How is Obama's Julia Like Pristomyrmex Punctatus?

Before I answer that, a little science. Scientists study all kinds of things. One thing they study is ants, because ants teach a lot about communities.

In a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ecologists Shigeto Dobata and Kazuki Tsuji studied the effects of "cheaters" in a colony of Pristomyrmex Punctatus ants.

P. Punctati segment their society into two groups by age. Younger ants tend to hang around the house reproducing asexually. (And why wouldn't they?) As they age, the ants reproduce less and take on other duties like foraging for food and repairing the home. In other words, they mature and become more responsible for themselves and for their communities.

Both behaviors are cooperative. Both help the colony at the expense of some personal sacrifice, though I can't figure out what the kids give up by sit around reproducing day and night.

So what happens when scientists introduce a "cheater" ant or two?

Cheaters are like cooperators in all ways but one: cheaters don't stop reproducing to go out and forage. In short, they don't grow up.

But they do consume. And defecate. Right there in the house. And because their reproduction is asexual, the damn kids are just as horny and lazy as the parent.  Since cheaters reproduce more than cooperators do, pretty soon most of the colony is cheater ants. They eat, they sleep, they poop, and they  . . . reproduce.

Of course, this can go on only so long. As less food comes in and less waste goes out, the colony becomes filthy, poor, and overcrowded. The cooperators move out or die, leaving the cheaters to decay among their own filth.

Which brings us to the Julias of the world.

Julia was (semi) fictitious character sprung onto a waiting world by the Obama-Biden campaign. Julia is a cheater. From age of three, Julia sponges off the colony. From head start through social security, Julia eats the food others foraged and occupies the home others built and maintain.

Despite free birth control and copious, publicly supported family planning instruction, Julia, of course, reproduces. The Julia in Obama's video never marries--or even dates--a man, so I assume she reproduces asexually, like her P. Punctatus ancestors. Which would explain the failure of birth control. Julia's offspring, of course, imitate their parent. (Here's a video about Julia from The Five.)

Think this cheater behavior is unique to ants? Think again.

Researchers have recently evaluated these questions in systems involving viruses and cells (where cells may secrete protective substances, or self-destruct to form a spore-dispersing stalk) but not in multicellular organisms before. Yet the results are so similar, write Dobata and Tsuji, that they believe universal principles are at play.

What is one of those "universal principles?" Cheaters eventually eat out the substance of their cooperative cousins and destroy their society.

This phenomenon seems to be near a tipping point among us humans in the US of A. The punctatus is among us.

Consider:

More than half of Americans depend on government subsidies

and

Nearly Half of All Americans Don’t Pay Income Taxes

And

Disability is the New Normal

And

Up to 4 out of 5 disability recipients are frauds

If only Mitt Romney had seen the ant study before his infamous "forty-seven percent" statement during the 2012 campaign. He could have substituted "homo punctati"  for "forty-seven percent," and no one would be the wiser. A few ambitious reporters (if there are any) might have googled "homo punctati" and found nothing, since I just made it up by combining the word for man (homo) with the description of a type of ant (punctatus). But you get the point.

People are, of course,different from viruses and ants. We have intellects and imaginations that allow us to project the effects of cheaters on our human colonies. And we have the ability and the right to ostracize cheaters--to tear them off the teat, so to speak.

The question is, will we?

How Government Growth Creates Scrooges

Scrooge’s nephew left the office and let in two men in the process. They came to ask for a donation for London’s poor.

"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."

"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.

"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"

"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."

"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.

"Both very busy, sir."

"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"

"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.

--Dickens, Charles (2004-08-11). A Christmas Carol (pp. 5-6). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.

Liberals, of course, consider Scrooge the quintessential Republican. Scrooge cared only for himself. He was a miser. His miserliness made him miserable, bent, and twisted. 

humbug-scrooge

Of course, this liberal view of Scrooge lacks consideration. It misses the fundamental flaw in 19th century English government meddling. 

Is Scrooge’s attitude so different from most American’s? Do we really take it upon ourselves to help those in need?  Are we, as individuals or groups, trying to build a better society?

Or do we say, “let the government take care of it?”

Government largesse only encourages misers like Scrooge to remain miserly. The debtors’ prisons and Union workhouses lent Scrooge an easy out.  “That’s what government’s for.”

The traditional American view of the good society differs wildly from Scrooges; the welfare state’s view does not.

When it comes to certain topics—sex, drugs, profanity, modest dress—we often hear, “you can’t legislate morality.”  Why do we never hear that about charity?  Isn’t welfare simply government’s attempt to force a moral viewpoint on society?

And doesn’t it fail as surely as attempts to dictate skirt-lengths or song lyrics?

Good societies result from good people. All legislation is moral, but legislation can’t change men’s hearts.

The After Party is St. Louis Tea Party’s attempt to repair the fabric of society—a fabric left to rot as we turned to government for solutions to problems that can and should be handled by local communities, charitable organizations, and states.

That’s not to say that government, at every level, must withdraw from charitable programs. Rather, the Constitution provides no authority to Washington. And local programs tend to trump distant ones precisely because the benefactor and beneficiary live, work, and worship together.

While the Tea Party is not a charity, it does have the tools to make stronger, healthier human bonds.  These bonds give us all resources for handling tough times. 

More importantly, these bonds encourage us to look at each other as human beings. And we’re more likely to help fellow human beings than we are to give up another tax dollar to a bureaucracy that loses and wastes more money than returns to the needy.

By the way, the two gentlemen soliciting donations said something you’ll never hear from a Washington bureaucrat.  Did you catch it?