Economic Multipliers (185)

Do you know what these are?

They help CREATE wealth in systems.

Birds are an economic multiplier.


I like flipping through old manuals occasionally to see what people were being taught at various points in history.

A couple manuals I flipped through were old training manuals for the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts.

In a ‘Who would have known this?’ kind of way, I learned that in the early 1900’s, the Boy Scouts were probably integral in protecting and/or saving some of the bird populations in the United States.

As harvesters, Americans and Native Americans were pretty practical people. When they killed a bird, they did so because that choice helped feed and clothe their families. Likewise, feathers were used for insulation, bedding, decorations and even pens.

As nations evolve and get wealthier, choices can get a bit, I’ll say, confused.

It’s easy to read about the buffalo populations which were decimated at one point in time in American history as those animals were so large. The reasons that happened were varied in nature.

Obviously it’s possible to have famines among herds due to droughts and overgrazing. It’s also possible to overharvest herds in the course of people engaging in standard business activities which would have provided income for them and/or their families.

You obviously don’t want either of those things to occur and sometimes it’s not possible to guarantee that they don’t. Even the best managed herd population can be impacted by some unforeseen natural disaster a year or two later.

The greatest challenge this relatively new nation faced was in dealing with individuals who had a lot of disposable income who could travel by rail across the continent and who would willingly shoot at buffalo for sport. These weren’t individuals who had any interest in providing for their families. These weren’t people who even cared whether the animal was injured and left to die a cruel death.

There is one thing that has historically characterized the nature of people you consider to be Americans (or good citizens of any nation for that matter) and that is that they would never just shoot at an animal for sport. They would never let an injured animal in the woods to suffer and die. You just don’t do it. It’s not American citizenship. It’s not global citizenship. It’s just not citizenship.

Birds obviously are much smaller and more ‘invisible.’ As the United States got wealthier and people had a lot more ‘disposable’ time, shooting at birds (for fun – not for scientific research or food or clothing) was starting to turn into sort of a sport (obviously not organized).

The Boy Scouts in particular started a campaign to discourage this sport. Of course, not every young boy in the United States participated in the Boy Scouts but there must have been a ‘critical mass’ because apparently, it worked.

Most people probably don’t think a lot about birds unless they are bird watchers or hunt. Of course, they are part of the world’s ecological balance, keeping insects in check, spreading seeds and, although we may never surely know, they could be a saving grace if the world gets a bit warmer.

Birds tend to find climates that are conducive to their survival and along the way, they carry seeds (as part of their internal workings). Since plants have climate ranges that they thrive well in, you’d expect that if birds migrated further north, they’d also be taking seeds with them.

Of course, this isn’t the large scale agriculture that feeds the world. It’s more a matter of birds might help us identify how agriculture might need to shift a bit in the future.

It’s hard to imagine that some young kid from the early 1900’s might be the reason you see a bird in your backyard or at a park – and yet that is the nature of positive critical masses.


P.S. The old Boy Scout and Girl Scout manuals are rather fun to flip through because they highlight many of the differences in expectations we have for young men and young women today. Other groups throughout the world also train young people in skills and I believe that if a person visited country by country and asked how many young people were being taught solids skills, you’d also find a strong correlation with how well those countries have been, are doing or are projected to do in the future. Some countries provide those skills to young people through mandatory and/or formal military service programs.

Since I am not involved in the Girl Scouts programs, I cannot accurately say this is true but I believe that the program (based on looking at the badges) has been moving away from solid skills while the Boy Scouts program has retained a lot of its original core.

In a pick and choose world, as a young woman once myself, I would have gravitated toward the greater percentage of badges that are currently offered in the Boy Scouts program and I expect that is why there are more programs being offered for young people in the 12-20 year range which combine a lot of scouting and skills-based activities. Obviously, it also gives young people a chance to get to know each other and work together on projects (many community based).

In a ‘Why is this so?’ kind of way: Some of the historical badges for women revolved around cooking and canning (skill related activities which were part of my own youth). In those years, even though men supposedly didn’t cook (a very broad statement that is quite unfair to all those who did), they were the ones who tweaked the recipes so that mass scale canning and food preservation could be done: It turns out that you can’t just multiply a recipe 1000 or a million times over.

And, in a ‘Does anyone know this anymore?’ kind of way: Recipe books used to have quite a bit of ‘real science’ built into them. Today, many of them are simply lists of ingredients.

The progression of the generations is a series of additions and subtractions. As we evaluate how knowledge evolves and how we use it, we just simply need to make sure that young people (the future leaders) know that the additions also can cause some losses and it’s good to keep in the back of the mind what those might be so they are not permanent societal losses.