May 25, 2024

The Connection Between The Fiscal Cliff And Deer Infestation

divided-houseWords are plentiful but deeds are precious” – Unknown

Has America become paralyzed by discussion, litigation and the inability to compromise or have we simply lost that precious commodity known as common sense? If we can’t solve minor problems, how can we ever hope to resolve festering problems that profoundly threaten the future welfare of our Nation?

A recent Bloomberg editorial discusses a growing problem that elected officials should be able to easily resolve.  In practice, a solution cannot be found and the problem gets worse.

Looking over the American landscape, it’s hard to think of a more insidious threat to forests, farms and wildlife, not to mention human health and safety, than deer.

Yet when it comes to reducing this costly infestation, too many elected officials sit on their hands or deflect effective control measures. There were about 1.09 million deer-vehicle collisions from June 2010 to June 2011, State Farm Insurance reports, with average property damage of more than $3,000 an accident. Add to that a billion or so dollars for agricultural damage. Deer carry ticks that spread Lyme disease. And their voracious chomping has resulted in “ghost forests” — particularly in the Northeast.

(The Bloomberg reporter does not mention that an estimated 200 people are killed each year as a result of car accidents involving deer).

If a forest is healthy, it will support about 15 deer per square mile, and many scientists say that a degraded patch can’t be restored unless the population is about five per square mile. Compare that target with the actual deer densities: Some areas of the U.S. have 40 to 50 of them in a square mile, with much higher estimates in some Eastern suburbs. In New Jersey, one- third of the remaining species of native plants are endangered, largely because of deer. Many warblers, thrushes and dozens of other ground-nesting birds lose the protection of native plants, and some species of native pollinators — butterflies, moths, beetles — vanish.

Various ridiculous efforts to reduce the deer infestation such mass contraception have proven futile and the problem gets worse each year.  Bloomberg concludes that “the answer goes back to politics.”  Somewhere in a previous life, I remember being taught in school that politicians are a necessary evil because, as elected officials, they solve problems confronting society.  So much for that.

We can probably survive if the deer infestation problem is not solved but can we survive financially if the “fiscal cliff” problem is not solved soon?  If Congress does not take swift action, a January combination of steep spending cuts and huge tax increases could send an already weak economy into a downward spiral.  A Wall Street Journal report on this matter was not entirely optimistic.

Dithering in Washington over the “fiscal cliff” of automatic tax increases and spending cuts set for year-end is already hindering economic growth, according to economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

Most observers don’t expect Congress to reach an agreement before the November elections.

Lawmakers’ “hesitation adds insult to injury to an economy already flirting with a stall rate,” said Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial, referring to the slow pace of economic growth so far this year.

On average, the economists estimate that if no deal were reached and the economy were to go over the fiscal cliff, it would subtract 2.2 percentage points from 2013 growth, with the lion’s share of the downside hitting in the first half of the year. That would be an enormous hit for an economy that they expect will grow just 2.4% next year, assuming some deal is reached.

“It would cause a recession if not dealt with at all,” said Robert Mellman of J.P. Morgan Chase.

Given the poor quality of leadership in Washington and a bitterly polarized Congress, next year is shaping up as another “lost year” for the economy.

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