John Stossel tells us of his recent conversation with someone concerned with rhinos – the problem is, their policies are actually making things worse. Excerpt:
Today’s environmental activists are so hostile to capitalism that they end up killing animals they want to protect.
Like the African rhinoceros.
Poachers kill them to get their horns, which can sell for as much as $300,000. Poachers mostly sell in China and Vietnam, to people who carve them into ornaments or sell them as aphrodisiacs. By the way: The aphrodisiacs don’t work.
When I started Stossel TV, my first video covered one man’s attempt to reduce rhino poaching by flooding the market with fake horns.
Matthew Markus argued that his 3D printed rhino horn would reduce demand for real horns.
“One way to devalue something is to create a lot of it,” he explained. “When things are abundant, people don’t fight, kill or steal.”
True. Bootleggers and Al Capone’s thugs disappeared when America ended Prohibition.
South Africa, home to the largest number of rhinos, once tried something similar. For 20 years, they allowed people to own rhinos and sell their horns. Rhino farmers put the rhinos to sleep with tranquilizer darts, sawed off their horns (the horns grow back) and sold the horn.
Farmers had an incentive to protect rhinos. South Africa’s rhino population quadrupled.
But in 2009, under pressure from “environmental” groups, South Africa banned sales of horn again.
The sad result: Poaching increased sharply. Poachers also killed park rangers who tried to protect rhinos.
An old man who had hunted in Africa several times in the Sixties and Seventies told me once that the safari companies in Botswana and South Africa in those days had a wink-and-nod agreement with the local authorities, namely that poachers would be shot on sight by the professional hunters and left for the hyenas. One would think that would de-incentivize the poachers, too, but it might also start a shoot-first race these days.
Education would be great – get ignorant assholes to stop thinking that powdered rhino horn would cure boils or make their dicks stay hard longer. That’s just some stupid, ignorant shit. But also, why the hell now acknowledge reality and do what’s best for the rhinos, if we really do want to keep them around? The fake rhino horn seems like a pretty damn good angle on it. Flood the market with the stuff. Make the poachers find some other line of work.
Markets work. They aren’t perfect, but they usually get things right in the long run. The people concerned with rhinos should take advantage of that, and abandon the stupid RHEEEE CAPITALISM knee-jerk.