The corncrake and the decline of religion

On 13 February 2013 the Irish Times reported that a farmers’ representative had told politicians that

Farmers in the Shannon callows are facing extinction along with the corncrake and wading birds […].

He wanted taxpayers’ money to be spent on stopping the river flooding its flood plain.

Back in the days when people believed in gods, they would have known what a flood meant: it was a message from a deity, telling them to stop whatever they were doing. On the Shannon, either people have stopped believing in gods or they are having some difficulty in interpreting the message, despite its having been delivered over and over again for hundreds of years. If it were interpreted properly, or even if landowners had a modicum of common sense, they would realise that they should either cease trying to earn a living along the banks of a river that floods regularly or adapt their expectations or their activities to take account of the floods (one thinks of rice paddies …).

In the years 2009–2011 net subsidies to agriculture in the Midland region were 114.4% of the operating surplus. For the Border, Midland and Western region as a whole, the figure was 110.4%. In other words, agriculture in those regions is, on balance, a form of outdoor therapy for landowners: it is not an economic activity, and there is no point in taxpayers’ spending any more money on it.


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