Two centuries ago there were more buffalo than cattle in the United States. Even though millions of cattle are killed for beef consumption each year, the cattle population continues to grow while the buffalo are virtually extinct. Why?
Buffalo Nearing Extinction But Not Cattle
It is believed that as many as one hundred million buffalo used to roamed North America, as far South as Mexico and as far North as Canada (Anonymous). Some estimates range from thirty million to one thousand (million) in the fifteen hundreds (Krech 3rd). That day has long passed and it is sad to see such low numbers of the buffalo. Within one hundred years of the Western settlement of the United States, the North American herds of buffalo had nearly disappeared. The slaughtering of the precious animals was continuous until they were practically impossible to find. The buffalo first came close to extinction in the late eighteen hundreds when their number was decreased down to only a few hundred (Anonymous). Krech III explains that “prior to the arrival of Europeans and their powerful, transforming products, desires and structures, American Indians possessed extensive knowledge about the environments in which they lived and made sense of living beings in myriad culturally appropriate ways” (Krech 3rd, pg 1) Or in other words before European settlers came to the United States the Indians were not harming the buffalo population. The primary reason for the near-extinction of the American bison was due to the greedy European settlers who came and destroyed the Indians’ way of life.
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Three reasons that buffalo are such few in numbers include the fact that Indians used them as a source for food but also every part of the buffalo’s body was used for tools or anything they could possible use it for. The settling Americans needed the Indians to move so their thought was to rid the Indians of their primary food source the buffalo. With the Indians’ food source gone the settlers expected that he Indians would move more willingly and they would then be out of the settlers way so to speak (Anonymous). Another reason the buffalo needed to be removed from the open plains was because they posed a dangerous threat to the new trains that had tracks running across the country. Without the buffalo roaming around the trains would be more efficient and in less danger. Practically everyone wanted to be lowering the number of the buffalo whether it is for food or safety. This is very sad but the hunters who took part in in clearing the Indians food source were greatly benefiting from the hides that they were selling and this only made them more inclined to hunt the buffalo (Anonymous). The hides were very valuable at the time for making robes and rugs out of the thick fur. All combined together these reasons pretty much accumulate to carelessness by everyone, greed by the settlers, and the reduction of the land that these beautiful beasts once roamed on.
Cows, on the other hand, came to America after the buffalo had already almost become extinct (Anonymous). Cattle made a large supply of food for the settlers who were just coming to America (Krech). Cattle are significantly smaller than buffalo, less aggressive than buffalo and although they don’t have as strong of an immune system as buffalo (Krech) they were the meat production of choice when the settlers first came to the United States. The production and breeding of buffalo (being a wild animal) was never really planned because it would have been a wonderful idea if someone would have thought of that earlier. By the time a controlled breeding by the settlers was necessary the buffalo were so few in number that it wouldn’t have worked for them. The cattle were great in number and have now become a major product for the Unites States. The buffalo were still unprotected for many years but a few caring people made the preservation of the last few hundred buffalo possible (Anonymous). Cow hides are nice and warm but they are nothing in comparison to the thick furry coats of the American bison.
When it came to the buffalo, people were so focused on making money off of the hides that they were not thinking about future generations who would have no food because of the low number of buffalo (Anonymous). Although an alternative source of meat was found it would have been better if they were conscientious of the future generations and the population of buffalo. The Indians actually used almost every part of the buffalo; the hides without hair were used for “moccasins, leggings, and other clothing, tipi covers and linings, shields, maul covers, cups and kettles, [carrying cases]” the hides with hair or “Robes” were used for “winter clothing, gloves, bedding, [and] costumes.” The hair was used for “ropes, stuffing, [and] yarn.” The horns were used for “arrow points, bow parts, ladles and spoons/cups, [and] containers.” The hoofs were used for glue and the list goes on for a long time (Krech 3rd , pg 5). Yet the Americans wanted to rid the Indians of their food source so they would go around just killing the buffalo just for sport or for hides, not for their everyday needs (Anonymous).
Although buffalo were a good source of food the main reason that they almost became extinct and they are not a major food source today like cattle is because the settlers were not only killing them for food. When the settlers were ridding the country of buffalo just to make the Indians easier to persuade to relocate (Anonymous), they were unknowingly blinded by greed. They could have used the buffalo as their major food source; especially since buffalo meat is healthier for you than beef (buffalo have a much more lean meat than cattle). Anyways, the buffalo were so low in number that breeding them would still not create a large enough food source and it was much more convenient and easy to go ahead and use the domesticated cattle as their mass production of meat to feed the settlers since the cattle were already large in number. Cattle breeding took over from this point for the production of beef, and the number of buffalo is still working on growing today.
Part B: Why do politicians so often support special interest groups?
The Corruption of Politics
I feel that I should start off by saying that “in the idealized democratic society, economic policy is determined by ‘one man, one vote” (Grossman 1). This means to me that although this one person (the president of any organization or country) has a goal to make their citizens happy, is primarily in control of each individual decision at some point in time. Through my research I found that some special interest groups tend to hold large amounts of money (Franzese). Politics revolves around money and every politician needs the support of its people and basically their money to make it through their campaign. Although it is simply one man’s decision to try and please all it may not be his best benefit to please everyone but rather the special interest groups who can best support him financially; in other words some special interest groups can use money as a bribing token to result in desired policies being passed by fueling a specific candidates campaign (Grossman). Mark C. Schug wonders “if there could be something about basic economics that elected officials see as detrimental to the long-term health of their political careers” (4) and he also claims that “It is possible that the jobs of elected officials would be made more difficult if basic economic concepts were widely understood by voter” (Schug 4). According to these conclusions Schug believes that politicians want the people of the general population to understand as little about how the economy works because the ignorant voters will be less knowledgeable of what goes on behind the curtain; these behind the scene secrets include things like special interest groups swaying a politicians decisions, buying the political vote through financial support. Financial support is supposed to be donations to the politician that you most side with or agree with, not bribery where you pay the politicians to make a certain decision that you are in favor of. Although this is immoral as well as illegal it happens all the time underneath our nose. Why people can get away with this I don’t know but it’s possible they get paid a pretty penny too.
There are several kinds of interest groups that exist but the one primary type of interest groups are known pressure groups. Pressure groups include narrow interests such as “peanut farmers, autoworkers, or shareholders” as well as broader interests that include “retired workers, capital workers, and those with special concerns for the environment” (Grossman). The activities and influences of interest groups
Anonymous. “How Did Bison Almost Become Extinct.” Demand Media, Inc. (2012): Web Accessed December 2012.
Clark, Josh. “Do Special interest groups hurt candidates?” HowStuffWork, Inc. (2012): Web Accessed 4 December 2012.
Franzese, Anthony. Comp II 1213 Professor (2012)
Grossman, Gene M. and Elhanan Helpman. “Special Interest Groups.” National Bureau of Economic Research (2009): 1-6. Print.
Krech 3rd, Shepard. “Buffalo Tales: The Near-Extermination of the American Bison.” National Humanities Center: Brown University (2006): 1-6. Print.
Schug, M. C., & Lee, D. R. (2012). Why economic education is dangerous for politicians. Journal of Private Enterprise, 28(1), 47-60. Print.
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