International Human Trafficking and Culpability in Complicit Response Efforts

International Human Trafficking and Culpability in Complicit Response Efforts

Paul Fischer


Professor Mark Budolfson

International Human Trafficking and Culpability in Complicit Response Efforts

A broad definition of slavery confronts many contemporary understandings of the term. Today estimates of international human trafficking only demonstrate a fraction of the greater problems in global slavery as a fundamental part of industrial, manufacturing, and even employment service fraud. The costs of the epidemiology of modern slavery will be evaluated through three vectors as a function of harm to employers, to consumers, and to, the most apparent, the humanitarian dignity of slaves themselves. In order to use these costs to effectively recommend policy changes, it is necessary to point towards cogent definitions of the predicate terms to complicity and cooperation while retaining addendums for feasibility and efficacy in implementation. Macro and micro economic models both point towards a crisis in terminology to describe the potential costs of inaction to the global human subjugation that must be addressed as an industrial issue unique to the modern era of manufacturing.

In general terms, with estimates of tens of millions of slaves disproportionately distributed throughout the world, the ability of nations or international bodies to respond appropriately must be considered realistically (Ucnikova). This points towards a macro solution such as those that have been recently endorsed. Some of the greatest victories, dating to the early days of modern industrialism, such as American legislation in 1930 that prohibited all importation of products produced by slavery have actually held the slaveowners or nations with legalized or unenforced slavers individually responsible. In order to understand why this phenomenon presents a fundamental disambiguation between normative distinctions in culpability and complicity will be given.

Complicity as a Term of Moral Shame and Efficacy in Response

In a memorandum that shocked the world, the president of Harvard University at the time, Lawrence Summers, defended the acceleration of dirty industry and pollution distribution through Less Developed Countries (LDCs). In summation, he claims that such a move would minimize costs by distributing pollution and thus decreasing the odds of acute toxicity and by affecting nations with already compromised health care systems and increase productivity in developed nations by an amount unimaginable by LDC standards (Hausmann and McPherson). It should be clear that this approach focuses on the outcome from a process and not the ethical standard of the mechanisms by which the outcome occurs.

To critique this sort of bottom-line economic analysis, McPherson and Hausmann demonstrate that there is a difference between what one is willing to do and what one ought to do. This is a similar concept to the notion of conspiracy put forward in work on mass administrative murder when the crime is too great for normative judicial reactions (Osiel, 10-15). Instead, automatic insolvency of the perpetrator upon realization of the consequence determines predicate behavior such as planning or coordinations must be aggressively confronted. In the same way many police departments save money by focusing on high profile criminal cases because it can be assumed that whether confronted or not, criminals who are successful on a lower level will reoffend more seriously in a way that can be feasibly tracked, when an outcome is preventable it may be infeasible to respond to a more serious outcome.

As such the premier defense of such “mechanical solidarity” as is described in the event of mass administrative murder demonstrated in the case examples from Osiel’s work is especially apt for use in terms of modern slavery (Osiel). The two incidents share an extreme level of societal harm and are unique to modern industrial societies. The second of these two similarities will necessitate a distinct understanding and definition of the term complicity.

Culpability as Legal Term of Distributed Guilt

The responsibility for the forced and coerced labor of tens of millions of global citizens lies squarely on the capable. Genocides cannot be compared to conflicts similar per capita in ancient times, and slavery also must be viewed in absolute terms. As a response to a term that bridges the civil and political spheres, solutions to slavery must underscore cooperation in different sectors of a community. The answer is not governmental alone: “Governance emphasizes cooperation between the civil and political spheres of society, whereas government is usually thought of in terms of the formal political structure of the nation state” (Zureik, 114).

Once the crisis has been established as one of paramount importance that must be viewed in absolute terms, a definition of security is necessitated: “Human security as a complementary concept that concerns itself with human rights, protection of the environment, and guaranteeing of basic needs related to health, education, and personal needs”. This definition delineates the point at which the agency responsible for ensuring this level of safety and security for citizenry is identified: the crisis must be viewed as a military one pursuant to this new definition of security that steps outside of the bounds of personal security and was established with legislation during the war on terror. To delegate or subsume the consequences of slavery upon the population or any other form of governance violates the logical induction of security into a basic dialogue pursuant to the basic civil bonds and contract all members of a civilized society are responsible for.

Waiting for the “Invisible Hand” as a Determinant Factor in Assigning Culpability

It is be necessary to look at unsuccessful efforts to reform labor standards in nations that have long since banned slavery, but have attempted to revolutionize against industry standards that may be treated as such in today’s world. Mexican solutions to corporate exploitation have given rise to “corporatism” and seen an ideological solidarity with the worker that was unique to this country at the time. Even in comparison to Russia, where an agricultural revolution would transform the nation in coming decades, at the time of World War One, the revolutionary Mexican government was unique in the industrial focus of their constitution. Labor rights would set standards for limits on not just workplace exploitation, but also for environmental exploitation and the natural rights of citizens in that country (MacDonald, 139).

Understanding how and why the goal of protecting labor rights were compromised in the legislation also implies a subtle mechanical understanding of the tri-party political system in Mexico. Unlike the United States, with a two-party system of majority rules (gerrymandering cheating aside) and a three-way system of checks and balances, it must be argued that the Mexican constitutional protection of the worker was compromised by an inverse system. In this case, a number of policies held by the governing party, or perhaps even all of them, may not reflect the will of the majority. That guarantees an invitation for corruption and corporate influence on an executory level of the political system.

What resulted was a junta system of arbitration, termed the Juntas de Conciliation y Arbitraje intended to reflect the distinct features of Mexican politics that made recognition of the rights of the worker difficult. A logical procedure of the demonstration of rights as a forceful blow against the corporate interests bent on destroying those rights was established, but never ultimately fulfilled in practice as the revolutionaries had been promised in words. As the terminology of the legislation was lax, a loophole allowed the measure to fall behind standards of success generally warranted in such a matter of human security; rather than articulating an ultimatum as the climax of individual and collective rights, the legislation became the mechanism of mass administrative slavery as federations of ghost unions became the norm and forced an automated suppression of autonomous cultural expression in conflict with the natural solidarity originally espoused in the constitution of 1917.

Some of these unions continue to take bribes of up to a million dollars a day in a pre-negotiated contract with local law enforcement as part of an effort to circumvent the law of the land. In doing so, by implication many of the rights guaranteed in amendments to Article 123 are nullified or directly eliminated, “the official labour movement was therefore able to save the institutional bases of its power while bargaining away workers’ individual rights and traditional workplace norms” (MacDonald, 142). Obviously this includes the individual rights to associate and due to obstruction of the collective rights to bargain, strike, represent employees on behalf of unions, international treaties have been cast aside.

This is exemplified well by the violation of the 40-hour work week. Empty board rooms locked during time set aside for union meetings in these organizations obsolete the right to collect dues or to participate in boards. The outcome of judicial action is guaranteed by the contract: because there is already a “ghost” union in effect, there can be no calling of the tripartite junta conciliation and arbitrage action.

The problems described here are not unique to Mexico, and in fact there has been an international resolve to institutionalize the reality of global slavery in a fashion never before faced by the forces of good in mankind. In order for the system described above to succeed, monetary interests are critical. Realization of institutional evil was made possible by a loophole in American statutes, another democracy with a complicated and somewhat delinquent history of slavery and union movements.

The tariff act of 1930, introduced by a Republican, was intended to end American involvement in the slave trade. It had become apparent by that point that in fact following the Civil War, due to a combination of changing international politics and persistent expansion of raw and finished product importation pursuant to the “miracle” of modern industrialization, that both the economics and reality of American slavery had actually grown in a frighteningly global sense. Unfortunately, a loophole in that legislation still limited legal enforcement to the United States and this was not effectively closed or confronted through other means until 2016 when President Obama signed legislation introduced by Democrats to officially end all American involvement and profit in and from the slave trade.

It should be clear now through the logical expansion of this argument of containment and intent that the extent to which legislation has been effected is not always as directly apparent as it may seem. In fact, there are frequently trade-offs present between the stated goals and objectives of legislation and the enforceable reality of the work implicit in the work. Understanding the necessity to gain political support for a measure in addition to popular support, even in democracies, is a tricky concept it will be necessary to master in order to effectively instigate a regime of change in regards to global human slavery. These tradeoffs should be considered fundamental to the discussion rather than tangential qualifications as they occur pre-enforcement rather than post-dedication of qualified resources.

Inadequate Action is Culpability

This is a historical case, in which the outcome is apparent. Effective because of the close ties to factory environmental regulations, the detraction from initial attempts to regulate slavery and improper work conditions relies on minutiae in terminology. Reality of bribable juntas intended to protect workers today is more clear than any hypothetical analysis about actions to fight slavery.

The most apparent reality that comes to mind in the evaluation of these labor standards surfaces through analysis of the initial goals of the article, “Article 123 of the 1917 Constitution established the most progressive labor code of its time… workers rights were conceived of paternalistically and defended through a nationalist and even racial rationale” (MacDonald, 142). Opposition to these goals would have been infeasible at the time, and only “Anarchosyndicalist organizations rejected state intervention” on the topic (MacDonald, 143). They would later be joined by dark and powerful corporate interests.

It is not enough to simply embrace ideals through legislation and to cast them aside in actuality. “This coincidence of interest between capital, the state and official labour has proven decisive in safeguarding the legal latticework of corporatism well into the neoliberal era”, establishing what seems to be an appropriate delineation between the demands of workers and the exploiters (MacDonald, 156). Yet still the bribes indicate a failure of the system, the question that should be taken from this example and this section is that culpability necessitates the monetary flow normal in corruption, and regulatory action must use bureaus independent of financial, or immune to the influence of potential corruption.

Estes’ 7 fundamental Concepts:

As an act of violence currently unenforced and even supported in recent legislative actions by the GOP, a currently major political force in the USA, a review of the 7 fundamental Concepts civilization must embrace will prove useful (Ledwith):

Unity of humanity and life on Earth

Minimisation of violence

Maintenance of environmental quality

The satisfaction of minimal world welfare

Primacy of human dignity

Retention of diversity and pluralism

Universal participation

Qualifications in Action

Emancipatory Action Research – “ideological hypocrisy for community developers to resort to research methods that are based on inequality, culturally invasive relationships, while claiming an emancipatory approach… studying the way people behave without relating it to the whole person, let alone their social and political context is a dehumanising act” (Ledwith, 149). The topic must be approached with solidarity and in earnest. It can be easy to detract from the original goal with sardonic failures to identify problems. A failure in contemporary efforts to end slavery lends to a slippery slope that is as dangerous as inaction, it could be argued.

Culpability in Regulation

Actions could be effective, but taken too far could create a level of harm that outweighs the crimes currently perpetrated. Such a phenomena has been noted historically as, “A panic campaign is orchestrated by state agents of social control, supported by a media-simulated depiction of the enemy as a shadowy, external ‘other’” (Zureik, 115). This seems unlikely, but should be evaluated using an economic evaluation of the freedom indices in nations, or at least point to such an evaluation as improbable to support the objection, and indeed would probably strengthen the thesis of the paper.

Such a concern is easily addressed in the terms of slavery. The state of involuntary coercion to engage in labor is one that transgresses political rights. Instead of being viewed as a checklist of states that must all be present in order to qualify as a slave, any one of the economic, political, or social deprivations natural to the state must be viewed as qualifiable and action-worthy.

Complicity in Regulation

In noting that American and Canadian anti terrorism legislations extend beyond immediate, temporal concerns to deal with immigration and other issues of personal and public nature, we end up with ‘governance through security’” and detract from the original goals and objectives or even exacerbate targeted regions. Original goals are obscured by failures in implementation or enforcement. This is the outcome in which objectives are achieved or at least negative outcomes avoided, but the goal is overshadowed by a non-related, positive or not, change politically or otherwise that is not intended.

Pro tempore there are no grounds to assume that this would be the case, and in order to show that, legislation from 2016 that prohibited slavery by closing a loophole allowing importation of forced labor products into the USA should be cited as evidence that workable solutions can be implemented.  A potent critique or accolade of how effective such legislative measures will prove lies in the future. The question of whether a governing body who ineffectively regulates a product or more problematically actually does regulate the product but does something else as well (such as an effective policeman who only arrests people with red hats who voted for a local politician he does not like) becomes culpable or complicit in nature needs further research and theoretical expansion.

Complicity in Consumption

Consumers must be emphasized to include companies purchasing inputs from slave-owners as well as individuals who import their goods from a slave-owned factory. In turning a blind eye to slavery, consumers are becoming complicit in numerous harms. Showing that the consumer can prevent slavery expands the defacto complict behavior into culpable behavior, though with ignorance. A marginal response by consumers can be guaranteed to have efficacy in instances of corporate greed, because the corporate greed is dependent on the multitude by definition. Without a multitude being exploited, the nature of the crime would change, and an individual response can be guaranteed to be magnified by the number impacted.

Successful Solutions in Action

One effective method companies with moral considerations towards the idea that the global market has ensured that investments or products they make may contribute to slavery is to offset the negative impact they endorse or create by investing in potential solutions. In order to ensure avoidance of hypocrisy in legislative actions, immediate action on international slavery is by definition pertinent as, “Cultural diversity [and social justice] thus becomes essential for biological diversity, and histories based on local economic development offer alternatives for the future that reflect values other than consumer lifestyles: a harmonious co-existence between social justice and environmental justice” (Ledwith, 149). The top three contributing foundations or companies represent a massive share of the overall funding for those efforts that fight global slavery. One massive company, Google, has donated over 11 million dollars to fight slavery with the Google Innovation Award (Ucnikova). Currently only about 1% of the over ten billion dollars needed to eradicate global slavery is actually budgeted towards that endeavor. So rather than being just a drop in the bucket, as a company that sees nearly 5% of the nation’s GDP pass through its revenue stream, this award actually signifies a proportional contribution to fight human trafficking and slavery.

“The death of nature was fundamental to the rise of patriarchy” and it follows that the success of feminism is dependent on resurrection of environmental goals (Ledwith, 150). There should be a general understanding implicit in this definition that the protection of social justice is fundamental to protection of the environment. Sufficient evidence has been shown that this is a snowball or critical mass that are being enacted to enforce liberal ideals and that a trade-off is not the reality of the political arena in question.

There is a responsibility for more than remaining competitive in company efforts to purge associations with slavers and slaveholders. Unlike the discussion in culpability and complicity that demonstrated the legal distinction between cooperation in commercial wrongdoing and complicity, in this case the law prohibits the item being manufactured from its genesis. As a prohibited item, one might have no level of complicity or even knowledge the item is counterfeit and still be legally responsible for engaging in reckless commercial behaviors that resulted in the distribution of such a “hot” item. This terminology is used because at the root of it, slavery is stealing, a view that perhaps demonstrates under what circumstances ancient Hammurabi dictated the removal of a hand for robbery.


Hausman, D. M. and M. S. McPherson. Economic Analysis and Moral Philosophy. Cambridge University Press (1996).

Ledwith, Margaret. Community development: A critical approach. Policy Press, 2011.

MacDonald, Ian Thomas. “Negotiating Mexico’s Labour Law Reform: Corporatism, Neoliberalism and Democratic Opening.” Studies in Political Economy 73, no. 1 (2004): 139-158.

Osiel, M.J. Ever again: Legal remembrance of administrative massacre. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 144(2), (1995). 463-704.

Ucnikova, Martina. “OECD and Modern Slavery: How much aid money is spent to tackle the issue?.” Anti-Trafficking Review 3 (2014).

Zureik, Elia, and Karen Hindle. “Governance, security and technology: the case of biometrics.” Studies in Political Economy 73, no. 1 (2004): 113-137.

Welfare, Smiley Faces (parabolas), and the Technics of Objection

Welfare, Smiley Faces (parabolas), and the Technics of Objection

Paul Fischer
Professor Mark Budolfson

Welfare, Smiley Faces (parabolas), and the Technics of Objection

Wong makes the point that standard welfare units can be established in terms of how many life years are lived combined by the experiential hedonism. That is by comparing inter and intra species data for the ability to solve complex puzzles, achieve goals, and other trends it should be possible to create a concrete unit of any animals lost wellbeing should their life be truncated. Elucidating the way in which this can be useful for charities, militaries, policy leaders, and other people in need of research cannot be described effectively enough. Such an index is a holy grail for analysts.
There can be no such standard welfare unit, however, because application to the real world does not satisfy the requirements for usability. Using the number provided in the study of 23 pigs who are worth one human, it is very apparent that taking the extremes, in which a whole nation were to be sacrificed in order to save a group of pigs with 23 times as many people, it is very unlikely that any human would make the sacrifice. It would take many more pigs to save the nation or justify a declaration of war against the nation plotting to harm these.
Conversely, there are situations in which poaching necessitates the incarceration or execution of more than 23 humans. In this manner, the symbolic or economic value of a particular animal places it at a greater value than its human counterparts. Prosecuting such

violations are a critical part of maintaining biodiversity and describing the necessary actions to protect our environment.
These two delimiting factors demonstrate two thresholds at which the standard usability of the welfare units are effective. In order to complete the work, it should be determined that there is not a further use for the measure by completing the analysis at a 25th and 75th percentile level of destruction, as might have been seen in human mortalities a plague borne by a rodent or in a declining bird population as suburban California housing developments expand. In the case of the latter, it can at least be said that many humans have expressed an eager desire to be inconvenienced in order to save a large number of animals. This paper will not delve further into this point.
Establishment of the unit as a marginal unit does continue to make it useful. This opens it to use in marginal analyses of next unit purchasing power and to compare the value of consumer items across consumer price indices. I cannot take credit for that terminology, which fixes the error in Wong’s work, but instead must give that analysis to Mark Budolfson, my lecturer at UVM. It is too bad Wong did not do so when penning his research, or it could have been laudable from an interstudies perspective.
One potential objection that is deftly avoided and disregarded by Wong is analogous to that raised by Deaton in response to Peter Singer’s statements regarding the value of a human life. He objects that once one is convinced the fundamental premise of an argument is correct, one must determine the complementary premise to be correct as well. In his case this referred to the efficacy of human rights’ groups to save a life in another country, where there is a low likelihood of long-term longevity, while the lives saved in this country have a high probability of long-term longevity.
  Similarly, it can be argued that there will be problems with implementation of the standard welfare unit once it is appropriately developed for use and comparison across species and populations (intra or inter species comparison can be obtained by holding the hedonic capacity or experiential capacity to one). This will not be a problem because Wong explicitly states that his number is for the purpose of measurement only. What is done with the measurement once it is obtained is up to the researcher. While it is Wong’s responsibility to note that the ratio found is a marginal value and will not work on individual or mass scales at the least, and may need adjustment through a graphical representation for larger populations, it is not within the scope of the paper to address objections such as those raised by Deaton. They argue against the efficacy of the system.

Natural History Journal

Paul Fischer

Professor Alicia Daniels

Natural History Journal

Spring 2017



Table of Contents

Glacial History of Vermont……………………….….…………………………………………..3

Tools and Historical Vermont Communities…….……………………………………………4-5

Naturally Curious Reading Response………….….…………………………….……………6-14

Wetland Activity…………………………….……………………..……………………….15-16

Lending Library Activities…………………….……………………………………………17-22

Field Notes…………………………………………………….……………………………23-38

Walking in Nature……………………………………………….………………………….39-46



Paul Fischer


Professor Alicia Daniels

Lake Vermont to Lake Champlain: A Truncated History

Lake Champlain is surrounded by the Lake Champlain Basin. This extends into Canada and New York as well as Vermont. While it today contributes to a vibrant ecology and superior forest cover in the region, it’s origins are a bit more frosty in nature. A massive glacier filled the modern Champlain Valley and for a short time pools surrounding it are now known as Lake Vermont, a temporally constrictive point (Wright, 5). The Laurentide Ice Sheet carved the depression in topology which lends the region a gradually changing elevation. This occurred nearly 23,000 years ago (2). The modern waterways and lake formed closer to 14,000 or 15,000 years ago (6).

The opposite event to global warming occurred, which is a fascinating geological phenomenon known as isostatic depression (8). In this process, rather than the seas rising, they were in fact much lower than we are experiencing currently, the land actually drops. Consequently, the modern Champlain Valley was actually the Champlain Sea! The history of the Sea is almost half as long, though undoubtedly much more biologically exciting, than that of lake Vermont, or about two thousand years.


Wright, Stephen F. “Glacial Geology of the Burlington and Colchester 7.5’ Quadrangles, Northern Vermont.” University of Vermont, Department of Geology. Burlington, Vermont 5405 (2003).

Paul Fischer


Professor Alicia Daniels

Tools and Historical Vermont Communities

Human presence dates back to the archaic period and the site has returned some of Vermont’s only evidence of early fishing communities. Contemporary values in regard to the nature of the wetland were overthrown with the discovery of two dugout canoes in Shelburne Pond in the 1970s. By the 1980s these had been carbon dated to 500 and several thousand years old, respectively (figure 1). A discrepancy remains between these findings and the water working tools that have been discovered at other sites in the state.

A visit to the site at Shelburne Pond where the canoe was found returned the hatchet in figure 2. Due to rain, erosion, and previous archaeological digs in the region that included carbon dating, it could be a cultural or non-cultural object dating to up to 5000 years ago. A percussion test has not yet been performed, but that would confirm that the clear marks of chipping and impact were created by human hands.

Some of these tools are from before the year 2500 BCE, and indicate sustained human habitation (LCMM). Frequently they indicate familiarity and work conducted with the environment around them including wetlands. These communities were lost and today there is no Federally recognized Native American presence and are no reservations in the state.

Tools were fashioned from a variety of sources, from the soft blue-green quartzite of which there are great deposits throughout the state and neighboring regions, but also lime and granite. Shelburne Pond, despite international archaeological attention, continues to yield arrowheads, bone fragments, and other customary indications of civilization. Trading throughout the region was extant and research has not determined whether the dugout canoes were used to cross Lake Champlain, though they certainly would have been capable of this feat.

Early European contact with the French explorer Samuel de Champlain found that warring tribes were likely newcomers to the regions and in a sense colonists of their own sort from more established neighboring native American presence. This discovery in 1608 would not prove to be realistic to the actuality of continued Native American occupation. Over a dozen dugout canoes have been discovered and presented to the historical community by archeologists across Vermont.

Marine production continued until European contact and began centuries beforehand. The earliest confirmed dugout is estimated to date to 1900 BCE, though as already mentioned, sufficient evidence exists to suggest that more should remain almost or more than a millennium before this (LCMM). Archaic culture developed around 9000 BCE from the basic paleoindian cultures as communities swelled to more than around ten people at a time consisting of single families or small bands of families. As ideas spread, the interconnectivity of ideas with other Native American communities signified the entry of the Woodland period, during which time nearly all canoes date to. Future archeological digs should focus on digging into the origins of the design by demonstrating that the presence of water tools from the archaic period implies the presence of watercraft in a cogent fashion.

Figure 1: 550 year-old dugout canoe, Courtesy of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum



Figure 2: Hatchet c. 3500 – c. 1500 B.C.E. Shelburne Pond, VT




Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (2017).

Paul Fischer


Professor Alicia Daniels

Significant Animals in New England

Three significant animals through the year will be followed, recording their mating habits, their interactions with other animals, and demonstrate their interconnectivity with the environment. Two amphibians, the four-toed salamander and the American bullfrog will give the reader an insight to the small scale night and day life of ponds and streams that many of us frequent. As a keystone mammal, the beaver will give a view into the rest of the ecological web with sufficient analysis and independent research has yielded figures that will be included as evidence of the winter and spring activities of this mammal in New England. Nesting parasitism and natural instinctive intellect will be evaluated using the American Robin, a natural engineer like the beaver who also has discerning qualities that set it apart from many other avian species. Finally a species Vermont is uniquely famous for, the Monarch Butterfly will demonstrate the complexity of natural ecosystems even on a nearly microscopic level.



North American Beaver

Before engineering, the first things everyone thinks of when a beaver is mentioned are the unique bright orange teeth that mark one of the mammal’s favorite pastimes: forest felling. In fact, they are not completely orange, but instead this appearance is from a layer of outer enamel that is harder than the rest of the dentin in the tooth (Holland, 353). As an herbivore, the largest rodent in North America actually uses the sharp, beveled edge created by movement of the incisors against lower teeth to fell trees, shorten twigs, and sharpen their teeth as a recreational activity as seen in figure 2.

Such dams are necessary for breeding as they give beavers access to the water where the mating occurs almost exclusively as well as to the surrounding environment in the bitter cold of the months January to March (407). The escape of beavers during the occasional January thaw to retrieve fresh food can be seen in tracks such as that in figure (368). Females have a short period of time when they are receptive to the attention of the male, around 22-24 hours, and a successful incident will result in between three and six kits, or young beavers, being born between May and July.

Young beavers will frequently spend several weeks of their life inside the dams, or lodges one of which can be viewed in figure 1 (84). This is because of another fascinating feature of beavers, the oil and castoreum used to grease and waterproof fur, that develops a little later. They will be driven from the home after a few years and before little siblings are born, meaning brother and sister are terms without meaning for beavers.

Oil to waterproof the beavers are not the only fascinating aspect of the beaver that adapts the prolific mammal to life in water and on land alike. In fact, the adaptations that allow the beaver to exist on land and underwater are numerous and relatively unique among rodent species (321-3). From webbed feet to a nictitating membrane, or transparent third eyelid, the top of the beaver to the tail has been dramatically altered for survival in a variety of warm and cold, dry and wet environments. Even the respiratory system of the beaver is fundamentally altered from that of other species to allow use of five times as much of the oxygen inhaled as humans and to voluntarily increase bloodflow to the brain allowing toleration of higher levels of CO2. To put that in perspective, some beavers might be able to survive, for a period at least,  without a suit on parts of Mars, where oxygen levels run at under 1% the level found on Earth, though humans have permanent brain damage as levels of oxygen decrease to under 5% or even the 12% found at higher altitudes.

A high distribution of predators means that stealth is not only limited to ease of transport in multiple environments and naturally nocturnal behavior, but even the communication of beavers has been altered. Rather than using calls or acrobatic body language, their primary means of communication is through scent mounds of mud and vegetation mixed with pungent gland residue.



Four-toed Salamander

The four-toed salamander is unique among amphibians due to its secretive and nocturnal nature. Despite their stealth, they are found throughout New England and are noted for performing acrobatic while giving birth, depositing their eggs into depressions they have made in the moss seen in figure 4 (Holland, 37). I am reminded while reading of the American Woodcock, who creates the nest for their four eggs while in the act of mating by creating an indent in the grass or mud upon which they are lying. Males of that species also perform acrobatics, but prior to mating instead of subsequent to the act, in order to impress females seen in figure 3.

Although the salamander is largely inactive in the winter and difficult to find even in the summer as a secretive creature, because it mates in October it does not enter hibernation until as late as December (332). This is still not terribly late for the swampy areas where it can be found, such as the lowlands in Connecticut. A multitude of predators converge on the quiet salamander, and in addition to stealth, the ability to detach a tail and regrow that tail has become an evolutionary adaptation to this seasonal fluctuation. The indentation at the base of the tail and tissue allowing this can be seen clearly in figure 5.

The American Bullfrog

Amphibians, that include Four-Toed Salamanders, are equally as happy in the water as out of it. For the American Bullfrog, most of the lifespan will be spent in the mud (Holland, 37). In fact, in some extreme situations, there have been bullfrogs known to come back to life after extremely long periods in dormancy! Conversely, while resting in the hot summer sun, electrographic research has shown that they actually never sleep and are equally reactive while motionless as when obviously alert to stimuli (Hobson, 116-121).

The late emergence from hibernation necessitates this direct stimuli and also ensures the American Bullfrog’s place as among the most ferocious of carnivorous amphibians, though as a young tadpole they are normally herbivores (Holland, 158). Consuming most of the natural ecosystem around them, there are some parts of the country where you can actually help ecological systems by killing these invasive species. Their size also allows them to lay more eggs than many species of spawning fish and far more than other amphibians, with nearly 80,000 in number (Holland, 118). They experience a long period in as tadpoles as well, similarly to the mink or green frog, but otherwise unique among frogs and toads, that can last for up to two years (196). Other countries have also demonstrated serious issues with them when climate does not restrict their growth with the periodic dormant cycles which are natural and that allow them to swell to enormous proportions, feeding on even small mammals and avian species.



Figure 1: Beaver dam in a wetland

Centennial Woods Natural Preserve, Vermont, 2017

Figure 2: Evidence of beaver lodge-building activity

Centennial Woods Natural Preserve, Vermont, 2017



Figure 3: American Woodcock performing acrobatics to impress a mate

Courtesy of Asbed Iskedjian through



Figure 4: Four-Toed Salamander with eggs

Courtesy of David M. Dennis and



Figure 5: Four-Toe Salamander with Regrown Tail

Courtesy of Prince William Conservation Alliance




Hobson, J. A. (1967). Electrographic correlates of behavior in the frog with special reference to sleep. Electroencephalography and clinical neurophysiology, 22(2), 113-121.

Holland, M. (2010). Naturally Curious. Trafalgar Square Books.

Williams, D. R. (2016). Mars fact sheet. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: Greenbelt, MD Retrieved from http://nssdc. gsfc. nasa. gov/planetary/factsheet/marsfact  (April 24, 2017).



Paul Fischer


Professor Alicia Daniels

ID your Wetlands as Functionally Significant!

Criteria for a functionally significant wetland:

Flood Flow Alteration
Upslope wetlands < 5% of the wetland’s watershed
Wetland area <20% of watershed area
Majority of the watershed is made of impervious surfaces
Most soils (>80%) have a slow infiltration rate <.06” /hour
Wetland is located near intermittent or first order stream
Wetland > 81 hectares
Surface Water Improvement
Watershed => potential pollutants
Majority of watershed != forest or scrub
Wetland < 5% watershed acreage
Upslope wetlands < 5% of the watershed
Avg. slope > 10% in watershed
Wetland type => riparian
Soil Type histosol or frequently flooded mineralized soil with high clay and organic materials levels
Near a 1st order or intermittent stream
Wildlife Habitat
1+ wetland of a different type bordering the wetland
Least common among other watershed types
Connection to surface water network
A football field or more of natural vegetation along the perimeter of the defined wetland
Hydrologically connected to another wetland within 400 meters


Cedfeldt, Paul T., Mary C. Watzin, and Bruce Dingee Richardson. “Using GIS to identify functionally significant wetlands in the Northeastern United States.” Environmental management 26, no. 1 (2000): 13-24.



Paul Fischer

Professor Alicia Daniels

A Birder’s Bug Book

In the winter, a dead carcass can be a tempting source of parasites and infectious disease for rodents and local habitants of a region. The bird seen in figure 1 was likely covered in some form of toxic chemical in order to prevent other animals from consuming it. The interplay between species is interesting and the ecoweb is part of tracking the animals in the book.

In order to find a bird, it’s nutrition needs to be protected. Even though it looks gross, sometimes this can mean wasting a decomposing body. I could not have imagined this if it were not for ticks that clung to me at a later date, and my subsequent research into lyme disease, a new and terrifying epidemic in many parts of the country that originated in Connecticut.

Natural Communities

I was able to use this book consistently in sit spots and in field trips to evaluate the community in which we were looking at. The wetlands tied to clay and sand communities correlate to trees such as cedar and pine. These are frequently adjacent to streams that can form deltas.

Such relationships are critical to responsibly harvesting timber and to identifying potential deposits of interesting geological formations. This handbook is also useful because pictures of trees allow identification of a natural community using circumspect evidence. That can, for example, mean tree type determination instead of a soil sample can be adequate or vice-versa.

We were not able to take pH levels at many of our sites, but this guide also provides introspective evaluation of the levels available from undergrowth and other specie-related analysis. Combined analysis with “Forest Trees of Maine” was especially useful for me. This made it easy to actually find the natural communities referenced in this book. Please refer to the activity on page to see more opportunities to interactively become involved with the environment around you!

Forest Trees of Maine

I do not live in Maine. However, I found this book still useful for multiple qualities. Because many species in Maine also are present in communities in Vermont, this tree species guide can be used effectively in areas of Vermont. Each determining factor that makes this an effective guide will be addressed.

Sometimes the tree bark can be quite similar, as is the case with Hemlocks and White Pines (which are not quite, as the name suggests, white). This handy guide gives an interlocking guide to the leaf and seed dispersal methods of the trees. Because there are frequently remains of the trees’ flowering season even in the winter, it is possible to attain a positive identification of even tricky trees.

Other difficult question are exemplified with the difference between an American Beech and a Yellow Birch. In this case the young trees or saplings look nearly identical. As they mature however, a distinct difference in the ruffling of the bar emerges, so an adept forester learns to look for matured trees.

The final advantage pertains to this last example. While Vermont is a region of overlap between these two trees, this is not always the case. Between the two species, about half of the region that an American Beech occupies is not occupied by the Yellow Birch. So if you are not in New England and think you have found a rare grove of Yellow Birch with their distinct golden hue, look again and check for a young American Beech!

Tracking Mammals

For tracking mammals I used a combination of footprint analysis and habitat evaluation to locate what I believed to be a beaver’s place of residence. Centennial Woods is home to multiple dams and varied markers of beaver activity. Woodchipping and sharpened twigs and stumps are all evidence of the occupation in the area by beavers.

Imagine my surprise when further habitat evaluation revealed the “beaver” in figure 1 was actually a woodchuck. The den seen in figure 2 is a typical of a woodchuck and research revealed that the two animals share their communities effectively. One notable difference between the species are sources of nutrition that do not conflict. Others include methods of communication, habitat already noted, and a pronounced tail on beavers that allows easy navigation of water.

Woodchucks do not have a particular affinity for water, though both are engineers. Their homes are specifically designed to stay cozy and warm using body and geothermal heat throughout a bitter winter. It is likely this picture was taken shortly after “groundhog day” seen in many cultures as an indicator of luck. Groundhogs are also hibernating mammals and natural engineers, which is actually the norm for many members of this family.



Figure 1: Remains of a bird either picked clean by rodent populations or chemically disposed of to prevent potential infection, Centennial Woods, VT

Figure 2: Woodchuck Den, Centennial Woods, VT

Paul Fischer

Professor Alicia Daniels

2/1 – Arm’s Grant

This is a piece of land that was in the Arm family for a very long time before it was turned over to the municipality, in part because of its unique natural communities as well as the proximity to state lands. The value of contiguous protected land multiplies in nature many times over. This is apparent in this region, where early mistreatment has been replaced by a permanent reserve for nature and recreation.

It rained on our trip to Arm’s Grant. Despite the early termination of the trip, one important contribution that can be identified to the experience was the difficult delineation between the American Beech and the valuable and rare Yellow Birch. In the American South this is an easy choice because the Yellow Birch is unique to the New England area. Arm’s Grant represents a piece of land where both can be identified. The papery ruffled bark of a birch can be seen in figures 1 and 2.

When this is the case, one thing that can be done is looking at the ruffle in the bark of the trees which is different in a way the texture and hue may not be. For those who have found saplings, this is a critical piece of information that a book on natural communities would later help create a utility towards determining more information about a region from correct identification of the tree species present.

Recreation and Fun Outside of Education

The area also makes for a prime cross-country skiing location and is frequented by local high school teams and classes who wish to capitalize on this valuable protected resource. Regular exercise can give emotional and intellectual benefits as well as an expected ten years in life expectancy. There is also a cohesive value for the community that is provided that creates a reciprocal relationship to the land and the communities upon it.

By learning about the incentives as well as the actualities of reserved land, our class had the opportunity to lay the groundwork to build ourselves into effective stewards of the land. Some attention was given to geological attributes and we were able to begin by identifying deer tracks, a concept that would spring up later in our work. Hopefully, in the future, it will be possible to return to the site with a more experienced eye. Or at least to say that should we, we certainly could.

2/22 – Raven Ridge

Raven Ridge was fascinating and we learned several facts about the site on our trip. Located in Hinesburg, the property was originally owned by the manager of Phish, one of the most popular bands to start at the University of Vermont. We stopped at several locations and were able to identify multiple items of relative importance. The 365-acre natural reserve is listed through the Nature Conservancy and provides explorers, natural scientists, and natural historians such as ourselves with a dramatically varied series of experiences.

The Dead Marshes

“Dreary and wearisome. Cold, clammy winter still held sway”

-Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien

The first two landscape facets that were apparent upon arriving were the frozen wetlands and the small mountains from which the name of the ridge garnered its name that are typical of Vermont’s rolling terrain of hills and valleys (figure 3). The area is a natural preserve now and was acquired after years of successful management. It is noteworthy for the presence of extremely rare animals as well as ancient geological activity that is very well apparent.

Unlike the marshes of Lord of the Rings, these marshes are not so dead. In the winter, amphibians hibernate up to a foot under the ground in the loamy ground and in the summer the area will be alive with a number of different populations of insects, birds, amphibians and more. But like Lord of the Rings, these marshes did lead us to our first chance to go spelunking (figures 4-6).


“Trying to get up that great big hill of hope… I take a deep breath and get real real high and scream at the top of my lungs, ‘what’s going on?’”

What’s up, Four Non-Blondes

In figure four, the entrance to the cave can be seen as a haphazard combination of glacial rock and temporal tertiary plate movement that resulted in the creation of the cave. Inside, an agile explorer who penned this journal was able to garner a photo of the innermost depth of the cave where some particularly secretive creatures may have lurked before the illumination of the area by virtue of a handy cellular light (figure 5). Finally in figure six I can be seen with students listening to the interesting acoustics created by the sandstone and granite cave as four non blondes plays from a small phone speaker.

Their lyrics about getting real real high became true as the group of novice spelunkers was confronted with a daring drop of a couple of stories. It was the only way out without scaling ice-covered rocks on the way back. A combat roll into forgiving snow allowed us to circle back to our waiting instructor. The heights, as is often the case, appeared much more daunting from the original perception than after, much like a famous feature-length children’s film, “Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin” in which children return to a terrifying series of natural phenomena on a bright summer’s day to find it had been a quite civilized experience after all. We still did not know what golem (or otherwise creature) might have once or actively inhabited the cave.

Sherlocking the Lichen and the Deer

Multiple factors alerted our group standing atop the ridge to the possibility that a population of healthily hungry deer were in occupation of the area. Perhaps the most telltale were the criss-cross patterns of hoof prints across the snow (figure 7). A more adept eye also found the trees had been stripped to eye level, an indication the deer were active here in the winter as well as the summer. This also gives a portrait of the ages of the family or herd of deer.

A closer inspection of the footprints revealed that some of them had been nuzzled by der as well. They were not in search of affection, but instead the rare lichen that is a delicate treat in the winter for the species (figure 8). This lies under the snow and can even conduct photosynthesis through the ice, a remarkable feat. Common deer and even the uncommon lichen were not the most notable of attributes sleuthed at this site, though.

Raven Ridge’s Rarest Features

Unfortunately, returning to the site will not be possible this summer. The reason for this is among the most fascinating parts of the reserve. Near a former cottage or shack that had burnt to the ground decades past, a tree had knee-height razor sharp incision marks. This was not the deflected mark of a distracted woodpecker nor a very unskilled lumberjack, but instead the sure and steady sharpening of the claws of a bobcat. Bobcats are among Vermont’s rarest animals, sightings can be counted in the dozens, and they roam the site freely in the summer time, leading to restrictions about the way in which the site can be accessed as the small mammals contain seemingly limitless energy and ferocity. They are highly intelligent and impeccable hunters.

They are almost as rare as rap stars at UVM, and a budding young duo recorded a rap using local verses underneath a geological formation that indicates dramatic terra-shifts in times before human habitation. The natural auditorium created by a combination of heat and pressure is dubbed “the oven” and can be seen in figure 9.  The glacial contributors to this rock formation are partially responsible for the federal recognition of the site as biologically significant; the area was once an island, 15,000 years ago or more in the time of Lake Vermont.

3/15 Cuckoos and Roaring Springs at Sunny Hollow

Sunny Hollow provided the class with examples of delta natural landscapes and terraced natural preserves. We also reinforced our historical knowledge about the timeline of the state. Most importantly, it allowed acquaintance with the Fellowship of the Wheel, an organization responsible for ensuring the enforcement of the natural right to access recreational areas for wheeled activities. I was able to donate a golden wheel to the sign, that remains in place today (figure 10). The Fellowship of the Wheel is an active non-profit organization that maintains over 120 miles of trails across Vermont and won an award in 2013 for their work that constitutes over 1000 hours of volunteer work annually.

Natural Landscapes and Tree Species

Most deltas are clay-bottom natural communities. This area is marked by an active population of wildlife and forestry. One issue is a lack of fires, ironically enough. Tribal leaders in the area once ensured that controlled fires routinely cleared away brush and renewed the soil, but proximity to residential areas in Colchester has made this impossible currently, and a disheveled, though vibrant, natural community is apparent. That being said, it would certainly aid in the trying wait that occurs each spring for the trails to dry for cyclers and other travelers if only it could be carried out in a controlled fashion.

Dogs of War: Last Trees Standing

“See the fields burning ‘cus hell is coming through, I can’t stop the dogs of war”

Dogs of War, Blues Saraceno

Hemlocks are present, but a dominant species in the area is the pitch pine (figure 11). An interesting fact that I learned about this remarkable species of pine is that they actually have self-defense mechanisms that wage war on other trees! In order to protect themselves, they will increase and exacerbate destruction wreaked on surrounding natural life.

To explain that provocative fact, it is necessary to understand that the name for the trees is actually literally derived and what function that has. Pitch is sticky and has a lower temperature of incineration to standard wood. It will surround the tree, especially during hot summer months, in such great quantities that the pitch has been used in times past to make torches or even to prepare cauldrons. Other uses include as an adhesive and sealant.

The interior of the pitch pine is circumnavigated by a “sheath” that does not catch fire easily. Between these two features, the pitchpine will often be the only species standing after a fire. This is an example of intergenerational competition that is rare in animal or even human cultures but does occur in the natural world.

Springs (without cogs, boat or metal) and Trees

As one approaches the creek and the roaring river in the springtime, the hemlocks begin to dominate the landscape (figure 12). These proceed all the way down to the bank and are interspersed with cedar and oaks. One somewhat rare occurrence for the region was the presence of black oaks (figure 13).

Speaking of oaks, sometimes developmental stages are critical for trees, like humans. The white oak in figure 14 shows evidence of an early basal scar. The benefactor is likely a small mammal or a family who might use this area to hibernate. Some habitats are manmade, such as a cuckoo home we found along the way (figure 15).

Finally, not only is the pitch pine found in the region, but also red pines (figure 16). These look white, but should not be mistaken for their wrinkly cousins. The clay-like patchform bark is distinctively useful for the purpose of identification.

3/22 Church Woods and Craft Party

Maple is among the oldest and most reliable streams of revenue for the state of Vermont (figure 17). Both sugar and silver maples were abundant on our trip to one of the oldest and most reliable utopian farms constructed in Shelburne, where a horse barn, cheese factory, and maple syrup operations are just a few of the many attractions available for natural historians and other interested community members. Aerial photography was critical towards describing a natural landscape scheme and a secret accidental historical surprise was revealed in a short lesson. The biting wind touched our ears and my exposed ankles were heckled by the bite of knee deep snow as our group explored the striking landscape and what natural history could be gleaned from the territory at our disposal.

An Ancient History

Church woods has a history of spiritual commensalism with the land and communities who have inhabited this land. The trees in the area, however, are not immune to infection and erosion, so a downed tree such as can be seen in figure 18 with an impressive root structure may be a regular occurrence. What combinations of events could bring down such a massive resident of the area? We will find out shortly.

As it turns out, the land is connected to Shelburne Bay by means of terrestrial and underground streams. These lend a unique nature to the species of trees, wildlife, and shrubbery in the area. They can also shift, leading to bizarre changes in the area. From the sky, they appear to make a cat scratch, or three stripes from the increased hydration available in the areas surrounding these streams. This is ironical because in addition to turkey populations natural to the area, bobcats and other wildlife have also been spotted here.

Divine Guidance

In keeping with the ancient history of spirituality associated with the site, in modern history a discovery in the 1970s demonstrated an enormous level of chance. While most of Shelburne Farms was clearcut, Church Woods was left uncut for spiritual reasons. Nothing was thought to be particularly fascinating about the site, and it was ordered to be cut to provide a field.

It just happened that in addition to being a forester, the lumberjack was also a historian. Upon taking a single wedge from one of the red cedars in the grove, he noticed that an enormous number of rings were enclosed by the bark. Further analysis proved the area to be one of the areas of old growth, in New England as rare as Redwoods in the West. The trees dated back to early periods of contact between Europeans and tribes present in the region.


Figure 1: Birch bark, Arms Forest, VT Figure 2: Ruffled bark, Arms Forest, VT

Figure 3: Raven Ridge Valley and Mountains, Raven Ridge, VT

Figure 4: Cave Entrance, Raven Ridge, VT



Figure 5: A Mysterious Lair, Raven Ridge, VT



Figure 6: Inside the Cave! Raven Ridge, VT



Figure 7: Deer Print with Buried Lichen, Raven Ridge, VT

Figure 8: Lichen Sample, Raven Ridge, VT



Figure 9: The Oven, Raven Ridge, VT


Figure 10: Fellowship of the Wheel, Sunny Hollow, VT



Figure 11: Pitch Pine, Sunny Hollow, VT

Figure 12: Hemlock Dominant Tree Cover, Sunny Hollow, VT




Figure 13: Black Oaks, Sunny Hollow, VT



Figure 14: Great White Oak with Basal Scar, Sunny Hollow, VT


Figure 15: Cuckoo! Sunny Hollow, VT



  Figure 16: Red Pine, Sunny Hollow, VT



Figure 17: Tree Root Structure, Church Woods, Shelburne Farms, VT

Paul Fischer

Professor Alicia Daniels


Walk in Nature 1

Last night my roommate had a group of au-peres she leads over for a presentation so when I got back from the library in the evening I took a long walk around centennial park. I slipped and slid on the icy ground which is evident in an attached photo of a tree on campus as I explored the natural reserve for wildlife and refuge of wilderness behind me. The terrain was, naturally, hilly and densely populated with the remains of the summer’s growth.

As the land flattened, marshes became apparent with bridges made useless by connecting stretches of ice and snow. I stopped at the end to notice a slowly moving brook which passed by a distinctively red barked small tree or brush. Perhaps it was a young red maple or oak. It could also have been as diverse as a hornbeam or tupelo or sumac, according to our field guide. The red bark was completely ensconced in a sheet of ice which had rapidly froze around the bark, appearing to magnify it to the eye.



Figure 1: Ice and Tree, UVM

Walking Nature 2

On the way back from work I had the opportunity to walk through the green way up by the University of Vermont’s Horticulture center and research fields. There had once been small solar panels on a field there and now there is just one or two large solar panels. The snow was coming down heavily and I listened to music from Bruckner using Youtube Music. By the time I got back, a young man would remark, “Wow! So much snow just fell out of your hair.” Obviously this was before I got a haircut.

It was bizarre to see the research fields covered in snow, usually they abound with bizarrely colored crops and/or signs demarcating the nature of the corporate sponsors and such. The horses across the street had jackets on but seemed unperturbed by the falling snow, a full belly of oats and grain likely fueled their stand against the coming winter. A runner or two passed by and their face was illuminated by the glow of my electronic cigarette as I took a moment to turn away from the lighted path shortly. The natural area was interrupted drastically by a fence, though, and the cultivated nature took a new nature of civilization as it transformed into a series of golfing holes. I found no incentive to investigate further.

Walking Nature 3

I recently came to the Generator for a class and orientation early. My phone must have been set in German hours or something when I made my calendar date because I showed up at 10:30 and nothing happened there until 4:30! It turned out to be great though, I got the opportunity to walk up and down my coast line and caught some spectacular photos which will be attached.

Figure 2: Stone Circle with the Sun and Moon in Winter, Red Rocks, South Burlington, VT

Figure 3: When Burlington Looked like Greenland, Burlington, VT

Figure 4: Lighthouse and Waterfront View, Burlington, VT

Figure 5: An Artistic After-Walk Treat, South Burlington, VT

Artistic Credit: Mark, The Generator

Walk in Nature 4

This is part of another assignment, but as an hour-long detour on the hike, I had the opportunity to conduct some real life modern archaeology. In figure 6, what looks like a chemical weapons container is likely the remnants of an old milk or fuel container that spilled from a passing truck on the nearby Vietnam Memorial Highway. It has rusted away and its contents spilled into a nearby underpass for drainage.

This occurred probably many decades ago but still raises a serious question about the efficacy of a natural preserve on a former landfill so close to an area of major transit. Standard welfare unit evaluations place the value of an animal’s life at between 4% and 5% that of a human’s. When an area’s animals are in danger of extermination, as is the case with a particularly dangerous toxic spill the logic behind such belief begins to fall apart.

In fact, international law condones the incarceration, execution, or shoot on sight orders for large numbers of militia, criminal, or other nefarious organization responsible for taking such action with sanctioned poaching laws. Using this logic, that ratio mentioned above can be easily turned on its head, even more so. To be completely fair, given a random human and 23 random animals, to take another extreme, there would never be a situation in which these ratio are reversed.

Walking Nature 5

Eager for more, I continued my search for archaeological finds in the area. It was clear that human activity in the area had been markedly increased to today in decades past. Remnants of smaller power lines accompanied a burnt maintenance shed (figure 7).

Sometimes the anthropogenic of a natural community can be fascinating as well as the spring life that is springing up around it. The rusted cogs and axel seen in figures 8 and 9 indicate such a demonstration. It can be inferred that in a certain metaphorically stimulating sense that the presence of man in this area subsumed itself. Ultimately fire removed most traces but this picturesque almost post-apocalyptic remnant.

Figure 6: Rusted Spacesuit helmet, fuel tank, or milk canister? Centennial Woods, VT

Figure 7: Old Powerlines Centennial Woods, VT



Figure 8: Gearbox and burnt foundational stump, Centennial Woods, VT



Figure 9: Axle and wheel, from an old shed, Centennial Woods, VT

The Secret Nation: How an Economic Boom Occurred Amidst Plague and Famine

The Secret Nation: How an Economic Boom Occurred Amidst Plague and Famine

Paul Fischer


Professor Katlyn Morris

Assistant Professor Jeremy Romanul


The Secret Nation: How an Economic Boom Occurred Amidst Plague and Famine

The nation of Somalia lost over 250,000 people in 2011 to starvation (McVeigh). In the last couple of years the rate of death has increased and the median age stands at 17 years old, a phenomenon not seen in Vermont since the 1820s. In Vermont parents moved West in search of riches; Somalia has lost the older generation to the altogether more sinister specter of death. Historical precedent and medical background of the epidemiology of oppression and deprivation must be explored to establish a successful route out of what has been described by some as a nightmare on the wrong plane.

Cholera: Neglect and Willful Exacerbation

Cholera, once contracted is deadly and inefficient or ill informed methods of treating the disease can be less effective than inaction, as was seen in a Russian outbreak during which doctors saw 1097 of 1968 patients pass away. In one report of this incident, common in European countries throughout early urbanization, it is stated that, “It will be seen that in private treatment the deaths under the Allopatric or ordinary method were 39 per cent, and under the Homeopathic little more than 9 per cent; and that in hospitals it was 56 per cent” (Wilkinson, 6). In addition to inadequate measures to fight the epidemiology of the disease, failure to diagnose it meant that the sick were frequently not brought in until they were “violently” diseased and heavily dosed with medications.

Many of the epidemiological and technical difficulties faced by such early, both rural and urban outbreaks of the disease are also present in African countries such as Somalia. Cholera is a fast acting disease and just one of several diseases that have broken out in the region in recent years. The primary means of infection are through drinking water, though once hosted, the disease can be very contagious and can spread through any droplets so the contagion can easily spread to many regions if not effectively controlled, making obstruction or inefficacy of aid efforts all the more infuriating and dangerous. The fear experienced by a young girl who awakes in a town affected by a deadly form of cholera is explicit in The Secret Garden, a novel written during the height of colonial choleric outbreaks, reading, “the cholera had broken out in its most fatal form and people were dying like flies … others had run away in terror. There was panic on every side, and dying people in the bungalows” (Burnett, 4).

Diarrhea is followed by dizziness, pain, dehydration, and ultimately mortality. Modern treatment is effective, and clean water can make a world of difference to assist in recovery. In regions affected by the worst poverty a combination of lack of resources and political structures conducive to quagmire such as Al-Shabaab, a militant group with a history of refusing access to international aid organizations, has impeded mitigation or improvement attempts (McVeigh).

Prominent among these are lack of effective treatment techniques and training as well as policies or political struggle that sets the efforts of international organizations to assist back. Such efforts are also exacerbated by lack of access to basic commodities including nutrition in a nation that has suffered an increase in the Consumer Price Index of 20% since already inflated prices following a costly civil war (FEWSNET). The causes of this situation despite falling oil prices must be further explored.

Starvation and Co-ordination with other Avoidable Harms

With drought comes food deprivation and attempts to make what little supplies are available last, including through the adulteration of clean water with potables or other contaminants. In this way, lack of access to clean water or adequate foodstuffs can initiate other public health crises including biological incidents (McVeigh).  In addition to direct mortalities, nearly 10 percent of the population of Somalia has been displaced.

Central to price fluctuations that have been demonstrated in the region has been civil conflict and sanctions imposed by Saudi Arabia. Regions inclusive of parts of Somalia such as Somaliland have seen a resurgence of economic growth, but the general region including Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia represent millions more in or near starvation and mean that neighboring assistance is not likely. Wage depression means that price fluctuations are felt more acutely now than before in combination with the forces of inflation (FEWSNET).

Direct assistance of the sort provided in the film by the Love Army is not effective, by admission of the interventionists themselves. Even though a tonne of rice only costs a fraction of the millions of dollars raised, protecting any resources costs significantly more. In the capital city of Mogadishu robberies, car bombings, and shootings are but a few of the violent encounters that have become everyday affairs.

Addressing the Issues: Root Solutions

Multiple interventions have been tried in Africa, and in Somalia international intervention dates back to the days of dictatorship. The Structural Adjustments Programs during the 1980s were interventions that appeared effective in nature, but ended up bolstering established businesses while hitting small farmers near the point of starvation the hardest (Muangi). By privatizing veterinary services, the services became out of the price range of others.

Sometimes technology can be the best tool to distribute, and the one most difficult for local intimidation factors to rob and sell back for more instruments of war. Distributed technology rights and patents also circumvent issues of distribution, of the sort that now ensures ⅓ of sub saharan children are malnourished. One example of a way this can make money appear out of seemingly overcapacity farmland is by treating animals for disease appropriately and breeding them with maximum efficiency.

To put this example in play, one can take a Boran livestock, that many Africans today breed for the purpose of using the strongest and most prolific or highest-yield livestock. A strong body is customarily associated with hardiness. In reality, however, this is not the case for the cattle, and many die as a result of infection. By breeding using modern technology to avoid early termination of such infected cattle, higher yields can be produced using smaller amounts of land. Even with the spread of this technology and others, however, there is still much work to be done and while livestock provides food and sustenance for 60% of Somalia’s population, the increase in cattle production has not satisfied the hunger demands in the country or region such that the average worker can only afford 7-12 kg of foodstuffs per day’s labor, a 10% decrease from the amounts during mass starvation (FEWSNET).

The secret nation is the unrecognized state of Somaliland. Many reforms there have been successful, most notably removing violence from the political process. By enforcing free and open elections, despite the effect of “wahhadists”, the state has given a template for success that has not been appropriately investigated. Without approval from neighboring states, the functional region does conduct independent trading with large nations such as Saudi Arabia. There are also public services that are not available in Somalia that have contributed to a relative sense of success in the area.


Burnett, F. H. (2002). The secret garden. Macmillan.

FEWSNET (March and April, 2017). Somalia Livestock Price Bulletin. Famine Early Warning System Network.

McVeigh, Karen (3 February, 2017). Somalia Famine Fears Prompt U.N. Call for ‘Immediate and Massive’ Reaction. The Guardian.

Muangi, Thumbi (26 April, 2017). Better livestock policies pathway out of poverty. The Herald.

Wilkinson, James John Garth (1855). War, Cholera, and the Ministry of Health: An Appeal to Sir Benjamin Hall and the British People. Clapp.

We Got You Covered

We Got You Covered

Paul Fischer


Professor Lisa Dion


We Got You Covered © started as a pet project to give users an automated experience playing music without the hassle of getting up to turn pages or invest in a complicated system to turn pages as you play live music. By bringing your music and the music of your favorite artists from the sheets to the stage your cover band or quintet can easily master the most complicated music recorded in history. Get started here and hop into our sheet music: let us cover your dive into our unique automatic page-flipping mechanism. You can play an old rag tune with little more than a washboard and chickenbones or even organize an entire orchestra by porting the website through mobile devices. Yes, you are reading correctly, this website is fully mobile-optimized!

The fun doesn’t end with performance. We Got You Covered also provides a contextualized service that allows even a novice music historian to place artists into a cohesive vision of modern and classical music theory provided by the website’s trained experts. Fun facts, pictures, and, of course, music lists can all be accessed through this brand new up and coming website.

Should you be interested in picking up more cool information and music or sharing your own tidbits or comments, our website also has a fully functional email list and submit option. Music has been developing for thousands of years and there is no reason that trend should stop with you. Start the next trend by composing and submitting your own work or the work of your favorite artists to be considered for  inclusion into the website!

We hope you enjoy your interactive trip through musical history with this multimedia extravaganza of popular songs, symphonies, quintets, and even ballets. If you know of a hot musical trend you can submit the idea and your contact information to get updates.  It was fun to make the site and provides an educational experience for users as well as developers: we look forward to hearing from you!

All three of the web designers have basic HTML coding credentials now and varied backgrounds that have allowed the website to develop appropriately. John learned FORTRAN (Formula Translation) and COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language) for professional reasons before becoming interested in modern website design. Rachel studies film and television with a focus on television and is now beginning to learn website programming for computers. Paul is a history and environmental studies major who has taken classes in music before, fields that jived well with the topic of our website. He has learned programming in C and C++ and is completing a certificate in cybersecurity has well.

The University of Vermont is proud to sponsor musical and historical endeavors as well as STEM initiatives training young students in the languages of the future. This has become more critical to workplace functionality in recent years and both of these are foci inclusive of the academic goals at this research institution. No corporate or competing sponsorship has been disclosed in the development of the website. Right now this website operates under standard educational copyright standards.

Environmental Justice: From Cancer Alley to the Aarhus Convention

Environmental Justice: From Cancer Alley to the Aarhus Convention

Paul Fischer


Teaching Assistant Jeremy Romanul

Professor Katlyn Morris

Environmental Justice: From Cancer Alley to the Aarhus Convention

One group that bears the effects of environmental pollution disproportionately are rural farm-workers. This is because protective gear does not always work and because the government is not present to ensure the efficacy of such gear. More importantly rampant illiteracy among this group in nations such as South Africa or Brazil mean that members of this group are frequently associated with a sense of hopelessness that reflects their inability to take action to better such a situation. This is a classic example of environmental injustice. Organizations in the developed world such as the Farmworker Association of Florida have taken steps to try and better fellow workers attempts to complete their work.

One such organization, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), deals with another group of the disenfranchised: the chronically poor who live in Kosovo and other Central and Eastern European areas. One study from these regions showed that 88% of the children under the age of 6 had severe lead poisoning such that immediate medical intervention was necessitated. These groups communicate through the forum of conventions, such as the 1998 Aarhus Convention, which HEAL adheres to.

Both farm workplace poisoning as well as lead poisoning are specific examples of environmental harms that can exist without groups who stand in the way of corporate or national interests. An example of benefits that can occur as a result of Environmental Justice activism includes the success of Concerned Citizens of Norco, founded by Margie Richard in 1990. The town in Louisiana is home to 120 petrochemical facilities, incinerators, and landfills and is known by Chemical Corridor or Cancer Alley. After a prolonged period of visible campaigns and a 2001 presentation in the Netherlands at the headquarters of Royal/Dutch Shell, relocation was offered to community members affected by pollution and emissions were reduced by 30%. Richard won the 2004 Goldman Environmental Prize.

One area that remains muddy is how corporations have avoided to make environmental justice concerns a fundamental pillar of economic and political considerations even in the United States, nevermind other nations with severely affected or culpable communities. NGOs are a start, but even the EPA is clearly not sufficient to adequately direct the actions of massive corporations many times the size of any government bureau or office. Because many resource of Earth are shared, and the effect of pollution is rarely contained to any one entity, it may be time for international organizations to step up in a major fashion to achieve tangible goals and objectives.

History of Musical Trends in the 1850s to 1900

History of Musical Trends in the 1850s to 1900

Paul Fischer



History of Musical Trends in the 1850s to 1900

The 1850s saw the burgeoning classical music industry ripen with an almost pungent odor of success. While new musical forms such as jazz, salsa, and eventually pop would shock and invigorate listeners across the globe within a century, this final stage of classical dominance heardsome of the most technically proficient and abundant masterpieces. The romantic period saw the ripening of the careers of traditional musicians exemplified in Brahms’ Liebslieder (1869) and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (1892). Both of these works equate the joys of childhood and innocence with the themes of romanticism already latent in European painting and literature. As perhaps an example of the only time period in which the profits and yields of industrialization could be focused on one set of objectives, the development of a Euro-centric romanticism, the work not only eclipsed but surpassed the work of innovators in the field in a definitive manner.

Expansion of the railroads during this period is evident in the music of the artists such as Josef Anton Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony and the manner in which brassy sections open and present mark a rivalrous departure from other choral and religious composers of the time, despite the common musical ancestry of Mozart and, more recently, even Beethoven. Many different themes are inherent in the incredible development of classical music in Europe at the time. These include the religious grounding and explosion of fervor seemingly justified by not only the discovery but the realization of riches, populations, wars, emotions and tragedy on a scale not only previously unimaginable, but unimaginable from any scale previously imaginable.

Not all music of the period, however, was limited to the realm of classical work and opera houses. Home on the Range is provided as an example of tune composed in 1871 by Daniel Kelly to a poem written by Brewster Higley. In addition to the European infrastructural inward expansion allowing a greater proliferation of musical geniuses than in all the history of mankind prior to that point, American railroads were redefining the perceptions of peripheries as social and cultural constructs. A melting pot of Irish-American, African-American, European and other counter-cultures were all at the cusp of recognition, a throbbing hub of innovation just under the surface of the frontier lifestyle. By the 1900s, the music industry had dramatically changed and perhaps the most important aspect of this was the move from live audiences to gramophones and rags, both of which were finally commercially available to the masses by virtue of mass production and assembly-line factories.

Latin Jazz and the End of an Era

The end of the period saw the musical industry begin chugging as steadily as the steam engines, and Scott Joplin’s Solace (1909) will be included as an example of the developing Latin Jazz genre. While it was only published in 1909, a combination of musical and racial discrimination meant that habanera music had been popular in America for decades before any “rags” were published. By the 1940s this would become an entire genre and produce award-winning albums through the 1970s with broad popular appeal. For listeners in the late 1800s, though, the clave-style beat and off-center gathering of instrumental acoustic devices created a whirlwind of counter-cultural production right in the middle of urban areas.

The Indian Infrastructural Bottleneck: Frustration for the Green Revolution

The Indian Infrastructural Bottleneck: Frustration for the Green Revolution

Paul Fischer


Teaching Assistant Jeremy Romanul

Professor Katlyn Morris

The Indian Infrastructural Bottleneck: Frustration for the Green Revolution

The success of the Green Revolution was a moment of relief for humanitarian efforts across the globe as advances in agricultural technology allowed for the end to world hunger to momentarily be in sight. Even though global food production possibilities could still feed almost twice as many people as forecasts from previous decades expected, infrastructural bottlenecks in economic market systems continue to contribute to regional and domestic shortages. The globalized agrofood system will be examined locally as narrow interpretations of the right to life are disregarded to embrace the actuality of international treaties, covenants and commitments responsible parties including corporate entities and national governments and the implications for a larger view of effective solutions.

Use of Eastern India as a regional example of effective solutions in need of committed commodity control and redistribution will be an example of food systems in food sovereignty and food security (Morris, 101). One fundamental part of food security is the structural investment and the sources it comes from. The efficacy of public investment to open up new farmland and to allow development of private endeavors has been hotly contested. While it may appear at a first glance that private investment is growing at an adequate pace to address hunger issues in the region, microeconomic analysis has shown that in fact globalization and trade factors confound the apparent trend, and these stimuli offset the failure in certain regions of private investment to cover all of the costs associated with an optimal economic outcome (Rao, 1944).

In Latin America a movement known as La Via Campesina, characterized by “local autonomy, local markets, local production-consumption cycles, energy and technological sovereignty and farmer-to-farmer networks” (Morris, 145), has accomplished many of the goals that would sustain the goals of food sovereignty efforts in Eastern India. The difference between these and larger-scale efforts to provide adequate funding lies in the intensity of land use; increases in food supplied to local populations are estimated in the regions where the peasant and small-farmer organization is active by between two hundred and one thousand percent. Macro-steps to accomplish the same goals have been stunted in India after decades of positive change. That is not to argue the primacy of the status quo over the precedent, but instead the inferiority of the status quo to the optimal scenario of secure food resources in the region under discussion.

Recapturing the data which determines the co-ordination between public and private sector and reallocates the business which was eaten up during the rapid expansion of global trade during the 90s reveals a very close relationship between the two forms of investment. It can be taken in turn, then, that continued erosion of the sources of public funding could lead to a critical minimum that sees all forms of investment collapse into failure in the region. In order to avoid this outcome multiple steps have been taken, best classified as autonomous adaptation (Morris, 115). The transient nature of the steps which have been taken to establish such food sovereignty predicate a distinction from planned operations. The natural conclusion of whether the gains which have been made in other regions are applicable to Eastern India requires attention towards energy policy to be evaluated for practical application.

The two primary factors can be used to gauge the efficacy of measures are comprised of productivity and poverty alleviation. In these measures energy security can be seen as having a similar tradeoff identified in terms of agricultural functions (Rao, 1947). A distinct discrepancy between sustainable technological progress can be found between regions affected by excessive ratios of private investment to public investment. While some technologies, notably buses and clean water pumps, are beneficial to the environment in the region, many others are not and may not develop adequately in regions without adequate public investment.

Less intensive agricultural development also means greater overall land use, a premise that leads to Protected Area evictions and other negative outcomes or external costs for the public sector. One way to optimize outcomes would be to improve the praxis between engineers and the general public (Morris, 183). This is a way to address the examples identified by microanalysis of regions while also expanding the technical skills and profit margins of private interests into regions buoyed by the benefits of trade more fully. It can also address potential degradation of the land from overly intensive agriculture: a prime example of agricultural degradation can be found in the declining fish stocks of the Tonle Sap region in Cambodia (Morris, 185). That also demonstrates the inter-connectivity between energy and agricultural security.

The implications for agriculture do not finish with agricultural security as a result of greater facilitation between engineers and energy interests, but also extend into direct benefits for energy security as a result of intensive agriculture as well. While biofuel is not recognized as an effective solution to energy problems, in some areas development of effective mixtures can make the difference between costly shipments of fuel and near or complete energy independence. Investments in agricultural technology in India have lead to anticipated blends of 20% biodiesel and bioethanol fuels though that technology is expected to increase food imports by 5%, and food prices by .2% in accordance with the elasticity of the market. This will give a new meaning to burning the crops. More importantly the expected price of fuel is expected to change by a significant nearly 5%, making the overall equation a massive winner in the regions which benefit from the new technology, priced at around 20 billion dollars a year of private sector research investment currently (Gunatilake).

The tradeoffs and rewards which are offered by economic cases need to be handled by experts on an individual basis. Corporations and nations no longer have a choice to make mistakes in this field. In order to see the region transform for social justice and for agricultural and energy security, the effects must be taken as a sum of economic and environmental goals that neither macro approaches embodied in Eastern India nor micro approaches seen in Latin America properly address alone. Together they produce a veritably optimal outcome.


Gunatilake, H., Roland-Holst, D., & Sugiyarto, G. (2014). Energy security for India: Biofuels, energy efficiency and food productivity. Energy Policy, 65, 761-767.

Morris, Katlyn S. (2015). International Environmental Studies. Cognella, University of Vermont.

Rao, C. H. (1998). Agricultural growth, sustainability and poverty alleviation: recent trends and major issues of reform. Economic and Political Weekly, 1943-1948.

The Urban Farmer

The Urban Farmer

Paul Fischer


Teaching Assistant Jeremy Romanul

Professor Katlyn Morris

Karen Washington and Co-ops in Urban Areas

Urban areas such as the lower Bronx are facing a crisis in food system technology. The problem is not supply, the home of Karen Washington is located next to one of the largest suppliers of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other food products in the country, but instead of access. A number of policies, infrastructural and systemic, have seen the obesity crisis in urban areas reach a critical point in urban communities across the country outlined by the entrepreneur in a recent speech hosted by the University of Vermont at the Silver Maple Ballroom in the Davis Center. This was a presentation that spoke to me personally, as I had seen a similar effort in Montreal thrive in the once depressed Lionel-Groulx area. It is now a hotspot not just for community organic food systems and social justice programs, but also hipsters, musicians, and students.

By laying out what was at stake, diseases from heart disease to diabetes that develope at least partially as a consequence to sedentary lifestyles and obesity and then showing a successful action plan which had helped introduce a healthier manner of living in the Lower Bronx, students at the University of Vermont were able to take home a strong lesson in community planning and action. The latter of those ailments currently kill 200,000 people a year, nearly half of which are preventable, a statistic which was pointed out in the presentation. Also referenced was the estimated cost of the dramatic rise in diabetes which could see that number rise 5 to 10 fold in the coming generation. While the trends are geographical, the increase has not been and the crisis affects nearly the entire country. Digging a little deeper revealed, that because the disease involves many other disorders and affects patients for most of their life, that the estimated costs are currently nearly half a trillion dollars (almost the same size as all organized crime in the country for reference), and if action is not immediately taken, could swell to a quarter of the overall American economy (Hex, 858).

La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition helped kickstart City Farms Market, which became the first inner city farm of its nature. Following this early success, Karen Washington was able to buy almost a couple dozen square miles upon which a full scale farm entered into operation. One notable challenged posed by local law enforcement which was overcome was a prohibition of the cultivation of bumblebees for honey due to their reputation as ferocious animals, illegal according to city ordinances intended for such creatures as lions and tigers.

That wide and, one might ironically say, vicious interpretation of the law of the land reminded me of a similar investigation into the cultivation of pigs near a subway station in Montreal. Unfortunately, that is a battle which still has to be fought, though I remember from a couple of years back, having checked out the relevant legislation when it came up in an unrelated legislative investigation into urban city ordinances, that it should be one which has a fair chance of success as well. At the time that legislation was passed, in the 1800s, cattle and other livestock were prohibited from inside city boundaries due to the actuality of collision with carriages and cutting edge research into microbiology that suggested the city’s sewage systems were woefully inadequate to deal with even the necessary horse traffic and human waste. Obviously, the prohibition was intended to be a mitigating factor with no relevance in the modern world.

Questions and answers brought up some more of the social justice issues and the geographical distribution problems of the obesity crisis. Other agricultural concerns such as the recent legalization of marijuana which has seen farmers become wealthy while .7% of the prisoners in jail who were incarcerated during prohibition were predominantly minorities also came up. This brought the question of affirmative action to the business world in a unique fashion. Finally, free Ben and Jerry’s was offered as an example of how investments in recreation can sometimes offset an indulgence, such as the flavor Maple Blondie that honored Vermont Olympian Hannah Teter. Such promotions both promote interest in athletics and in that case also provided clean water to her hometown in Kenya.


Hex, N., et al. “Estimating the current and future costs of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the UK, including direct health costs and indirect societal and productivity costs.” Diabetic Medicine 29.7 (2012): 855-862.

Washington, Karen. “Presentation at the University of Vermont Silver Maple Ballroom” The University of Vermont (2017).

A Moral Obligation of Assistance from Hardin and Deaton

A Moral Obligation of Assistance from Hardin and Deaton

Paul Fischer


Professor Mark Budolfson

A Moral Obligation of Assistance from Harden and Deaton

This paper will analyze the moral obligations which exist to provide for social communication and governance factors in primitive models of economic and environmental exchange. There are multiple ways of accomplishing this goal, ad to do so logical premises will be expounded while confounding arguments are presented and summarized. Finally, the use of the Franciscan paradox and the recently revealed resolution to that paradox which had been lost for over 700 years will be used to resolve any remaining reservations in relation to the expansion of correct and dismissed outcome scenarios.

Monetary Grounds for Providing Assistance: Economy and Indifference

Deaton identifies a monetary grounds for assistance to developing nations on the basis that the cost of saving a life there runs an average of a thousand times less than a similar operation in the developed world (Deaton, 268). He then proceeds to identify four possible reason for the discrepancy in efficacy of aid provided which include moral indifference, misunderstanding, misdirection, or inefficiency or harm of the aid which is being provided (270).

This last reason is featured in Harden as primary grounds for attacking the argument. Allowing Indian populations to swell by allocating sufficient aid resources would ultimately result in the destruction of the entire population, accordingly, as the environment is degraded it is argued. The critical piece of data which is missed in this critique is the expansion of the economy with the allocation of aid, which empirically is greater than the value of the aid itself (Deaton, 273).

In order to properly analyze this topic, it is necessary to deconstruct the argument, which will draw from lecture (Budolfson, lecture). For a first example, it can be viewed as an example in which a man is walking by a drowning child. Then no effort produces a very great impact and there are virtually no qualifications, assuming bene faccii, that the aid would not be provided. This is not always the case however, so some complexity must be introduced.

Goats and the Exclusion of Monopoly

The question of competition is addressed in Harden implicitly with the discussion of illegal immigrants. To address this question, one can imagine 5 families which are competing for equal share of a pasture while maintaining maximum efficiency. The pasture, however, can only support 17 goats before the entirety of the system collapses, making the 18th goat a negative decision no matter what. It should be seen as obvious that each family would take 3 goats and raise them on the pasture.

Due to the primitive nature of this construct there can be no sharing the property; that is more realistic for real-world economic scenarios in which two industries are not compatible on the same river: the factors of production must belong to one family or the other. There are two or three fair weather solutions which maximize the solution which compromise giving the bonus goats to one or two of the families or of creating a 6th smaller family which has only two goats.

At this point, the importance of a monopoly as a factor arises. Either way, a war between the families creates a family with the extra goats as the smallest family is consumed or the largest family begins to pick off the others. Maximum efficiency is offered at the cost of enslavement of 80% of the population, assuming actions in the greatest self-interest.

The only effective way to resolve this proposal is to publicly raise the two extra goats and sacrifice them, and this effectively prevents any of the families from cheating while offering the least cost to efficiency as security against enslavement. In terms of aid this constitutes an extension of Deaton’s argument in which the economic proceeds from the previous generation using aid is used to guarantee the larger amounts of aid required by a following generation. That is an effective and airtight solution to the premises which have been offered using the logical sequences which are assumed in analysis.

Fishermen and Temporal Constraints to the Catch

Sara Ostrum offers a slight shift in the analysis by pointing to fishermen who are able to share the proceeds, which applies to microeconomic competition. In this case, monopoly is assumed as no one can effectively monitor or determine the efficacy of any group of fishermen, and the solution is found in temporal boundaries whereby the fishermen divide the amount of time spent in the the fishing zone rather than the catch or product. This introduces two new concepts in form, that of positive incentivization and of natural regulation.

Rather than affording fines or punishments to the fishermen, a coffeehouse which is the favorite place for all of the fishermen to visit serves as an incentive for them to stay out of the water when they are not permitted to fish (Ostrum, 20). This effectively prevents monopoly while standardizing the catch of individual fishermen. It would not work for the families of shepherds because a family could not raise all those goats without enslaving other families. That is an example of a slight shift in premises resulting in quite radically different optimal solutions.

The Franciscan Paradox Revisited

The lost manuscript of St. Francis of Assisi was recently discovered and presented at the University of Vermont. He was a Saint famous for becoming naked as he gave his belongings away to people in the middle of the street. While coming from a wealthy family, he had an intense conversion in 1205 and, by the time he was Stigmatized, gathered a following which included Bishops and Popes. It was well known at the time that Francisco alto Christo and that his life would touch millions for generations. Franciscan friars remain a dominant force in the Catholic Church and his teachings are holy for Christians of all denominations.

His paradox occurs after the decision to provide aid has been made. As he became more famous, he realized that the value of his power was greater than it had been even as the son of a wealthy merchant. Justifying the incentive to give as a selfless act with the reality that power can be obtained by giving gifts has become known as the Franciscan Paradox and remains the final consideration in determination of whether to donate or provide aid. The official answer was largely lost for 700 years, but the new documents provide context to the quote “we cannot fit a square into a circle every day” as part of a Franciscan prayer. Of course the temporal nature of the argument plays a critical role in interpretation of this as well: the natural solution which presents is that there will not always be times of need. Goodness of intent can be assumed, as long as the provider does not then try to expand their power by creating problems once their aid has been received.


Mark Budolfson, “Environmental Ethics: Philosophy and Logic”, Spring 2017

Angus Deaton, “How to help those left behind”, in The Great Escape

Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons”, Science

Elinor Ostrom et al., “Revisiting the Commons”, Science

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