Part Two, Contest Results: Piers Morgan and PETA Take on GoDaddy CEO (or the other way around?)

Photo: David De Lossy

Last week I posted about Bob Parsons from GoDaddy and his elephant hunting/culling trip to Zimbabwe. Parsons went on a trip to Zimbabwe and killed an elephant. His argument was that elephants were harming crops, and a side benefit of the killing was the meat that the villagers could then eat.

I offered a free copy of my upcoming book, More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics Is Helping to Solve Global Poverty to the comment that provided the best info, analysis, or data to answer a key underlying fact: are elephants in Zimbabwe in danger of going extinct, or so plentiful as to require culling? That fact lied at the heart of the debate on CNN between Piers Morgan, Parsons and a representative from PETA.

Two comments stood out for providing some interesting links. The one that struck me as the most informative came from comment #22, T. Everett, with a link to the proceedings of a conference in 2003 at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Links provided by other commenters also seemed to suggest that nearing extinction is not the problem for elephants in Zimbabwe, but that there are ways other than culling to control the population. I don’t pretend to be an expert in elephant control and Human Elephant Conflict (apparently that is the official term, as the conflict goes both ways), but the conference proceedings, and other links offered by other commenters, support the fact that elephants in Zimbabwe are not going extinct. Whether culling is the right response or not I do not know, nor was the contest intended to answer that.

But I do have one further thought to share, that comes from some of the comments, and also on the interview on the Piers Morgan show.

Piers Morgan asked Bob Parsons: Since you are worth a billion dollars or so, why not just give them money so they can buy food to eat?

This is a distracting question, which I honestly think is unfair to Parsons. I have no idea what Parsons does in terms of philanthropy (I hope of course that he is supporting ideas with strong evidence behind them), but I don’t think it is fair to say to someone who is super rich that because they are super rich they should spend all their time in boardrooms making their money multiply, and never go help people with their own hands. Naturally his comparative advantage is indeed writing checks and making money to help those checks clear, not the hard labor; but alas he is human and maybe gets pleasure from being part of the process, not just the benefactor back home never seeing the fruits of his philanthropy. And anyhow, it isn’t like he is paid by the hour.

Regarding equity value of GoDaddy, the publicity from this trip may have hurt or helped, I definitely saw my fair share of rhetoric on both sides floating around the internet.


I think that perhaps Piers Morgan's question that you quote was not articulated as well as it could have been. This becomes even more apparent when it is taken out of the context of the interview. In fact, rather than taking an economics professor's stance, I think a logic professor's stance would be much more suitable.

Or perhaps I'm about to be wrong....

I think Piers Morgan is trying to reach, using the socratic method, the question that interests journalists and the public. He is rightfully skeptical of Parsons' stated reasons because he is a journalist. He is trying to figure out exactly why Bob Parsons is hunting elephants?

His question merely poses a reasonable alternative to hunting elephants. He could have easily asked why Bob Parsons wasn't hunting some other animal. The question insinuates that there are better ways to help people. This is where the logic professor comes in. Just because there are better ways to help people doesn't mean that he doesn't help elephants to help people.

If they weren't involved in the logic of informal debate, Piers Morgan would simply say, I don't your primary reason for hunting elephants was to help people. To which Bob Parsons would reply, "nuh uh."

But since it is an informal debate with an audience, Piers Morgan is demonstrating his belief by offering the audience illogical but believable reasons to not trust Bob Parsons.

I think your economic analysis of the answer is sound and reasonable but it ignores the larger dialogue they (and everyone else involved) is having.

While you have thoroughly analayzed and answered the question stated you have not answered the question everyone has, 'Why was he hunting elephants?' and 'Is it right to hunt elephants?'



"That fact lied at the heart of the debate"

You mean, "That fact lay at the heart of the debate". Facts do not bear false witness.