NANFA-- thoughtcrimes (was Eco-nomics)

Christopher Scharpf (
Wed, 15 Aug 2001 18:40:30 -0400

> I suppose that is even a greater sin than wiping out a species?
> In light of what I know about economics- condeming people for engaging
> in capitalism is not unlike condeming wolves for being carnivores.

Hence the major conundrum: How to engage in capitalism without completely
destroying natural biological systems. Are the two incompatible? It seems
so. Humans, from an ecological perspective, don't make any sense. We don't
seem to have any role in the natural scheme of things other than to destroy.
Nevertheless, I see a bright ray of hope in the fact that the intelligence
that allows us to move about and alter habitat so effectively is the same
intelligence that lets us know that what we're doing is fundamentally
flawed. Humankind has always exhibited a perplexing duality: creating
bloodshed and great works of beauty with equal dexterity. Do we not treat
the natural world with equal parts reverence and abuse?

> I love fishes, herps, plants and nature in general but I cannot condemn
> those farmers in the Kalamath Basin for being angry. They are not the
> epitomy of greed and selfishness. They are decent, hardworking people
> trying to make a living like most everyone else. Their ability to
> survive is being undercut and a whole way of life is being destroyed for
> the sake of a fish that is probably easy to propagate in a hatchery.

I too have sympathy for the Klamath farmers. They've done nothing wrong.
They're just trying to live their lives -- and make as much money -- as did
their forebears, and the only way they know how. But let's be realistic:
They are not fighting for survival. Children are not dying. Families are not
suffering from famine. This year's end-of-summer crop may be at stake, but
not their lives, not their way of life. Water will return when there's more
rain and more snowmelt. Crops will grow again. The sucker, however, _is_
fighting for survival. If it's wiped out this year, it can't come back next

> is it really feasable or morally right to force people off the land just
> because special interests who reside elsewhere want to turn it into a
> wildlife refuge? If those fish are so important then the people ought to
> be fairly compensated for the free market value of their land-
> preferably with private money- or else the burden be borne equitably by
> the taxpayers and not by the farmers alone.

True, some "special interests" may want to force the farmers off their land,
but that's not the real issue here. Saving water for fish or diverting it to
farmers is. Be that as it may, I wouldn't be against the beleaguered farmers
getting some compensation for their loss. Certainly they can be treated more
equitably than were the previous landowners who lost their land and their
way of life through violence and violation of treaties.

Here's my "thoughtcrime" for the day -- Aren't the farmers receiving
compensation from the government already in the form of subsidies, and the
whole federally funded water delivery infrastructure itself? If so, why
can't they share? In exchange for all these nice dams and canals and
diversion ditches, you give us some water for the sucker. Is that too much
to ask? If the farmers say no -- after all, they "own" the water -- then may
I suggest that the federal government dismantle and remove its diversion
dams and irrigation canals and other water conveyance systems, leaving the
farmers with ALL the water that is so rightfully theirs.

Finally, an appeal to all U.S. nature lovers: Since the federal government
has decided it (and the environment) can get by just fine without your money
and is sending you a check in the mail, how about giving half of it to a
nonprofit conservation organization of your choice? Might I suggest The
Nature Conservancy? Or Conservation Fisheries, Inc.? Or even -- shameless
self-promotion alert! -- NANFA, which is now a tax-exempt, nonprofit
organization, and is spending >$2K this year on conservation and education

You could even send it to a Klamath farmer with a little note: "Thanks for
hanging in and helping to save a really cool native fish."

Hey, you weren't really expecting the money anyway, so you'll never miss it.
And it's tax-deductible.

Chris Scharpf

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