This afternoon I took my dog Kate for a walk around my neighborhood. Conveniently the circumference of Yorkshire is almost exactly one mile. It’s enough to release some endorphins and subdue Kate. By the end, Kate wasn’t lunging at every bunny or squirrel she detected. There are plenty in Yorkshire.
When we returned I checked the mail. I received a direct mail peace from Pikes Peak region Humane Society. It was put together quite well. It included my name in return address stickers with cute pictures of cats and dogs, a heart-felt story of an abused dog named Mickey, and a short forum to requesting a donation. There were three proposed amounts. Each amount was related on how they could help the animals. You could either make a one-time or monthly contribution.
-Fifteen dollars provided a homeless animal with food and water.
-Twenty-five dollars helped place an animal into a loving home.
-Fifty dollars helped rescue a neglected/abused animal from inept owners.
I asked myself. How much suffering can I stop? If I gave a monthly donation of fifteen dollars, it would probably be enough to support at least one animal. In fact, it would probably provide around thirty pounds of dry food. I could give so much benefit to a sentient life with such little cost to me.
I was sold. It seemed a sound decision. Both emotion and logic played their parts. I had begun filling out the form when I realized something.
Where exactly does this money go? No doubt, they purchased meat based pet food. They probably buy fairly cheep food to keep their variable operating costs down. It seems curtain that they would buy food produced from factory farming.
How many chickens do you suppose are in a thirty-pound bag of pet food? Live chickens weigh roughly around 6 pounds. After you removed the unwanted “parts”, you lose some weight. Let’s say they only manage to put one chicken worth of meat in that thirty-pound bag of food. My monthly contribution would lead to the death and suffering of at least one animal per month to keep another animal from suffering. It’s a wash. It’s trading one conscious being for another. In fact, in my example, it’s trading many sentient beings for the “benefit” of one. Why did I place quotations around “benefit”? If you think vegan dog can’t be healthy, you need to meet Kate. I have yet to meet a healthier animal.
Now, I know these numbers are assumed, but the logic is important part.
If only there was a way to control where my money goes…
Living by convictions is important. People are drawn to do this. You rarely hear of a pro-life, fundamentalist Christian getting an abortion and being completely fine with it. If we have a conviction, we strive to live by it. I don’t want to torture animals for my taste buds. So I don’t. There is no turmoil.
This is where I see a problem with government. We are giving our money to the will of the convictions of others. So often, voting is thought as choosing the “lesser of two evils”. I like Obama. However, I don’t agree with everything he proposes to do. He will give subsidies to our corporate farmers. He will only raise taxes on the rich, vs. having everyone pay their part. Only the other hand, McCain will be far, far worse. McCain will effectively push tax dollars into corporate profit margins and will worsen the national debt.
Here is what I propose. Let me chose where MY money goes. I’m not referring to laissez faire economics. Everybody will still pay taxes. In fact, we could still use the same type of income tax bracket system we currently use to collect the money.
Here is the difference. You could vote on how to divide YOUR SHARE of the taxes collected. Everybody gets an equal share (just like an equal vote). You then could chose how that share should be spent. I don’t want to support the war on Iraq, therefore I wont vote for my share to go there. I want my share spit as 30% for education, 20% for environmental science, 20% for Medicare, 20% for social security, and 10% for infrastructure. (This is a oversimplified example but gets my point across).
No matter what, tax dollars will be distributed among the choices of the public. Even if only 1 share of the entire pubic is voted towards some obscure expense, that obscure expense will receive money. It is a true democracy without tyranny of the majority. It provides personal choice and protection at the same time.
We could help guide any intimidated public by presenting last years budget on the ballet. For example:
Simple example of a “Last Years Budget” = 30% Roads, 15% Schools, 15% Health Care, 30% Defense, 10% Hospitals. (Another oversimplified example).
By seeing this, you have a basis from which to work. Say I thought the roads could use more funding schools were doing fine. I could shift some percentage points from one category to another. This way it’s not a stab in the dark.
We would still vote on leaders to manage the systems, legislation, and policies of these public funded programs. Also, we would vote on how we want our tax system to be set up. Some candidates would push for less tax; others would push for stronger public systems. Some candidates would push to reform our tax policies. There still needs to be leadership.
Isn’t there the possibility that we’ll seriously fuck up the budget? Absolutely, but I believe the public will self correct based on first hand observation. If we truly want a democracy, this steps in that direction. For example, if the public becomes upset when their roads deteriorate because they are inadequately funded, they wont have to wait for a politician to figure the problem out. They will directly vote to fund what is important to them.
Every vote would truly count. Every vote would truly matter.