Ivory: Another Arbitrary Example of Obama Banning Things

Trade in new items made of ivory is illegal in the United States. The ban was put in place in 1989 to save the lives of the world’s dwindling elephant population and to keep them from being heartlessly killed solely for their tusks. It’s a sensible ban, granted, but now Obama has arbitrarily taken that needless next step to ban even those ivory items made before the ban, a move that makes no sense at all.

Since time immemorial, items made from ivory have been prized by humans. Elephant tusks are a very pleasing looking material and makes beautiful decorative carvings. And even today, even after the ban, items that were made in the hundreds of years before the ban are prized on the collector’s and antiques markets.

But now Obama has decided that collectors and antiques dealers are criminals for even daring to own ivory items from pre-ban eras. The administration is moving to make sale or possession of any ivory, even pre-ban ivory, a crime.

Of course, it is absurd to claim that banning antiques that were made before the efforts to save elephants will help save living elephants today. Antique ivory items were made of dead elephants long ago and banning those pre-ban items now won’t do a thing to help save today’s live pachyderms.

In fact, banning pre-ban ivory may even put elephants in danger as the black market will surely grow in prominence with such a ban on antiques.

Doug Bandow of Forbes reports that Obama is now needlessly changing the rules on old, pre-ban ivory.

The new rules would not only pointlessly cut legal, law-abiding American collectors off from the rest of the world, it would also shift the burden of proof of violation from the government, where it currently resides, to the public. Meaning that Obama’s government would consider you guilty until you prove yourself innocent. The government would now assume it has the power to fine you, jail you, and confiscate your ivory collection before you’d have any chance to defend yourself.

As Bandow writes, “The administration rule unfairly penalizes thousands of collectors, dealers, and other Americans. They followed the law. They spent money in reliance on the rules. And now the government has declared their collections and inventories to be essentially worthless. Only those with money–and the most valuable ivory pieces–will be able to legally comply. If you possess a $20,000 carving, you have an incentive to jump through the administrative and financial hoops to get a CITES certificate. If you possess $20,000 worth of average ivory netsukes, most worth perhaps $100 or $200, then your holdings are effectively valueless.”

It is, of course, a worthy goal to protect the world’s elephants, but the US can’t really do that effectively since we have no such animal roaming wild spaces among us. Unfortunately, those animals are not native to the US and are now in danger in countries wracked by poachers, civil wars, and weakened governments that have few resources to protect the noble beasts.

Obama’s new rules are arbitrary and may, in fact, make matters worse.

“Indeed, the administration’s new regulations are worse than unfair,” Bandow concludes. “They are counterproductive. They will expand the illegal ivory market, divert enforcement resources, and push owners of legal ivory into the illegal trade. Which means more elephants are likely to die. Surely that is not the legacy desired by President Obama.”

But this is all of a piece with this arrogant, lawless president who imagines that he is the law, that his imperial rule is sacrosanct. Obama’s arrogance knows no bounds and this is yet one more example of it.

Of course, we know that Obama is interested in saving the animals from the land of his birth, and all, but… (OK, OK, just joking. Sheese!)

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  • Lawrence Westlake

    The 1989 ban was “sensible.” Really? Why shouldn’t elephants be harvested for the ivory in their tusks? It’s a valuable commodity. Banning trade so that blue bloods can feel good about themselves at cocktail parties doesn’t make all too much sense, whether it’s 1989 or 2014. That all said, this administration is the most effeminate and loopy in history, thus it’s not at all surprising that they’re pulling this particular stunt. It’s as if we made a pot party at Columbia the entire federal government. They want to ban all commerce in ivory. Not too long ago they were talking about naming Navy ships after Rosa Parks, Harvey Milk and Gabby Giffords. They want a national ban on firearms. We sent a delegation to Sochi that looked like a parody of a coffee klatch in the Castro District. The U.S. military slowly but surely is being turned into an episode of “Glee.” It goes on and on. Voting and not voting have severe consequences. We’re circling the drain.

    • Jwb10001

      More Glenn Beck crack pipe smoking there Larry?

  • alanstorm

    So the Obama administration has come up with yet another counterproductive solution to a non-existent problem?

    Say what you will, these guys are creative!

    • And consistent.

    • DaveTheLoveable

      Well ya know the old government axiom: If it ain’t broke, fix it till it is!

  • jim_m

    I can’t wait to tell my lefty parents that their piano is now illegal.

    From the Forbes article:

    the guidance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service indicates that the
    federal government will target almost anyone attempting to buy or sell
    ivory of any sort.

    Why do I expect that this will be selectively enforced on anyone donating to a conservative cause?

  • LiberalNightmare

    If your wondering why a move like this should be greeted with suspicion, ask Gibson guitar company.

    Does that Gibson Guitar raid make more sense now?

  • LiberalNightmare

    Has the EPA provided any estimates as to the number of elephants that will be brought back to life by banning old ivory?

  • Alamar

    i totally disagree with your view. Banning previously purchased ivory is a way to reduce temptation, jealousy and greed.

    • Walter_Cronanty

      So is living in a North Korean prison camp. What a maroon.

      • Alamar

        Banning ivory and comparing to a N.Korean prison camp?

        • Walter_Cronanty

          Your response makes even less sense than your original comment. Is English a second language for you?

          • Alamar

            If it doesn’t make sense, don’t read it and don’t respond.

            The group of ppl that is opposed to banning previously owned ivory are most likely those who feel the pain b/c there’s money involved. And that, of course, does not make sense.

          • Do please take your own advice.

    • jim_m

      Are you nuts!?!

      Banning previously collected ivory does nothing to diminish the trade in new ivory. It does nothing but create a black market for all ivory and therefore make it more difficult to control new ivory.

      Banning previously collected ivory is like prohibition which did nothing to address the issues of alcoholism but created a huge illegal industry and fostered the creation of powerful organized crime families.

      People want what people want and nothing you say or do is going to change human nature. Marxist philosophy is founded on the notion that you can change human nature to destroy the human desire to own personal property and make one’s life better than those around you. Communists murdered millions in pursuit of changing the nature of mankind.

      Lunatics like you, who think that they can forcibly alter human nature to suit their ideologies are a threat to the peace, safety and health of the rest of the human race.