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Letter: Darwinian Principals Can Teach Us Something About Government

With Darwin Day approaching on Feb. 12, the scientific community throughout the world celebrates the accomplishments of Charles Darwin. Indeed, locally, the Hicksville Gregory Museum will be featuring, for the month of February, an exhibit of books, photos, and memorabilia pertaining to the life and achievements of the Victorian naturalist.

But the celebration shouldn’t be simply something for students of the sciences to partake because the Darwinian principals that govern the evolution and survival of species can be applied to politics, government, and public affairs better than traditional approaches to political science and economics. Here are a few examples:

- If 70-ton dinosaurs were not too big to become extinct, than banks, corporations, and government agencies are not “too big to fail.”

- Working smart is not always better than working hard. Chimpanzees are a lot smarter than ants but ants seem to accomplish more and are unlikely to become endangered species.

- Although unrelated, fish and dolphins resemble one another because they live in the same environment - just like Republicans and Democrats.

- Economic systems are essentially wild animals: too unpredictable to be domesticated and too potentially dangerous to be permitted to roam the streets of town. That’s why corrals were invented.

- Mammals in cold climates have stocky bodies and smaller extremities. Mammals in hot climates have thin bodies and larger extremities. Where governmental bureaucracy and taxes grow, civil society (churches, clubs, civic organizations, charities, nonprofits) tend to shrink.

- Island chains generally have a greater variety of plant and animal species than on the mainland, which is why a multicultural society is not always a more diverse one.

- Government should be like an elephant’s trunk - strong enough to lift a heavy log but delicate enough to pick up a grape. That’s because it is the elephant that commands the trunk, not the other way around.

- The basis of all animal societies is the family: elephant herds, bee hives, wolf packs, and flocks of geese. The moment an animal species adopts behaviors that are contrary to the long-term survival of the family is the moment its society begins to disintegrate into the abyss of extinction.

- Every beehive needs to have a queen and drones but a hive can’t flourish unless it is comprised mostly of workers undertaking a wide variety of tasks: gathering nectar, making honey, attending to the queen, making wax combs, and feeding the larvae. A local economy is not sustainable if its entire base is made up of only one kind of industry.

- Species introduced into a new ecosystem, if they do not remain exceedingly rare, tend to rapidly expand until they dislocate established species and uproot the entire ecosystem.

Paul Manton

Paul Manton is the vice president of the Levittown Historical Society.