Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bounty of the Flies

Besides sounding like a William Golding-inspired Mel Gibson movie, I find this new law in a Chinese suburb to be funny just in its ludicrousness.

The article makes a good point, that this law basically just treats the symptom, rather than treating the disease. Wouldn't paying citizens money for dead flies actually encourage them to be less hygienic? That is, if they want to collect money for the dead flies they're turning in, wouldn't they want there to be more flies, so they might create an environment which would draw more flies - cleaning less frequently, leaving food out, etc.

Now honestly, I don't think this is going to create a culture of unhygienic families just to make a few cents off of a dead fly. Most people take pride in living in a clean house (or at least a passably clean one, which in my case means at least you can't really see the dirt). But it's not going to solve the problem that already exists. It's not going to encourage people to clean up their environment more than they already do.

It's like the age-old problem of feeding the hungry - do you give them a food drop, which will feed them for this week, or do you teach them how to grow their own food, which will feed them forever (hopefully, given environmental conditions)? If this suburb in China has a problem with flies and wants to get rid of them, wouldn't their money be better spent on street cleaners to clean up any insect-attracting detritus in the street, street sweepers, water flowing through the gutters (like Paris)? I don't know what the trash disposal system is in China. Is it like the American system of trash cans and dumpsters and disposal trucks coming around once a week? If residents must take their trash to a dump, it's possible they aren't doing this frequently, which would create flies around the collecting garbage bags. If there is trash pick-up, wouldn't it cut down on the flies to have the pick-up happen more often?

There are so many other ways to fix this problem than just throwing money at the result of the problem, rather than finding a working solution so the flies don't proliferate in the first place.

6 comments:

Gopi Rajaseharan said...

That was funny :) Especially the technique involved to "bring down" sparrows.

Most Asian countries (except perhaps Taiwan, Singapore, parts of Malaysia and Japan) have poor infrastructure and forethought when it comes to managing basic necessities of societal living. Add to that a huge illiterate population (many of them living close to the poverty line) that can make a given bad situation worse.

The Lethological Reader said...

True true. So what might be more helpful than throwing money at people for the dead flies is the improve the infrastructure, provide basic necessities, and work towards a higher literacy rate. It seems like they're just throwing this $135 away.

Poor sparrows. I mean, seriously. Imagine if someone followed you around banging pots so that you could never sit down, or every time you tried to eat something, you got it knocked out of your hand. As much as they might be pests, that seems cruel and unusual to me.

Gopi Rajaseharan said...

"Imagine if someone followed you around banging pots so that you could never sit down..."

That happens to me all the time. Except instead of pots, its cell phones...

The Lethological Reader said...

Ha! lol. You know, I think I've heard of someone inventing a cell phone blocker, a device that basically shuts down cell phone signals within a radius. Perhaps that's just wishful thinking for some people...

Queequeg said...

Here in Brazil something similar is happening. The government decided to give money for each child a poor family have. You can imagine what trend this started.
Congrats for the blog.

The Lethological Reader said...

Welcome, Queequeg!

I noticed a similar trend in France when I was there. The government would offer money (or was it significant tax breaks?) for each child born. After a certain amount of time, the amount would go down. So parents would time it such that as soon as their benefits from the first child went down, they would have a second child so the benefits would go back up.

Now, I suppose having a child is long term more of a financial impact than this benefit would give, but the Frenchwoman who was telling me about this believed people were just taking advantage of the system. Now, if they were going to have the second child anyway, why not time it that way. But, if they were having trouble making ends meet and needed the benefit, so decided to have a second child...