Monday, September 22, 2008

September 22, 2008

The newspaper headlines scream of bailouts for ailing banks. The federal government to the rescue!

While I am not a Libertarian, I have some doubts as to the efficacy of government aid.

For instance-

About twenty year ago our beautiful Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon were invaded by a species of moths that built nests for their young in the worm phase out of a silky substance that looked like cobwebs. When thousands of these critters chose a tree, they effectively shrink wrapped it.

In addition the offspring ate voraciously on the the tender buds which were the tree's reproductive mechanism.

Local newspaper headlines proclaimed that thousands of acres would be denuded of trees.

Swift action was needed.

At the time I was a member of a local Toastmaster's group. Membership at the time included employees of the forest service bent on self improvement. Part of their training was practising presentations they would be giving at their conferences so there was a front seat on an ongoing situation.

The government in its wisdom decided to take decisive action against the pest. It would spray from the air the entire forest.

The first voice of doubt came from one our members, a forestry expert, who weighed in with the opinion that the moths were in fact native to this forest and a combination of weather, food etc. had caused an explosion of population that would subside from natural causes such as viral infections that had historically limited the insect's spread.

His resignation in hand the upper level bureaucrats order thousands of gallons of toxic spray.

The environmentalists and the fishing community then screamed in protest and commenced legal actions to prevent the application of massive amounts of poison being applied to the watershed that fed the streams that filled the rivers.

Hundreds of 55 gallon drums of spray concentrate lay rusting in an open storage yard in Walla Walla.

The court battles and hearings went on over two years.

The natural enemies of the moths prevailed. The population shrank back to its normal levels.

Meanwhile, in court a judge ordered that the spraying be allowed.

What to do? The threat was gone but the Forest Service had invested thousands of dollars, the drums lay on the ground as a reminder of a hasty action.

The judge had said, "Spray", so contracts were let to spray the entire forest for the now nonexistent moths.

I hope we have better luck in this emergency.


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