|A cat used in deadly experiments inside USDA laboratory.|
It's a commonly heard phrase that originated with the Watergate scandal. We hear it a lot today in reference to the investigation into President Trump's ties to Russia. But the popular phrase also applies to the nonhuman-abuse-industrial-complex. If you want to cut through the lies and deceptions to get at the truth, just follow the money.
Over the centuries we have built an entire economy and culture around the enslavement and exploitation of nonhuman animals. Working to end this grave injustice is as much an economic issue as it is a matter of political and social will. We simply cannot ignore the financial incentives that continue to drive nonhuman oppression.
Successful operations, whether they be military or social, usually require besieging the opposition on multiple fronts. Likewise, nonhuman advocates have many battlegrounds. In addition to advancing veganism and nonhuman legal rights, it is essential that we also deprive nonhuman enslavement institutions of their financial enticements. Nonhumans do not yet have legal rights in large part because too many sectors of society profit off their exploitation and deaths.
"People who purport to act on behalf of nonhuman animals must be urged to do much more than change their shopping, eating, etc. . . . citizens have to make time for policy," said David Cantor of Responsible Policies for Animals.
In his 2013 book, Meatonomics, David Robinson Simon found that $38.4 billion of United States taxpayer monies are used to further the nonhuman flesh, milk, and egg industries. Here's what else he found:
- 63 percent of federal and state government subsidies go to promoting nonhuman flesh, milk, and eggs, while less than 2 percent go to fruits and vegetables.
- Taxpayer subsidies create artificially low prices for nonhuman-derived "foods" that do not reflect the real costs to produce them, thereby encouraging Americans to consume greater amounts. For example, if we were to account for the full burden of a Big Mac—the abuse, environmental and health care costs, etc.—a Big Mac would actually cost $12.
- A significant portion of the nearly $1 trillion in annual health care and lost productivity costs related to just three diseases—cancer, diabetes, and heart disease—are directly linked to the consumption of nonhuman-derived "foods."
- Nonhumans bred for their flesh, milk, and eggs are routinely fed 75 percent (28 million pounds) of the US market of antibiotics to bolster their abnormal growth and prevent imprisoned-induced diseases.
- Nonhuman flesh, milk, and egg industries now rank with mining, oil production, and electricity generation as one of the most ecologically damaging to the planet. The EPA found that groundwater sources in one-third of US states are contaminated with urine and feces from factory farms.
Subsidies used to exploit nonhumans for their flesh, milk, and eggs originated in 1929 during the Great Depression and were quickly taken over by large corporations thriving on government handouts. Today these unethical and unhealthy industries collect $251 billion annually. So why are we still supporting them?
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and other alleged conservatives bloviate about the need for entitlement reform. How about addressing entitlements to the flesh, milk, and egg cartels? If politicians were really serious about cutting the federal deficit they would start by eradicating this $38 billion taxpayer slush fund.
Matthew Scully, a conservative journalist and former senior speechwriter for President George W. Bush, agrees. "Factory farming is a predatory enterprise, absorbing profit and externalizing costs, unnaturally propped up by political influence and government subsidies much as factory-farmed animals are unnaturally sustained by hormones and antibiotics."
The Farm Bill, which is expected to be reintroduced this year, sounds harmless enough but it sets the agenda for future subsidies. Hundreds of special interest groups and lobbyists with ties to the food-industry enslavement and slaughter business wheel and deal to sway lawmakers. Simon found that members of Congress who received donations from the cow milk industry were almost twice as likely to vote for dairy price supports as those who received no money. Moreover, the greater the amount of money a member received, the more likely they were to endorse industry-friendly legislation.
"It is certainly no secret that governments and big business work together to make meat and animal products widely available, convenient, and inexpensive," wrote Marla Rose in "Why We Eat Meat (VegNews, March/April 2018). ". . . this federal interference ripples, affecting everything from school lunches to hospital food, and results in a profound impact on how we make sense of what we eat."
For example, checkoff programs use monies collected from the cost of particular items to fund marketing programs for those items. As Simon reported, "With annual promotional funds of $389 million, the dairy industry enjoys nearly three times the checkoff spending of all fruit and vegetable producers combined."
I can't think of one marketing slogan for vegetables, but the following advertising gimmicks generated by checkoff programs are quite familiar to many of us:
Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) is one such checkoff program. A marketing arm of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), DMI teamed up with Domino’s in 2009 to rescue the company from declining sales by using $12 million to develop and market a new line of pizzas with 40 percent more cheese.
And taxpayers are not just footing the bill to bolster the sale of nonhuman bodies and babies for their flesh, milk, and eggs. The National Institutes of Heath (NIH), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Wildlife Services are just some of the many government agencies funneling billions more to poison, torture, rape, kill, and otherwise use nonhumans for various products and services. State agencies are no different. For example, the governments of New York and New Jersey use taxpayer money to subsidize gambling and tracks for injurious horse racing.
White Coat Waste Project recently exposed a USDA laboratory (photo above) that uses taxpayer dollars to breed 100 kittens a year in order to feed them Toxoplasma-infected raw meat, collect their feces, and then kill them. While many rightly find the killing of kittens using taxpayer money to be "sickening and abusive," less Americans are equally outraged by the billions spent on the systematic killing of trillions of nonhuman persons for "food" every year.
The United States Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) is just one of 41 taxpayer-funded USDA laboratories that conducts Frankensteinian genetic experiments on nonhumans to increase their numbers for the flesh, milk, and egg industries. Pigs and cows endure starvation and grisly procedures that cause them to give birth to deformed, dying, and dead piglets and calves. A 2015 New York Times report disclosed their horrors at the USMARC, however, unlike the recent exposé involving cats, this one received little public attention or backlash.
"Demand is a symptom of animal-abuse policy, culture, and practice, generated by the industries and their institutional allies—the land-grant universities, the US and state departments of agriculture, the news industry, and others," explained Cantor. "Those forces are far more powerful in maintaining the industries and perpetually manufacturing demand for their products."
If we believe that nonhuman animals matter morally—that they are not commodities or things for us to use—then going vegan is the very least we can do as individuals. Doing so also aligns our behaviors with our values. Collectively, we must also strive to provide nonhumans with legal rights in conjunction with removing the financial rewards that keep nonhumans from being recognized as persons instead of property.
As a consumer activist, I am very selective about what I support through my purchases and whom I do business with, and yet I have no control over how my income is spent by the government. I do not want my money sanctioning nonhuman slavery any more than I would want it to sanction human slavery. The Vietnam War spawned a movement of war tax resisters. In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau, who withheld his poll tax in protest of the Mexican-American War and the expansion of human slavery, maybe it's time ethical vegans do the same and withhold their taxes in protest of nonhuman slavery and our government's direct involvement in perpetuating it.
Follow the money and you will find that everyone pays a steep price for the abuse and injustice we impose on food-industry captives and others snared in the nonhuman-abuse-industrial-complex. It is vital that we challenge these institutions socially, politically, and economically.
If our elected officials refuse to terminate these subsidies then we should elect those who will. Such a drastic measure as not paying our taxes, on the other hand, will give new meaning to the expression "drain the swamp," but it may be needed to finally begin to undermine and bankrupt a corrupt capitalist system that puts profits above all life.
Tell your federal and state elected officials to cease using your money to subsidize agencies, industries, and universities that enslave, exploit, and slaughter other animals, and to ensure that federal and state agency secretaries no longer come from these same destructive industries.
How Do I Go Vegan?