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Archive for February 9th, 2010

I’m not sure if this is better or worse than the infamous Bridge to Nowhere, but the U.K. government has been spending millions of dollars in a futile effort to exterminate a duck. And because they are relying on government bureaucrats to kill the ducks, the cost-per-dead-duck is well over $750. I would suggest that they simply offer regular citizens a $50 bounty on each dead duck, but that might not work since the government has banned private gun ownership. Not surprisingly, this foolish program was instigated by the bureaucrats at the European Commission. Here’s a report from the Daily Telegraph:

For five years it has been subject to a ruthless European Union-inspired campaign of extermination. But now the ruddy duck could be about to have the last laugh. …The cull was supposed to have been completed this year, but despite the killing of 6,200 ruddy ducks, the population is starting to increase again. …And while the British government has been trying to kill off its population, ruddy ducks in Holland and France have grown in number, undermining the British effort. …Lee Evans, from the British Birding Association, said: “It is a pointless farce. They will never be able to kill every last bird. …“The cull has been a complete and utter waste of money because the government would have to kill every one and there is no possibility of that.” …The five year project to kill off the ruddy duck, co-ordinated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), is due to finish this summer. But 687 birds are still alive in the UK, up from an estimated 400 to 500 two years ago. …Andrew Tyler, director of Animal Aid, said: “This has been a completely hopeless slaughter. The whole premise is nonsense, as well as the logistics, and it has also been extraordinarily expensive. “The birds from Britain don’t seem to be going to Spain anyway, but even if ruddies are breeding with white headed ducks, that is a natural hybridisation that occurs in many birds.” …At one shoot earlier this month, an estimated 12 Defra officials, in eight boats, killed a total of 14 ducks on Ibsley Water, near the New Forest. …Half the cost of the UK’s £3.3 million ruddy duck cull has been met by the EU, with the other half provided by Defra. It follows earlier research by the department into eradicating ruddy ducks, said to have cost a further £1.3 million.

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My Cato colleague Izzy Santa explains why a free-market approach is the key to better schools.

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Arizona was hit hard by the housing bubble and that is causing considerable headaches for politicians – particularly since they allowed spending to explode during the boom years. Phoenix could be a poster child for this version of fiscal excess. The city budget grew by nearly 10 percent annually when revenues were buoyant, in part because government employees have compensation that is almost twice as high as workers in the productive sector of the economy:

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio has pointed out that the average cost for a Phoenix city employee is $100,000. In just the past six years, the City of Phoenix budget grew by 59.6 percent, more than double the sum of inflation and population growth. …Clearly, there is a failure by the City of Phoenix to address fundamental reform in the face of shrinking tax revenues. Public safety should be the city’s first priority for funding, not an afterthought that depends on the promise of additional taxes. Many of the funds in the city’s total budget are dedicated for various purposes such as public art.

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