Why This Blog?

The aim of this blog is to fit into the blogosphere like the bracingly tart taste of yogurt fits between the boringly bland and the unspeakably vile.

All comments will be answered if their author provides contact info.


I have no sponsoring group(s) or agencies, and I owe no allegiance to any candidate or group.

(C) Copyright 2012 DenRita Enterprises

Monday, February 4, 2013

We have met the enemy and he ignores reality

Sometimes we, as a society, seem determined to defeat ourselves. We adopt a policy that sounds good, and peaceful, and environmentally-enhancing – but one that actually destroys our surroundings and increases pain, crime, hunger, and sometimes evil. We ignore experts and defeat ourselves in our haste to do something that sounds good and proper.

Condor illusions 

One example of self-defeating efforts is the ban on lead shot and bullets in areas frequented by Condors.

The reason to try to maintain a Condor population outside of zoos eludes us; the birds are simply unsuited to life in the current era. For example, they are particularly sensitive to lead, but are fond of wheel weights they find on the road, and of beads of exuded solder from pipe joints. And, they are usually unable to find enough food to sustain themselves.

So, for some reason we haul domestic cow carcasses up their mountains so they’ll have “natural” food in their “natural” environment. And we ban lead shot and bullets to prevent them from finding lead in a hunted bird or mammal that was shot but not found.

The cost of raising them in zoos would be less, and the effects of steel shot would be reversed if they were moved into zoos and the ban repealed. Steel shot, from what we've seen so far, and from reports by ranchers and hunting guides, tends to penetrate less, leaving more chance of wounding and maybe losing a game bird.

Puma silliness -- or madness

Similarly, we've backed ourselves into a corner with our classification of mountain lions – there is little chance in the foreseeable future that their populations will be controlled by hunting or trapping in this state. 

So, in many areas, they are devastating the deer herds and starting to seek domestic animals for food. In some areas they are in over-abundance, and should be controlled; in others, they are in balance, and in some they need protection to build a viable population. However, they are protected throughout California.

Bears too

We are starting in a similar direction by banning bear hunting with dogs; in some areas the terrain makes hunting with dogs the only reasonable way to control the population. When their population gets too big for the environment, and with the game and other smaller animals decimated, we’ll have bear-human interactions of the unpleasant kind.

In these wildlife management situations we are ignoring the advice of wildlife biologists in favor of emotional appeals, probably because the animals are “cute.” We ignore the reality that some animals prey on others, and the universally-true idea that populations that are hungry seek new sources of food.

People shooters 

In another area, gun control, we are similarly ignoring what works in favor of knee-jerk solutions we wish would work. The flaw in this reaction is that the desire to do good, does not lead to good results. In fact the opposite is often the case.

A recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by Jeffery Scott Shapiro highlights this paradox. He was a criminal prosecutor in the District of Columbia from 2007-09. During the strictest gun ban years, the rate of homicides increased. In 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled the city’s gun ban to be unconstitutional. 

The US Supreme Court also affirmed the ruling the next year. Since the ban was struck down in 2008, the homicide rate dropped from 186 to 88 in 2012, the lowest number since the original ban law was enacted in 1976.

What works elsewhere  

Every adult who supervises school outings in Israel is trained to use – and carries – a firearm on field trips. You rarely read about mass shootings by demented people in that country. Israel uses education and training, and holds citizens responsible, instead of demonizing and forbidding firearms.

And each county and state in the U.S. that has enacted “shall issue” laws (which require the sheriff to issue a concealed carry permit to anyone without mental or legal factors that prohibit the permit) has enjoyed a marked decrease in violent crime. Statistics suggest that more guns in responsible hands leads to reduced crime, particularly violent crime.

And what doesn't

Further, in countries, such as Britain, Wales, and Australia, with draconian firearms prohibitions, the violent crime rates are at least three times greater than comparable rates in the United States.

We Californians hope instead of think

However, our approach to preventing mass shootings seems to be headed in the direction of prohibition rather than education. Somehow, preventing the purchase of firearms with grips perpendicular to the barrel or those that sport bayonet studs is expected to make children safer from mass shooters.

Unfortunately, the indiscriminate, in many cases, prescription of psychotropic drugs is ignored as a factor in public shootings, in spite of the fact that nearly all of the shooters identified in the last decade have been taking such drugs.

We want to ban and hope

So we want to ban guns, with the most likely result being higher rates of violent crime, similar to the rates in Chicago, Detroit, and Washington D.C., which all have severe firearms-purchase and ownership laws. Or the overall violent crime rate will triple or quadruple as it has in Britain, Wales, and Australia under their confiscatory policies.

But we insist on ignoring the use of psychotropic medications, and discounting the advice of experts.

We just seem to be intent on defeating ourselves with our ill-considered efforts to improve our lives and our world. We ignore what works in favor of what we wish would work.

Wouldn't it be grand if  

It would be nice if the animals limited their own populations to sustainable levels. It would be amazing if the carnivores became vegetarians and didn't have to hunt and kill their food. It would be wholesome to find that insane and evil people obeyed the law and refrained from using guns to hurt the rest of us.

The enemy is us 

But it’s not going to happen, regardless of how vigorously we pursue nice-sounding but self-defeating efforts. Truly, “we have met the enemy, and he is us,” as Pogo once said.

No comments:

Post a Comment