Friday, June 6, 2008

Yesterday's news, or, the post in which I reveal that I don't understand how people draw conclusions.

There are few of you who regularly read these pages/this screen, so I can't imagine there'll be much clarification, but yesterday's articles brought me to a slightly confused state. By no means am I a master of politics or gardening, but I can't, using the best of my ability to reason, figure out how to address the following. Please help.

1. In "Medicare Drug Coverage is Costing Seniors More" (LA Times)
Medicare rates are 16% higher for seniors than they were last year, blah blah, the next president's going to have a hell of a time getting rates down, blah blah, but here's the thing that appears to lack sense:

(Regarding presidential candidates' views on health care) "On the Republican side, presumptive presidential candidate John McCain supports giving Americans the right to import lower-cost medications from countries, such as Canada, where governments set prices."

That's wonderful, and quite considerate. But in importing medication from another country such as Canada, aren't we allowing our business to boost the Canadian economy rather than our own, when we could in fact require medication to come from within our own country and therefore keep the money at home? I understand that McCain wants us to use our tax credits toward purchasing our own private insurance plans, though I'm unsure of whether any industry (be it pharmaceutical, medical or insurance) would benefit from distribution of imported drugs. But if he supports the import of drugs sold at government-set prices, why can't we simply have a government that sets prices at home and buy medication domestically? Heaven forbid the government work for us.

2. The second article, which irked me far more, is related to the "humane" ways in which one can dispose of a pesky garden animal. This referring to squirrels, birds, gophers, rabbits, etc., which feed on fruits and vegetables in one's backyard and in turn are not scared off but "humanely" drowned, shot, beaten, and/or turned into stew. Understandably drawing quite a mixed response from readers (325 comments to date), the consensus is split between those who are appalled by the cruelty one is willing to place upon an animal for the sake of saving some lettuce, and those who make like Elmer Fudd and offer suggestions for the right shotgun to use.

In this New York Times article, people profiled include a man who "literally felt sick" when killing his first woodchuck but eventually "stopped at 19" kills, a woman who killed a porcupine with a sledgehammer, and a man who killed a raccoon for eating the koi from his business, a "two-and-a-half-acre ornamental fish and water lily farm."

Yes, many of us eat animals, and yes, at a time when groceries are expensive, it is a pain in the ass to think of the woodchuck that's eating your home-grown produce. But I'm willing to bet that the people eager to drown or shoot a garden-variety animal wouldn't do the same to a stray cat or dog, and moreover, I'm sickened that people don't consider the fact that small animals are merely trying to survive where there exist people, concrete, homes. We can go to the grocery store to buy produce. Squirrels cannot. Some of the commenters on this article argued that we're merely a larger part of the food chain and should be able to come to terms with our power and ability to kill smaller animals, that such occurs in nature. But the role those small animals play in the food chain is to pursue food that rests in backyard gardens. I'm a bit sickened that this idea isn't more widely considered and respected, and don't have it in me to figure out when living creatures like koi were determined to exist solely for aesthetically pleasing purposes, considering that animals like raccoons naturally know them as a food source.

Anyway, I don't mean for this post to turn into a Nicholas Fehn-style rant, but I don't know how to answer my own beef sometimes. Music tomorrow, then.


FiL said...

As a denizen of Canada, I ask McCain: why should the Canadian government subsidize Yankees purchasing pharmaceuticals cross-border?? :)

Regarding garden beasties, I've killed many a slug in my time. But I draw the line there...

China said...

Damn straight!

As for slugs, if 50% of New York Times readers/article commenters will willingly kill off an attractive, furry thing like a squirrel, I can't imagine you'd draw much criticism for ridding your garden of slugs. Come to think, I don't think I've ever seen slugs outside of Santa Cruz. Do they get big where you are?