Animal rights advocates tie issue to health insurance costs and American competitiveness

I enjoyed last month’s New Yorker article (Test-Tube Burgers) about the production of artificial meat. It was a typical New Yorker piece: entertaining, and a bit bizarre without being too low brow. But this week’s letters to the editor are even better. One points out our paradoxical attitude that animals are simultaneously tasty food and higher forms of life deserving protection. Another suggests improving the image of lab-grown meat by calling it Newtein, Newtrient or Protean. But my favorite is from the president of  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which tries to tie its animal advocacy directly into the raging debate on health care costs and US economic competitiveness:

Government meat subsidies…  deflate the price of everything from pork to hamburger…  These subsidies encourage meat consumption, which in turn brings high cholesterol and higher health-insurance rates for the entire population. It may even have an impact on the cost of other U.S.-produced goods, as employers factor in missed work resulting from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses linked to meat consumption. (Emphasis mine.)

PETA is pragmatic and realized long ago that it’s better off appealing to issues people care about rather than building animosity through hostile actions such as throwing fake blood on peoples’ fur coats. (You catch more flies with sugar than vinegar, I’ve heard, although the PETA people don’t necessarily express things in those terms.) But this letter caught my eye because it’s the first time I’ve seen the organization jump so squarely into the health care policy world. I checked the PETA website, and sure enough, their Animals Used for Food issues page features a bunch of arguments for going vegan, but doesn’t touch on health insurance or US competitiveness. Instead it includes:

  • Cruelty to animals
  • Your health (discusses life expectancy but not health care costs)
  • The environment
  • World hunger
  • Worker rights
  • Factory farms: poisoning communities
  • Government negligence

All those issues are nice, but it says something about how out-of-control health care costs are that PETA thinks there is hay to be made with this new linkage.

June 8, 2011

One thought on “Animal rights advocates tie issue to health insurance costs and American competitiveness”

  1. States have more options than policymakers may realize to create health insurance exchanges that promote competitive and affordable insurance markets, according to a new white paper that addresses the issue of exchanges.

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