Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.



April 2012

How Much of Your Money Does it Take to "Translocate" a Bush?

Written by , Posted in Big Government, Waste & Government Reform

I wrote recently about a situation that demonstrated how much more inefficient and wasteful is government compared to private action. Another story, this time out of big government mecca San Francisco, provides further evidence of government waste:

The government spent at least $205,075 in 2010 to “translocate” a single bush in San Francisco that stood in the path of a $1.045-billion highway-renovation project that was partially funded by the economic stimulus legislation President Barack Obama signed in 2009.

…“The translocation of the Arctostaphylos franciscana plant to an active native plant management area of the Presidio was accomplished, apparently successfully and according to plan, on January 23, 2010,” the Interior Department reported.

The bush—a Franciscan manzanita—was a specimen of a commercially cultivated species of shrub that can be purchased from nurseries for as little as $15.98 per plant. The particular plant in question, however, was discovered in the midst of the City of San Francisco, in the median strip of a highway, and was deemed to be the last example of the species in the “wild.”

Prior to the discovery of this “wild” Franciscan manzanita, the plant had been considered extinct for as long as 62 years–extinct, that is, outside of people’s yards and botanical gardens.

Before that, the bush had grown in the “wild” in two cemeteries in San Francisco’s Richmond District as well as on Mount Davidson, a peak in the middle of San Francisco. The Department of Interior said that there had also been “unconfirmed sightings” of the shrub in the city’s Haight-Ashbury District—an area that became famous in the late 1960s as the epicenter of the psychedelic hippie movement.

I feel like the country has gone completely mad. Step back and think about this for a moment. Our government is running trillion dollars deficits, we are piling unsustainable debts upon future generations, and are barreling down a path that without a sharp correction will eventually see us turn into Greece. Yet we’re willing to spend $200,000 not just to move a freaking plant, but to move one that isn’t actually rare in any real sense of the word, and even if it was, so what? It’s a plant, people! Are we insane, or am I?

First of all, what in the world were they doing to move the plant that could possibly cost that much? Second, it is ludicrous to make a distinction between “wild” plants and…what, domesticated plants? Plants held in captivity?

A plant is a plant is a plant. Whether the initial seed wafted unobstructed on the wind until reaching its resting place and sprouting, or was consciously planted by a human being makes no material difference regarding the nature of the plant. The plant does not experience life differently depending on whether it is “wild” or not.

Finally, who says “translocate”? Such self-aggrandizing bureaucratese is an indication that the author understands what the government is doing is both shamefully unimportant and worth neither their time nor the taxpayers money. The bureaucrats involved are merely trying to obscure the issue and deceive the people and, perhaps even more so, themselves. Nobody likes to feel like what they do is unimportant, so just imagine how it must feel to write a report about spending boatloads of taxpayer dollars to move a shrub. Of course, that’s nothing like how the rest of us are forced to feel in paying for such nonsense.