Sunday, May 18, 2014

FWS Sees Only Nails For Their Hammer

I would be delighted to report that the US Government works for us and their activities do reflect the will of the people. Politics should not be important in this debate. If you are jumping for joy because some regulation is skewering a conservative, then clearly you are not smart enough to understand the idiocy of  letting government bypass for any agenda constitutional checks and balances. If you are the one getting skewered, the process of celebrating a political victory loses some of its luster . The Obama Administration's stated  mission (see the update in this Newsletter issue) is again bypassing the legislative process by effectively moving by regulation in the direction of a complete ban on the sale of all ivory. The President might not be aware amid the howls of his environmental left that the art and antique world is primarily comprised of liberals - the very folks he is preparing to skewer. The Huffington Post is not generally considered a conservative media source giving credence that this issue crosses party lines. On April 24, 2014 they posted the following.

Obama Administration Treats Antique Collectors and Dealers as Criminals: New Ivory Rules Also Put Elephants at Increased Risk

Posted: Updated:     
"The Obama administration is preparing to treat virtually every antique collector, dealer, and auctioneer in America -- and anyone else who happens to own a piece of ivory -- as a criminal. In the name of saving elephants, the administration is effectively banning the sale of any object containing any ivory, even if legally acquired decades ago. Doing so will weaken conservation efforts by expanding the ivory black market, diverting enforcement resources away from true contraband "

The New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes and many other publications have come out with  similar statements.

 Is an ivory ban a life and death issue? No, of course not; however, it is symptomatic of a government that  proves daily it is out of touch with the promises they made to protect and defend the constitution. Think about this.. it really transcends politics and whether you wave a red or blue flag. The Congress may at the bidding of the people legislatively pass a ban. That's our system which then gives us the prerogative of no longer voting for those that we feel are not representing us.

This government is now moving towards regulations that will ultimately ban the sale of all mammal ivory. When I say all,  I mean objects that could be anything from the mammoth ivory lion man sculpture dated to over 40,000 years old to the tourist bangle carved from illegal ivory in Kenya last year. Can we even remotely consider that these objects are equal in an ivory ban? As we see below the government's answer is yes.

So what the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)  has done at the direction of the Obama Administration is to appear like they are treating contemporary and ancient ivory fairly by expanding  the definition for "antique" ivory. In the past customs regarded anything over one hundred years old to be an antique. The definition has changed and now you have a few more hoops to jump through.

  • Is 100 years or older;
  • Is composed in whole or in part of an ESA-listed species;
  • Has not been repaired or modified with any such species on or after December 28, 1973; and
  • Is being or was imported through an endangered species antique port.
These antiques can only be imported at the following ports: Boston, Massachusetts; New York, New York; Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Miami, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; New Orleans, Louisiana; Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, California; San Francisco, California; Anchorage, Alaska, Honolulu, Hawaii; and Chicago, Illinois.

What are the chances that the 16th century Benin ivory mask was imported through one of these ports and that there still is documentation to prove this fact. Since the port was unknown at the time to be a designated port and that most owners don't save this sort of documentation through generations.. both of these objects are nails.. there are no differences to the U.S. Government. I should note that McCullough's group has proposed changes to the regulations to address this discrepancy.

Conservation groups around the world are calling for a complete ban on all sales of  mammal ivory objects; and again there is no distinction made between  the tourist jewelry illustrated above and the 15th century Portuguese salt cellar from Sierra Leone..

In the United States the constitution does afford some protection to its citizens and the property they own. Undoubtedly, these FWS regulations will ultimately face the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. It will be pointed out that citizens have legally acquired objects at in some cases significant costs. By making it impossible for an object to be considered an antique FWS has essentially made the object worthless in the marketplace. Again all objects are nails and will ultimately be treated with the hammer.

Which is a perfect segue to the government's ultimate solution to dealing with banned ivory. Yes it is literally solved with a hammer. China, France, and the US. have called these events "ivory crush"

15 WWF Success Stories of 2013 | Stories | 
Six tons of illegal elephant ivory tusks, trinkets and souvenirs were crushed to gravel at an event hosted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Denver."
 It would be interesting to see if FWS had any experts evaluate the six tons of carved ivory to ensure that they there was not  an early 19th century Kongo ivory finial in the group. I would bet the piece to the right looks pretty similar to the pieces that FWS workers crushed in Denver. If you really don't know the difference they all do look like nails.

In China the recent ivory crush which they say will take a year is covered by CNN.
Listen to this segment.. the environmentalist dodges the question about the success of attacking the problem at the source by lamenting the deaths of park rangers. Neither the interviewer or the environmentalist even address the issue of antique ivory.

And the BBC also takes the same line ignoring the issue of antique ivory suggesting that all ivory objects should be treated equally and that's by being crushed and burned.

By the way righteous indignation at the slaughter of African elephants can still be tempered with a little cash and a good lobbyist. Yes if you are a hunter you can still go to Africa and shoot an elephant and bring home the ivory. When I asked a FWS official to explain this apparent contradiction, it was stated that the killings were done in the name of conservation. Now if you are concerned about the depleted numbers of elephants how does reducing them further contribute to their numbers?

What about the owners of antique ivory? The media has pointed out that honest citizens that are buyers and sellers of antiques are now going to be classified as criminals. So is there any difference in individuals that have followed the rules all their lives and those that have broken many rules and are NOW slaughtering elephants for their ivory. Really do we treat both groups equally?. There was a time when individuals that loved arts and antiques were considered to be enlightened. But apparently now the enlightened are the minority power brokers that have an agenda to impose on the majority
tax payers.

Does this make any sense at all? And do you really think it makes any difference whether you are politically to the right or left. This issue is so much bigger than ivory. It is really about you, your family, and future generations and the fundamental concept that government works for you..

Please also follow the updates on this issue  on
There are links and updates  from Fish and Wildlife and Cites on

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