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May 20, 2007

Sunday Reading: Welfare Goats, Supply-Side Polyphony, and Bear Trappin'

First up, a headline that defies parody: Jobless Romanians Get Welfare Goats.

Jobless Romanians are to be given goats instead of welfare benefits as part of a scheme to make them contribute more to the economy.


The scheme has been set up by the council's campaigning mayor, Cristea Gascan, who said: "We have 30 families that are on benefits, and just paying them cash does not help them or us. But with goats they are making a positive contribution to the economy and will be working instead of sitting at home expecting handouts...It is the goats, or nothing."

I'll admit, it has a certain logic to it. A hopeless, backwards Eastern European sort of logic.

Mr Gascan said all families receiving the goats will have to pay a "tax" of three kids a year to the city hall. An inspector will be appointed to make sure the goats are not mistreated, sold or eaten by those entrusted with their care, and Mr Gascan plans to take 10 goats himself to show others how much can be made from the scheme.

Suliman Visel, 22, who is unemployed and was the first to sign up for the goats, said: "I want to work and the goats will be good for me and my family. They will help me feed myself and my two children and will bring more than the welfare money we had."

We all know where this leads, of course. Imagine it: Welfare gypsies with their three-wheeled carts up on blocks in the yard, arguing with convenience store clerks over whether or not they can use their government goats to buy cigarettes--it'll be kind of like an American inner city, but with balalaikas.

Also from the Telegraph is this story about Paul McCartney, who shows off a hitherto unseen knack for humor:

Sir Paul McCartney yesterday likened his prolonged and bitter divorce from Heather Mills to a journey through a tunnel towards the light. Describing how he has been helped by the support of his family and the public, he said: "There is a tunnel and there is a light and I will get there, and meantime I really enjoy my work and my family.

"I see people worse off than me, so I can put it into perspective. There's a thing we always used to quote in the Sixties when things were rough, 'I walked down a street and I cried because I had no shoes, then I saw a man with no feet'. It was an Indian parable, and that is one of the lines I live by."

No comment.

Anyway: Do you like young girls, choral music, and capitalism, but find that there just aren't enough videos out there that combine all three?

The Brussels Journal has your fix.

Finally, my state is in the news, for predictable reasons:

WINTHROP, Maine -- Say what you will about Bill Randall, but he is no Bambi-loving tree-hugger. Inside the 72-year-old's cottage in central Maine, his hunter's freezer is packed with venison, carved by his own hand from deer he shot. When the ex-military man rests his head at night, it is to sleep under two of his most prized possessions -- a Remington .30-06 semi-automatic rifle and a Winchester 12-gauge shotgun.

But one thing he will not do, he said, is train those guns on a trapped bear. "You got these so-called hunters up here, you see, who lure these animals out with doughnuts and grease," Randall explained in his Maine drawl. "The bears spring a foot snare and get held in place for hours. Then these guys just stroll right up and shoot them. You call them sportsmen? Yeah? Well, I call them cowards."


Randall is a general in Maine's raging bear wars, a battle over culture, animal rights and, most notably, the true definition of a sportsman in this state known as much for stubborn New England pride as for its iconic furry black bears.

Seventeen states still allow bear hunting with hounds, and 11 allow the use of bait. But Maine is the last state in the union to permit the recreational trapping of bears -- a controversial sport that the state legislature will decide as soon as next week whether to outlaw.

The debate ahead of the vote is dramatically exposing the culture clash between wealthy, southern "new" Maine and the old rural north -- where the descendants of the state's frontiersmen and trappers still live alongside a thriving population of 23,000 black bears.

"Raging bear wars" overstates the case a bit, but they do have a point about the South/North split, although it would be more accurate to call it the I-95 Corridor/rest-of-the-state split. To whit:

Newspaper editorials and political cartoons in progressive Portland, where "Save Darfur" signs dot art gallery and cafe windows, are depicting trappers as cavemen and animal torturers while recalling Maine bears in the benign images of Gentle Ben.

As a resident of progressive Portland, I can attest to this. I don't hunt or trap, so I'm not going to be affected by this no matter which way it goes, but it seems that there's a rational debate to be had. Portland's lefties, though, are the same as those anywhere else: They'd rather insult you than argue. It's easier, I guess. Their view of the environment is that it's this great thing that should sit around unused 51 weeks out of the year until they take that backpacking trip in August, and if you disagree then you're some sort of emotionally stunted manchild who probably hits his wife and doesn't even like wine bars. Which I am of course, but that's, you know, beside the point.

At any rate, I side with the bear trappers on this one, because it's an obvious first step to banning bear hunting in general, which there's no need for.

I'd be curious where the AoS hunting community comes down on this issue.

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posted by AndrewR at 12:13 PM

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