10A083 Respect for Life by Jim Davies, 11/24/2010    

Last Saturday, NBC offered viewers of their evening news program a feel-good tour of the country "we" are helping make "secure", and there were indeed some excellent pictures of wonderful scenery, said to be free now of "insurgents." Then a segment showed part of an Afghan game called Buzkashi, in which their fearless reporter took part. It's played on horseback a bit like our polo, except that instead of clouting a small ball they hurl around a large goat. A dead one, that is. One that has been decapitated. The reporter called it a "sacrificial goat" but the footage didn't focus on the carcase. These people, whom our neighbors are dying to assist, clearly have some seriously depraved ethical standards.

I'm not a vegetarian and cheerfully swat flies and kill bugs that invade my space, but I try to have some respect for life, and reckon that Buzkashi players do not. To kill a goat for food is one thing; and tomorrow I shall enjoy turkey as much as you will. To kill a fox that is menacing crops or fowl is morally okay too, though I dislike the way it's done for "sport"; it can't be much fun for the fox, with a dozen hounds on its tail with the full intent to catch and tear one, limb from limb, until dead. But to kill a living, harmless animal and then deliberately waste its body is on my scale of values just appalling.

For a while, I wondered if this is just a result of the slower pace of civilization in the mountains of Western Asia - but yesterday I happened to hear that on the contrary, deliberately wasting animal life was in the recent past the official policy of the US Government. In 1933 as a result of its interference in the US economy using its new money manipulation toy (the Federal Reserve) FDR's Agricultural Adjustment Administration set out to raise food prices (in a period when millions were going hungry) by restricting production. The government actually paid farmers not to produce food! This was not funny at all, but with good old American resilience humor was found in it anyway, and the classic, hilarious "Not Raising Hogs" letter was one result. Much worse was that the FedGov purchased and then slaughtered 6,200,000 pigs so as to reduce bacon supply (and raise its price) and then wasted the bodies. This was an act which completely eclipses the callous killings in Buzkashi; that is a game, whereas FDR was in deadly earnest.

Had his government pursued laissez faire, keeping its hands off the economy, the resulting free market would have corrected the 1929 stock market crash quite quickly, and if farm prices had fallen for some reason, they would have signaled growers to grow less; equilibrium would have been restored quickly and no pig would have died in vain.

Disrespect for the marvel of life is endemic to government - and I'm referring to actual, undisputed life, fully born and walking around. The AAA pig slaughter is proof enough; but when we come to human life, governments seem to value it even less. According to Prof. R J Rummel, in the twentieth century alone, the world's governments killed well over 200 million human beings in addition to those who died on their battlefields. Government is lethal. It has to go.

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