Dog Poop and the Progressive Mind


My wife and I just returned from a trip to Oregon where we spent the better part of two weeks hiking. Despite all the government ineptitude in the Northwest, it is the most beautiful part of the country with some of the friendliest people so we keep going back to experience it every few years. But on this trip we encountered a new phenomenon that is somewhat disturbing because of its blatant stupidity.

A 1/4 mile into our first hike we saw a green plastic bag by the side of the trail. Upon closer inspection we determined that someone had bagged up the deuce deposited by his dog and left it by the side of the trail. Guessing that the obviously conscientious friend of Fido meant to pick it up when he returned from the waterfall at the end of the trail, we went on our way and thought nothing more of it. We hadn’t gone 100 yards when we came across another green bag of canine crap. Huh? Is it now a thing with Portlandia nature-lovers to go into the wilderness with Rover and make sure they pack out the puppy poo?

Before we made it to the falls we passed another bag making three pooch poop pouches in just over a mile. You know what we didn’t see? Anyone with a dog. We had a sneaking suspicion that the shit sacks would still be there when we retraced our steps.

We were correct.

Apparently someone brought his dogs on the trail and went to the trouble of bagging last night’s dinner in brightly colored non-degradable plastic because he didn’t want to contaminate the environment with dog squeeze. As we all know Bubba’s butt biscuits – are NOT biodegradable – contain bacteria and parasites – and eventually end up in YOUR drinking water! (I know this from reading the signs posted on the dog-poop-bag dispensers around town) The only way to prevent an environmental apocalypse is to encase the toxic excrement in plastic for eternity. As far as our rambling dog owner was concerned, once the crap was in a bag he had done his part and could feel good about himself.

But somehow it never occurred to him that he had trashed the trail.

“What an idiot”, my wife exclaimed as we walked past the last bag and returned to our car convinced that this was an isolated case.

We quickly learned that it wasn’t. On our next hike we encountered more fragrant trailside treasures and began to wonder if the state was actually telling people to do this so that the rangers could pick the bags up and dispose of them later (it wouldn’t be the weirdest thing Oregon’s government does). Fortunately we ran into a ranger on this hike and asked him. “No! In fact it drives me nuts. If you see anyone doing it please give him a dirty look!” – was his response. He furthered clarified that Boo Boo’s companion should just take a stick and push the manure into the weeds so no one will step in it.

Over the next two weeks we hiked nearly every day and only had a couple of jaunts where we didn’t encounter a bag of dog dookie, firmly zip-locked to keep it fresh until the end of time, decorating the side of the path. My wife even got fed-up and started collecting them to dispose of back at the trailhead. The last one was less than 100 feet from a clearly visible garbage can. It was exasperating!

We have hiked all over the country from Maine to Arizona but have never encountered the plague of poop bags until we arrived in the vicinity of Portland and Eugene, two of the most progressive cities in the country. And therein lies the problem.

Progressives have good intentions. I have never met one who wasn’t genuinely concerned with the environment, the poor, women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, the unemployed, crime, racism, etc., etc. They want what is best for everyone and feel (notice I didn’t say “think”) we should do certain things to make sure everyone does what is best for the world.

But progressives never get past the first step. They come up with a solution to a problem but don’t consider that the solution might cause problems of its own. The fact that they have a solution to the original problem is good enough, no matter how dire the consequences might be. They’ve solved a problem and that makes them feel good – end of story.

The dog poop problem is a classic example. They decided that Farfy’s feces is bad for the environment (it’s actually no worse than any wild animal’s crap but good luck convincing them) so we have to bag it and dispose of it. But what happens then? It’s gone. It’s out of their sight. They don’t have to think about it anymore so the problem is solved. And best of all, the progressives can now feel superior to all those cretins who don’t bag dog poop!

But as my wife and I discovered, it’s not gone. It’s sitting by the side of a hiking trail stinking up the place. Or it might have made its way to a trashcan and then to a landfill. And if you know any progressives then you know that landfills are an environmental catastrophe! So how is a plastic bag full of shit sitting for centuries in a landfill better than poop in the weeds that decomposes into soil and provides nutrients for growing plants? It isn’t. The progressive solution is worse than the original problem it “solves”.

This is true of many progressive solutions:

  • People with pre-existing conditions can’t get health insurance? Pass a law that no one can be turned down for insurance and the problem is solved. Consequence? Insurance premiums and deductibles sky-rocket for everyone while insurance companies depart the market leaving fewer options.
  • Man is causing global warming? Force power companies to use more wind and solar energy. Consequence? Energy costs go up forcing the price of food, housing, transportation, medicine, and just about everything else to rise, making it harder for poor people to get by and harder for everyone to adapt to the ever-changing environment.
  • Poor people can’t raise a family on the minimum wage? Double the minimum wage so that they’ll make more money and the problem is solved. Consequence? Low skilled workers lose their jobs and prices go up to compensate businesses for the bigger payroll bite.
  • A mass shooting happens at a school? Make it illegal to bring a gun into specified buildings and areas and the problem is solved. Consequence? Psychotic criminals, who don’t care what the law is, go to the gun free zones to commit unopposed mass murder.

You can go through any progressive policy and think it through to a new problem the progressive is failing to consider. Sometimes it doesn’t matter because the new problem (poor but free black people are discriminated against) is not as bad as the original problem (slavery). But more often, as the examples above show, the new problem is worse.

Unfortunately, this problem won’t go away. Feeling is easier and more satisfying than thinking. Trying to convince a progressive that he is wrong using facts, reason, and logic won’t work. You need to come up with an emotional argument to get his attention. Progressives do not live in the real world. They live in the world that could be if everyone would just play nice. That world doesn’t exist.

Until we can figure out how to get progressives to comprehend reality we will be left with hiking trails decorated with green bags of shit.

Wayne Middlesteadt is the author of Five Ways to Beat the Market and The Golden Age of Distance Running.

About Author

Wayne Middlesteadt is a 1986 graduate of Georgia Tech and has an MBA from Georgia State University. Currently working as a financial writer and track and field historian, his latest book is Five Ways To Beat The Market.