Commentary, Free Markets

Jim Gray: Government Bureaucrats Didn’t Save The Bees, Commercial Beekeepers Did

People in government have their own biases and personal desires for power and influence. But Liberty, in this context defined as instituting a system for private individuals to have incentives to prosper by producing (legal) goods and services that other people will desire and purchase, will almost always triumph over government bureaucracy, controls and regulations.

Over the past few years, that is exactly what has happened with the survival of bees.

According to an article by Shawn Regan in the August/September edition of Reason, large numbers of honeybees started disappearing in 2006. They were not only dying, they were mysteriously abandoning their hives.

Big government worriers sprung into action. The cataclysmic situation became so widespread, it appeared, that in 2013 some experts predicted “a world without bees.” In response, the Obama administration set aside $82 million in funding and formed a task force to deal with this “crisis” by creating a “national pollination strategy.” But this crisis was averted because of Liberty, which rendered the federal monies and efforts unnecessary and even wasted.

What happened? Commercial beekeepers, who make a profit both by “renting” their bee colonies to orchards during the blooming season, and also selling the honey that is produced, had incentives to deal with the losses of bees.

They responded in two ways. First, they privately determined that two parasitic types of mites were killing the bees. They countered by the use of miticides, fungicides and other treatments.

Second, they artificially stimulated the production of thousands more queen bees which, in turn, generated hundreds of thousands more honeybees. The advocates of big government felt good about themselves in spending the taxpayers’ money and “rallying to the cause.”

But here’s the rub: No government involvement was needed. What is needed instead is to nurture a climate that supports Liberty!

(Photo by BusinessHelper used with permission.)

Judge James P. Gray (Ret.) was a judge on the Superior Court of Orange County, California for 25 years, and was the running mate of Gary Johnson in the 2012 presidential contest, as well as the Libertarian Party’s 2004 candidate for the United States Senate in California. The author of multiple books and a play, he is a critic of current American drug laws.

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