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Resource Rationing In Kangaroos, Delta Smelt And Obama-Care

RESOURCE RATIONING IN KANGAROOS, DELTA SMELT AND OBAMA-CARE

This essay will compare and contrast the resource rationing processes and triage decisions implicit in (a) the unusual locomotive and reproductive characteristics of Kangaroos, (b) the Endangered Species Act and (c) Obama-Care and other similar socialized healthcare schemes.

 

Honed by millennia in the harsh Australian environment, the Kangaroo has been crafted by Darwin (or more accurately, the processes of natural selection discovered by Darwin), to the point that it manifests some truly amazing resource-rationing capabilities in its unique hopping manner of getting about and its equally distinctive reproductive capabilities.

 

Likewise, honed by (a) decades of harsh environmental activism and a complete misunderstanding of life’s history, and (b) decades of Marxist experimentation in the Soviet Union, North Korea, England and Canada, so have (respectively) the Endangered Species Act and Socialized Healthcare produced similarly distinctive — but utterly contradictory — characteristics within the same overall topic of Resource Rationing.

 

Australia

Australia is the oldest continent, and also the smallest, flattest and (aside from frozen Antarctica) also the driest. Its highest mountain, Mount Kosciusko, is only around 7,000 feet high. Australia has been separated from the other continents the longest as well, and that’s generally why it has such unique life forms with such a high percentage of species found nowhere else. All the native mammals are marsupials (which give birth to very immature young which live in a pouch for most of their post-natal development), or monotremes (the Platypus and Echidna) which lay eggs. Like birds and reptiles, the marsupials and monotremes have a single reproductive and excretory opening, called a cloaca. (Of course, all the placental mammals like dogs, cats, cows, people, etc. have two separate ventral orifices for these separate purposes, rather than just a single one as with birds, reptiles, monotremes and marsupials).

 

The Australian continent has not had any volcanic activity for untold eons, so its land lacks nutrients and as a result is exceptionally infertile. Also, it has been drying out in a major way for the past 20,000 years or so, and many unique and amazing Australian life forms have gone extinct since this great drying began such as the magnificent Thylacoleo or “marsupial lion,” the giant 10 foot tall kangaroo Procoptodon, wombats (Diprotodon) the size of bison, and a monitor lizard (Varanus) roughly 10 times larger than a Komodo dragon.

 

So, Australia is an exceptionally harsh place in most of its environs, especially the outback which comprises the bulk of the continent. The great grey kangaroo and the red kangaroo, the two largest among the various kangaroo species, have thus evolved unique characteristics connected with energy efficiency in order to survive – and thrive – in this exceptionally harsh land.

 

Kangaroo Locomotion — Nature’s Perfect Prius

Everyone knows that Kangaroos get around by hopping. Many also know that the various species of Kangaroo can accomplish prodigious athletic hopping-related feats: tree kangaroos in New Guinea can easily double man’s best standing high-jump and the great grey kangaroo of Australia can likewise easily double man’s best Olympic long jump.

 

But what’s not so well known is that unlike most organisms, Kangaroos actually use less energy when they go fast than when they go slow.

 

Generally speaking, the more rapidly kangaroos hop, the less energy they use. This is because as they get up to speed, the force generating the movement shifts from muscle-oriented to tendon-oriented, where the huge tendons in the kangaroo’s legs begin to act more like springs, and take over for the muscle-motors. As the kangaroo lands on each leaping hop, the tendons absorb that energy exactly like a spring, which releases as the next hop starts a nano-second later, thereby propelling the kangaroo up and forward with little actual work on the kangaroo’s part, exactly as if  it’s legs really were springs

 

Moreover, Kangaroo fuel is most definitely not high-test, and is in fact closer to the reverse. Kangaroos actually thrive on marginal scrub-vegetation which would not come close to supporting an equivalent biomass unit of cow, sheep or horse.

 

A great grey or red Kangaroo hopping at full speed is a marvel of mechanical engineering, from the standpoint of the ratio of (a) high mass and speed of forward movement over (b) minimal energy expenditure to produce such momentum. Not even a Prius can come close to the extraordinary energy-efficiency of Kangaroos. We should all be grateful that Cap and Trade does not include funding for a new type of hybrid, the Man/Kangaroo Clone.

 

Given the extremely Calvinistic nature of the global warming alarmists’ religious belief system, one can only attribute this glaring oversight in the Cap and Trade legislation to zoological ignorance on the part of the devout Noble Democrat Carbon Puritans. (The seemingly obvious improbability of success would likely be no impediment to such visionary hybrid attempts, judging from the Democrats’ economic and taxation strategies).

 

Kangaroo Reproduction

Kangaroos also have highly unusual and efficient reproductive techniques for effectively dealing with Australia’s exceptionally scanty resources, just as they’ve developed – likely for the same reason – an exceptionally efficient manner of locomotion.

 

If the Kangaroo’s usually scanty food resources become particularly problematic due to drought, over-grazing or other difficulty, they can defer the reproductive process even when the female is “with child.” That is, the female Kangaroo’s reproductive mechanism has a feature which functions like a “stasis-box” in science fiction, in which time ceases to move forward. The female kangaroo is able to impose a developmental deferral on the nascent kangaroo-to-be, a veritable hibernation of the future fetus. The development of the baby Kangaroo is suspended in the body of the mother until conditions improve and the probabilities of a successful reproductive endeavor improve as result. The scientific name for this deferral of fetal development is “diapause.”

 

Indeed, Kangaroos actually use a “spare tire” reproductive innovation. Often, there’s a Joey developing in the pouch while an embryonic Joey “hibernating” in diapause awaits the pouch Joey’s emergence from maturation or premature demise, whichever comes first.

 

And, if conditions are especially difficult for a protracted period of time, reputedly some Kangaroo species can even self-abort in order to not waste resources. Even Jerry Fallwell would likely have approved of such naturally induced abortion, Legislated by Nature and not a Court’s Kangaroo decision (or ukase).

 

The Endangered Species Act

The Endangered Species act is fundamentally Procrustean in its structure and execution, inasmuch as it makes no distinction between (a) vibrant species like the Passenger Pigeon, Great Auk, Tasmanian Thylacine (the “marsupial wolf”) or Steller’s Sea Cow which man has needlessly exterminated and (b) naturally marginal species which are barely surviving and likely near extinction anyway regardless of what man may or may not do.

 

That is, the Endangered Species Act seems to view Man as a foreign element and the cause of all extinction. This is, however, patently absurd. According to Stephen Jay Gould* most warm blooded species go extinct after only six million years of existence, and most cold blooded species go extinct after only 11 or 12 million years. Extinction is just as much a normal part of Evolution as species creation, and man’s interference in this is sad and to-be-avoided when the species is wide-spread and vibrant and we are simply entertaining ourselves, as with the actual extinction of Passenger Pigeons, Great Auks, Steller’s Sea Cow and the near-extinction of the American buffalo. The Endangered Species Act would have done some good in these infamous instances of Man’s selfish and cruel idiocy.

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* Stephen Jay Gould was professor of Biology, Geology and the History of Science at Harvard, up until his recent death from lung cancer. He is most well known for his extensive essays on Natural History and his books on paleontology, and his theory of Punctuated Equilibrium, which is a significant refinement to Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection.

 

But, to use the Endangered Species Act as an artificial attempt to delay what’s primarily a natural conclusion anyway is absurd, like shoveling sand against the tide. It’s a huge waste of resources the Kangaroos would never even permit, much less require.

 

The Desert Pup-fish

In contrast to endangered species which would clearly thrive but for man such as blue whales and blue-fin tuna, it seems most unlikely that highly marginal species such as the Desert Pup-fish, Snail Darter, Delta Smelt, etc — which comprise tiny populations living in isolated, equally tiny locations — would be a significant, thriving branch on the great tree of life regardless of Man’s presence. Throughout the history of life on earth, countless species have formed and died. It’s a continuous, never-ending process. When our interference is major and unnecessary to Man’s needs, it should clearly be stopped. But, when the possibly adverse impact of man’s natural activities that are economically important to human individuals’ welfare and economic survival, is on species whose likelihood of survival regardless of Man is naturally marginal at best, the Endangered Species Act seems far more Procrustean than Providential.

 

The Desert Pup-fish is a good case in point. It’s on the endangered species list because its survival is marginal, which is not a shock inasmuch as this is a fish living in the desert.

 

And unlike other aquatic organisms which somehow do manage to thrive in the desert like certain desert toads, brine-shrimp, lung-fish, etc. – which are not endangered because they are better-evolved to live in the desert – the pup-fish will likely not be long for this earth regardless of the unlimited resources spent per the Endangered Species Act on its support via either direct expenditure or massive opportunity cost.

 

Nancy Pelosi’s Mice

Nancy Pelosi is known to be intensely concerned over the welfare of her liberal and helpless constituency, and this includes the marginal species of mouse living in or near her district, which surely deserves millions of dollars of stimulus money to delay their immanent natural extinction, regardless of Man’s activities. (After all, surely it would be tragic if there were a few less rodents in the world, even if they are Pelosi constituents).

 

Nancy Pelosi supporters sharing her concern over naturally endangered Marginal Mice might take issue with the idea that the extinction of these helpless liberal constituents is in fact inevitable. But, the fact that most species last only a few million years on average means that those which are most marginal already are, all things being equal, also those most likely to shortly succumb to extinction anyway, regardless of what Man may or may not do.

 

Nancy Pelosi’s beloved mice are, so sadly, unlikely to be fugitives from the law of averages and survive forever even with the Devout Democrats’ noble (but artificial) stimulus efforts and the Endangered Species Act’s having been so skillfully employed to merely delay the inevitable.

 

Man and Other Species

Across the globe, Mankind has clearly had an adverse impact on much of life on earth. Many, many examples abound. But, virtually all of this is directly a function of man’s manifest success. We dominate the globe like no other single species in the history of life. Unfortunately, when it comes to several species like tigers, elephants, grizzly bears, etc man and nature do not mix well, at least outside of zoos. We are, simply, crowding out other species as we expand.

 

Ultimately, there’s no way to stop this short of massive and continuous genocide in those areas where man is most populous.

 

To reiterate, our willful extermination of wild, thriving species like great auks, Thylacines, passenger pigeons or (almost) blue whales and blue-fin tuna for no reason even remotely connected to our survival is horrible. The fact that horseshoe crabs (an ancient, marine relative of spiders and scorpions that’s literally hundreds of millions of years old) are being ground up for fertilizer seems to me to be tragic, since they would be thriving but for man and they are among the most successful of all life’s organisms in terms of amazing and impressive species longevity and success. The horseshoe crab has thrived and survived since the Silurian age, long before dinosaurs and even long before cockroaches, and its needless loss for fertilizer would truly be tragic.

 

But, there’s a world of difference between this and the inevitable eventual extinction of already-marginal species, whose problematic continued existence is on Endangered Species life-support costing ridiculous amounts of money and disrupted human lives. To artificially maintain such marginal species for a while longer, such as the desert pup-fish, Delta Smelt or the Pelosi Mouse regardless of expense, is absurd.

 

The Congo River

The amazing Congo River in Africa helps put much of this in proper perspective. The Congo is one of the world’s largest rivers in terms of water volume; in fact, it’s second only to the Amazon.

 

But, where the Amazon is so broad in places as to be a virtual fresh-water inland sea, the Congo’s massive water volume is conspicuous vertically rather than horizontally. That is, instead of being hugely broad like the Amazon, it’s hugely deep, to an extent unlike any other river on earth. In places the Congo is over 700 feet deep!! This is a river with depths equal to that of oceans.

 

As such, the currents in the Congo are, simply, not to be believed. The Congo is fast, with more turbulence, waves, rapids, whirl-pools and other extreme riverine characteristics as to make it un-navigable in many areas. Moreover, in the words of zoologist Melanie Stiassny, it’s a “species pump.”

 

That is, because of its extreme depths and currents, virtually the entire river consists of separate, distinct micro-environments which are effectively walled off from one another by the multiplicity of extreme conditions. As a result, new species are being formed all the time, the Congo is a literally a “species pump” constantly creating new species. Stiassny has effectively compared it with the Galapagos Islands on overdrive. That is, in the Congo River the evolutionary processes of species creation and extinction seem to be happening at breakneck speed, albeit underwater and therefore difficult for us to see. But, in the Congo we are nevertheless discovering new species of fish all the time, from tiny blind fish thriving in the Congo’s deepest depths to the possible development of larger, fiercer species of tiger fish than even today’s most impressive and formidable of all fresh water fish, the extraordinary Goliath Tiger Fish. (Google “goliath tiger fish” for a visual treat of fishy formidability).

 

The Congo River versus the Delta Smelt

So, from a global perspective we have on the one hand the Congo River, which is a natural laboratory of breakneck evolutionary speciation and extinction churning out new species almost as fast as it’s exceptionally rapid currents.

 

On the other hand, we have the Delta Smelt, a marginal species at best barely hanging on as is, in an area which is one of America’s vital bread-baskets. In other words, we have some parts of the globe which have an unbelievably rapid, 100% “natural” evolutionary pace and which produce countless new species (and probably a correspondent number of extinctions due to continuous competition driven by a “species pump” on steroids) at no cost whatsoever. On the other hand we have a single, isolated species found only in the San Francisco bay area, which is costing literally billions of dollars to temporarily delay the natural extinction of a marginal species.

 

To reiterate, even robust species usually last only a relatively few million years, let alone marginal species already at extinction’s doorstep naturally, regardless of what Man may or may not do.

 

San Joachim River Valley and the Delta Smelt

The San Joachim River Valley is where we used to produce 20 million tons of food per year, worth roughly $10 billion dollars per year, per the American Farmland Trust. If this area was a state, it’s agricultural production would be exceeded only by Texas, Iowa and the rest of California.

 

The irrigation vital to this food production has been shut off thanks to the Federal Government and the Endangered Species Act, since the rare, endangered Delta Smelt is adversely impacted by the screens, valves, etc. which are part of the Valley’s irrigation system. Of course, the reason the Delta Smelt is endangered is because there are so few of them, and it appears that as with the pup-fish, snail-darter, Pelosi Mouse, etc there are relatively few of them because they are a marginal species near extinction anyway. It’s not as if our nation’s waters were once thick and thriving with Delta Smelt like our skies were once darkened by passenger pigeons, or like the plains were once covered by bison, but for man.

 

And never forget, extinction is the natural fate of virtually all species, and this was true long before man appeared on the scene. In the case of these marginal species, it’s as if the Endangered Species Act is trying to overturn the Laws of Evolution, to which natural, frequent and continuous extinction is just as natural an aspect of Life’s Great Pageant as species formation, or an individual’s aging. By ignoring this vital aspect of evolution, the Endangered Species Act is attempting to delay the inevitable and furiously shovel sand against the tide regardless of the economic cost to man and the devastating economic impact on individual people.

 

Value of each Delta Smelt

To reiterate, the Delta Smelt is on the Endangered Species list because there are not many of them around. Let’s say for argument sake, that there are 10,000 of them.

 

Also to reiterate, the annual economic production of the San Joachim Valley was around $10 billion per year. Because this is the economic value of the farming activity which the Delta Smelt is preventing (thanks to the Endangered Species act and its Calvinistic application by devout Dominican Democrat worshipers of Gaia), it’s pretty easy to calculate the approximate value which our society places on the delayed extinction of each and every Delta Smelt. It’s simply $10 billion divided by 10,000, which produces a per-Smelt value of $1 million apiece.

 

Moreover, as the Delta Smelt becomes increasingly marginal, it’s implicit economic value increases, thanks to Princess Pelosi, Baroness Boxer of Booby and other Noble Democrats who are also religiously devout worshipers of Gaia. If for example the Delta Smelt continues its evolutionary pathway to extinction, such that the above 10,000 estimate reduces to, say, 1,000, then the value of each individual Smelt grows inversely, to $10 million. And, as the likely inevitable extinction of this highly marginal species to begin with continues apace, the last Delta Smelt will be worth a cool $10 billion. To paraphrase Dan Akroyd and Lorraine Newman on Saturday Night Live’s hilarious mock “bass-o-matic” television advertisement – “that’s some fish!

 

Delta Smelt and Obama-Care

Any resource that’s in demand but which is not available in infinite supply must, by definition, be rationed. The rationing we currently have is, by and large, that of the free market where independent individuals acting freely decide whether or not to buy  goods or services by how much money they’re willing to pay for that good or service.

 

With Obama-Care, the medical resource rationing will not be determined by the free market, rather, like all other forms of socialized healthcare the resource allocation will be determined by government bureaucrats. So, let’s say you need a cancer treatment which costs $100,000 but the government “death panel” charged with making the triage decisions over health care expenditure decides this is too expensive, just like numerous instances of this in Great Britain, Canada, North Korea and elsewhere.

 

In this example, in essence the government is saying that your life is worth less than $100,000. Thus, in terms of resource rationing, in effect our government would be valuing your life at below 10%  the value of a single Delta Smelt’s life, if one assumes this endangered species has a relatively robust 10,000 individuals. If on the other hand the Delta Smelt is more direly threatened such that there are only 1,000 of them left, then as you slowly (and needlessly) die you’ll doubtless be comforted to know that your life is worth less than 1%  of each precious Delta Smelt’s life.

 

But wait, it gets even better. For, as you individually age and therefore become intrinsically less valuable as per Zeke Emanuel (brother of Rahm “dead fish” Emanuel), the ratio of your value to that of the Delta Smelt becomes increasingly skewed. That is, because you’re aging as the Delta Smelt population declines, your “value ratio” compared with the Delta Smelt declines from both directions. Thus, as you become more and more marginal the further you age (as per “dead fish’s” brother’s writings about public healthcare resource rationing), the fewer healthcare resources will be allocated to your continued existence.

 

Exactly the opposite dynamics apply with the Delta Smelt and other Endangered Species. That is, the more marginal they become (via a natural process of extinction as fundamental to life’s processes as aging), the more economically valuable each individual Smelt or Pup-fish becomes, in terms of the economic cost “willingly” borne by our society in order to delay the inevitable (and natural) extinction.

 

Obama-Care Bait and Switch

Eventually, from a pure mathematical perspective as each endangered marginal species approaches its inevitable demise, each individual in that species grows exponentially in value, under the Democrats’ interpretation and enforcement of their Endangered Species Act. In contrast, under the Democrats’ Obama-Care scheme, as you and every other US citizen become older, the less and less intrinsically valuable you become*.

 

Eventually, you reach the point where your life is not worth the cost of the bait and fire-wood with which to catch and fry up that last and oh! so precious Delta Smelt.

 

Talk about a Kangaroo-Court legislative series of ridiculous results…

Damocles
October, 2009

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*Except of course for congressmen, senators and other members of Washington’s government elite. 

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