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Re: Socialistic Paleontology

[ Since I let Roger have his rants, I feel it's only fair that I let at
  least one person rant back, but this is likely to be the end of it.
  If Roger or anyone else wants to respond to this message, they'd better
  do it via personal e-mail or stick with the specifics of dinosaur
  fossil legislation.  This list is *not* a place for you to air your
  gripes with whatever government or system you dislike.  -- MR ]

Roger A. Stephenson wrote:

> An endangered species of extant life must be protected or our
> planet's biodiversity is lessened and we as a global society suffer
> loss,

Thne why not protect fossils too?  I don't understand this dichotomy.
And I don't understand why you're not concerned about the freedom of,
say, California land-owners to shoot Condors for Condor sandwiches.

> but one more Edmontosaur rib sold to the highest bidder harms
> nobody. . .

What if it's not "one more Edmontosaur rib", but the one rib that has
a tyrannosaur tooth embedded around healed bone?  What if the fossil
is an important transitional form? A new species?  Is it better to
have it undescribed and up in the office of the Sultan of Brunei or
some rock star, or in the hands of paleontologists and then into the
Smithsonian or AMNH or other institution?

> It seems none of us can claim a measurable personal
> loss as the result of fossil sales. If you claim this to be
> untrue cite the constitutional right(s) that are specifically
> violated.

Irrational analysis.  Constitutional rights are not the fount of all
legislation.  They were not meant to be. They are, in fact, the
opposite, a break on oppressive legislation.

> Our nation's (USA) founders tried to establish a simple line of
> reasoning when such conflicts occur, and that is that as long as an
> individuals actions do not interfer with any other individuals rights
> then the government has no authority.

This is a myth.  No such analysis went into the construction of the
Constitution.  It's not wrong or right, it's simply NOT the analysis
used by the convention when the Federal republic was set up.  And it's
a good thing that they didn't, being that it is a non-policy.  Who is
to decide if there is "interference?"  If there's a conflict which
leads to litigation, BY NATURE there must be some sort of
"interference," no?

> What individual's rights are obstructed by the private ownership or
> sale of fossil material?

What individual's rights are obstructed by the shooting of a
California Condor?  I suspect that the answer to both questions will
be the same.

> Don't get me wrong, I wish all important specimens could be studied
> and described until we know all there is to know about
> them. Legislation, however, will not make it so, just look at the drug
> abuse problem. 

Let's not be ridiculous.  Regulating fossil sales in the U.S. is not
analogous to controlling the sale and use of controlled substances in
the U.S.

> Selecting "choice" institutions to "own" these fossils also fails to
> address a whole new set of problems. Countries go to war and bomb each
> others cities into dust. Remember the Spinosaurus in Berlin. 

There's a compelling argument for you!  You must be terribly worried
about the gold reserve of the U.S.!  Then again, if some TEXAS OILMAN
held the gold, our nation's currency would be so much safer!

Believe me, if the Smithsonian and the Denver Museum get bombed into
rubble, there will be no more United States whose citizens' dwindling
rights you have to fret over.

> Do I strongly believe that our dwindling individual rights should be
> vigorously defended? Passionately so!

Then why aren't you out campaigning for strengthening of prohibitions
against illegal search and seizure?  Why not campaign for women's
reproductive freedom?  Aren't those issues much more important to
individual rights than FOSSIL SALES?  Isn't it funny that people who
trumpet private ownership rights as "freedom" are strangely quiet when
it comes to these issues?