New Zealand Rips a Big One

Those of you who have followed this blog for a long time may have noticed that rarely does it venture into topics that could be considered very serious. You may have even wondered at times why a thoughtful writer such as myself would mostly avoid using my platform, which includes tens of people, to discuss the things that really matter.

Well, thanks to the nation of New Zealand and its necessary and impactful attention to a dangerous problem facing the entire world, I have reconsidered. That’s right, the time has come for us to have a critical conversation in this space about farts.

This cow clearly smelled it. And we all know what that means. Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

While absent through much of this blog’s own history, passing gas has been on the minds of humanity for millennia. This truth was revealed by the 2008 discovery of an ancient fart joke carved upon a Sumerian tablet that dates to around 1900 BC, making it the oldest joke so far discovered.

Other notable moments in the history of flatulence include a god in the mythology of the Innu people of Eastern Quebec and Newfoundland who communicates exclusively through the breaking of wind, the alleged Pythagorean belief that a careless person could accidentally fart out his soul, and a series of Japanese art pieces from the early 19th century depicting, probably satirically, battling samurais cutting a lot of cheese.

But Samurais were far from the only people to have killed with a good toot. Both first century Roman Jewish historian Josephus and the Ancient Greek writer Herodotus, known as the Father of History and Some Stuff He Mostly Made Up, attributed large, deadly battles to the offensiveness of well-timed flatus.

St. Augustine had a slightly more positive view of gaseous emanations, suggesting in his 5th century work The City of God that evidence of perfect bodily control as would have been enjoyed before the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the garden is that some people can produce song through their flatulence. We probably all have that one friend.

This is what it looks like to have the power to destroy the world. Image by Frauke Feind from Pixabay

For the most part, passing gas has always been a little bit funny and kind of rude and, apparently incredibly destructive. At least that is what New Zealand law makers have decided. It’s long been rumored that livestock farts are one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases and in New Zealand, where people are outnumbered by cows two to one and by sheep more than five to one, the best way to combat the problem is, obviously, to tax the livestock. And so that is the plan, according to Climate Change Minister and apparent savior of Planet Earth James Shaw.

Now, I can almost hear the objections of you naysayers out there whining about the financial burden on farmers and ranchers. You may even go so far as to suggest that the effects of this move will certainly trickle out through the economy, transforming the industry into something much less sustainable and, as other nations follow New Zealand’s bold lead, ultimately contributing to the problems of already threatened global food supply chains.

To that I say that ridding the world of farts was never going to be easy. It was always going to require determination and sacrifice. Like all things worth doing, and most things that aren’t worth doing at all, it will come only at great cost. I’m sure we can all agree that it’s time for the cows to pay up.

20 thoughts on “New Zealand Rips a Big One

  1. Taxing cows for farting? Wow! Martin Luther might object. ‘I am of a different mind ten times in the course of a day. But I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away. When he tempts me with silly sins I say, “Devil, yesterday I broke wind too. Have you written it down on your list?”’ But on a serious note, lawmakers never cease to amaze me. Just when you think that the conservatives have come up with something regressive, the progressives blow your mind away.

  2. I worked for years in the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which stands diagonally opposite Parliament buildings in central Wellington and, in particular, their carpark. For a long time the ACT party (a party a bit like the US Republican party) had a bus sitting there with a huge banner along its side: “No Fart Tax”. Apparently Shaw’s plan also includes taxing burps, though, so that makes it OK. Probably.

      1. This was at least 10 years ago, before I went full-time writing. The idea survived a National party government (they’re a bit like the US Democrat party) and is being implemented by a Labour government (who are a bit like the US Democrat party). It’s kind of ironic – the bigger issue here is the explosion of dairying on the back of the Chinese dairy market led to herds being grazed in major river watersheds. The resulting – er – cow flops, shall we say, have been polluting the waters. It’s especially bad for the Manawatu River, which runs through a mountain range and then provides the city of Palmerston North with its water. And is classed as one of the most polluted waterways on the planet.

      2. Oh my. I have no doubt this is a much more complicated issue than gets discussed in the American news. Regulation is always tricky and no matter what is done (or not), there always seem to be unintended consequences.

      1. I was trying to figure out how to work, “flattery will get you nowhere” out with flatus instead but I think I need more coffee to do it. [Insert flatulence joke here]

  3. I live in New Zealand and had to read about such a tax here on your blog first! There is only one thing wrong with the discussion: New Zealanders don’t fart. This is a plot by some politicians to distract from all the b/s that comes out of their mouths.

    1. Americans don’t fart either, obviously, but our politicians do also spew an awful lot of foul things from their mouths. Maybe we could institute some kind of tax refund triggered every time one of them says something stupid.

I love comments! Please keep them PG, though. I blush easily.

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