Hungry Only for Political Causes

by Don Boudreaux on May 23, 2004

in Standard of Living

Compelling evidence of Americans’ astounding wealth appears in the Week in Review section of today’s New York Times. One story – “When Real Food Isn’t an Option” – tells of the threat of starvation driving people in third-world countries to eat almost anything that won’t kill them. For example, Mozambiquers eat grasshoppers and Haitians dine on dirt cakes.

Another story, appearing immediately above a picture of an emaciated Somali woman gnawing on a strip camel skin, offers some quotations from Steven Wise, President of the Center for the Expansion of Fundamental Rights. This organization advocates, quoting Wise, “basic legal rights for some nonhuman animals.”

Mr. Wise likely does not wish to prevent nearly starved Somalis from eating camel skin, or hungry Ghanians from eating ants. But the very fact that American society spawns the idea of fundamental rights for nonhuman animals – and has courses in animal rights taught at prestigious institutions (Mr. Wise taught animal-rights law at Harvard) – is a gleaming testament to what is perhaps the greatest single achievement of the modern market society: triumph over starvation.

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