This is from an old Washington Post article (2004) but the lesson it teaches about government is timeless. Every summer (at least, in 2004), the government forces dams along the Columbia river in Washington and Oregon to dump huge quantities of water over their spillways in order to raise the downstream water levels so salmon can swim upstream to spawn more easily.
Here is the result, as reported by the Post (and reprinted in the Seattle Times):
At an Oregon legislative hearing last week, the BPA trotted out computer projections showing that the spill this summer will cost $77 million while ensuring the return of only about 20 adult salmon listed under federal law as endangered. That’s $3.85 million per fish.
Isn’t that sweet? Aren’t we lucky to have noble government rulers who care much more about twenty fish than they do about the personal financial problems of millions of taxpayers?
This is the kind of thing that happens when people get the idiotic idea that force can be used to solve environmental problems. (“Government … is force“, observed George Washington).
But perhaps you think idiotic overspending on fish was a one-time government mistake. You wish. The Seattle Times recently provided this little report on one of the many fish-charity programs that the rulers of Washington State currently inflict on their subjects:
Puget Sound’s popular blackmouth fishery — made possible by a complex system of hatcheries that produce and rear these plump young versions of chinook salmon — costs $768 for every fish that’s caught.
That’s a calculation made by the state Auditor’s Office in an audit released Friday of the state’s politically popular key winter fishery.