Caption: This man just ordered his...
El Cabrero was originally inspired to write about animals this week for two reasons.
First we had a week on the road away from the menagerie here, aside from dogs. The weird thing is, I kind of missed the little buggers. Even the goats...
Then, catching up on accumulated magazines, I came across a really good article in Business Week about "The Pet Economy."
Unsolicited product endorsement: of all the magazines I peruse, I'd have to put BW at the top of my list. It has no particular axes to grind and is often full of useful and cool stuff.
The basic point of the article is that Americans are nuts about pets. In fact, we spend around $41 billion per year on them.
How crazy can it get? Check out the lead paragraph:
If there's still any doubt whether the pampering of pets is getting out of hand, the debate should be settled once and for all by Neuticles, a patented testicular implant that sells for up to $919 a pair. The idea, says inventor Gregg A. Miller, is to "let people restore their pets to anatomical preciseness" after neutering, thereby allowing them to retain their natural look and self-esteem. "People thought I was crazy when I started 13 years ago," says the Oak Grove (Mo.) entrepreneur. But he has since sold more than 240,000 pairs (a few of which went on prairie dogs, water buffalo, and monkeys). "Neutering is creepy. But with Neuticles, it's like nothing has changed." Nothing, except there's a fake body part where a real one used to be.
THE MATRIX REVISITED. In The Coolest Book Ever Written (Moby-Dick, of course), Ishmael muses that
There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own.
According to this NY Times article, some people are apparently seriously speculating that we may not be so much the objects of a practical joke as simulations in somebody's computer game. It quotes one Oxford philosopher as saying
“My gut feeling, and it’s nothing more than that...is that there’s a 20 percent chance we’re living in a computer simulation.”
That would explain a lot...
A BRIDGE TO WHAT? Here's a good item from The Nation about the price we're paying for neglecting our infrastructure. This is something the market god won't provide.
IRAQ. It was recently brought to El Cabrero's attention that the U.S. has been involved in the unnecessary war in Iraq for a longer period of time than it was actively engaged in fighting WWII.
WHO GETS WHAT. The Economic Policy Institute reported in an August 1 Snapshot that:
Economic growth in the current recovery has been very unbalanced, with all of the income growth from 2001 to 2005 (the latest available data) accruing to the upper 5% and, in particular, the upper 1% of households. In fact, the bottom 90% of households experienced a 4.2% decline in their market-based incomes... representing a loss of $1,293 per household on average from 2001 to 2005 (the latest year data is available). Had income growth been shared equally during this recovery, the bottom 90% would have been $2,071 better off than they actually were in 2005 (with a $778 income gain, instead of a loss).
To borrow an expression from Goat Rope visitor Brecht (see yesterday's post), this is an example of "tinkle down economics." But they're telling us it's raining.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED