Archive for November 5, 2008

Nanny State 911

This just in from The Telegraph:

“Absurd” new guidelines advise pet owners against allowing dogs to beg at the table
Failing to notive your dog is getting fat, feeding it at the table and chocolate treats are all animal cruelty that could end up putting someone in jail under new government guidelines.
It also recommends that dogs should not be fed at the table as this can lead to begging – and that “curious” animals such as cats should be kept away from windows or tumble dryers.
Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, said the new laws afford animals “greater protection than ever before”. Launching the eight-week consultation, Mr Benn said: “These three new codes of practice will outline the responsibilities of owners under the Act and give practical advice on how to fulfil them. This means no one will be able to claim ignorance as an excuse for mistreating any animal.”
[…]Bill Wiggin, the Tory spokesman on animal welfare, said the new codes are “absurd”.
“Defra has missed the opportunity to produce a set of sensible proposals that would protect animals from abuse and mistreatment. Here we have this ridiculous guide which tells people not to walk their dog in the heat of the day or feed it at the table. DEFRA are taking people for fools.”


I’m not sure which part of this story scares me more – the idea that the British government feels entitled to micro-manage the lives of its subjects – or the idea that a frighteningly large number of pet owners appear to have become so far separated from the world of animal husbandry that they now need detailed instruction manuals to care for their pets.

But wait – maybe these aren’t really two different issues…

In a related, and even more alarming, note BBC Newsreports (note, the bolding is mine):

Animal welfare minister Barry Gardiner said: “For the first time ever, there will be legislation to stop the suffering of pet animals before it occurs.  “By allowing early intervention this Act works on the principle that prevention is better than cure.”

So now the goal of government is to prevent crimes before they occur?  God Save our friends in the UK. And if these kinds of totalitarian ideals spread – God Save us all.

How on earth did we get here? I mean, I understand that avoiding risk is an adaptive trait. We’re hard-wired for it, but this current obsession to avoid allrisk is rapidly turning into a form of mass psychosis… and our governments have, quite literally, become world class enablers – not just encouraging, but now also legislating, the self-destructive spiral of decreasing personal irresponsibility and increasing bureaucratic control.

There is an increasing expectation that the government should must  take care of us and protect us from all  risk and danger.  The government is now viewed by many as a necessary force to protect the value of our homes, prevent our corporations from going bankrupt and save us from buying, using, eating or even doing any thing that poses risk.

When we substitute governmental protection for personal responsibility, we become more and more willing to cede our personal freedoms as we seek the mythical dream of life without risk. Bit by bit we give up things we see as minor freedoms ‘to acheive a higher good’ – after all – who in their right mind objects to making the world a better safer place?

But where will this incremental process lead us?  In a thoughful essay published at Strike the Root, Lee McCracken writes:

The thought that government will look after them has made too many people willing to give up on looking after themselves. People are tempted to use government to shift the costs of their own actions onto others, resulting in an increasingly irresponsible populace, and a riskier world. If someone else is picking up the tab, why not order the steak? When people are forced to bear the costs of their own behavior themselves, they tend to make more rational choices, which actually does result in a less risky world. The attempt to use government to stamp out risk is like dousing a fire with oil.

But the strongest argument against the omnipotent Nanny State is that it leads logically to totalitarianism. The only way to completely eliminate risk would be total control of every aspect of life. After all, virtually anything we do in any area of our lives could involve some potential risk, either to ourselves or to others. Eliminating all such risk would require surveillance and regulation beyond the dreams of all the tyrants in history. After all, this kind of control is for our own good. As C. S. Lewis once put it:

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

November 5, 2008 at 5:22 pm 4 comments

31 Year Old Bald Eagle!

Hat tip to my friend Sharon who told me about this today; WJFW reports:

LAC DU FLAMBEAU – The oldest banded eagle on record was released in Lac du Flambeau.

The 31-year-old female eagle is one of six thousand ealges banded in 1977 and the DNR says it is the oldest eagle recovered.

It was hit by a car on Highway 47 near Fence Lake on October second.

The driver called 9-1-1 and the bird was taken to the Northwoods Wildlife Center in Minocqua.

The eagle was treated for bruising and head trauma and released on Friday.

You gotta love a person who calls 9-1-1 when they accidentally hit an eagle with their car!  The eagle was treated at Northwoods Wildlife Center where Sharon’s husband Mark works (and she volunteers).  Sharon said that a bird of about the same age was also treated and released last year.  Since most eagles only live 10-12 years, it’s nice to see that the northwoods is treating them well (or that it’s home to some good genes for longevity). 


Mark treats an eagle at the center (not this one).

Sidebar: The first time Sharon came to my house to visit, she had a red-tail hawk in a dog crate in the back of her truck.  She knew we lived in an area with good hawk habitat, so she’d brought it along to release. That was about 10 years ago – and she and Mark have shared a lot of great adventures and stories with us.

November 5, 2008 at 2:16 am Leave a comment

For Election Night

Because regardless of politics – we are all one country.

November 5, 2008 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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November 2008