Saturday, June 20, 2009

Politicians' Tendency to Pick On Plants

Though no one else in my home is enthusiastic about the newspapers that get delivered to our door, I continue to find little gems in them that I would otherwise never encounter.

In a 6/19 Trenton Times article on Chris Christie's opinion of New Jersey's state budget, Mr. Christie reportedly singled out for ridicule expenditures for research on plants in space. When politicians or pundits are searching for some small budget item that exemplifies governmental waste, they often choose money being spent on plants or protecting biodiversity. Though the reason for this is clear--plants and animals don't vote--it gives evidence of a widespread ignorance about plants and biodiversity, and their role in sustaining our civilization.

Past examples include Bill Clinton, who in his 1995 State of the Union address criticized spending $1 million to research "stress in plants." The long-running columnist David Broder once criticized spending money to guard Hawaii from the accidental introduction of the brown snake--a species that has wiped out bird populations on other Pacific islands.

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