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Dung beetle politics

Gadfly | February 15th, 2024

By Ed Raymond

Politicians could learn a lot by watching dung beetles work for a living

The 400,000 species of beetles is the largest order of insects discovered on Planet Earth, so far. Insect researchers believe that the orders of bees, wasps and ants may be larger, but no one has counted them, so far.

Homo sapiens cannot live without beetles. More than 300 species of beetles are used for food by many animals, including humans. Some beetles are agricultural, forestry and horticultural pests. A beetle is the boll weevil of cotton, eats potatoes and destroys millions of acres of mountain pines.

One has to be impressed whether you believe every word in the Bible or every word in Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species where evolution is the answer to everything on earth. As one evolutionary biologist said: “One has to be absolutely amazed at the number of beetles on earth that evolved or believe that God had an inordinate fondness for beetles.”

I remember driving through British Columbia and seeing millions of acres of brown pines covering the mountainsides. For this column I’m going to use the dung beetle to discuss current American politics because dung beetles and American politicians both push dung balls around.

The first time I saw a dung beetle roll a large ball of poop up a sand dune and then roll down the hill with it when his legs slipped in the sand, I broke into laughter. I have been interested in dung beetles for years, and, finally, scientists have been studying them because billions of dung beetles roam the earth cleaning up behind animals that don’t seem to know that cleanliness is next to godliness – or that dung is good food for some species of insects. Researchers put 188 male and female dung beetles with two pounds of fresh cow dung in tubs and observed them performing their tasks on flat and steep terrains of various kinds.

Beetles are smart enough to work together

They soon discovered that male and female dung beetles paired off quickly to move dung balls over obstacles in familiar woodland habitats. They noticed that the male pulled the ball while the female pushed. If the pair reached an obstacle, the female would often balance upside down and try to push the ball from below while the male pulled from above. If they were successful in lifting the ball over an obstacle and pushing it into a nest, the pair would lunch together and then have sex. Later the female will lay an egg inside the ball and then keep the area clean while the larva develops.

In short, dung beetles assist persons in managing ecosystems by processing the dung. They improve soil quality and control parasites. Biologists are fascinated by how the pair communicates while on opposite sides of the smelly dung ball. They currently think they do it by vibrating body parts. Other researchers have determined that dung beetles use visible portions of the Milky Way and magnetic fields to navigate at night and orient themselves – as they dance around balls of dung.

There’s a difference between beetles and dung and politicians rolling dung

The researchers were astounded by the quickness of dung beetles to establish good relationships, communication and cooperation – and they seemed to understand they needed help in gathering the menu. Claudia Tocco, a biologist at Sweden’s Lund University, the director of the study, said: “When they climb in pairs (to get over an obstacle), they’re more efficient and faster than when the climb alone.”

So, billions of dung beetles in five continents move billions of dung balls and nourish the earth to provide more food. I suddenly thought: the Divided States of America has 535 members of a Congress that passed only 20 laws in the last session. It seems dung beetles know how to handle poop while dung politicians don’t have a clue about establishing relationships, communicating with each other instead of yelling at each other. They avoid cooperating with the other party to pass laws protecting the earth and providing food for inhabitants.

Perhaps a recent educational study of each of the 50 states using 18 metrics reveals why Congress is not working for the American people. On the bottom of the 50-step education ladder sits Arkansas as the poorest educated state in the DSA. Alaska ranks 25th. All of the bottom 25 states are controlled by Trumplicans or Republicans.

At the top of the best educated states is Massachusetts with its 80 colleges. There are five Republican states in the top 25: Missouri-24, New Mexico-21 Kansas-20, Maine-19, and New Hampshire-9. The balance of the top 25 are run by Democratic governors or legislatures. Each party has elected 50 senators, but Democrats were elected in states that had 41 million more residents.

Trumplican politicians have been pushing and pulling dung bills with poop provisions regarding economic inequality, abortion, transgenders, LBGTQIA+ community, tax cuts, immigration, gun control, Second Amendment sanctuaries, diversity, inclusion, racism, book banning, sex education, contraceptives, free speech, food stamps, WIC and the list goes on and on and on.

Dung beetles excel in feeding the young while dung politicians fail to feed any

It takes a lot of work and poop to feed the billions of beetles on earth. The beetle species keeps expanding so they are successful in fulfilling the demands. Why can’t our dung politicians use the dung beetles’ cooperative system to eliminate child poverty in the DSA?

The answer lies in how hard the Congress worked to pass 20 laws when past Congresses often passed 300 to 400 laws to better the lives of their constituents. The reaction to the bill providing a federal food assistance program to support lower income families in the summer by dung politicians from dumb states provides an answer.

The plan provides $120 per child to buy food during the summer months when students are not in free or reduced school lunch programs. We have 13 million children and 38 million adults living in abject poverty. Thirty-five states, including 13 governed by dung Trumplicans, have enrolled in the plan but dung Trumplican governors in a dozen states with the highest rates of children living in poverty have refused to participate.

Governor Tate Reeves of Mississippi, the state with the highest rate of food insecurity (that’s a nice way of saying hungry as hell!) in the U.S., rejected the program because “Joe Biden and Democratic governors and officials want to expand the welfare state.” Why do these guys want to be dumber than dung beetles? Dung beetles get the job done!

Trumper Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa turned down $29 million that would have helped feed 240,000 children in her state. This is a leader looking for dung instead of an agreement with Iowa Democrats.

Louisiana turned down the assistance program that would have benefitted 600,000 children.

The Oklahoma governor said he rejected the program because it was “too much bureaucracy for families to wade through.” Perhaps the kids would have enjoyed lunch while going through all the difficulties.

Nebraska children are going hungry because the governor “doesn’t like welfare”

About 21 million families will be eligible for the program. Isn’t it sad to think we would be better off to elect dung beetles to represent us? This Congress may not do anything to support the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) which supports seven million families a year is facing a $1 billion shortfall. That’s only another 20 superyachts for the super rich. It’s time we recognize people who have poop for brains.

American school lunchrooms use prepared foods forced on them by dung politicians representing giant food corporations instead of dieticians.

An American military mother, transferred to Italy, said: “I’ve been shocked at how well Italy feeds its schoolchildren compared with the U.S..” Italy’s school lunches are designed with health and sustainability in mind. Italian law bans fried foods for children. Foods are prepared in-house using local trees, plants and animals. Meals are multicourse, usually two courses, a side dish and dessert. They serve lots of fish with raw seasonal vegetables.

This is what we call the Mediterranean diet designed to lower risk of heart disease later in life, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and is one of the healthiest diets in the world. Only 12% of Italians end up being obese compared to the U.S. where 40% are obese and dying young.

The mother summed it up: “I want my child to grow up strong and maintain healthy habits for life.” In other words, American kids should stop eating dung and leave it for the beetles.

Let’s raise taxes on the rich and stop treating our children in poverty like dung

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) has conducted an analysis of local, state and national taxes and, for example, has found that the poorest fifth in the Divided States of America pay a higher tax rate than the top 1% of households. This results in 44 states increasing economic inequality. Many states brag about having weak or no income taxes. Many wealthy people are not on salary and live off loopholes in IRS laws. The poor are hit hard by regressive excise and sales taxes.

Carl Davis, the research director of the ITEP, says, “When you ask people what they think a fair tax code looks like, almost nobody says we should have the richest pay the least. And yet when we look around the country the vast majority of states have tax systems that do just that. There’s an alarming gap here between what the public wants and what state lawmakers have delivered.”

One of my favorite columnists, Molly Ivins of Texas, had the sharpest pen I know. She once wrote that “If many congressmen’s IQ dropped any further, they’d have to be watered twice a day.”

I might add, they also might be dumb enough to eat what dung beetles do.

The super-wealthy and the top 1% pay a rate less than every other income group in 42 states while the child poverty rate is at 12.4%. Only six states reduce inequality rather than worsen it. The most tax regressive states are, in order, Florida, Washington, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Nevada. The least regressive jurisdictions are DC, Minnesota, Vermont, New York and California.

On the same Sunday when millions of American children will be hungry, the National Football League championships will be played. The average seat in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium, which seats 71,008, will cost $1,984 and the average seat in Levi’s Stadium in California, which seats 68,500, will cost $2,715. If each seat contributed $120, 139,508 school kids would receive food assistance for the summer of 2024.

In a tribute to insanity, the remains of 70 people were placed aboard the Peregrine Lander rocket on Jan. 8 to plant the remains on the moon forever. Ah! A cemetery on the moon!

This type of funeral started at $12,995 each. We don’t know how many chose First Class. The propulsion system failed, and the funeral rocket burned up in the earth’s atmosphere. This program proves that some beetles and men have dung for brains.

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