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Monarch butterfly population in California spirals to another record low (xerces.org)
188 points by prostoalex 43 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 65 comments



> federal officials declared the monarch butterfly “a candidate” for threatened or endangered status but said no action would be taken for several years because of the many other species awaiting that designation

This really brought home how many species are going extinct: there’s literally a waiting list to be considered endangered. And these are often the charismatic ones we hear about.

So incredibly sad.


A few years ago I started seeing anecdotal reports of greatly reduced numbers of insectivorous birds. I shrugged it off at the time, because a few anecdotes about missing Swallows is not data, but the anecdotes (and now data) have been piling up. There seems to be something seriously wrong with our insect populations that needs to be investigated immediately.


I wanted to have a hedgerow for monarch at my farm. I called it a Monarch Corridor. I was even ready to move my irrigation to facilitate it. I don’t know what Xerces is supposed to do but because I was leasing land from the water Dept and it was managed by a non profit, I had to go through them..I tried for three years, not a peep. I gave up and do what I can...but I know there is so much more that can be done.

At this point, I think the environment is in the hands of private citizens. Don’t waste time getting it down through non profits or govt orgs. They exist for the care and feeding for their employees.


Sadly, I'm not surprised to hear this. When I went to visit the monarch butterflies in central Mexico, I was told that they're really struggling. It was a very beautiful sight to be seen.

The surprising thing to me about these beautiful insects is how high up they live. I was at about ~10,000 feet and fairly out of breath walking up a big hill, but there they were hanging out in the trees. (tree line is higher in Mexico)


Is there a way to safely visit that location in Mexico though? I had heard that it’s not setup for tourism in a way that’s non-disruptive to the butterflies.


The first time my friends took me to see the monarchs a bit south of San Luis Obispo, I spent a minute or two wondering where they were. Then I looked more closely and realized the trees _were_ monarchs. Those weren't leaves - every single branch, surface, etc. was absolutely covered with tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of butterflies. They were much bigger than I expected too.

It was an awe-inspiring experience and if we ever get our act together and they're back, I encourage you to see them.


This is a huge bummer. I remember seeing monarch butterflies everywhere when i was a kid in northwest PA. It’s been years since I’ve seen one in the wild, although i did find some wild milkweed last year, might look into planting some along the woods on our land.


When I grew up in Lake Tahoe in the 80s - near my elementary school, Monarchs would cover the near by trees in the THOUSANDS. HUGE populations.

Apparently their primary food source is milkweed - which has been decimated due to pesticides.

Monarchs take generations to migrate from mexico to america to eat, mate and rebuild their population, but humans have killed off their food source, milkweed, thinking of it as just a weed...


>An unusually high number of reports of late breeding and captive rearing near the coast—primarily on tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica)—may also suggest there are higher numbers of non-migrating monarchs than usual which can negatively impact the population.

Just a friendly reminder to milkweed enthusiasts to always use your local native milkweed instead of the exotics. They might attract more butterflies, but they're bad for the population because they spend more time later in the year on the exotics instead of migrating back for overwintering.


The wife started trying raise Monarch butterflies this year. We bought a great deal of milkweed plants, about 25 pots. Every day she would tend to the milkweed then brings in any caterpillar or larva she finds. Throughout the last seven months the number one issue our Monarch population faced was the Tachinid flies.

I don't know the exact number of larva eggs and caterpillars she brought into the house, but an educated guess would be around 250. The vast majority of the Monarch population was decimated by the Tachinid flies. I would say about 85% of them died as a result of the flies. Another cause we witness is when a caterpillar would expel green liquid then die. Still not sure the cause of them. Most info I could find pointed to toxins, like weed killer. We would wash the leaves after first reading about the toxins, but the caterpillars would still succumb.

In the end, I think only about 20-25 were well enough to be released. It has been very disheartening to see so many of them die.


This has been weird because I have seen more Monarchs this winter in Berkeley than in any prior year. Last Monday we counted 5 at one point. I know this is anecdotal and there is certainly a crisis but something is going on.


Lawns are so, so very stupid. What an awful waste of land. You can get milkweed seeds very easily. I highly encourage you to do so, and other native wildflowers.


Yes, but if you plant milkweed, please consider planting one that is native to your area.

A list of CA native milkweeds: https://calscape.org/loc-California/Milkweed%20(all)/vw-list....


For Pennsylvanians, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has a nice PDF listing native plants by type of site (sunny/dark, dry/most) and some notes for each plant (preferred soil type, if they're used by pollinators, etc.):

http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/groups/public/documents/docum...


What an awesome website. Lots of good information well laid out.


And, once you get used to having wild flowers and herbs in your garden, regular lawns seem quite boring.


Might be good to consider that this is your opinion and not necessarily objective fact.


Of course! Stating the entertainment and/or artistic values of anything is voicing an opinion rather than stating a fact.

I apologise if that wasn't clear from my previous post.


It is an objective fact that lawns are an ecological catastrophe and we'd be better off minimizing them.


Lawns are an ornamental form of pasture that belong in rainy, temperate climes, and absolutely not in California any more than golf courses in Gulf states.


Don’t get me started. And hoa’s and new housing dev or all apartment complexes have contractually mandated Macdonald’s-ified landscape that makes it all look like censored. All in the name the “MaXimIZe PropErtY vAlUEs!!” Scam.

It’s a useless eyesore destroying the environment and cookie cutter McDonaldsification of the landscape doesn’t even maximize value. It looks like strip mall landscaping.


Ah thanks for reminding me, I bought a load of milkweed seeds and threw them in the fridge back in November. I’ll start germinating them right now.


Please be careful where you sow milkweed..the plant contains and will leak latex ..this can cause skin burns/allergies and should get into eyes or mucus membranes.

[..] Thick, milky latex (sap) is present in all parts of the plant. ... Common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, is native to North America and is one of the most important northern plants for the monarch butterfly. Monarch caterpillars and butterflies are bitter and poisonous to birds, due to a toxic alkaloid in the latex.[..]

[..] Caution: Do not get milkweed sap in your eyes (such as rubbing your eyes after touching the sap); wash your hands thoroughly after handling the plant. Also, some people may develop an allergic reaction when the sap touches the skin.[..]

And the welts and scars post latex exposure and dermal damage wont go away easily. It’s also painful.


Be careful that it is the correct milkweed.

Some species of milkweed don't have enough caloric content to feed the butterflies sufficiently for their migration and they die partway through the trip.


What an idiotic comment. Lawns are stupid? What about the roads you drive along daily? Or the car parks you park in? Or the gigantic concrete buildings you work in?

Lawns are very obviously the least of society's concerns.


There are quite a few people claiming the opposite, actually. Large squares of regularly trimmed, flat grass only to show one's decadence isn't exactly the same as a road used daily.

If they were at least used for playing children, that would be one thing, but most front lawns are large spaces not designed for any purpose beyond aesthetics, and many back lawns have similar structures. It is almost devoid of life thanks to the lack of protection from the sun combined with the lack of diversity in vegetation, just so someone can show off their property.


Lawns are a big waste of potential. What could be a thriving ecosystem is basically an eco-wasteland. I would not be surprised if they were originally popular with aristocracy precisely because how stupid and useless they were (a Veblen good, signaling that the owner is rich enough to afford such stupidity).


Honestly, those things are pretty stupid too. Car dependency, enabled through incorrectly priced roads that don't account for externalities, is one of the greatest drivers of climate collapse, and production of cement to make concrete is one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions.


Those are all bad too. It's idiotic to think this makes lawns less of a problem.


Then I'll add to the idiocy. I think fake lawns are stupid. (/opinion)


Someone needs to do a study on government waiting lists. I was a government employee for a year and so many things just sit and rot in a pile waiting to be addressed.

I sent a letter asking for info on a family member to the government archivist, and I am likely to get an answer in 2023 or 2024.

When I was in government, I worked in parking management. We just kept generating an ever bigger backlog of images to process.

Granted, neither of those are particularly high priority, but my point is that lagging government is a problem all over the place.

There are probably many waiting lists like this species one which are causing substantial harm because nothing can get prompt attention.

amelius 43 days ago [flagged]

> Someone needs to do a study on government waiting lists.

No, someone should write a better todo list app.

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=todo%20list%20app


> Someone needs to do a study on government waiting lists. I

I'll spare you the time and money with my best guess of the conclusion of said study:

In conclusion, Government tasks outweigh the potential output of Government employee expectations, therefore we the researchers recommend ever greater budget allotments and grants to further study why the adage 'more money' doesn't translate into more 'productive' outcomes in the Public Sector.

The very essence of the State as a bureaucratic system ensures that things move as slow as possible, which often illicit the occasional Kill-dozer [0] event, even if you have someone motivated to 'change it from within' they inevitably get burned out due to the amount of red-tape and general sense of apathy. I highly recommend you watch the Wire and maybe even Treme (same producer) as it outlines anything I say way better than I could ever articulate in a 10,000 page essay on the matter.

We really need to move past the nation-state model and limit its scope to as little as possible as that could at least allow for more viable solutions. I just heard you can print car tags at kiosks in grocery stores in CA, which is an example of simple and elegant solutions that were only made possible because the pandemic shut down so many government offices and thus allowed for these services to allotted to more sensible methods--they were not going to let such a massive amount of tax money slip through their hands so they moved fast before people simply disregarded it just as they did lock-down or stay at home orders, and sadly even mask wearing in certain cases.

I waited nearly 5 months for my tags prior to this for my motorcycle in CA, only to see this outcome, which normally would have driven me up the wall but at least produced a reasonable over all solution. No one needs to be paid to hand out something you can automate, it makes no sense. Put those people to more sensible tasks like addressing liens or title transfers that are more nuanced and require actual Human intelligence (and I use the word loosely) or zoning approvals, or solar tie in approvals etc... to solve as there is a massive back log of those right now that can't move forward until some bureaucrat signs off on it.

0: https://allthatsinteresting.com/marvin-heemeyer-killdozer


> The very essence of the State as a bureaucratic system ensures that things move as slow as possible,

And this is why the US lost the war to Japan. No, wait.

Inefficient bureaucracy is a political choice and a policy outcome. It doesn't have to be that way, and it does require effort to make it otherwise, but it has to be politicized in a way that points towards more efficiency. GOV.UK have been fairly good at this, despite some of the other dysfunctionalities of the British state. I've never quite understood all the US complaints about "the DMV", given that I've always been able to interact with the British equivalent (DVLA) over post or website.

Where the politics turns into a fight between "use government to achieve public policy goals" versus "destroy government, except for the police and security forces", the "destroy government" faction get to make the actual governance worse and have forfeited any ability to make useful or constructive criticism.

(anyway, this is all off topic for the Monarch butterfly, who operate a constitutional monarchy rather than a Weberian state)


To reinforce your point, there is a perceptible difference in the efficiency and quality of various state bureaucracies. It’s noticeable even in such mundane tasks as going to the DMV.

Getting my drivers license in CA was a massive pain; multiple people refused to recognize my marriage certificate as a proof of name change (I’m male, my wife had no issues), requiring multiple trips with the same paperwork to convince them that I was who I said I was. Even with an appointment I would wait half an hour, and it took three tries until I charmed someone enough to approve my paperwork.

Idaho on the other hand I was at the counter within 30s and done within 10 minutes. They were incredibly organized and clear about what they expected and when.


Does it reinforce pcj50’s point though? Your shitty experience was with the state run by the party who wants good government and your good experience was with the government run by the party who “isn’t allowed to criticize bad government” or whatever.


Yes. In Oregon, you might have a bit of a wait if you visit an office at a busy time, in Florida, a visit to the DMV requires packing a lunch.


> Where the politics turns into a fight between "use government to achieve public policy goals" versus "destroy government, except for the police and security forces", the "destroy government" faction get to make the actual governance worse and have forfeited any ability to make useful or constructive criticism.

You've got the causation backwards. The "destroy government" folks came into existence because governance was poor. Don't forget that in the 60 years between 1932 and 1994, Democrats controlled the House for all but 4 years, and the Senate for all but 10. Every now and then a Republican would get elected President to pump the brakes a bit, but Congress makes the laws, and since Democrats controlled that even wildly popular Presidents like Reagan couldn't meaningfully roll back any of the FDR or Great Society era programs. Its not like people didn't have ample opportunity to sample what the "use government to achieve public policy goal" folks were selling.

There's not a single American city that has public services as well-run as even a second tier German city. These are one-party places like in California or New York, where Democrats control both houses of the state legislature, and the executive, and the municipal government. Here in Maryland, Democrats have controlled the state legislature continuously for a century. Since 1969, we've had just two moderate Republican governors (who got elected to pump the breaks a bit on otherwise unbroken Democratic control). Around the country, people are streaming out of New York, California, and Illinois, to places like Virginia, Georgia, Arizona, and Texas where the government doesn't try to do much but at least the taxes and property prices are low. (The #1 reason Virginia turned Democrat is migration into what used to be a well-run Republican state. Georgia and Arizona flipped for the same reason, and the same is happening to Texas.)

As someone who leans center-left on "government should provide services" it's not clear to me why American government is so bad. My hunch is that Democrats aren't really interested in governing. We have a new Democratic President. What's at the top of his agenda? How about reforming Medicaid to make it easy to sign up (vast numbers of the people who are uninsured are actually eligible for Medicaid but don't sign up)? Following up on the extremely popular $600 checks to permanently expand unemployment benefits? Instead we're going to spend Biden's entire term fighting over a divisive amnesty bill.


I thought the "destroy the US federal government" folks came into being at the time of the Civil War, because the government was trying to end slavery, and this has essentially poisoned US politics for a century and a half. The federal government had to tread on the states repeatedly to get them to end official and unofficial apartheid. The war continues over the statues of the traitors.

The economic turmoil of 1929 onwards caused chaos that sent a lot of countries into Fascism; the US avoided collapse at that point, but at the cost of wealth confiscation which has also left huge scars in the politics (this is where the goldbugs come from).

(It's not clear how you could "roll back FDR or the Great Society"; the world is a very different place! But in order to get to "better governance" I guess the society has to get past running street battles with white supremacists)


I mean that’s how it happens, right? The refrain is always: forget that solid blue states do a miserable job with things like education, transit, and housing, which are almost completely within state jurisdiction. Look over there some redneck in South Carolina wants to keep confederate statues! Accountability of government is something we’ll get around to once we’ve purged society of all “isms” and “phobias.”

Democrats are so resistant to the idea of holding Democratic administrations accountable that the police killing of George Floyd in a city that had zero Republicans on the city council, but two socialists, in a state that hasn’t voted Republican for President in half a century, somehow became a referendum on the evils of a Republican President that has almost zero power over the operation of police departments.

I understand why party leadership operates this way. I don’t understand why rank and file voters put up with it. There is nothing that poisons the pro-government agenda more than the fact that Democrats don’t have a single place they can point to where they can say: “see, big government works great and the higher taxes you’ll pay will be worth it.” They’re reduced to pointing to places like Sweden and Denmark. Meanwhile, Republicans can point to New York City, etc., and say “see, big government doesn’t work.” And that’s not an unfair criticism!


As a lifelong and committed Democrat I pretty much agree with all of this. On the other hand, I'd love to be able to vote for a sane Republican for statewide office in Illinois, but every cycle, without fail, the Republican candidates are doctrinaire in the mold of the national party. One very small good thing you can say about the Democrats in one-party states like Illinois is that they don't all seem to have national aspirations.


Are there no supporters of the Lincoln Project in Illinois? Seems like the type of place that would have lots of non-Trumpets.


Yeah, the Republican chief-executive of our red/purple county got the boot in 2018 by embracing Trump (despite Larry Hogan winning a decisive victory in the same election). The nationalization of the parties, driven by people attacking each other within the party, is damaging. Other Republicans attack Larry Hogan as a RINO. How could that possibly help the party? On the other side of the aisle, the people I know who wanted to kick Joe Manchin out of the party for compromising on abortion are dead silent now.

I get voting Republican is a non-starter in most blue places, but where are the good-governance Democrats? There are some—I’m thrilled Biden is trying to raise the profile of Keisha Lance Bottoms. There used to be more. Back when Virginia was a red state, we had solid good-governance Democrats like Chuck Robb.

I don’t like to blame the parties, because I think they’re just responding to their incentives. I think there are just so many other battles to fight fixing things and making them work well isn’t a boon for re-election.


I basically just think you're right about this, modulo the fact that I think it's just as bad in single-party red states (see, for instance, Brownback's Kansas). States that are dominated by a single party devolve into machines, and machines breed machine politicians.

Since it's so much easier to durably align a state than it is a whole country, it's actually kind of problematic for the "laboratories of democracy" theory of federalism.


(I'm replying to both rayiner and tptacek here.)

I grew up in Maryland and have lived in Northern Virginia for many years so this conversation is a little weird to me.

The big drama in NoVA state politics at the moment is that the Republicans are trying to restrict the legislative session to the constitutionally-mandated 30 day length when waivers have been routinely granted for many years prior, because the Democrats gained full control of the state government in 2019 and the Republicans are trying to physically block them from getting things done in the allowed time. Not-so-coincidentally, 2019 was when Virginia finally implemented the ACA's Medicaid expansion. So at the moment the VA GOP doesn't look like the right choice if you want people who actively govern, or social services on par with a "second tier German city."

Also in 2019 there was a Democratic primary upset in Arlington after a fierce campaign where an established county prosecutor was kicked out by a more progressive candidate. This argues against machine politics in Virginia.

I'm not sure what a "good-governance Democrat" is, but I looked up Chuck Robb -- he was before my time in Virginia -- and among other things he voted to confirm Clarence Thomas to SCOTUS and was the only Democratic Senator to vote for the 1994 GOP "Contract with America." So it sounds like rayiner means "good-governance" as "siding with Republicans." If there's more to it than that then please let me know.

My own example of a "good-governance Republican" would be 2006 Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney when he signed the Massachusetts ACA-equivalent into law. But, he was tightly controlled by an overwhelmingly blue state legislature, called a RINO, and later got on board the GOP "repeal and replace" train when it became politically expedient to do so. I'm not sure why I'd vote for someone like that instead of a Democrat selling the same program. On the flip side there was Scott Brown (R) who won the special 2010 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts and almost torpedoed the national ACA.

All the legitimate "laboratories of democracy" stuff is happening within the Democratic party. What experiments are running right now in GOP areas that make sense to continue? It seems to me that Republicans work toward different goals than Democrats, such as valuing the freedom to go without insurance, or expanding options for cars at the explicit expense of public transit, or increasing the number of assault rifles per capita. Are there any apples-to-apples comparisons of Republican vs Democratic policies that show the Republican policies as more effective achieving goals and using benchmarks that, say, a typical German citizen would consider reasonable?

There's also the issue now that the national Republican party has shown itself willing to lean hard on local Republicans to subvert elections. So for example the Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) basically said no to all the stuff that Trump was trying to do and that was that, but over in Georgia her counterpart Brad Raffensperger (R) got roasted. If the election had really come down just to Georgia, well I don't know about you but I think Raffensperger would have "found the 11,780 votes," and even as things were, that second "audit"/recount is going to cost some taxpayers a lot of money. So until the national Republicans explicitly reject the recent anti-democratic stuff, I'd be careful about going out of your way to put Republicans into state-wide office.


I think I feel generally about the national Republican party (and about state Republican parties when they deal with nationalized issues, or issues of inter-party partisan conflict and of norms) the way you do, but, living in Illinois and being even a little bit politically conscious, it's hard to miss the problems that come from single-party states. The Illinois Democratic party is a mess, and their control over the state drives state Republicans to weird places.


rayiner implied Maryland is some kind of single-party Democratic hellscape, though I dispute his description of

> Since 1969, we've had just two moderate Republican governors (who got elected to pump the breaks a bit on otherwise unbroken Democratic control).

because the two Republican governors have been recent: after Glendening (D) from 1995-2003 there was Ehrlich (R), then O'Malley (D), and now Hogan (R). So I'd say it rather as Maryland voters have held the governor's party to account for over 25 years. It looks like Illinois has followed a similar pattern.

Anyway I finished high school in Maryland before Glendening was out and it was almost embarrassingly good, though I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, despite my family being middle class at most. I don't remember any particular issues with other state-level public services. Some places have real challenges like parts of Baltimore and Prince George's County (near DC) and, I'm sure in different ways, the deeply rural areas out west and toward the Eastern Shore, but I don't see the state as some sort of self-evident cautionary tale of Democratic rule and I'd really like to hear what rayiner is basing that on.

If you don't mind, could you summarize what you're unhappy with in Illinois? I know about Blagojevich, but other than that. Or just link to some long-form article if you have one handy.


I'd probably want to take more time to come up with a full answer to this question, which is "big". Also: I'm cautiously optimistic about Pritzker's administration, at least in terms of actually getting things done in the state.

But examples of bad governance in Illinois would include:

* Scandalous public pension liabilities

* Patronage jobs at Metra run through speaker Madigan's office

* ComEd being fined $200MM for a bribery scandal with Madigan's office

* The financial debacle of the privatization of Chicago parking revenue

Illinois is one of just 8 states with a flat state income tax, which is something that needs to change so we can get our financial house in order, but won't, because literally nobody trusts our state government. It's hard to lay the blame for that on anything other than the state Democratic party.


The way you describe it, it sounds like the meta-problem is endemic corruption or incompetence in the Illinois Democratic party. That's a common failure mode for a complacent government/party. The Baltimore and DC city governments have struggled with that in recent years, and in a different way the U.S. nationally just got finished dealing with a cartoonishly corrupt and incompetent President given complete immunity by his party.

I suppose you and I are both desperately hoping the Republicans can get their act together and make an effort to help govern responsibly. How far would you go though to put a Republican in state office? Maryland Governor Hogan (R) is wildly popular (70-80%) across party lines [1], but according to Wikipedia, though Hogan shuts down the really extreme conservative stuff, he's otherwise a normal reality-based non-MAGA Republican. He also seems to be corrupt or at least shady [2]. Hogan claimed he wrote in Ronald Reagan in his 2020 Presidential vote so I guess that's the bar here: if you'd vote for Reagan today in the name of party balance or whatever, then go ahead and vote for Hogan or his Illinois equivalent when they appear. (Also the fact that over 70% of Maryland Democrats support someone who looks back fondly to Reagan should put away any notion that Maryland is some out of control liberal state.)

To your last point, as you know the GOP has played a long game since (here he is again) Reagan of sowing reflexive distrust in Democratic governments. Since you said it, I'll grant that the distrust here is justified due to Democratic misrule, but it's worth considering how much GOP fearmongering has made it so voters think the only solution is bringing in a Republican rather than attempting to fix the Democrats.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Hogan

[2] https://washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/january-february-marc...


> And this is why the US lost the war to Japan. No, wait.

You honestly think the Manhattan project, and by extension operation paperclip, was a byproduct of bureaucracy? The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The inhumane levels of carpet bombing campaigns over civilian homes in Tokyo that actually killed more than the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined?

And this is not to even mention the event that preceded Pearl Harbor bombing, the US' American Volunteer Group Mercenaries (I actually met one of the pilots of the flying tigers in San Diego when I was in my early 20s at an airshow event) intervention and involvement in aerial warfare in China against the Japanese Imperial Air force.

The US was already at war with Japan before Pearl Harbor which led to its formal declaration of war, and had been in an economic war long before that with restricted oil sales.

Japan was not innocent here, and I'm not an apologist for them as they quite honestly were one of the worst in committing acts of barbarism and war crimes all over the Pacific in that war. It's appalling to see the level of cruelty they were capable of with the notion of 'racial superiority' driving them, which was in direct odds with their allies' (Nazi) supposed belief about Aryan supremacy, and put the entire Asian race at a very low, perhaps even sub-human, position.

And what's even harder to believe was this wasn't even that long ago, either. Many of those people are still alive, perhaps less now due to COVID.

But if you think for one second this was done from bureaucratic decree, rather than Imperialist ambition and a lust of global and corporate hegemony you really have a narrow view of that war.

To be honest the Nazi's records were kept way better and operated in a very systematic and bureaucratic way (very Germanic) throughout that war which was very useful in lining out the SS' fiances in the last years of the War and its relationships with major Corps/Banks on both sides of the war.

I highly recommend the story of Martin Borrmann to see the pinnacle of bureaucratic and corporate-state power at its best. Consider that almost all of the biggest Corporations that supplied the German/Nazi regime ended up becoming some of the biggest in the World afterward, and that extends to auto manufacturers, banks, and pharmaceutical corps.


> And this is why the US lost the war to Japan. No, wait.

It was a battle of two bureaucracies, so of course one of them had to be a winner.


Its not a matter of Private Enterprise vs. Government. Government. As anyone that has worked in Big Corp or Too big to Fail Bank can attest - such a as yours truly - or any Cyberpunk novel about a world run by Megacorps at war, it’s the size that matters.

Bureaucracy, empire building, mimetism of the incompetent, fear and PTSD are what ossify these orgs into useless - nay, damaging - lumps of humanity.


The other aspect of it is that modern bureaucracies, especially in the United States, are strongly tailored for equitable interactions with the public, and employ rules and processes designed to minimize corruption by minimizing discretion.

Unfortunately, in political discussions "bad" seems to be synonymous with "corrupt".[1] Bad government is corrupt government, and corrupt government is unsalvageable. End of debate. (Particularly unsalvageable in our strongly individualist, low trust society. Modern civil services were, of course, designed in a higher trust era that managed to more-or-less eliminate most forms of corruption through radical reformations of government.)

[1] For example, recently an HN commenter drew the conclusion that California's infrastructure project cost inflation must be a result of corruption. I'm sure lots of people believe that, especially considering that in California there's a single contractor that wins most large projects in the state even though they're notorious for inflating costs during construction. But one of the principle problems, in fact, is that procedural rules--rules designed to prevent corruption--make it difficult for bureaucrats to question, based on past performance, the credibility of and preference for the lowest bid. (Of course, perhaps the relevant decision makers could try harder. But by exercising greater discretion they open themselves up to accusations of corruption if a project goes bad, or to delaying legal challenges by the loser. This reinforces the norm to simply mechanically follow procedure.)


As a graduate student in New Orleans Treme doesn't even cover the half of it. Read up on the saga surrounding the new Entergy power plant and astroturfing for a taste.


> As a graduate student in New Orleans Treme doesn't even cover the half of it.

I don't doubt it, it's such a shame given it's rich history and deep cultural roots in music and culinary arts--perhaps the only real unique one you could call American if there is such a thing. It's hard for to me to put into words how melancholic I felt about my former POV about Louisiana especially after Katrina.

Solid show for entertainment purposes, but as you said hardly thorough enough to scratch the surface of its deep issues with corruption, racism, and violence.


FYI there are and were government programs that operate very efficiently. Massive de-funding causes inefficiency and lack of innovation.

What The Wire does great is show how money and power is actually routed. It's capitalism hiding in plain sight. Why wouldn't it be the same way in a world with less government?


Do we live in the same reality? Massive situations that constrains available resources cause innovation, prioritization of key goals and efficiency. Abundance of resources results in the resources being wasted on various forms of fluff. This is not unique to government, you see it in just about every type of organization.

I'm not saying "defund all the things" is the right answer (mostly because I don't think it's that simple or it would have worked where tried and we'd have done it everywhere) but there's a very clear correlation between available wealth to allocate to government and bloated government. Not having government be a gravy train also seems to help select for people who genuinely want to be civil servants because the people who are just in it for the paycheck don't stick around in challenging environments like that.

It seems like all the innovation in government (e.g. novel program to keep the parks clean or whatever) comes out of places like Detroits and Buffalos of the world who actually have a pressing need to figure out how to stretch their resources whereas the NYCs and the SFs of the world just increase their intake.


> Not having government be a gravy train also seems to help select for people who genuinely want to be civil servants because the people who are just in it for the paycheck don't stick around in challenging environments like that.

So what you're saying is, we should enact regulation that forces companies to compensate C-level executives at a fraction of what they typically make now. That way, we select for the people who have a genuine interest in the success of the company instead of just a fat salary, right?

We live in a country where teachers often have to purchase school supplies for their classroom out of their own pocket because of people like you.


> So what you're saying is, we should enact regulation that forces companies to compensate C-level executives at a fraction of what they typically make now. That way, we select for the people who have a genuine interest in the success of the company instead of just a fat salary, right?

CEOs are compensated based on the success of the company. The problem with government employees is they get a decent salary regardless of competence or how the govt office performs its tasks.


You speak as though you've never heard the term "golden parachute".


[flagged]


>blindly shovel money at problems.

Strawman fallacy. OP specifically said we need to appropriately fund teachers such that they don't need to buy school supplies out of pocket.

>I'm not proposing solutions

Fair enough. Some people are in fact proposing solutions (fund teachers), so I guess we will go with the only proposal on the board.


>Not having government be a gravy train also seems to help select for people who genuinely want to be civil servants because the people who are just in it for the paycheck don't stick around in challenging environments like that.

This is partly true, but it's just one of the outcomes of the process.

I work for a state government that doesn't pay close to the median wages for similar positions. What my government offers is a lot of job security (I'm confident the state will not dissolve anytime soon) and lenient hiring requirements. Looking at my official job description, anyone who passed calculus in college and had the ability to learn basic programming could do it. And that was me, so I was hired. Once here, I realize people expect a lot more out of me, like statistical knowledge common to those with high-demand master's degrees. They keep the official description simple, because nobody who can already do the tasks would accept such low wages.

Which leads to a couple outcomes, and I've seen them all:

1. The government position is a stepping stone, either to a more politically influential role or a more lucrative position in the private sector

2. The person feels a sense of purpose in public service (I consider myself here) and stays a while. They will try to improve things, but this happens in short bursts when they meet similar people in other bureaus. Chances are, they'll burn out. Then they either leave or move onto the next group...

3. The person realizes they only have to do what's in the job description. So they stay for the security and resist professional development. Could also be the result of #2 burning out.

This is not, in my opinion, a good model for improving government. It relies on the hope you get enough people from group 2 that can do enough before burning out. But because group 3 exists, that burn out will happen quickly.


I saw the Monarch migration once here in San Francisco. It was just magical. The air was filled with butterflies.


We changed the URL from https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/monarch-butterfl... to the original source, which also doesn't have a noxious autoplaying video.


Thanks Dang!




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