Perhaps Dr. Tim Stanley should learn some economics?

I posted it on Twitter and someone else sent me a link showing that it’s true. Six out of the 14 votes in the European parliament against combating the illegal ivory trade came from Ukip – including Nigel Farage. This is morally repugnant. Perhaps they voted that way because they oppose forcing Western cultural values on African countries, but I doubt it.

Expect Ukip to explain that they always vote against anything that expands EU power. As a passionate anti-EU conservative, I appreciate that stance. But when it comes to taking action against something as squalid as the ivory trade, even this rabid patriot would compromise my anti-EU principles. What next? Refusing to uphold a ban on child labour?

A great number of Ukip supporters are troubled about immigration and want to protect British sovereignty. But they’re not barbarians. The ivory trade represents the callous exploitation of innocent creatures for profit and every sane, civilised person opposes it. Given the Right’s traditional loathing of horse meat and love of donkey sanctuaries, I think this could lose Ukip a few votes in May. Seriously, it’s not cool and – for once when it comes to Ukip – definitely not funny.


Can we think
of a moral and principled reason, something beyond just a plague on all that the EU does, for opposing a “combat against the illegal ivory trade”?

Why, yes, we can. We could, for example, note that it is the eating of beef that increases the number of cows out there, the use of wool that has increased the number of sheep, the joy that we take in slobbering kisses that has increased the number of dogs.

That is, that when humans gain something of value from an animal then we tend to make sure that the population of that animal increases. We’ve even got a name for the process: “farming”.

So, if we desire to either protect the current number of elephants, or perhaps to increase it, then a logical plan would be to farm elephants for those things which they produce of value. Some part of that is simply the tourism opportunity to stand next to them and say “God, innit big?”. More would be the use of hides from culled animals, the eating of the meat. And, obviously, the use of that most valuable part, the ivory.

That is, that making the ivory trade illegal prevents anyone from profiting from the raising of elephants. Which means that no one does. And thus voting against the ivory trade being illegal is a just and moral position to take. The real statement being made here is that those who would ban, are banning, the ivory trade are ignorant cunts working towards the extinction of the entire species.

But then expecting an historian of American culture (and there’s a shallow subject for you) to understand how the world really works is possibly being a bit hopeful on my part.

66 comments on “Perhaps Dr. Tim Stanley should learn some economics?

  1. Outside of his “Mastermind” breadth of speciality. Dr.Stanley approaches life with the seriousness of a child who still believes in Father Christmas. It’s almost shameful to attempt to destroy such innocence.

  2. I think there’s. A good chance the eating of meat will be banned before im under the turf.

  3. But no one is suggesting that a legal ivory trade be introduced. It may well be the best solution but in all realism it is unlikely to be introduced in the foreseeable future.

    So, assuming no legal ivory trade, then the only other way to protect elephants is to strengthen the fight against the illegal trade. Which is what Dr Tim was complaining that UKIP were voting against.

    ?? http://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2013/01/21/when-you-ban-the-sale-of-ivory-you-ban-elephants/

  4. Ah yes, I remember all the ivory farms that went out of business after the ivory trade was banned in 1989. Such a shame. Especially as elephant numbers had been steadily increasing until the ban came in, and fell afterwards.

    What’s that you say? The above is utter bollocks? Well I never, and it all worked so well in theory….

  5. Perhaps Dr. tim should just read this blog; we’ve been here before.

    MC

    The argument is actually akin to the price rise in fuel that won’t happen due to fracking rather than any drop in price. Today we don’t see the ranches that would have sprung up around Southern Africa had there been a legal and properly regulated ivory trade. For evidence see the farms in South Africa, Botswana etc that are now given over to hunting.

  6. @Bloke In Spain

    There’s only a few thousand elephants left in the wild. They are very easily spotted and they are in a few discrete locations.

    Should we be bothered enough it would be easy to protect them from poachers. Deploy 10,000 troops with helicopters & drones and you’d be sorted.

    The immense scale of the illegal drug industry (both in supply & demand) makes prevention practically impossible.

  7. “There’s only a few thousand elephants left in the wild. They are very easily spotted …”

    Do you have ANY idea of how ludicrous that is..?

  8. Shinsei,

    “So, assuming no legal ivory trade, then the only other way to protect elephants is to strengthen the fight against the illegal trade. Which is what Dr Tim was complaining that UKIP were voting against.”

    And why does that have anything to do with the EU, rather than say, the UN and individual nations?

  9. “Deploy 10,000 troops with helicopters & drones and you’d be sorted.”

    Whose troops, Shinsie?
    If you’re thinking of locals, remember this is Africa. Put that sort of capability in the hands of an African & damn the elephants. Your looking at the next president.

  10. I have some suggestions for the DT’s future Ukip-trolling:

    * EXPOSED: Nigel Farage’s bizarre shrine to Terry-Thomas.

    * Bambi’s Mum: shot by a Ukipper?

    * Baron Silas Greenback croaks: “Why I’m voting Ukip”

    * Are Ukip secretly funded by the Mysterons from “Captain Scarlet”?

    * Dr Tim Stanley: “I’m a passionate anti-EU conservative! Trololo!”

  11. I posted it on Twitter and someone else sent me a link showing that it’s true.

    Is anybody else worried about the order of this?

    BTW – America has a long history of different cultures. It is just that that history is generally ignored by historians of American culture.

  12. @Bloke In Spain

    Those are very minor quibbles.

    Surely you would agree that compared to stopping the global illegal drugs trade (that is worth tens of billions, operates in most countries in the world and produces a product enjoyed by 100s of millions) stopping the illegal ivory trade is relatively simple (assuming “we” were that bothered and prepared to spend the money).

  13. Refusing to uphold a ban on child labour?

    Depends where. If the choice is between a child working in a factory and being a child prostitute, perhaps this might be a good idea.

  14. MC – “Ah yes, I remember all the ivory farms that went out of business after the ivory trade was banned in 1989. Such a shame. Especially as elephant numbers had been steadily increasing until the ban came in, and fell afterwards.

    “What’s that you say? The above is utter bollocks? Well I never, and it all worked so well in theory….”

    Numbers had been increasing in White-run southern Africa. Numbers had been increasing where the Americans had been involved in things like Project Campfire – google it. A good scheme as it would have helped locals determined how much wildlife they had, and how much they could spare, as well as providing meat and cash.

    Well managed elephants are a resource. Wild elephants who are not valued for anything are about to be shot.

    It works in theory and in practice.

  15. @ The Stigler

    I presume the reason is that the EU as a body has more clout in pressurising China to stop its involvement in the ivory trade than individual countries do.

    Of course we could have a UK official fly over to China and ask them to stop. And the Germans could send someone over. And then the Italians. And then the Belgians.

    Alternatively we could send an EU official who can claim to speak for 400 million people and all 27 members of the EU.

    Economies of scale in diplomatic pressure.

  16. Shinsei1967 – “I presume the reason is that the EU as a body has more clout in pressurising China to stop its involvement in the ivory trade than individual countries do.”

    What, precisely, is the evidence for this proposition?

    Let me put the counter-argument. One man is more easily bribed. Especially if he is a European. One man is more likely to be batsh!t crazy. Especially if he is a socialist European. In short there is no reason to think that one man is likely to be more effective than the Concert of Europe.

  17. @Julia M

    Fields of opium poppies are easy to disguise and spot in the wildernesses of Afghanistan. Processing labs can be hidden easily.

    The location of pretty much every wild elephant is known to the nearest few square miles. And should we want to and wanted to spend the money each could be tracked 24/7 for its entire life.

    So please explain why it is ludicrous to suggest that protecting all wild elephants is eminently possible and practical (assuming we thought it worth the money) ?

  18. Tim Newman – I dunno what’s so unspeakably awful about children having jobs either.

    Sure, we’d rather Vietnamese kids didn’t have to make fake Gucci wallets for a living, but if it’s a choice between that and begging on the streets or being on the menu for some of Harriet Harman’s old PIE acquaintances, roll on the sweatshops.

    Back at home I see a lot of fat, spoiled kids who would benefit from a paper round.

  19. SMFS

    The EU agreeing to lobby China on ivory doesn’t stop each individual country also lobbying China separately.

  20. Shinsei1967 – “The location of pretty much every wild elephant is known to the nearest few square miles. And should we want to and wanted to spend the money each could be tracked 24/7 for its entire life. So please explain why it is ludicrous to suggest that protecting all wild elephants is eminently possible and practical (assuming we thought it worth the money) ?”

    Shinsei, please meet the Third World, Third World, this is Shinsei. If we could track every wild elephant, that would mean the governments of the Third World could track every wild elephant, which means their Wildlife Departments could track every wild elephant. Which means they would all be dead.

    There isn’t a Third World country on the planet where those elephants would be safe. Putting an under-paid Africa guard with a high powered assault rifle anywhere near a wild elephant just means his children will be eating that night.

    Shinsei1967 – “The EU agreeing to lobby China on ivory doesn’t stop each individual country also lobbying China separately.”

    Then why do we need Europe to do it? We got rid of slavery without Brussels. I fail to see how we get from preventing the Germans beating the French for the fourth time in a row to losing our power to do what we like about elephant ivory.

  21. The EU agreeing to lobby China on ivory doesn’t stop each individual country also lobbying China separately.

    If it becomes part of the acquis communautaire then not only is it an EU responsibility, not a national one, but national governments are expected to (well, required to but this is the EU so many people just ignore it) defer to the EU on the matter.

  22. The real statement being made here is that those who would ban, are banning, the ivory trade are ignorant cunts working towards the extinction of the entire species.

    Or perhaps they realise the difficulties of prohibiting a trade that people find valuable but think elephants are so intelligent as to make farming them immoral.

    (Everyone has a point at which their morals make them a prohibitionist. I do not think that even Walter Block opposes the prohibition of child porn.)

    The men and women working towards the extinction of the species are the unutterable sods who kill them and who hang pieces of tusk around their throats. It might be true that there are no means of curbing this demand but I am not sure that extinction is not preferable to their being treated as livestock.

  23. “Alternatively we could send an EU official who can claim to speak for 400 million people and all 27 members of the EU.”

    and with what do they change China’s mind? Are we going to launch trade sanctions over ivory? Are we going to invade their country and impose an anti-ivory government?

  24. an EU official who can claim to speak for 400 million people and all 27 members of the EU

    He can claim all he likes but he has absolutely no mandate from 400 million people to do so which is why he should eff off.

  25. “I am not sure that extinction is not preferable to their being treated as livestock” BenSix April 24, 2014 at 10:46 am

    Is that your choice to make? Given your views, presumably you believe that the elephant on the Clapham omnibus would think its species’ extinction a price well worth paying if it allows you to feel even more pleased about the size of your conscience than you do already.

  26. Shinsei1967, I’d ask you for facts to back up your utterly ludicrous claim that ‘The location of pretty much every wild elephant is known to the nearest few square miles’ but I see SMFS has beaten me to it.

    Be assured, whoever told you this was talking out of an arse the size of the average Loxodonta africanus

  27. I can’t speak for Shinsei but I guess s/he was exaggerating a bit.

    The current estimate for the numbers of African elephants in the wild is between 450,000 and 700,000, which suggests they don’t know where they all are.

    But they do know roughly where the herds are, and the solitary males won’t be too far away, so I guess they could find those that are not already collar-tracked fairly easily if they really needed to.

    SMFS is right about African gamekeepers – luckily they can’t shoot straight though, as I believe they all have bones through their noses.

  28. luckily they can’t shoot straight though, as I believe they all have bones through their noses.

    They can’t shoot straight because they (huge generalisation, obviously) insist on treating an AK-47 as a rifle rather than as a long-range sub-machine gun. Very few people can shoot straight with an normally-manufacturer AK. Especially not one that has been subjected to years of African military maintenance.

  29. Shinsei1967

    There’s only a few thousand elephants left in the wild. They are very easily spotted and they are in a few discrete locations.

    Actually they aren’t that easy to spot. I have picture I took when teaching in Zimababwe in 1980 or an Elephant that had just run off the run in to the bush. When I show it people and say spot the elephant very few do and its only 20′ away.

  30. You could go further than that, SE
    An AK, any assault rifle, is a weapon specifically designed not to kill elephants.
    It’s the old action reaction thing. An assault rifle is designed for minimum recoil. So it can ;lay down rapid fire from impromptu firing positions. The intention, to increase the chances of putting a disabling but not necessarily lethal round into an opponent.
    About the opposite of an elephant gun.

  31. @ SE

    ‘They can’t shoot straight because they (huge generalisation, obviously) insist on treating an AK-47 as a rifle rather than as a long-range sub-machine gun. Very few people can shoot straight with an normally-manufacturer AK. Especially not one that has been subjected to years of African military maintenance.’

    Actually, they stand up very well to poor maintenance (as I’m sure you know), and I’d have thought an AK would be pretty accurate at say 100m when aimed (‘aimed’) at an elephant by pretty much anyone who could raise it and had half an hour’s practice – that’s a lot of natural butts!

    I suppose the crucial question is whether you’d kill him, send him packing or just piss him off. If your first couple of rounds hit anywhere near the head you’d certainly give him something to think about, but if not… well, I don’t suppose suppressive fire works too well on rogue males, and I bet you run through a mag very quickly if one is on his way towards you, with a concomitant degradation in your effect.

    Rory Young says the anti-poaching effort is working, as evidenced by Botswana’s elephants increasing in number and Kenya’s declining (the former give poachers a pretty dusty answer, he says, while the Kenyans are more interested in straightforward military shit, though the British Army were out there a while back specifically to help the Kenyans with anti-poaching stuff, ie separate from normal training).

    I’ve not been to Botswana but I’m told they do use the AK (as well as the M4 and the M16, and there are quite a few FNs and SLRs knocking about those parts too, not to mention Bren guns, which could be interesting. Probably some old .303s under beds in odd places, too. The Kenyans use the HK G3.

  32. Actually, they stand up very well to poor maintenance

    If your definition is “will it still fire” then, yes, they are excellent. It is what it is designed for.

    Accuracy at the sort of range I would prefer to engage something the size and potential-SE-destructiveness of a bull elephant is, however, a very considerable problem (partly down to the 7.62short round but also down to the manufacturing ‘tolerances’ – aka ‘gaps’ that enable it to meet the excellent “will fire” characteristic.) Compared to, say, the SA-80. Which is very accurate but has just slight maintainability issues.

    IIRC, the Bren was so accurate, it was actually less useful in the squad LMG role than if it had a bit more scatter.

  33. I understand that some African states have stockpiles of ivory – a mixture of recoveries from poachers, natural deaths and possibly legal hunting.

    If they want to destroy or hinder the illegal trade, what should they do? Sell it cheaply? Give it away? Sell/give it away at regular intervals? Or at random, unpredictable intervals? When prices are high? When a few elephants have been killed to destroy profits on them? When there has been a lull in poaching to prevent prices and the rewards for poaching rising?

  34. HamishIs that your choice to make?

    As if the farming of elephants would be their decision? Of course, I don’t know what such animals would prefer, because as intelligent as they are they could not grasp such concepts. The presumption that an elephant would wish to be confined, mistreated and killed is, at the least, no less presumptuous.

  35. They can’t shoot straight because they (huge generalisation, obviously) insist on treating an AK-47 as a rifle rather than as a long-range sub-machine gun.

    Most of them I saw in Nigeria were missing the foresight, and a lot of them had what looked like a home-made stock resembling a steel potato-masher which would probably have destroyed the shoulder of anyone firing it. I think drive-by gangstas would demonstrate greater accuracy of fire than Nigerian policemen and soldiers.

    Compared to, say, the SA-80. Which is very accurate but has just slight maintainability issues.

    I have been told that a lot of these were sorted out and it is now a pretty decent weapon (you probably know a lot more about this than me). I know my mate in Iraq liked carrying it for its accuracy and range: his men could shoot people long before they were in range of the enemy. And the M16 had terrible teething problems when it first came out.

    IIRC, the Bren was so accurate, it was actually less useful in the squad LMG role than if it had a bit more scatter.

    I heard one of them – either the Bren or the LMG which followed it – had an inaccuracy built in for this reason. Might have been cadets talking bollocks, though. Either way, the LSW is useless shite.

  36. Look, they’re bloody animals! They are not able to take any steps to support their own survival and there isn’t any any genuine evidence that they have the slightest grasp of the concept. Whilst we do have a duty to farm ethically, we certainly have the right to decide what ‘ethical’ is to and then to apply those standards.

    What certainly is not ethical is to stand by and watch a beautiful species die out whilst we don’t take the steps that could save it, all because we want to engage in discussions based upon inadmissible ideas about ‘what the animals would prefer’.

  37. … all because we want to engage in discussions based upon inadmissible ideas about ‘what the animals would prefer’.

    I’m sure, if we could ask them, that any sheep would much prefer to be shagged than killed and eaten.

    (I might be in Wales, but I’m definitely not Welsh!)

  38. Shinsei said: “There’s only a few thousand elephants left in the wild.”

    Actually there’s at least 440,000 in Africa, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature who count these things.

    http://www.elephantdatabase.org/preview_report/2013_africa/Loxodonta_africana/2012/Africa

    As for your claim that they know where they all are, they don’t even know how many there are.

    Their population estimate is actually a range from 440,000 to 690,000. Of those, only 61,683 have actually been counted (from the air or on the ground); the rest are evidenced in categories ranging from “dung counts” to “uninformed guesses”.

    For example they think there’s over 100,000 of them in Zimbabwe, but don’t really know because no-one’s been in to count them for over 10 years. They’ve dropped their estimate for Botswana, not because they actually think numbers have dropped but because they haven’t been able to survey as big an area this time as they did last time.

    So since even the experts don’t know how many there are to the nearest quarter of a million (which is a hell of a lot of elephant) and only 10% of their estimate have actually been seen.

    That makes your claim that “The location of pretty much every wild elephant is known to the nearest few square miles” look a bit dubious.

    Which is back to our host’s usual point, that one of the big problems with central planning is that we don’t have the information.

  39. For what it’s worth, the man in the local burger van (ex-forces, Falklands, or so he says) told me that the A2 version of the SA80 is excellent.

  40. Ironman – absolutely they are animals and as civilized human beings it behoves us to find a way or organising ourselves in such a way as we don’t wipe them out.

    probably selling off ivory stocks in random quantities at random times makes more sense than burning them as does organising properly protected and huge national parks where they can roam free, un-hunted.

    The populations living near them need to be incentivated to keep them alive, and given the opportunity to grow rich themselves on normal economic activity, same as we in the west do. This means free markets and removing corrupt and incompetent governments – the same problems we face everywhere, only rather more so.

    I think experience and theory both point to a blanket ban being counter productive. Some tightly regulated trading will likely act as a pressure valve on prices, and rigorous certification of origin can likely be used to weed out the unscrupulous traders or at least enough of them to discourage les autres. I would guess this can be backed up by DNA testing.

  41. @SE I am reliably informed that, as TN says, the SA 80 is now a very reliable weapon… it’s the Pakistani rounds which aren’t. (Not everyone likes 5.56mm obviously – not an enormous amount of stopping power on a human, never mind an elephant.)

    I must say, I assume that the AKs in the hands of the Botswanan Defence Force are better than those described by TN, but I don’t know if they are. I also don’t know if the BDF work in anti-poaching or that’s the cops/some other unit.

    Back (more) on topic, it seems to me that elephants should be farmed, along with repression of poaching (which would still happen).

    But I’m not sure if that’s why UKIP voted against, or if it was just on the basis of it’s none of the EU’s business, what is the EU for etc etc.

    Regrettably, in the first two links I find the Indy carries no UKIP explanation and the HuffPo says it ‘approached Ukip for comment but had not received a response as this story went live’.

    Nothing on the UKIP website front page.

    Nothing as far as I can see on UKIP’s twitter feed.

    Nothing on Farage’s own website front page.

    So I click through to his ‘News and Media’ section and I find the last piece on there is from Dec 17, 2013.

    This is just fucking amateur politics.

    The sad reality of the modern world, when 50% of the potential electoate are too stupid to understand anything than the headline they read or hear, is you cannot vote against banning the ivory trade and not explain why.

    If you don’t have the manpower to do that, it would be imperfectly better to vote for the ban, with a brief explanation on your website explaining why elephant farming and better enforcement (if that’s your thinking) is probably a better idea.

    There is always the possibility that the dingbat wing of the party really does just hate elephants or likes ivory trinkets. Tim?

  42. It’s on a par with unveiling posters complaining about how the EU allows foreigners to take our jobs and that the MPs all have their snouts in the trough, and then watching the media reveal that your German wife is employed as your secretary, at which point 250 British nationals submit amusing job applications.

    I’m willing to believe that she is able to do the job better than anyone else, but not better enough that it’s worth the shit that he then gets tipped all over his head.

    Somebody have a word.

  43. IronmanWhat certainly is not ethical is to stand by and watch a beautiful species die out whilst we don’t take the steps that could save it, all because we want to engage in discussions based upon inadmissible ideas about ‘what the animals would prefer’.

    I’m not claiming that it would definitely be moral (I haven’t thought about enough to claim to arbitrate) but it is not “certainly” immoral. You’re right that they cannot conceptualise extinction but frustration, fear, pain and loss are all things they can feel. That is without even considering how much it would demean us to be so barbaric – even with noble intentions. This argument, in other words, as I was attempting to say, has to be based on ethics as well as economics.

  44. O/T this amused I greatly: “Within a month, Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader Alexa Brenneman had filed a similar suit against her team, claiming that the Ben-Gals are paid just $2.85 an hour for their work on the sidelines. And Tuesday, five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders filed suit against their own team, alleging that the Buffalo Jills were required to perform unpaid work for the team for about 20 hours a week. Unpaid activities included: submitting to a weekly “jiggle test” (where cheer coaches “scrutinized the women’s stomach, arms, legs, hips, and butt while she does jumping jacks”); parading around casinos in bikinis “for the gratification of the predominantly male crowd”; and offering themselves up as prizes at a golf tournament, where they were required to sit on men’s laps on the golf carts, submerge themselves in a dunk tank, and perform backflips for tips (which they did not receive). The Buffalo Jills cheerleaders take home just $105 to $1,800 for an entire season on the job.”

    Economics not this bird’s strong point (neither is English, for my definition of “required”).

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2014/04/nfl_cheerleading_lawsuits_five_former_buffalo_jills_are_the_latest_in_a.html

  45. (I’m speaking of Mr Worstall’s farm-em-for-meat idea rather than regulated hunting. Both are obnoxious but the latter is less so.)

  46. “You’re right that they cannot conceptualise extinction but frustration, fear, pain and loss are all things they can feel. That is without even considering how much it would demean us to be so barbaric – even with noble intentions. This argument, in other words, as I was attempting to say, has to be based on ethics as well as economics.” BenSix

    I honestly can’t see why keeping elephants as livestock is more demeaning than keeping any other species: and we (as a species) have been doing that for rather a long time. Too bad you weren’t around to put our forebears straight, back in the day.

    Even less can I see why “noble intentions” would make a difference either way.

    In any case, these animals (to the extent that they can) will experience frustration, fear, pain, and loss whatever their circumstances, because that’s the reality of life in this world. Of course, the fear and pain are likely to be notably less for those not living in the wild.

    One set of circumstances is almost certain to lead to the extinction of their species; the other means that it will survive. That’s the issue, and no amount of self-righteous prattling about “ethics” will change it.

  47. When I was serving the LMG was classed as being too accurate and we were taught to fire in bursts of 2-3 rounds as any more just riddled or if you were missing they al missed.

    Back on topic, if we want to stop the ivory trade we need a credible scientist to discover that it causes erection dysfunction or something similar when ingested or left on the skin for an hour or so.

  48. Without wanting to get in to an extended discussion about the failings of the Rifle (Plastic) (Action Man for the use of), can I note:

    1. They keep telling us it is a “weapons’ system’ not a weapon. Therefore if the MoD issues me a great rifle (it doesn’t) and crap ammo, it’s not my fault the system ends up being crap.

    2. If the L85A2 is so brilliant, why does every unit or soldier with a choice choose to use something else?

    3. For a rifle that depends for not being totally unreliable on massive amounts of teflon(tm), why do the MoD still insist that any cleaning method other than elbow grease and abrasive will cause the Brigade of Guards to appear in turquoise tunics (or whatever the current FUD is.)

    4. Forward assist. It’s still in the PAM (drill manual for the elderly). That’s not ammo dependent.

    5. Left eye shooters.

    I appreciate that my rifle probably won last year’s Afghanistan all comers record for number of times cleaned versus number of times fired (never mind “number of times fired in combat” which was a fairly solid zero) but, hey, there was an awful lot of muck in it.

    On related subjects –

    I’d not even try to give an elephant an ear-piercing with any NATO 5.56 weapon. Ricochet can be a killer.

    Giraffes aren’t just bastards. They’re tall bastards. Break out the axes.

  49. “The ivory trade represents the callous exploitation of innocent creatures for profit and every sane, civilised person opposes it”

    Begging the question fallacy. “Any right-thinking person would agree” does not in any way prove the assumption.

  50. ‘That is, that when humans gain something of value from an animal then we tend to make sure that the population of that animal increases. We’ve even got a name for the process: “farming”.’

    There is another such process: “hunting.” Banning hunting devalues animals. Kenya banned big game hunting in 1977, when they had 150,000 elephants. Now they have 6,000. Their lion population is down 80%. Without hunting, the animals have no value to the local people; they are simply a nuisance. The African farmer doesn’t see a cheetah as a beautiful creature; he sees it as a livestock poacher. What the EU Parliament thinks is of no interest to the African farmer.

  51. Actually that’s the No True Scotsman fallacy. It’s fallacious nonetheless.

    The idea that farming elephants is morally repugnant because of their intelligence seems to founder on a simple point: is it worse for elephants to be poached for their ivory or farmed for their ivory? As far as an individual elephant is concerned it presumably makes no difference, unless (as is usually the case) farmers try to maintain the welfare of their livestock prior to slaughter. For elephant-kind the analogy to domestic farm animals would seem clear. Farmed sheep outnumber their wild counterparts by hundreds to one. Their deaths, when they come, are usually swift and with some attention given to minimisation of pain. Wild sheep die of predation or starvation. The only wild animals that die of old age do so in zoos.

    We could posit a third scenario in which elephants are neither poached nor farmed but instead lead unmolested lives roaming the savannah doing happy elephantine things. However, in the real world, this does not appear to be an option. It may be something to strive for, but the barriers to its success seem insurmountable.

  52. Steve: Can we at least all agree that giraffes are bastards?

    Please compare the necks of Richard Murphy and a giraffe and report back.

  53. Interested – “SMFS is right about African gamekeepers – luckily they can’t shoot straight though, as I believe they all have bones through their noses.”

    You know when something is supposed to be a parody but it isn’t? You would not believe the basic things Third World governments don’t bothering doing. Teaching for instance. Sure they have classrooms and they pay teachers, but it is amazing how often they cannot be bothered to actually teach anything. Well, another is teaching soldiers how to shoot. Game wardens often come from the military in the Third World. Who often regard being able to shoot as an optional luxury.

    bloke in spain – “An AK, any assault rifle, is a weapon specifically designed not to kill elephants.”

    Umm, don’t you mean it is a weapons not specifically designed to kill elephants? I don’t think the late Mikhael sat down and thought, what the Soviet Army really needs is a gun that can’t kill elephants.

    “It’s the old action reaction thing. An assault rifle is designed for minimum recoil. So it can ;lay down rapid fire from impromptu firing positions. The intention, to increase the chances of putting a disabling but not necessarily lethal round into an opponent.”

    Ummm, no. It is designed for as much recoil as is compatible with the task at hand – rapid fire. The AK actually kicks like a mule. To the point that Lebanese forces would force young men to take their shirts off to see who had bruises on their shoulders. It does not kick as much as a real rifle, but then it is not a real rifle. If minimal recoil was the main aim, it would kick a hell of a lot less.

    “About the opposite of an elephant gun.”

    When South Africa wanted to thin their herds, they used to use military weapons. Not specific elephant guns. The high powered round is nice, but when you want to kill an entire herd, rapid fire was preferred. I assume they used the FAL.

    Interested – “I suppose the crucial question is whether you’d kill him, send him packing or just piss him off. If your first couple of rounds hit anywhere near the head you’d certainly give him something to think about”

    Gun fire has poor effects on animals. Largely because they don’t know what it is. Some people have claimed that the first generation of Fuzzy Wuzzies did not know what bullets did either. So even after you shot them, they kept coming. Modern people do know what bullets do so when you shoot them, they fall down. From, on the whole, psychological reasons.

    I am not entirely sure about this. But it is claimed.

    Surreptitious Evil – “(partly down to the 7.62short round but also down to the manufacturing ‘tolerances’ – aka ‘gaps’ that enable it to meet the excellent “will fire” characteristic.)”

    Most of those gaps don’t relate to things that effect accuracy, like the barrel. They relate to things like the gas piston that drives the automatic action.

    An Army that relies on “forward assist” is in trouble. In fact if I were a grunt, the words “forward assist” would be about the last words I would want to hear. A gun that shoots reliably if not accurately can at least scare people. A gun that doesn’t shoot reliably, and needs a good thump to work at all, is a very expensive way to hang a helmet over a grave.

    “Compared to, say, the SA-80. Which is very accurate but has just slight maintainability issues.”

    Slight.

    Tim Newman – “Most of them I saw in Nigeria were missing the foresight, and a lot of them had what looked like a home-made stock resembling a steel potato-masher which would probably have destroyed the shoulder of anyone firing it.”

    You got to admit, sometimes the Russians got things right.

    “I have been told that a lot of these were sorted out and it is now a pretty decent weapon”

    Did we pay BAE ten-times the going rate for an off the shelf M-16? As someone else said, no one who has a choice uses the SA-80.

  54. BenSix – “As if the farming of elephants would be their decision? Of course, I don’t know what such animals would prefer, because as intelligent as they are they could not grasp such concepts. The presumption that an elephant would wish to be confined, mistreated and killed is, at the least, no less presumptuous.”

    I don’t see it as presumptuous. Although I often wonder about the human equivalent: if we could send people back in time, should we support the Atlantic slave trade or not. How would African-Americans feel if we could go back and prevent their community from ever existing? However that is not really the point. Elephants cannot have a valid view on this matter. They fall under our stewardship. It is up to us to decide how they are treated. So we need to decide what is important (like saving the species) and how we go about it. If farming them is the best way to go about it, that is what we should do . Regardless of how the elephants may or may not feel about it.

    The options before us seem to be 1. Allowing nature to take its course, which means elephants are allowing to suffer greatly in the wild with drought and famine being the main controls on their numbers, and will inevitably lead to elephants being poached into extinction or 2. allowing them to roam free, with one or two males being shot every month or so with entire herds being eliminated every year or so. Keeping the numbers down within acceptable limits.

    I do not see the first as a preferable option.

  55. If farming is the solution, why is an elephant worth more than a cow? Or 5 cows? 5 live sentient animals must be worth more than 1 live sentient animal, and the cows are more use to us. So replace elephants with cows. (Same for the commenter above who wisely points out that giraffes are bastards.)

    And as for regulated hunting, we can just charge people to shoot cows, rather than elephants. Why shoot one elephant when you can shoot dive cows?

  56. Luke – “If farming is the solution, why is an elephant worth more than a cow? Or 5 cows? 5 live sentient animals must be worth more than 1 live sentient animal, and the cows are more use to us. So replace elephants with cows. (Same for the commenter above who wisely points out that giraffes are bastards.)”

    This is precisely what African farmers are thinking. Why should they put up with elephants who trample their crops and can’t be used to buy a wife. So they either shoot the elephants themselves or they look the other way while poachers do it.

    The solution must be to align the interests of poor Africans with the interests of middle class White people – that is, they make money, we keep our biodiversity. The elephant as a species has a value to the middle class that the poor African farmer does not share. Hence they should be paid when rich White people shoot the elephant.

    “And as for regulated hunting, we can just charge people to shoot cows, rather than elephants. Why shoot one elephant when you can shoot dive cows?”

    For some reason people seem to want to shoot elephants. I suppose that anyone in that cash bracket has already shot a cow. Which is not great fun I would guess. Given they just stand there.

    But in parts of the world, people do pay to shoot cows with rocket propelled grenades. I don’t think that is going to take off as a sport.

  57. You know I think you commenters are on to something.
    Think of all the useless humans there are. They could be herded in safe welfare and be content and even thrive if well guarded.
    Then when a spare kidney or liver was needed . Why then out come the AK47 – A bit of prompt refrigeration and the market for organs really takes off.
    If you could ‘persuade’ them all to be vegetarians then even the greens would vote for this. They don’t like humans.

  58. SMFS – When Mr Worstall spoke of farming I imagined something more akin to cattle farming. Hunting wild animals is still obnoxious but less so.

    By the way, I have not claimed that life as a wild animal is a lot of fun. It isn’t. The complaint with cattle, pigs et cetera is not so much that animals should be free but that they should not have existed in the first place. But adding an debate about meat eating to a debate about hunting would be argumentative inflation of the highest order so I’ll bow out there.

  59. Has anyone ever, under any ivory trading rules, farmed elephants – African elephants in particular? Or is this another fantasy policy from UKIP?

    The economics of the situation would seem to be that it’s a lot cheaper to buy elephant tusks from poachers than to farm them. So if you allow the sale of elephant tusks from supposedly legitimate sources, in countries, Zimbabwe for example, where officialdom may not be wholly trustworthy, the result will be a trade in poached ivory.

  60. @PaulB – as far as I know (I’m not a member of or a voter for), no, it’s not UKIP policy – any more than you once had a mate who took acid, thought he could fly and jumped off some scaffolding, you trolling liar.

    (I’m just about willing to believe a man took acid and jumped off some scaffolding, as per all those urban legends; it’s the idea that you once had a mate which I find incredible.)

    What it is is a comment thread on a blog, in which we consider whether

    i) Law enforcement can stop the trade in ivory (hasn’t worked with acid, ask your pretend mate, but possibly it can reduce it)

    and

    ii) Whether some form of legalised trade might allow elephants to take on a value beyond the merely touristic, which would give notoriously greedy and poverty-stricken kleptocracies – such as your leftist fellow traveller Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe – a reason to protect them, rather than look the other way and take their cut of the increased value in the ivory, increased value that is produced by prohibition.

    You stupid, snarky cunt.

    Haven’t seen you around for a while, I was hoping you were lying in your own piss and shit, dying of thirst in one of your beloved NHS hospitals.

    🙂

  61. Sorry to hijack but hoping for advice and this seems as good a place as any. I have read this and other economics blogs for a few months, having read some ‘political economy’ including bits of Krugman, Stiglitz and Chang as well as their ‘opponents’ Martin Wolf, Hayek etc. However, I really want to gain a better understanding of economics fundamentals rather than studying real economies.

    Is neoclassical, Keynes and Marxian a reasonable triad for splitting the basics of economics and taking from there? Or should I go to the key texts of Mill, Ricardo, Smith directly, which seem more political?

  62. Bloke in Costa Rica
    April 24, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Actually that’s the No True Scotsman fallacy. It’s fallacious nonetheless.

    ===============

    http://www.logicalfallacies.info/

    These categories have to be treated quite loosely. Some fallacies are difficult to place in any category; others belong in two or three. The ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy, for example, could be classified either as a fallacy of ambiguity (an attempt to switch definitions of “Scotsman”) or as a fallacy of presumption (it begs the question, reinterpreting the evidence to fit its conclusion rather than forming its conclusion on the basis of the evidence).”

  63. Interested: some time ago I asked you, politely, to drop the scaffolding story, and you agreed that you would.

    However, you are right that your version of it bears no relation to reality, so perhaps it doesn’t matter that you’re unable to keep your word.

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