The Billings Outpost

‘Lord of the Flies’ key to Western land grab

In the 1840s Texans nurtured big dreams. The Lone Star state gained its independence in an 1830s’ war with Mexico in the battle of San Jacinto and began calling itself a Republic.

Being in the Republic business is a major source of pride but also a Texas-sized headache. A surplus of land made Texas the envy of almost everyone.  England, France, Mexico, the United States and assorted Indian tribes all coveted chunks of the new Republic.

Texans (who called themselves “Texians” and mostly came from the slave states of the Old South) wanted to use their public lands to buy the kind of security they had enjoyed back when they still lived in the U.S. of A.

Texas had public land sufficient to pave Mars with enough left over to cover the moon. U.S. expansionists saw Texas land as the key to stretching the United States to the Pacific Ocean.

When the Texas and U.S. delegations came together to negotiate the terms of Texas annexation, Texas wanted everything. So did the U.S.

Texas wanted to join the union as  a state - not a territory - be allowed to retain slavery and be guaranteed protection from Mexico in case of (a very likely) war. Texas would give up its public lands if the U.S. met those other conditions and assumed Texas’ $16 million national debt.

The U.S. team won the negotiations. Texas became part of the United States, Texas slaves were freed, the United States fought the inevitable war with Mexico and claimed vast tracts of Mexican land south and east of the Rio Grande.

Speaking of vast tracts, have you heard the one about Ralph and Piggy petitioning the Wyoming Legislature? Wyoming and six other Western states has passed or considered legislation demanding the federal government turn over millions of acres of federal land to the states.

Ralph and Piggy are fictional characters we met in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.” Ralph was a natural born leader. Piggy was a natural born pain in the butt.

The two were among a couple of dozen British school boys who washed up on an uncharted island when the boat carrying them back to England from a South Pacific war zone sank. 

Others in the cast included the Christ-like Simon, identical twins Sam ’n’ Eric, the bully Jack Merridew and the corpse of a shot-down pilot who comes to be known as “The Beast.”

Ralph and Piggy find a conch shell that becomes the symbol of authority on the island. The two walk the beach, blowing blasts on the conch shell and calling to reel in any lost castaways. Gathering a double clutch of human flotsam, the boys discuss the future of their world (now confined to the island).

Ralph and Piggy invent democracy. Jack Merridew and his gang of choir boys choose a life without laws.

The best part comes when the “littleuns” (little ones) begin tossing their proposals onto the campfire.

One little twit demands, “Let’s build a television set” (telly?). The other little snotnoses hate themselves for not thinking of that idea first. Someone calls the question and the home-built TV project wins by a landslide.  All the littleuns and several bigguns vote “Aye.”

Ralph painfully and patiently explains why they cannot build a television set. The TV scheme is instantly forgotten when another littleun shouts, “Let’s build a submarine to take us back to England.” Ralph groans, Jack spits on the sand and Piggy is on the verge of tears.

Jack converts his choir into a hunting band. The gang kills a pig and democracy dies as its advocates abandon Ralph when Jack hands out roast pork.

Simon is killed when he stumbles into Jack’s  barbarians celebrating the killing of the pig. Piggy dies when another of Jack’s crew drops a boulder on him. One of the littleuns wanders off and is presumed dead by Ralph and Piggy. Jack’s crew chases Ralph through the jungle with homicidal intent.

Find out if Ralph lives or dies, is caught or runs free. Grab a copy of “Lord of the Flies” from a library or bookstore.

There is little need to guess how Wyoming and its neighbors will fare in their pie-in-the-sky land grab. Legislation calling for free beer, a return to the gold standard and banning left-wing reporters will be introduced, headlines will follow, the new Sagebrush Rebellion will die in three weeks or find its own Ronald Reagan.


Copyright 2012 Wild Raspberry Inc.

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