancing man’s needs with natural habitats. But the Hatteras issue is PC run amok, especially unfortunate in a time of economic recession.

Another target of PC-minded people are “big evil corporations.” But most American corporations are actually small or medium-sized businesses created in corporate form because of legal or tax advantages. Buried in the more-than-2,000 pages of the recently passed federal health care bill are new 1099 regulations outraging many small-business people.

Currently, 1099s are issued to report $600 or more per year paid to independent contractors. The new law, effective January 2012, will require businesses to prepare 1099s and send them to companies where any goods or services were purchased totaling $600 or more per year. Big Daddy Government is trying to find every last dime to pay for its bulging programs and horrific debt.

Businesses purchase supplies from multiple vendors ... imagine how many 1099s even a small business will have to prepare! The government will examine the 1099s and compare them to each supplier’s income in search of “unreported income.” Imagine the billions in citizen time/money to implement and enforce this law! Firms will also have to obtain the tax identification numbers for all businesses where 1099s are sent.

Small businesses like my husband’s will be particularly hard hit as another layer of bureaucracy is forced upon us. Many mom-and-pop operations still utilize simple paper accounting; as one article observed, “Businesses with receipts crammed in file folders will have the worst time.” The costs of this extra paperwork will surely be passed on to consumers via higher prices. 

One sole proprietor told me he charges all his expenses to a credit card, paying off the card monthly. He said, “Now I’m supposed to take a year’s worth of bills, track down how much was paid to each company and send them all 1099s?”

 Small businesses provide the bulk of the nation’s jobs — this is but another way to stifle entrepreneurship in a recession. Thankfully, groups like the National Federation of Independent Businesses are already gearing up to fight this inane law.

We live in a PC-world gone mad.

What's Your View?

This column is meant to provoke thought, so we welcome reader comments. Send e-mail to: bsherrod@odec.com (please enter “Perspective” in subject line), or send written responses to Cooperative Living, Perspective, Attn. Bill Sherrod, P.O. Box 2340, Glen Allen, VA 23058-2340. 

 

 

 

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