Thursday, 4 December 2008

They shoot horses, don't they?

According to the Independent, thousands of Mustangs are to be culled because the US government can't afford to feed and care for them in pens.

You might ask what these wild horses are doing in pens in the first place. Good question. The answer, of course, involves money and the American farming industry.

The land the Mustangs should roam on has been converted into cattle ranches and since ranchers have beeter lobbyists in Washington than horses, the Mustangs are probably doomed.

Wild mustangs, those quintessential symbols of the American West for hundreds of years, are facing their most deadly predator yet: the pen-pushing civil servants of the US Bureau of Land Management.

Growing pressure on the horses' traditional habitat has left officials contemplating a programme of mass slaughter to reduce the number of mustangs held captive in government-run pens. More than 33,000 of the animals, almost as many as the number still in the wild, have been rounded up and taken off increasingly barren public land in recent years, to reduce pressure on grazing required by the cattle-ranching industry. (1)
Full disclosure: I am vegetarian. I think it is frickin' obscene that wild animals are to be exterminated and the land they used to roam gobbled up to feed our beef habit. And I think most meat eaters would agree this is a WRONG THING if only they were informed about it.

Surely there is a better way of dealing with this than by killing wild horses and feeding them to Frenchies? Perhaps a levy could be put on MacDonalds et al so that the people ultimately causing this slaughter - the beef chomping consumers of Big Macs and Whoppers - compensate for the damage their self-indulgence is causing. Surely a better solution than leaving it up to an under-funded government agency at the mercy of an adminstration which has been obsessively trying to cut taxes - while waging war - for most of a decade?

All is not lost, however, for we learn that a plutocrat is going to intervene, rather in the style of a wealthy sinner buying indulgences from the Medieval church, and give all the doomed Mustangs a home:
The only hope for many horses may lie with Madeleine Pickens, wife of the Texan oil billionaire T Boone Pickens, who recently announced that she was trying to establish a million-acre refuge where all captive mustangs can be released. Her plan will see private land turned into a rural theme park where Americans can interact with the mustangs. Its announcement persuaded the BLM to grant captive horses a stay of execution until the New Year.

"We will take all the excess horses," Mrs Pickens explained, "and put them somewhere where families can see them and live among them, and camp out in teepees and have bonfires and look up at the stars and get to know this incredible aspect of our heritage." (2)
Which is very nice of her, but it is rather missing two fundamental points - first of all, the government should have the money required to carry out its duties and the benevolent Mr & Mrs Pickens should be paying more taxes to allow this to happen. Also, this is capitalism saving us from capitalism - the problem has been created by US agricultural capitalism, and is being 'resolved' by someone else who has made their money through oil. But who is going to resolve the problems created by Mr Pickens and his ilk in their quest for wealth? The beef farmers?

I've no head for business but I suspect that the amount of money that capitalists are willing to spend on resolving the problems they, as a class, have created, is not going to be anywhere near the amount they gain whilst creating these problems. Nor will the money they give back be enough to genuinely resolve them. Because that isn't wouldn't be profitable.

1 - "Washington plans mass slaughter of America's mustangs," by Guy Adams, published in the Independent, 30th of November, 2008. (
2 - ibid.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog! The round-ups occur to make room for more privately owned cattle. There are 19 million acres of land. That is several hundred acres per horse. The horses numbered at over 2 million at one point and the few thousand remaining do not constitute an over population of wild horses on 19 million acres. The herd has been culled more than several times over.

Get the 6 million cattle off the land, return the horses to their land and the problem is solved. There was no problem with the horses until the BLM round-ups. The horses were doing just fine. All of the BLM staff should be fired and replaced with staff that will do what they are supposed to do – protect the horses, not extinct them.

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