Editorial: An ode to the rancher from Bunkerville

Cliven Bundy. You either really dig that guy or you think he's a freeloader and responsibility-dodger who's giving a bad name to ranchers everywhere.

I fall into the "freeloader" camp. This guy's had 20 years to work something out with the Bureau of Land Management about grazing cattle on public land, and his response is to keep digging his hole, while also surrounding himself with sycophantic armed people who think it's a good idea to threaten violence over a herd of cows.

And then there are the latest comments. Here's the full New York Times recounting:

"Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, 'and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids - and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch - they didn't have nothing to do. They didn't have nothing for their kids to do. They didn't have nothing for their young girls to do.

'And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?' he asked. 'They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom.' "

If you go into a yoga pretzel backward dog contortionist pose, you can maybe, in a very limited way, give him a break on some of what he was saying. In his framing, he was wondering if people who have all their basic needs taken care of by "government subsidy" will develop a work ethic and endeavor to better themselves.

Of course they will. "Government subsidy" covers basics. If someone wants more, they'll seek it - but without investments by we, the people, in education, in mentoring, in health and infrastructure, and in making capital available to those who aren't already rich, the opportunities to do so are limited.

And now I will put on my Capt. Obvious hat and add this: Bundy was wrong. It's better to be on welfare than to be someone's property.

This has been inspiring. Like, song-writing inspiring, even if I have to tread upon one of my first favorite songs: Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy."

I've been grazing this land so long

And paying less than a song

I know every bush in this scrubby outpost of desert

The BLM's after my herd, but all I did was say one

word and I've got an army

There's been a load of bull and hustle

As I faced the federal muscle

And now all the camera lights are shining on me!

I'm a welfare cowboy

With a media wave that says my cattle don't have to go

Just a welfare cowboy

Backed up by people with rifles that I don't even know

And I can just bask in the glow

Well I said America don't exist

But there's also this little twist

I wanted to use U.S. courts, but it didn't go my way

A million bucks that I owe?

How 'bout if I stall, and get famous and put on a show?

I wrap myself in Old Glory

But I'm just the same ol' story

A guy who wants it all my way, and wants it for free!

I'm a welfare cowboy

Grazing cattle on public land without a cost to me

Just a welfare cowboy

Saying black people would be OK back in slavery

Oh please, point the cameras at me

And, by the way, David Allan Coe claims that he's the original Rhinestone Cowboy.

Just putting that out there.