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Bush Bans Endangered Species Act  

Right-To-Life For Species Constitutes Free Trade Barrier, White House Says

By Michael K. Smith
Saturday, March 14, 2004; Page A01

President Bush issued an executive order abolishing the Endangered Species Act today, declaring that the arbitrary law is an illegitimate trade barrier.   In an accompanying proposal Bush advocated allowing hunters, circuses and the pet industry to kill, capture and sell animals on the brink of extinction in order to help wildlife ""have worth" by making a contribution to the nation's GDP.

According to the White House, expanding the market to include trade in endangered species is necessary to the continued realization of the American Dream.  With the Endangered Species Act out of the way, trophy hunters can realize their ambition of killing the straight-horned markhor in Pakistan; the pet industry can be licensed to import the blue fronted Amazon parrot from Argentina; U.S. circuses and zoos can be authorized to capture endangered Asian elephants and resume trade in African ivory.  No endangered species will be considered "off market," in recognition of the fact that all animate and inanimate matter must be converted to commodities in order to have worth.

Nattering nabobs of negativity that they are, conservationists think the Bush order is a bad idea. "It's a very dangerous precedent to decide that killing wildlife is in the best interest of wildlife," said Adam Roberts, a researcher at the Animal Welfare Institute.  "What's next?  Nazi synagogues?"

But the latest Bush proposal follows logically from the desire to protect nature. Since corporations are part of nature, anything that advances their economic well being is perfectly natural.  On the other hand, keeping endangered species off the market is a violation of free trade, the sort of policy characteristic of the bygone era of Marxist totalitarianism.  As President Bush explains:  "An alligator is just an alligator until it becomes a pair of shoes.  Then it's worth something."   

Deborah Johnson of the Nature Conservancy is less upbeat about the new change.  "As soon as you place a financial price on the head of wild animals, the incentive is to kill the animal or capture them," she complains.  "The minute people find out they can have an easier time killing, shipping and profiting from wildlife rather than preserving it, they will do so."  Reached for comment on this matter, Vice President Cheney said, "Exactly."  Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Gail Norton offered her view that scouring the planet down to a bald comet will make the animal world more "efficient."

The Endangered Species Act prohibited removing domestic endangered species from the wild. Explaining the need for its abolition, President Bush says, "Different nations have  different ways of managing their natural resources.  Some prefer to trade species extinctions for IMF debt relief.  What's wrong with that?"   In short, environmentalists should not be allowed to impose dogmas about wildlife having value in and of itself.

President Bush identified several species immediately in need of harvest in the interests of "job creation":

Morelet's crocodile, an endangered freshwater crocodile found in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize. Worthless in the swamps, it makes nice bags and wallets, and is a good source of pocket change for indigenous peoples happily living at the margin of existence.

The endangered Asian elephant of India and Southeast Asia is fiercely coveted by  the U.S. office furniture industry.  Now which is more important:   elephants in the wild or an ivory wastebasket next to the solid gold toilet in the executive wash room?

The Asian bonytongue, a valuable aquarium fish, found in Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.  When pulverized it makes a wonderful wrinkle cream for American consumers.  

The straight-horned markhor, an endangered wild goat in Pakistan distinguished by corkscrew-shaped horns. According to Presiden Bush, "allowingU.S. hunters an opportunity to mount them on the walls of their homes could provide a significant source of revenue for Third World dictators helping us win the war on terror."

John R. Monson, a New Hampshire trophy hunter and personal friend of Dick Cheney, said the program would help keep hunters fiscally fit. Last week, Monson applied for a permit to shoot and import a straight-horned markhor. He was awarded a free rack of hunting rifles from the Vice President.

Monson said the money he has spent hunting trophies -- including a leopard from Namibia, a bontebok antelope from South Africa, and a Democrat he bagged in the garage -- has been used to promote compassionate conservatism, funding prostitution rings and other wonders of the natural world.

Monson is president-elect of Smith and Wesson's "Wise Use" Nature Club, a national advocacy group promoting environmentalism through hunting.
Michael K. Smith is the author of "The Madness of King George" (illustrations by Matt Wuerker) available from Common Courage Press    



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