When I was a kid I remember seeing TV specials of Yosemite National Park. They’d show pictures of bears walking up to visitors in their cars, and the visitors would be feeding the bears Cheetos and pork rinds and everyone was smiling and excited to be interacting with nature. Isn’t that nice, helping all those bears get fattened up for the winter? Well, Guess what happened over the next several years: the bears got pretty fond of Cheetos and pork rinds, so they stopped foraging for berries in the woods. They’d hang around campsites and cars, hotels and dumpsters looking for food. Then the park rangers started telling people not to feed the bears anymore because it was interrupting their natural diet, and the bears weren’t supposed to live on Cheetos and pork rinds. So the park put bear-proof locks on the dumpsters and had campers put their food in lockers at the campsites. Well, the bears by then must have figured they were entitled to Cheetos and pork rinds, so they started ripping cars and tents open and breaking into houses, even attacking people, looking for Cheetos and pork rinds. Good heavens, what’s happened to those cute, fuzzy bears?? So now, park rangers are killing bears that intrude into areas where there are Cheetos and pork rinds. On a recent trip to Yosemite, there were flyers and signs posted all over saying “Don’t feed the bears! Feeding kills bears!” The flyers went on to extoll the virtues of the bears foraging for themselves in the wild, and how humans shouldn’t interfere in their ecosystem.
So, I have a question—If the park rangers can figure out that it’s bad for humans to interfere with the bears’ ecosystem by getting them hooked on Cheetos and pork rinds, why can’t our government understand that they are destroying the natural instinct for humans to interact in our free-enterprise system by putting them on welfare and endless unemployment benefits. If bears learn that begging for handouts from tourists is easier than foraging for berries in the woods, why can’t society see that welfare and unemployment only serve to prevent Americans from providing for themselves. Locking our citizens into lives of dependency on government destroys their opportunity to succeed.
So next time you see riots in Greece by citizens protesting government austerity measures, think about Yogi the bear and what my husband calls the Occupy Jellystone Movement.