Saturday, March 8, 2008

Cognitive Dissonance

I was accompanying a friend of mine in Wal*Mart this morning, and happened on something that left me wondering if there's any hope for the human race...

On a table, W*M had a nice display of Easter Baskets - but these baskets were all 'themed': there were some that were oriented toward Spiderman, NASCAR, Batman, cartoon characters, and so on. These all struck me as being a little 'off subject' for Easter, but I'm willing to let it go.

But the one that absolutely, positively threw me was the one that included a variety of "army men" and an assortment of military objects - a HMMV, missile(s), guns, and so forth.

In a farookin' Easter basket.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Modest Proposal

With the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone (and other nearby areas), a fundamentally simple (and obvious) problem has cropped up: the wolves simply refuse to stay within the boundaries of the areas where they are protected. During these forays, they have killed the livestock of the landowners immediately adjacent to those reserves -- something sure to displease folks that depend on that livestock.

Many (if not most) of the conservation groups, however, are adamant that the wolves should remain 'protected' even when they leave the reserve areas and engage in such hunting. Personally, I would (roughly) equate this to someone wanting to have a dangerous animal in their back yard AND wanting to be able to leave the gate open so it can run free -- but that's just me.

The landowners are equally insistent that they should have the right to protect their property and livelihoods -- a not unreasonable position.

What I would like to suggest is this:

If the conservation groups want to protect the wolves ALL the time, then they (the conservationists) should be willing to take responsibility for the wolves, as well as claiming authority for them. The conservationists can do this through the simple expedient of declaring that they will compensate the owner of any livestock killed by the wolves and then doing that very thing. I don't mean simply paying for a replacement calf or lamb, but paying the rancher for the lost INCOME consequential to the wolf predation: the market price the landowner would have gotten had the animal been brought to market; the value of the animal should be fairly straightforward to determine, since there is a daily 'market report' for the various types of livestock grown in the area.

The compensation to the livestock owner should be higher than 'mere' replacement cost for a simple and obvious reason: simply 'replacing' a calf or lamb doesn't address everything involved in getting the animal TO the point where it was killed: after all, there isn't a Livestock Fairy that flitters through the countryside turning sagebrush into year-old calves and lambs. Nor is there a Caretaker Genie that doctors the animals, stockpiles winter food for them, moves them to fresh pasturage, draws them water from solid rock, or tends to them in any one of the myriad of other ways that they need. Rather, it's a rancher that has gone out in rain, snowstorms, bitter cold and oppressive heat to see to them. If the compensation for a killed animal doesn't take these factors into consideration, then the rancher may simply decide the bother of getting the compensation isn't worth the bother.

Failing the above, I have to wonder how long it takes before some number of ranchers get together and collectively sue the conservationists for the losses incurred because of the policy changes caused by pressure from conservationist groups: the government has already stated what it proposes to do, so any changes from that point can be reasonably attributed to somebody, I'd think.