Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Better Use For Your Money

Recently, there was yet another teapot tempest when a couple had their deceased dog, Lancelot, cloned. One thing that has become common to these sorts of non-events is someone in the animal-welfare business complaining that the money that the pet-owners poured into staving off bereavement could have done something they consider more worthy.

"Dr. Sara Pizano, of Miami-Dade County’s animal services department, told the Miami Herald that for the price the Ottos paid for having Lancelot cloned, 'we could do spays and neuters for six months.'"
This echoes a similar case from a few years ago, when the now-defunct Genetic Saving and Clone cloned a housecat named Nicky for its owner.
David Magnus of the Center for Biomedical Ethics at Stanford University said: "Its morally problematic and a little reprehensible. For $50,000 (£26,000) she could have provided homes for a lot of strays."
"Pet kitten cloned for Christmas"
Okay. So what? Why does this matter? I'm always curious when people phrase things in the way that Dr. Pizano or Mr. Magnus does. "We could do spays and neuters for six months." "For $50,000 she could have provided homes for a lot of strays." This is becoming a well-worn refrain whenever someone spends a bunch of cash on something that's widely considered frivolous, or otherwise fails to be properly charitable. In an effort to provide balance (criticism?), someone goes out and finds someone who'll complain that they could have spent the money on something better. But we're never told why it's the responsibility of the people who are spending the money (such as the Ottos) to spend it on someone else's priorities.

And you rarely see such logic being widely applied to more mundane purchases, even very expensive ones. Despite the fact that ZipCars could do a lot with $250,000.00, no one goes to interview their spokesperson complaining about that when some local showoff buys a brand-new Lamborghini.

The idea that there are better things to do with your money, than what you're doing with it, is an old one, and still going strong. The Global Rich List lists a number of things that you might like to do with your money, along with the things that they'd rather do with your money. But the folks at GRL are activists. I expect such out of them. But I don't want activism, especially such selective activism, from the news media.

No comments: