Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pop Musicians' Policy Update

Am I missing something? Are well-known musicians required to support outlandish economic ideas? U2 frontman Bono is an avid supporter of debt relief and heavy foreign aid programs, and for his fervor captured the most recent Time's Person of the Year award and repeated nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize. Chris Martin of Coldplay is an outspoken supporter of fair trade. Now, Paul McCartney has come to the rescue of Canada's seals. The transcript of the McCartneys and Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland & Labrador, on Larry King Live is here.

Pro-seal sentiment hasn't been this strong since the 1970s, when activist groups persuaded the United States to pass the Marine Mammal Protection Act and ban imported seal products. McCartney feels that the Canadian government should buy out the portion of the hunters' income generated from the hunt of seal pups. No mention of length of the buyout, COLA increases or the like.

(Curiously enough, the seals with which the McCartneys are pictured haven't been hunted since 1987.)

Let's count the ways this makes no sense:

1) McCartney says there is hardly any interest in seal coats and that they wouldn't be sorely missed. He also notes that this industry has been functioning for 500 years. One of these can't be right.

2) Such impartial groups as the Humane Society of the United States and the International Fund for Animal Welfare have declared the hunts cruel and inhumane. No word on beef, cattle, or swine, however. If anyone can find a picture of Sir Paul and his wife at Bovine University, please, send it along.

3) Buying out the Canadian fisherman, aside from typical economy-wide price distortion that comes with government intervention into particular markets, does not end the plight of the seal; it simply changes the market such that harvesting in other areas becomes more profitable than it was before the buyout. Currently, harp seal hunts occur in Canada (two locations), Eastern Greenland and Northwestern Russia (one apiece). Banning hunts in Canada simply transfers the physical location of the harvest. As seals are demanded, seals will be supplied.

Sir Paul likened the seal hunt to the African slave trade. His wife compared it to being traditional like Apartheid. This is absurdity. Stick to what makes everyone better off, Paul-- generating an impressive amount of wealth via pop music.


Nog said...

These sorts of media figures always want something to fill their time with. It is admirable that they want to help what they see as noble causes and it is tragic that they are unenlightened in the field of the social sciences.

It would be great to have a Misesian Bono running around like a madman with a blowhorn screaming the praises of the free market. At least this situation would better than the current one of socialist propagandizing.

pinetorum said...

I'm going to start hunting seals so I can get free money. Ahh. Bono...

"Hold on! He's talking about waste management...and that affects the whole damn planet."

also from the same episode:

"Animals are crapping in our houses and we're picking it up. Did we lose a war? That's not America! That's not even Mexico!"