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Re: Detectives on the trail of fossil looters (retry)
In regard to my comment:
In that sense, it's like gambling: people are going to gamble,
the assumption is, no matter what. The successful counter argument
has been that if people are going to gamble anyway, then the
State might as well regulate it to assure the game is honest
and get money to fund State functions that do people some good.
HP Nick Pharris observed:
My problem with this is that there are an awful lot of legalistically-minded
folks out there. If gambling is illegal, they won't disobey
the law by
gambling; but if gambling is legal, they will gamble. Because
government approval and legalization of gambling (or of collecting
fossils) will surely lead to a higher number of people gambling
fossils for profit.
You're right; new people do start to gamble, or bet more, when
gambling is legal.
The response has been that people are entitled to choose their
own form of recreation. Once the decision to legalize has been
made, gambling becomes just another entertainment option. One
damaging to a comparative few people, but, like alcohol, the
people damaged can be treated or controlled by the individual
without outside intervention.
The analogy had to do with whether a legislative body could look
at authorizing fossil collecting, or must think it too repellant
to consider. One key variable is how substantial looting is
at present. If massive and unstoppable without huge expense,
like gambling, then a legislature can be willing to consider
A well capitalized applicant for authorization who promises jobs
and tax revenue makes a big difference, too.
Every fossil taken illegally is a loss of documentation and the
material. Unlike gambling, the supply is limited, as HP Marjanovic
said. That's actually an argument in favor of authorization.
If authorized, the documentation can be assured and the process
of disposing of the material can be controlled. Thus, once the
legislature is persuaded that the main alternative to authorization
is complete loss of the material, or not harvesting at all, they
can feel virtuous or at least pragmatic about approving for-profit
Given the relatively small supply of fossils, the number of people
doing the looting or for-profit excavating doesn't matter very
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