Taxonomists charging into oblivion

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Sat Jan 30 15:32:38 EST 1993


In article <38426 at uflorida.cis.ufl.edu> stinger at pine.circa.ufl.edu writes:
>Thank you C.J. O'Kelly for putting up a post that demands
>a response and hence, will keep this group active.
>Your point is well taken and it may be that in New Zealand 
>there is no need for IDs.  That would be the implied meaning
>of what you are saying.  However, in the US where I am, there
>is clearly a need and a need that many are willing to pay for.
>Taxonomy is greatly underfunded IMHO but I don't believe that it 
>is due to the demand for compensation for IDs. 

I've noticed that University departments have been "consolidating" the
traditional *descriptive* disciplines with the new _adventure_ skills (like
various aspects of mol. bio., advanced modelling, etc.)...and why not?

One year ago, I attended an Extension Service and Computers Conference in
Florida at which a gent from the UK detailed the switch over to a
"recovery of costs" mode for their equivalent of the Cooperative Extension
Service here.  Of greatest interest to me, was the _fact_ that thought
there were pre-existing for-fee ag consultancies, the government's
charging a free seemed to *stimulate* a better offering of services by all
concerned, *promoted* a clarefication in everyones' minds (especially the ag
customer) who best offer what, and the net result was that the total
expendiatures for ag info consultancy has increased several fold in the
last five years with NO ONE suffering a loss in gross income (and the
government agencies being now able to recover 50% of costs on their way to
attaining the goal of 100% recovery)!

Whether in the U.S.A., New Zealand or Timbuktu, any good or service that
has a VALUE will have to seek it's marrket clearing price (the point at
which demand just meets supply--or vice versa)...unless that is a legal or
regulatory sanction that forbids that mechanism.

The implications are clear: if the service that one offers for "free" sees a
precipitous drop in demand when switched to a cost recovery scheme, then
that service is worth *only* the time and effort, but not the cash, of its
previous for-free customers.

In my opinion (and it is an opinion), the real complaint from New Zealand
is: how uncomfortable it is that the true value of my "static" service has
been revealed to the public....with the subsequent withdrawal of public
subsidy.  I can recall (I am 50 y.o.) a blacksmith who still operated in my
small New England town as late as 1955.  For sure, there are still
"smithies" operating here and there, but that is now a "niche" service
that is priced as such (expensive) for those who use the "luxuray" of a
horse, rather than mechanical horsepower.  I worked on a kibuttz in Israeli
(years ago) that recalled that the last draft horses were phased out (in
favor of tractors) about 1960.  Yes, there were horse on the kibuttz...but
for pleasure riding.

So the question for New Zealand is: how are you going to revolutionize the
content, focus and delivery of your ID service, such that it will be
appreciated in the public eye and command at least a living wage?   :^)

Steve

---
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|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
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