importation discussion and PBS

Adam Fikso
Wed, 28 Jan 2009 10:39:43 PST
Ellen:  I think that your analysis is "right on" .  Accurate across the board on my first assessment .  There is another problem lurking here, I think, though --which I have yet to be able to put into the right words, but it results in using a sledge hammer to smash a gnat.  Using a military model of threat and applying it to plant pests that are with us, literally in the air we breathe, only results in killlng all the hosts. The USDA should be OUT from under Homeland Security. The map is not the territoy, by which I mean that a Table of Organization may represent  a problem of management, but it is not the problem, and shuffling people around and writing more restrictive rules to solve the apparent problem does not resolve the issues, any more than jumping out of a plane to land on a carrier and announcing the end of the problem.

Lest it be thought that I am merely poking fun at our just previous president--I am not. He provided an object lesson of exactly the sort that I have just outlined.

Moving to other biological control models  Snakes in Trinidad.--Bring in mongooses  to control the snakes.  Fine!  Excellent results at first,.  But after the snakes were eaten, and there were no more and the baby mongooses had to be fed, they started decimating the chickens on which 
 poorer and rural folks depended--wth resulting poverty .

Australia provides  better and more enduring examples of biological control  gone sour..  But the kind of thinking here is  known in the military as "Get a bigger hammer" i.e., more of the same.  If an unregulated financial market provides examples of nationwide bank failure through bad judgment, then clearly what is required is more of the same.

The problem is intrinsic to much of our thinking.   Example:   We don't call the bad mortgages that should not have been made what they are, we call them toxic assets.   How are they assets,? They're debts, they're deficits , they're NOT assets.

 We regard the financial market as an entity capable of thought, like a living being, not unlike a god which is worshipped daily.   It's making a correction,. it wants to go up.  It's been up so long it's got to come down.  We infuse it with ideas about ourselves.

Choosing the proper method for assessing a problem is critical.  One should not use butcher knives to pick out splinters.    One should not use strong acids or strong reducing agents to clean silverware  unless they are diluted sufficiently.

I can  anticipate some  thinking  in this group  about the yoked  issues of  plant inspection to protect against external pathogens, and too strict and unnecessary regulation at a governmental level.  Trying to assess the efficacy of keeping plant pathogens out of the country by recourse to nothing more than a cost-benefit ratio or a risk analysis based on a financial  "bottom line" , or using an inappropriate model for assessing the risk to us all has got to give way to something more up  to date and sophisticated. Nor is the answer to be found in a dependence on divine intervention. Most of us have put that aside, but an equal blind reliance on an inappropriate other model won't work long either.
  People who import seeds as individal growers,connoisseurs  or  hybridizers are not often the  source  of the agricultural devastation that arises from Mediterranean fruit flies or similar agent.  But  I have  never seen a studhy on the matter.  Anybody know of any such studies?  And how did Kudzu get into the country anyway?  I'm going right now to look it up.  

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kenneth Hixson" <> 
To: "Pacific Bulb Society" <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 8:51 AM
Subject: Re: [pbs] importation discussion and PBS

> Dear Members of the PBS list:
> I mostly lurk, but I'm going to add to this discussion
> for a reason:  I value this list because I value other people's
> opinions and experiences, precisely because they are different from 
> mine.  If I didn't value other people's different opinions, the
> only reason to belong would be to brag about how well I do with my
> plants.  Well, I'm not perfect, and amazingly enough, I don't
> expect other people to be either.  When the "discussion" gets
> to the point that members start writing of not posting anymore,
> it has gone too far.  We all lose.
> Mary Sue and company do a lot of work, and their thank you
> is the continuation of the result of their work, which is the
> PBS list.  Well, they do get thanked once in a while, but not
> as much as they deserve.  And, yes, I'm guilty of that too.
> That said, do I have opinions?  Of course.  Prohibition
> doesn't work, whether it is alcohol, drugs like marijuana, guns,
> or even plants.  It does slow down the spread of such things,
> and sometimes gives government agencies time enough to work out
> a strategy of response.  Whether or not the price you pay for
> government action is more than the cost of no government action
> may be open to different opinions.  William Aley has given an
> insider's view of how the system works.  I don't like the system,
> think it needs many changes, but, I'm not involved in the day-to-day
> operations of the system, and he is.  Complaining to the PBS
> list, or to him, is almost certainly less effective than expressing
> your opinion to your congressman or senator.  Hint, hint.
> You might also keep in mind that the PBS list doesn't just
> serve one country, it goes around the world, and so does what you say.
> As Mr Aley has already mentioned, what you post will be seen by
> anyone searching similar topics--I've already been referred to
> comments I've previously posted while searching for information on 
> various things.  It can be a little scary.
> So, please, keep having "differences of opinion", but
> express them in a way that adds to understanding, not causing
> people to feel they need to defend themselves.  If you do things
> differently, see things differently than I do or see them, my
> way may be better, or it may not.  I can learn from the way you
> do things, the way you see things.  Perhaps the reverse is true.
> Ken
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