|Jan/Feb 2008 Salon|
Talk to liberals about the need for controlled hunting practices to stabilize wild animal populations, and they'll cite the magical balance of nature. They'll claim that if man just got out of the way, all the creatures of the forest would live in harmony. The truth is that the natural "balance" of nature is achieved through wild population fluctuations, which in turn are caused by starvation, severe weather, and over-predation. Population management through hunting and predator control is the only way to achieve a real balance, where the most animals can live with the least hardships.
Talk to conservatives about the need for government regulation and oversight of corporate America, and they'll cite the equally magical concept of the free market. They'll say that if government just got out of the way, the market would regulate itself. The truth is that without aggressive government intervention—even in spite of it, as recent events have shown—the market will behave the same way un-managed wildlife behaves. The more successful businesses will eat the less successful ones, using any means necessary to survive and dominate, until the very conditions that define a "free" market no longer exist. Throw in the irresistible tendency in this country for big business to influence government to actually intervene in its favor through corporate welfare, pork projects, and regulations beneficial to the bottom line and detrimental to the competition or consumer, and the process of free market demise is accelerated. Sure, eventually monopolies collapse under their own corrupt, bloated weight, and sure, the equivalent of a really harsh winter will come along and mix things up, but again the result is wild fluctuations punctuated by ravenous wolves and starving rabbits.
Both liberals and conservatives need to understand that if they want to avoid the natural cycle of feast and famine, either with respect to our nation's wildlife or our nation's economy, they need to avoid both the hubris of thinking they can play God and the wishful thinking that God or nature gives a damn about the rabbits. Just as a balance only exists in nature or the market when man finds a way to engineer it, man can only engineer that balance when he understands the limitations (and inherent contradictions) of right and left-wing ideology.