Caption: The new ruling class? They might be better than the old one...
According to Business Week, around 63% of U.S. households, or 71 million homes, own least one pet, a number that has climbed from 64 million five years ago.
And they're not just for kids anymore. In fact, a lot of pets get more money spent on them than a lot of children:
There are now $430 indoor potties, $30-an-ounce perfume, and $225 trench coats aimed solely at four-footed consumers and their wallet-toting companions. Even those who shun animal couture are increasingly willing to spend thousands on drugs for depression or anxiety in pets, as well as psychotherapy, high-tech cancer surgery, cosmetic procedures, and end-of-life care. About 77% of dogs and 52% of cats have been medicated in the past year, according to APPMA, an increase of about 20 percentage points from 1996.
And speaking of dogs,
It wasn't so very long ago that the phrase "a dog's life" meant sleeping outside, enduring the elements, living with aches, and sitting by the dinner table, waiting for a few scraps to land on the floor. Today's dog has it much better. APPMA reports that 42% of dogs now sleep in the same bed as their owners, up from 34% in 1998. Their menu reflects every fad in human food—from locally sourced organic meat and vegan snacks to gourmet meals bolstered by, say, glucosamine to ward off stiff joints. Half of all dog owners say they consider their pet's comfort when buying a car, and almost a third buy gifts for their dogs' birthdays...
A STEP ON THE HIGH ROAD. El Cabrero has ranted a lot about a high road vs. low road approach to economic development for WV. Here's a story about a step on the high road from the Charleston Daily Mail:
Gov. Joe Manchin wants all West Virginians have access to fast Internet service by 2010, and Verizon West Virginia is hustling to remain a major player.
Manchin, Verizon West Virginia President Stan Cavendish and Sen. Jay Rockefeller were to be in Danville today to announce two initiatives aimed at delivering broadband services to rural West Virginians.
Cavendish was to announce that under an agreement with Verizon, a nonprofit organization, Connected Nation Inc., will produce detailed county-by-county maps of the state's broadband availability and service gaps.
The maps will be used to help develop plans to expand broadband. In addition, Verizon has pledged to speed up its efforts to make it available to more rural areas.
STRESSING THE TROOPS. This is no shock, but here's an item from The Observer UK about how stress and combat fatigue are wearing down U.S. military personnel in Iraq.
COUNTING THE COST. Yesterday El Cabrero and amigos held a press conference about the rising cost, human and otherwise, of the unnecessary war in Iraq. Here's the coverage from the Charleston Gazette.
SPEAKING OF GOAT ROPES, the big news in the capitol city of El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virgnia has been an agonizingly close vote on table games. I live out of the county and have no perros in that fight (other than my desire to tease certain friends about it). The election was held August 11 and initial results showed the measure passing by just over 30 votes. But more and more uncounted or over-counted or challenged ballots keep showing up. For a blow by blow summary, check out the masterful blog of all WV news, Lincoln Walks at Midnight. Nobody knows when we'll know.
Full disclosure: El Cabrero does not gamble if you don't count driving, eating, and generally buying things but I have nothing against those who do. However, a bet on how this will turn out might be interesting...
THOSE LOVABLE COAL OPERATORS. This is a few days old, but here's a profile from WV Public Radio of Bob Murray, CEO of the Utah coal mine where six men have been trapped for over a week. As you can see, he's no big fan of MSHA, safety regulations and advocates, or the United Mine Workers union.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED