Thursday, July 17, 2003

Republicans: bad for humans, worse for animals

In midst of a 103.3 degree fever the other day, I was lying on the couch watching C-SPAN2's coverage of the House votes on the Department of Agriculture Fiscal Year 2004 Budget. (I wish I could say that I only view House votes on C-SPAN2 when I am seriously ill, but it's a common occurance for me, regardless of my health status.) The first amendment to the budget that I saw them voting on was one that would designate $800,000 to enforce anti-animal fighting (cock-fighting, for example) legislation. (Keep in mind that the entire Agriculture budget for 2004 is $77.5 billion, so $800k isn't forcing the government to break open its piggy banks just yet.) Though the amendment did pass thanks to strong Democratic support, the Republican representatives voted against it, about 150 to 70. Which constituency are the Republicans trying to impress? The powerful dog-fighting lobby of Minnesota?

The Republicans successfully helped to defeat an amendment that would prohibit human consumption of "downed" meat, the common term for meat produced from animals who were unable to stand on their own at the time of their slaughter. The right's vote was about 170 to 50 in opposition to the bill, which ended up being rejected by the House by a margin of three votes. This amendment is aimed to protect both animals and humans. If a cow cannot stand on his own, it's most likely that he is diseased or that his legs are broken, both of which are indications of abuse or unhealthy living conditions. (And I don't need to remind you that most animals farmed for their meat and byproducts are abused and live in disgusting quarters.) Humans are better off eating meat that was made from an animal in good health, that could stand on its own. (I, of course, would argue that humans are better off eating no meat at all, but that's a different matter.) This amendment would encourage farmers to take more precautions against disease and injuries, lest they lose profit on an animal who cannot stand. My colleague Kevin Deenihan also speculated that this amendment would encourage cows to not stand up.

These votes did not outrage me so much because they will have an enormous impact on the well-being of all the world's little creatures (after all, it's only the House), but because these votes were indicative of the disregard Republicans have for regulation, even if such regulation will help alleviate animal (and human) suffering. They prioritize freedom of commerce over the health of the nation. The short-term over the long-term.

On a lighter note, by Grandpa Stan Brown sent me this email and accompanying photo yesterday:
Hi Rebecca:
Speaking of nudity we thought it would be good fun to send you a
picture of yourself (all of you) as a baby, but could only come up
with such a picture of Jennifer.
[My older sister] Fearing we would be labeled
pedophiles if we sent it, how about a real picture of Stan and Ruth
Brown? Attached.
We got a kick out of your references to your grandparents - and
the internet photos.
Love, G'pa B.

They're a pair of very good sports. Now you can really see where I get my good looks, and good sense of humor.


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