“Weeping Osceola” December 16, 2012

I was in Florida last week driving between West Palm Beach and Fort Meyers and I started driving under the dike of Lake Okeechobee.  Looking at the map, I saw the big expanse of water, thinking that it would be cool to see, I parked the car and walked up the steep dike with some difficulty.  Imagine the surprise I had to find out that the water was gone!  Who stole the water?

(Don’t let the small amount of water in foreground of the picture fool you, there is supposed to be a lake here.)

John Anderson sung one of my favorite songs, “Seminole Wind”:

Ever since the days of old,
Men would search for wealth untold.
They’d dig for silver and for gold,
And leave the empty holes.
And way down south in the Everglades,
Where the black water rolls and the saw grass sways.
The eagles fly and the otters play,
In the land of the Seminole.

Like many places, there are many times a dirty little eyesore just behind that beautiful mountain, forest, or pretty valley.  These forest clear cuts, open pit mines, denuded hillsides give big business, logging, and mining a bad name.  Unfortunately the needs of society outweighed the needs of the animals.  Just like these places, Florida is more than just barrier islands, the keys, and the beaches.  There is a land in between that idyllic post card that involves something in many ways more sinister than the mining interests, something our government and the paid special interest environmentalists (paid frequently by the industries they are supposedly against) rarely want you to think about….BIG Agriculture.

Progress came and took its toll,
And in the name of flood control,
They made their plans and they drained the land,
Now the glades are going dry.
And the last time I walked in the swamp,
I sat upon a Cypress stump,
I listened close and I heard the ghost,
Of Osceola cry.

We take a land that maybe can support 15 million people and we put in 25 million.  We then rip out the glades and plant sugar cane but we feel nice because we put millions of acres into a National Park.  The map looks green right?  But the government through the Army Corps of Engineers, makes dikes, dams, canals, locks, and does it best to starve this vital piece of land of its water. For what?

Heavily subsidized sugar, that is what.  That and green lawns in Fort Lauderdale, PGA golf courses in Daytona Beach, and cheap orange juice.  Are these sugar farmers poor?  The Sugar Cane Growers of Florida Cooperative which owns the land south and east of where I stand, is not an evil organization by design nor is the US Sugar Corporation or any other of the large sugar organizations.  But they are self-serving and are trying to maximize their profit and if the Farm Bill can be turned to their advantages so what they think, we are just getting ours.  Us as citizens are none the wiser.  We believe the propaganda about family farms, ma and pa, and all of that.

The cities in this region seemed places much like the towns big farms in NW Minnesota, North Dakota or where ever.  I stopped for gas and all I saw was poverty, subsistence living, and places not going anywhere. The nice houses I drove past in West Palm Beach and other high developments are where the owners of this land live.  They are not in these towns with immigrants and rural poor.  These rich land owners can’t even live in the places they are profiting from.

Rich men like Flagler and Plant have their names written on things all over Florida.  Did these men help Florida?  Did they steward the land?  No, they just took and others still alive are still taking.  So why do we put their names on everything?

So blow, blow Seminole wind,
Blow like you’re never gonna blow again.
I’m calling to you like a long lost friend
But I know who you are.
And blow, blow from the Okeechobee,
All the way up to Micanopy.
Blow across the home of the Seminole,
The alligators and the gar

Anyway, all of this is destroying the Everglades.  Lake Okeechobee is going dry and there are no lobbyists for the alligators and birds that have had to move on or die.  When the waters in the park go down to nothing what are we to do then?  Unfortunately it will then be too late.  The ghost of Osceola is already crying.  Unfortunately his tears are not enough to reverse the process.  I can only recommend one thing.  Have you cursed a member of the Army Corps of Engineers lately?  I have.  F%$# them!

I hate to be so negative all the time but wake up and look around, my friends, you might not like what you see.

Olaf

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