We hear a lot about the homeless. We hear about the hungry. We hear about starving children in third world countries that need our assistance.
What, though, does America really spend its spare money on?
Not humans silly, we only love our pet animals.
In 2008, the APPA (American Pet Products Association) reported that 43.2 BILLION dollars was spent on pets. Sure, millions of starving humans could be spared death if people really cared about other people. The numbers prove, they don't.
So what inexplicable human values are at work here? How is the life of an animal worth more than a human? Sure, we pet owners don't think about it at all, and if we do we cast that thought out quickly. We have organizations concerned more about animals than humans. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is one of the most visible ones, but countless more exist that spend all their time and energy for the welfare of animals.
It has always bothered me that these activists show endless concern for a bunny or a hamster, but if forced to think about their fellow humans, only can express disdain or outright hatred. Yet, if we think about it, the average family with a pet shows the same disdain - and what's more puts their money where their mouth is. Every time they feed their pets, they don't think that this could be a human they are feeding. Each time they take their pets to be groomed, treated by a veterinarian or when they buy them toys, they do not think that these expenditures might be better served on starving children or the homeless.
Yes, pet owners show more love to animals than to humans. They prove it with their pocketbooks.
Why? I remember reading one animal activist say she would save an animal tied to the railroad tracks before she would save a human. Most folks probably thought she was a fanatic, when reading that statement - but they are living out her sentiments when they buy, feed and spend 43.2 billion dollars a year on animals.
The pet industry is big business. Even during this recession/depression the APPA projects 2009 to post even bigger gains than in 2008! In 1994, 17 billion was spent on pets. That figure will triple by 2010. Now you can send your pet on a vacation! You can buy it a fancy coffin! You can buy it clothes and enroll it in pet schools!
See a pattern here?
Yes, people treat pets as if they were human. Yet, they actually treat them better than they do their fellow human. Again, why? The answer is that people project human emotions on a pet. When the animal licks them, they choose to interpret this as "love". So, we can see, pet ownership is a placebo for human affection. Animals will sniff or lick anyone, but this matters not. The pet industry shows, almost endlessly, this picture of an animal licking a human and trying to portray it as a "kiss". It's quite disgusting actually, considering the staggering number of diseases that can be caught from the saliva of an animal, but this image still is used over and over to sell pets and pet products. Children and women are the primary targets of this ruthless pet industry. They know that their emotional make-up is geared towards insecurity and sell "love" in the form of a pet. The homepage of the APPA serves up fine examples on its header. (Refresh it, if necessary as it is one of four rotating headers - note most are women or children!)
So the pet industry knows it is selling faux "love" to insecure, emotionally needy humans.
Why are these humans so needy? Children are still emotionally immature and parents buy them pets as substitutes for a lack of parental presence. As for adults, they demonstrate a social defect when they project more love for animals than humans. That alone shows why they end up as pet owners. If you can't love other humans - or choose not to - how can one expect to be loved by other humans in return? So these adults turn to pets. So the song Can't buy me love was clearly not written about these American pet owners - for whom "love" can be bought - for 43.2 billion dollars a year.
Perhaps when they look closely at themselves and their social hang-ups, they will realign their value system and love their fellow humans with the same unreturned love they dote on their animals in imaginary "love" relationships.
Until then, the millions of humans who will die this year of malnutrition, lack of shelter, and a lack of care will have to reconcile themselves with the disturbing, inexplicable reality that "Spot", "Morris" and "Polly" really are worth FAR more, to most Americans, than they are worth.