Supporting sustainable economic development
and direct trade in Guatemala

Franklin's World

franklinsworldAs well as being the founder of As Green As It Gets, Franklin Voorhes also fancies himself as a bit of a writer!

After much bribery, begging and large quantities of chocolate he finally allowed us to put some of his articles online.

These articles are written to provide food for thought.  Be prepared to challenge your perceptions not only of Guatemala, but of larger world economic and social systems.  Franklin's work reflects personal experiences and connects them to a more global perspective.

You'll find his writing style quirky, engaging and full of imagery.  Franklin will teach you about economics while giving you a laugh all at the same time.

So please enjoy...

Franklins World!

To access Franklins alternative blog, click here.

 

Where's Your Spare Planet?

earth-save-the-planet-clip-art-thumb2257949You carry a spare tire in your trunk for emergencies. You always have an extra light-bulb or roll of toilet paper around the house just in case you run out. Maybe you carry an extra pen should you run out of ink. So where's your spare planet?

The water gauge on your house tells you how much water you've used. But wouldn't it be more useful to know how much water you have left? We come from a society of abundance. We've always had all the electricity, water, oxygen and energy we've ever needed, so it's difficult to imagine a limit. If you're using solar energy, your meter tells you how many kilowatt hours you have left to use. If you're using electricity from the grid, your meter only tells you how much you have used. Apparently there's no limit ... or is there?

As an average US resident, in one year, I consumed the equivalent energy found in 58 barrels of oil. That's a lot, but what was I to do? My car only got 19 miles to the gallon. I lived in the north and had to pay the heating bill. Darkness falls early in winter, so I needed to turn on lots of lights. My entertainment mostly involved electrical gizmos or a drive somewhere else. My hobbies in the garage burned fossil fuel, directly or indirectly. My glass top stove was easy to clean, but inherently inefficient. I put an insulator on my water heater, but was that enough?

There are two coffee farmers in my office right now. One has six light bulbs in his home, the other seven, most of which are compact fluorescent and all 40 watts or less. They each have a small black and white television and a radio. One owns an electric iron. Just to keep my ice cream from melting, my refrigerator used as much electricity in a day as either farmer's entire family.

I drove to work. They walk. Their kids walk to school or take public transportation. I cooked, and still cook, on an electric resistance stove. They can't afford a stove, so they cook over a fire, from trees they planted themselves. Maybe they don't have a choice. Or maybe they care more than I do.

This isn't a doomsday article. This is an awareness article. Science tells us that proven energy reserves around the world have about 1,317 billion barrels of oil, 6,182 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and about 1 trillion tons of coal. Let's assume that science has a lot of coal and oil left to find, that science is going to find new ways of extracting energy from the planet, and that we will have access to twice as much oil, gas, and coal than we know about today. With that assumption, we have fossil fuels with the energy equivalent of seven million million barrels of oil. That's a big number. That's a seven followed by 12 zeros. It looks like this: 7,000,000,000,000. I can't really fathom a number that big. It's endless. It looks to me as though we have an endless supply of energy.

Various estimates say we have 200 to 500 years worth of fossil energy based on current consumption. We can't possibly use up the rest of the energy on the planet in my lifetime. Or could we?

The average US citizen uses the energy equivalent of 58 barrels of oil in one year. Imagine the rest of the world's citizens used energy at the same rate. There are 6.6 billion people. That's 6,600,000,000 people X 58 barrels per person per year. In other words, 382,800,000,000 barrels per year. Again, that's a big number, and I can't fathom it. But, if you divide that unfathomable amount of available energy by the unfathomable energy use of the entire planet at the rate of US consumption, you get a number I can fathom. You get about 18. That's 18 years worth of energy the planet has left if everyone consumes energy at the rate I do.

I've got 50 or 60 more good years left in me. If everyone becomes like me, I need to find three or four spare planets to live out my life. Or I need to convince the rest of the world not to be like me. Or maybe I need to rethink my energy needs.

The Road to Successful Entrepeneurship

Scrooge-Counting-MoneyAll things being equal, you are probably a 30-year-old Muslim female farmer who speaks Mandarin and supports 2.6 kids on US$1,700 a year.  Statistically speaking, that's the average person around the globe, yet that probably doesn't sound very much like you.  So how can you, the potential social entrepreneur, be effective around the world when your background and perspectives are so different from those whom you would like to help?

Here are some common misconceptions that can throw your development journey off-course.

I am normal
Globally, the most common language is Mandarin. The most common careers are agricultural trades. There are more Muslims than Catholics or Protestants or Agnostics. The average person, worldwide, earns $1,700 annually.1

Most of us tend to think we're average, and we are, in a local context. We live near people who are similar to us economically, religiously and politically. It makes us think we are normal, yet worldwide, we're nowhere near the norm. Odds are good that your income is far above the world average; your education is far above the world average; your political views are far right of center; and your religion, though similar to many, is different from most.

It is essential to recognize that our backgrounds influence our perspectives, and that radically different perspectives yield radically different points-of-view. Our work as social entrepreneurs will be of little use before we understand the viewpoints of those we work with.
We are fighting for equality
Making people equal means shifting resources from societies of abundance to societies of scarcity. From an aggregate perspective, abundant societies seem to have plenty of resources to share with societies in need. But on an individual level, members of abundant societies fight against equality, oftentimes without realizing it.

There is substantial resistance to equality in the political, economic and military arenas. Most existing economic systems serve to consolidate wealth, not distribute it evenly. Most taxes, tariffs, quotas, duties, and the like, function either directly or indirectly to concentrate wealth. The rich - who control the armed forces of the world - fight for inequality, or at best to maintain the status quo. In the words of American author and critic Henry Louis Mencken, "The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it."2

And you, too, are resisting equality. The average charitable donor considers themselves generous if they tithe; giving 10% of their income. But in order to achieve equality, people in developed nations would have to give away an average of 96% of their wealth3. Anything less maintains the uneven playing field.

Those with the power to achieve equality fight against it, while those who desire equality are powerless to achieve it.

Something is better than nothing
Something is better than nothing, right? It just has to be, right? That's what our intuition tells us, yet reality and intuition sometimes collide. Do you believe that a 12-year-old sweatshop worker is better-off earning nearly a dollar a day than earning nothing? Do you believe that a certified coffee-price which is below production cost is better than nothing? Do you believe that commodities market prices which represent losses to farmers are good because at least the farmer gets something? Is something always better than nothing?

The poor don't have much to lose
If you're a millionaire, and you invest $1,000, you can tolerate the risk. If you lose that $1,000, you've still got plenty. A poor fellow who only has $100 cannot risk it, as a loss would send him into financial ruin. It's easy to think of that $100 as petty cash, as nothing to lose, yet that small amount in the hands of the downtrodden is what keeps the kids fed. Risking that ‘nothing' means risking the lives of children.

Perhaps that seems melodramic, or maybe it is obvious. Yet, many economic development programs designed to help disadvantaged communities provide loans at 30% interest and require land titles as collateral. This is an incredibly high risk for subsistence families, as the loss of a land title often means the loss of any means of support. In other words, the risk is born by the person least able to accept it, while the security is held by the person who least needs it.

The myth of maximization
Many problems can be broken-down into a question of maximization and minimization. What car do I buy that maximizes utility but minimizes expenses? Which brand of milk do I buy to minimize my cost per gallon? Which diploma will maximize my career options and earning potential? We are raised to think in those terms.

In the world of development and social entrepreneurship, we often apply this concept in ways that simply do not work. For example: "How can I donate money to maximize the benefit to the most people?" The way to maximize the benefit is actually to give to the smallest number of people. We can inadvertently dilute resources in the name of maximization. Another example: "How can I maximize profits and therefore maximize the benefits of a development business venture?" There are two ways: maximizing sale price and minimizing cost. By maximizing sale price, you're extracting maximum cash from the consumer. By minimizing cost, you're extracting maximum resources from the producer. Both of these scenarios increase wealth for the intermediary (the development business venture) while decreasing wealth for the producer or the consumer. Maximizing wealth for somebody means minimizing wealth for somebody else.

Social development can often be analyzed mathematically. As a mathematical equation, it is difficult, often impossible, to maximize more than one variable. That means other variables will be reduced, often without conscience thought.

We can do more harm than good if we don't analyze our best intentions carefully.

CAFTA: Nothing to Crow About

It's getting harder to find chicken in San Miguel Escobar. Three local butchers have closed down in the last few months. I talked to Miguel, who has been raising chickens for more than 30 years. Immediately after he married, Miguel and his new wife pulled together enough cash to buy 25 chicks. They grew their business slowly, until they had 2,000 chickens at a time. For almost thirty years, you could find one of them in the village plaza in the mornings selling meat. You could knock on their door at any hour of the day for chicken legs.

About six months ago, Miguel started renting space in the Antigua market to sell chicken three days a week. It was a losing venture. He shut down sales in Antigua, then shut down completely. "The big fish eat the little fish," he told me when I asked him why. That surprised me. Locally, he was something of a big fish.

In the same week that the local government announced a move to shut down small chicken operations in the area, Tyson Foods announced a plan to take over 30% of the Guatemala chicken market in 12 months. I think they've done it. Not long ago, I could go to almost 40 homes and local stores to buy fresh chicken. And when I say fresh, I mean it was butchered that morning, if not when I arrived. Now I have to go clear to the other side of town, or into the main market. But in the main market, I can rarely find fresh chicken. It was butchered in a factory and wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam. Or worse, frozen.

That's CAFTA for you. The Central American Free Trade Agreement. This was to be the big boom for the Guatemalan economy. If trickle-down economics "worked" for you, then so did CAFTA. However, the little guys got left in the lurch. Tyson came in and the little guys disappeared.

I know three butchers now out of business. I know of another dozen who no longer butcher nor raise chickens, they simply resell frozen or refrigerated chicken. A couple of guys are trying to convert their businesses to raising hens for egg production. We'll see how it goes. But it's worse than that. Each of those families had two or three kids adding valuable income to the family through raising chickens. Now they're as good as unemployed.

Somewhere in the stead of these small chicken operations are massive chicken factories, called ‘free range' if there's a window the birds can see out of. I don't know all the environmental ramifications of these chicken farms and factories, but in a former life I used to specify motors for the ventilators at big chicken farms. I specified all kinds of motors-motors to run underwater, motors in meat packing plants that got hosed down each day, motors that ran near explosive gases, all kinds of difficult applications. The hardest environment was the ventilators in chicken farms. The air was so full of ammonia that the motors would rust out faster than any other application. I can't help but wonder if there isn't other damage being done.

I used to be able to get chicken without using one drop of petroleum. Now, in most cases, I have to take a motor vehicle to buy chicken. And the chicken came to the store from untold miles away by motor vehicle. It was frozen in the factory and shipped in a refrigerated truck to sit in a glass freezer with an electric heater in the window to keep the glass clear. The amount of oil used so I can eat chicken has skyrocketed.

Speaking of petroleum, this new system of distributing chicken requires petroleum in the form of disposable garbage, the Styrofoam and plastic packaging. Unfortunately, we don't have much in the way of landfill infrastructure here, so that all winds up on the streets and dumped in rivers and ravines.

I'm not so naïve to think that a gargantuan business in a capitalist society could survive if only true market forces were at work, but I'm confused by the economic of this. These small chicken farmers had no payroll-they didn't pay themselves a wage, nor did they pay their kids who worked with them. They paid little to no taxes-their legal business were small and in a low tax bracket. They had no overhead in the form of buildings or land-the chickens were raised in their homes. There was no cost for electricity for butchering, raising, or storing. There were no electric pluckers, electric knives or lights. Some used a light bulb or two for incubating chicks, and a few had freezers-that's about it. They had no transportation costs-everything was sold out their front door or within a few blocks. They had no import expenses, export expenses, licenses, etc. They had no overhead in the form of computers, fax machines, long distance phone bills, office equipment, annual reports or morning doughnuts. These local butchers were very efficient operations.

Tyson has overhead, lots of it. It has big farm buildings and big factories, both of which use lots of electricity and sit on land they did not inherit from Grandpa. Everything is frozen or refrigerated, incurring both equipment and operating costs. To move their product, they need trucks, which they have to purchase and fuel. They have CEO's who need bonuses, stock holders who need dividends, and an army of employees-janitors, middle managers, secretaries, guards, marketing campaign managers, information technologists, and the guy who puts you on hold when you call the 1-800 number-who all need salaries. They are in a different tax bracket to Miguel, and are legally required to pay 5-12% more in Guatemalan taxes than he is. And we haven't even begun to talk about lawsuits and legal fees.

So, if just market forces were at work, all these little farmers should have driven Tyson out of business. I wonder what I missed in economics class. I wonder what that giant sucking sound is...

Maybe the difference is that Miguel doesn't have the budget for a DC lobbyist.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


You may wonder-since Guatemala exports into the U.S.-doesn't CAFTA help Guatemalans? No. The top contributors to the Guatemalan economy are sugar, coffee, bananas, cardamom, tourism, and unofficially, adoptions and remittances. Sugar is specifically excluded from CAFTA. Coffee was unchanged by this legislation, while the very nature of tourism, remittances, and adoptions left them unchanged. The U.S. market doesn't impact cardamom to any substantial degree. So, bananas can get to the U.S. with fewer taxes. But the entire banana market is essentially run by Chiquita and Dole, which aren't Guatemalan owned or operated. So no, CAFTA doesn't help Guatemalans.

But isn't chicken good for Guatemala? Thanks to Tyson and other Big Chickens, isn't there more cheap chicken on the market, providing protein to Guatemala's impoverished children? No, not really. Guatemala is the dumping ground for legs and wings, not the good cuts. Tyson Foods' Vice President for Federal Government Relations, Sara Liligren, testified before the House Ways and Means committee, that "the U.S. industry will begin to benefit from a new 21,800 metric ton Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) for chicken leg quarters. . ." That's not a new 21,800 tons of chicken for Central America, that's 21,800 metric tons of meat no longer being produced here. That's 21,800 tons to the benefit of U.S. industry, to the detriment of the Guatemalan farmer.

Moreover, Tyson lost $36 million in their international market in one year, and sought to grow it further. The economist in me would have fired those responsible for that decision, but Tyson rewarded them with, among other things, $44 million in stock. So, that's $80 million out the window. I can't help but wonder if the Big Chickens are all just really bad at math, or if they have a plan to recuperate those loses with higher prices once all the Miguels are out of business.

History has a funny way of repeating itself. Under the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotions Agreements, the U.S. will be exporting 12 million tons of chicken legs to Peru. The Big Chickens will once again need more undocumented out-of-work Guatemalan chicken butchers to fuel their factories, and once again talking heads will spout about the influx of illegal immigrants, and once again no one will mention the root causes.


Glorifying the Poor

There's a tendency among the wealthy to glorify the poor. This happens when leaving the ivory hotel to walk among the masses for an afternoon. The rich decree, "These Guatemalans, they're just so... just so happy and content, even though they have nothing." The intrinsic assumption is that those who want for everything don't want anything.

 

As it turns out, a band of six-year-olds running in the streets with their kites made out of string and a discarded plastic bag, or playing a rousing game of kick-the-avocado because they lack a can, are indeed having a good time. Most six-year-olds are happy. It's how six-year-olds are. They don't understand their muscles aren't growing because they have no protein in their diet. They don't understand that 20 years from now, their education will have failed them and they won't be gainfully employed. They don't understand that Horatio Alger's stories won't come true, no matter how hard they work. But for now, the score is 2-1, and there's an avocado waiting to be enthusiastically kicked down the street.

As it turns out, the new mother, 16-years-old, is happy. It's how new mothers are. She doesn't yet know that nursing her baby will rob her body of calcium, and soon her teeth will fall out. She doesn't fear losing her baby to chronic diarrhea nor fear the possibility that her baby will go deaf from untreated meningitis. She accepts them as a natural risk of starting a family. Having lost a sister or cousin under similar circumstances, she accepts them not as obscure theory like being hit by lightning, but as a genuine risk to her family. Having accepted that risk, she moves on with life and smiles at her baby.

 


As it turns out, the day laborer in the field is not happy. He is hundreds of miles from home, moving every few weeks, following the coffee harvest, the cardamom planting, or whatever he can find. He sleeps on the hard-packed ground with a wool blanket he carries with him. For shelter, he has what his employer provides, sometimes a tin roof, sometimes an actual building, sometimes nothing at all. He was in the fields, swinging his machete before the sun was over the horizon, and he'll make his dinner in the dark on a fire over a small aluminum plate that he also carries with him. He'll go to bed tired, cold, a little hungry, unhappy, and invisible.

There's a darker underbelly to poverty. It doesn't show up in the happy glossy aid magazines, it doesn't show up on the tour schedule, it doesn't make the news, you can't see it from the car, and it isn't glorious.

In some cases, families of low economic means are quite rich in terms of community, family values and work ethic. Poverty and struggle can be common enemies that unite a family. It's tough to stay angry with three of your siblings when you'll share a bed with them that night.

Given the opportunity, a poor Guatemalan would gladly give up their status as glorious poor for the chance to be glamorously rich. The glamorous rich that have given up their wealth to become gloriously poor are so rare their biographies are written and they are nominated for sainthood. To have started life at the bottom of the economic ladder and not become a malcontent is certainly commendable, but it is not glorious. Poverty, the invisible sort, will never be solved until we are willing to see it.

A Sheepish Look at the Wolf

The wolves bayed at the moon the night before the big hunt. Food was growing scarce. It was late winter; food was always scarce at this time, but this winter seemed worse than its predecessors. Périgord, leader of his pack, had four extra mouths to feed this winter, and this was burdening him. He himself had lost a brother to starvation many years ago, and he was determined not to let that happen to his children. Below his rock, on the valley floor, he could see his pups; yapping and playing with the neighboring fox kits and coyote cubs. His preoccupations for his children made him sleep listlessly, dreaming of tomorrow's hunt.

The hunt went poorly. In the end, the pack drove down a tired old stag, not much more than a bag of bones, which was lucky not to have been culled the year before. The stag almost filled their bellies, but not quite. The pack was discontent, almost hungry. They'd been almost hungry for days, and they were quite certain they would wake up hungry tomorrow if something wasn't done.

Périgord called the pack together. "The pack has grown, yet there isn't more food. We will surely starve if we don't do something to increase our food." Murmurs of agreement moved through the pack. "Therefore, I am announcing a new plan. Tomorrow, we will not hunt the deer for food. Tomorrow, we will hunt the Coyote who eat our food." Excited yips of concurrence were overshadowed by mournful wails of dissent.

Asena rose from her haunches, "We do not make war on the Coyote; nor did my mother, nor my mother's mother, nor her mother before her. We do not kill to kill, we kill to survive. That is how it always has been, and how it must always be." The crowd was clearly in agreement.

Périgord stepped in, "We must kill the Coyote if we are to survive. I understand that we have never done this before, but we have never had such little food before. I do not advocate killing the Coyote merely for the sake of killing. The Coyote eats the food that
we eat. Every deer the Coyote pack brings down is a deer our pack does not eat. Our children are starving. We must do it for the children."

In the morning, the pack went on the hunt with trepidation. All knew they must save their children, and to do this, they must kill the Coyote. But they did not relish their task, like the previous hunt. Something seemed wrong.

They returned that night as changed wolves. Some hated themselves. Some accepted their role as a necessary evil for the good of the community. Some relished the work and wanted more. The community began to divide, subtly, but divide it did.

Over the rest of the winter, the wolves eradicated the Coyote. Every coyote within the Wolf territory was hunted down and killed. Some wolves even ranged outside their territory to make sure there was a buffer zone so nearby coyotes wouldn't try to invade their ground.

Spring came, and in the excitement of warm weather and the replenishment of food sources, the hunger and bloodlust of winter were forgotten. Food was abundant. There were more deer this year than ever before. The wolves gorged themselves and grew fat. Younger wolves, secure in the knowledge that there was plenty of food-an excess that could never be consumed-started families. The pack grew and all was good. Périgord smiled down on his pack from his rock, and knew he had led them well.

A few years later, there was trouble within the pack. Under Périgord's leadership, the size of the pack had nearly tripled. They were a strong pack, the strongest for many days' journey. He should have been proud of his work, but he was troubled. With three times the mouths to feed, game was again growing scarce. To make matters worse, winter was closing in. He needed to do something, something bold. He called the pack together.

"We will soon be hungry. Later we will starve. We must do something now to make sure there is food for all wolves. We must kill the Fox, who eats our rabbits."

There was dissent; Sagax spoke for all, "But, there is plenty of food. We are not hungry now. And we have never warred with the Fox, nor have our fathers, or our fathers' fathers' fathers."

Périgord took hold of the crowd, "We must act now, while there is time. We must strike at the Fox preemptively, before we are hungry, before the Fox eats all our rabbits."

And so, in the morning, the Wolf declared war on the Fox, and exterminated them in short order. A fox is no match for a wolf, and soon there were none in the territory, or for several days' journey from the territory.

All was well. That winter, there were plenty of rabbits, and the Wolf pack thrived. Their numbers continued to grow.

Périgord recognized a successful trend. He called the pack together. "We must extend our hunting grounds to ensure our survival. We must push to the west, to the north, to the south and to the east. We must make our territory secure."

And so the Wolf pack extended in all directions, not stopping until they reached water, and realized their territory was in fact an island, which they now controlled. Along the way, they encountered other predators: the Bear, the Wolverine and the Cougar. A wolf was no match for a bear, but now, with superior numbers, the Wolf exterminated them one at a time. Soon, the island was theirs; conquered as it had been destined to be conquered. There were no predators, just Wolf and game.

Times were good. The Wolf population continued to grow with ease. There was no competition for the Deer, the Elk or the Rabbit. There was plenty of food. As any population will when there is an abundance of food, the Wolf pack grew. Their numbers were now a hundred times bigger than just a few short years ago. Périgord grew old and frail. One day, while on a hunt with Romulus, Périgord did not return. Romulus rose to fill the void left by Périgord.

In a few short years, times were no longer good. The Wolf population had grown so much that it had exceeded its food supply. The game population shrank while the Wolf population remained constant. Hunger ensued, followed quickly by grumbling. The most devastated area was the Peninsula. It was a popular place to live-the home of the Simien Pack-but supported little game. When hunger hit, they were the hungriest. They had the largest population and the least food. Their pain was sharp.

"We need more food!" Cries were heard throughout the land. "There are pups starving on the Peninsula. We need more food for the starving pups!" The Pacific Wolves organized themselves. They knew of an untapped hunting ground far up the valley. They caught extra deer-deer they did not need-and brought them to the peninsula. The pups near starvation survived, and grew up to be healthy wolves, with pups of their own.

Disaster had been averted, but just barely. Romulus called his advisers together. "Our food supply is short. We have eliminated our competition, and for a time, had plenty of food. But our population has exceeded our food supply. Something must be done."

"Our food is the Deer, the Elk and the Rabbit. We must produce more of these. We have learned that in order to produce more Deer, or more Elk or more Rabbit, we must simply give them more food. They eat grass, leaves, nuts and berries, of which we have no more. But the Grasshopper, the Caterpillar, the Squirrel and the Bird also eat grass, leaves, nuts and berries. We will now declare war on the animals who challenge our existence."

"No," declared Patrick, leader of the Pacific Wolves. "We must not continue with violence. That will not solve our problem."

"No," declared Sagax, leader of the Arctic Wolves. "He is right. We must stop the war."

"Romulus is right. We must eradicate the Grasshopper, the Caterpillar, the Squirrel and the Bird, or surely we will die," foretold Augur, leader of the Plain Wolves.

"Then it is decided," said Romulus. We will divide up. I'll lead the Timber Wolves to eradicate the Squirrel. The Red Wolves will eradicate the Grasshopper. The Simien Wolves will eradicate the Caterpillar. The Plain Wolves will eradicate the Bird. Sagax and Patrick, you lead your packs to eradicate the last strongholds of the Wolverine and the Bear. It is our destiny.

These battles were longer. It took much time and new strategies to fight birds who could evade a wolf. New cunning was necessary. It was difficult to catch the squirrels in the trees, but new methods were invented. It was difficult to crush the Grasshopper due to shear numbers, but the wolves were doggedly determined. Sagax and Patrick fought the good fight, but were lost in the battles with the Wolverine and Bear. Some of their followers continued on, and were able to eradicate the last known Bear and Wolverine, though there are rumors that some survived. Some of the followers remembered the teachings of Patrick, and did not return to the pack.

In the end, the Grasshopper, the Bird, the Squirrel and the Caterpillar were all killed. None were left on the island, so the game animals faced no more competition for grass, leaves, nuts and berries. The game animals flourished. With a seemingly unlimited food supply, their population grew. The Timber, Arctic, Pacific and even Simien Wolves all had more food from game animals. Their population grew, and all was well. The island was at peace once more. New cubs were born, who only knew the Coyote, the Fox, the Bird, the Squirrel and the Bear as folklore; enemies of the wolf.

Then one day, the Simien Wolves cried, "Our pups are starving on the Peninsula. Send us food." "Send the starving pups food," echoed the Pacific and Arctic Wolves. Again, the population of wolves on the Peninsula had exceeded their food supply. The United Wolf Packs of Artic, Pacific and Timber Wolves sent game to the Peninsula. All was well. The Simien Wolves grew healthy again, and their numbers increased.

The following year, the Simien Wolves cried, "Our pups are starving on the Peninsula, and we have more pups. Send us more food, even more than last year." And so it was. The United Wolf Packs sent even more food, and the Simien Wolves grew stronger, and their population grew, even though they had no game, or means to support game, on the Peninsula.

Then it happened. The game animal population, which had been growing and growing, finally consumed all the berries, leaves, grass and nuts. There was no food left for the game. The wolves did not notice at first, because a hungry deer tastes the same as a sated deer. Slowly, then quickly, the population of the game animals declined. Hunger among the wolves followed. As always, the Peninsula was the hardest hit.

"Send us food!" demanded the Simien Wolves. "Our children are starving." The Timber Wolves said nothing, having grown tired of the demands. The Pacific Wolves said nothing, worrying how they would feed their own children. The United Wolf Packs set up a committee to investigate the issue.

Simien Wolves began to die. At first, it was just the young and the old, then the adults were no more. But in the end, they were just Simien Wolves. They had never been held in high regard by the major wolf packs, like the Timber Wolves and Artic Wolves. Their deaths went unnoticed.

But hunger continued. Game animals continued to be depleted, but the populations of the Timber, Arctic and Pacific Wolves stayed high. They continued to eat, using up the game, without a means to produce more. Rationing was implemented. Hunger worsened. Death ensued. No solution was in sight. The United Wolf Packs convened.

The Timber Wolf spoke, "Clearly there is hunger. Clearly there is need. Our island is running out of food, because there is little food, and some are taking food that rightly belongs to the Wolves."

"But who?" questioned the other wolves. "There is no one left but the game and the Wolf."

Timber Wolf continued, "Have you not noticed that some among us are not really like us? On the coast lives a creature who calls himself a wolf, yet he is not. He is smaller than us, slower than us, and eats much, much more than us. He is easy to distinguish from us by the color of his fur. It is red. I speak of the pack of Rufus."

The Arctic wolf spoke up, "Our brother the Red Wolf?"

"Oh no, at best, he is a distant cousin, the Red Dog, no better than a jackal," said the Timber Wolf. "He is such a distant cousin, he is really more like our old enemy, the Coyote. And he eats more than the Coyote ever did. We must kill the Red Dog."

And so it was.

Predictably, now, hunger worsened. Death ensued. The passing of the pack of Rufus made little difference. No solution was in sight. The United Wolf Packs convened once more.

The Black Wolf spoke, "Our species is dwindling. Something must be done to save our species. We declared war on our competitors for game, and that worked for a time, but no more. We declared war on the competitors of game, and that worked for a time, but again, no more. We even declared war on our distant cousin, the Red Dog, and that didn't work. We have an undeclared war against game, quickly eradicating them, and as anyone can see, that can't last much longer."

The White Wolf followed, "There is no one left to declare war on. Soon there will be only Wolves left, with no other enemies. There will be no one left to fight, and no more solutions."

The Gray Wolf looked at the Black Wolf, and thought he looked a little plump. The Black Wolf, wondering how to feed his children, looked at the White Wolf and noticed he looked a little fleshy in the jowls and haunches. The White Wolf, a little extra gleam in his eye, saw the Gray Wolf in a new light. Maybe there was still one final solution.

More Articles...

  1. Are You Sustainable

Page 3 of 4