Difficult-to-pigeonhole blogger Mark Stricherz (he’s great on pro-life issues and maddening on economic ones) has sent my blood pressure through the roof again.
In this post Stricherz complains about the phenomenon of the pet hotel, now serving the animal companions of the rich and frivolous.
Ridiculous? Certainly. A sign of what’s wrong with America in the 21st century? Very likely. Disgusting, even? Maybe.
Here’s Stricherz, waxing indignant:
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans sleep homeless on the streets; more than a million unborn babies are aborted; and our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan lack the best armor for their armored vehicles. Yet according to the American Pet Products Manufactuers Association, Americans spend $38 billion annually on their pets.”
So far, so good. But Stricherz goes on: “Talk about an inhuman policy,” he complains
What “policy” is Stricherz criticizing? Private property rights, maybe? That’s what allows rich people to spend too much on their dogs and cats. As long as we have private property, it’s not a matter of “policy” that some private citizen’s money gets spent the way he chooses to spend it (however frivolous that may be), and not for some other purpose (however noble). Of course, God created the world for the sustenance of the whole human race, and there may be situations where some unjust monopoly of property or power keeps the poor from earning enough to support themselves and their families. But not in the United States today, where there’s unprecedented wealth and opportunity — all resting on the very property rights Stricherz’s argument has no respect for.
Here’s what he wants to do: Tax the rich more, and spend the money on 1) better armor for the troops in Iraq 2) sonogram machines which will “[help] an abortion-minded women learn more about and thus love her baby” and 3) building “affordable housing” and staffing it with “first-rate personnel.”
If our soldiers need better armor, they should get it, regardless of whether rich people are besotted with their pets. But think about the logic of the sonogram proposal. The government has a monopoly on the use of force in our society. What should it do with that force? Compel doctors not to kill unborn babies, or else we’ll put them in jail? Or compel citizens (or else we’ll put them in jail) to pay higher taxes to buy sonogram machines with which we may be able to convince women not to want to ask the doctors to kill their unborn children?
On the “affordable housing” issue, consider this question. If you were trying to work your way up from homelessness, which would be better for you? A menial job in a pet hotel (which sounds like an ideal place to learn the basic skills people need, to be employable at all), or a space in government-subsidized and -supervised “affordable housing”? Mark Stricherz’s kind of reasoning about the economy is why we carry books like Thomas Sowell’s Applied Economics in the Human Events Book Service. If you find yourself thinking along the lines of his argument, I recommend that you order Sowell’s book today.