ANIMALS HAVE JOBS?
December 14, 2008
about the U.S. economy have had few upsides in the last few months, and
a recent one was that more than a half million jobs were lost in November.
I realize that such economic barometers can be viewed and interpreted
in different ways, but it seems hard to draw anything good from that one.
In fact, last month's downturn in that particular jobs category was the
worst since the mid-1970s.
At the risk
of sounding too Pollyannaish, the fact that we hit an even lower bottom
thirty years ago and recovered nicely might be viewed as a hopeful sign
that things on the economic front are going to get better. But I am an
ecologist not an economist, so I am in no position to comment on where
jobs, mortgages, bank loans, or the stock market will go tomorrow, next
month, or next year. (Of course, considering the recent success of people
who declare themselves to be economists in predicting the future of the
economy, some of them might be better off with a change of careers. Maybe
they should consider ecology.)
In any case,
I can't comment on the human economic condition, so I will look at the
issue from the perspective of an ecologist. Can any parallels be drawn
between human jobs and the natural world? For that matter, does taxation
relate to wildlife species? In other words, do wild animals have jobs
and pay taxes? The answer is a resounding yes.
rabbits, and possums, for example, spend part of each day looking for
food. That's their job, and all of them work constantly. Beavers work
at cutting down trees--to repair dams and build lodges. Social insects
like ants, bees, and wasps exemplify an organized labor union, but without
strikes or contract negotiations. They carry out daily job duties: defending
the colony, bringing food to the nest, serving as nursemaids to the queen.
Yes. All wild animals have jobs and all have to earn a living to support
to have a job is to acquire necessities that are basic to all animals:
food and shelter. Health care, defense, and transportation are also requirements--for
both humans and wild animals. If a business shuts down or reduces production,
human jobs are "lost." The same is true for wild animals. The
endangered wood stork's job is to find fish and tadpoles in shallow wetlands.
Destroying wetlands that abolish wood stork business sites eliminates
wood stork jobs. The unemployment problem that wetland loss creates for
wood storks is one example of the economic toll we take on wildlife when
we do not manage our natural resources properly. Thousands of wetland
species have had their workplaces eliminated in recent years, as have
species living in forests, deserts, and oceans. This is in no way intended
to minimize the human job losses occurring in our country but only to
demonstrate that job loss inflicts hardship on all species.
pay taxes? Absolutely! Humans place a heavy tax burden on animals. We
eat them, wear them, make medicines out of them. Some of our taxation
of wildlife does not even benefit us at all, such as death tolls of animals
on highways. As we overtax our native wildlife, the national wildlife
deficit increases, and we are the ultimate losers in that situation. Most
people would agree that the welfare of humans is of critical importance
in any calculation. But as we continue to put other species out of work--some
permanently--their losses are passed on to us. These natural systems provide
many services essential to our own existence. Our natural heritage is
not something we can do without in the long run.
difficulties increasing, most people's attention is not on wildlife and
the environment. But when our own economy begins to prosper again, which
some say will be within a year, we need to emerge with a strong environment
to go along with a strong economy. Let's not put any of our wildlife out
of business while we wait for things to get better for us.
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