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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 
of this, 
government approval and legalization of gambling (or of collecting 
and selling 
fossils) will surely lead to a higher number of people gambling 
or collecting 
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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