Monday, February 20, 2012

Progressives Who Don't Connect the Dots

I admit: I was one of those progressives who, for the longest time, failed to connect the dots.

I spoke of human rights, yet I devoured pork chops. I agitated for peace, but thought nothing of the terror experienced by the chickens that eventually became my food. I wrote of social justice without realizing that justice is meaningless if it doesn't apply to cows and horses, lions and whales, and every other living, sentient being.

In short, I lived in ignorance. Thankfully, I came out of the darkness eventually. I realized that progressivism and humanitarian politics mean nothing unless animals are included in the equation. I'm just glad I realized it before it was too late.

I've been distressed to read that California's progressive governor, Jerry Brown, is calling for a budget cuts that will hurt animals. An article from the L.A. Daily News sums up what's happening:

Brown is hoping to convince the state Legislature to save about $23 million a year by repealing provisions of state law that require longer holding periods before euthanasia for shelter animals. The Hayden Law, passed in 1998, requires holding periods of four to six days for shelter animals before euthanasia - an increase from the 72 hours in previous state law - and requires the state to reimburse cities and counties for the costs of the extra time.

Brown's proposal would not force shelters to euthanize animals after 72 hours - but the state would no longer pay them for expenses longer than that, according to H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state Department of Finance.

"It would simply say that the state is not going to reimburse local governments for the cost associated with that additional holding period beyond three days," Palmer said.

To be fair, Governor Brown is governing a state that has been experiencing severe financial problems. California has been teetering on the verge of financial collapse for years. Cuts are needed in lots of areas if the state is going to move beyond crisis mode.

Moreover, the problem of overcrowded shelters is an issue for which the general public needs to take responsibility. It is the public's reckless disregard for the protection and lives of animals that results in shelters being so overcrowded.

But activists rightly point out that the cuts will harm a law named for another famous California progressive, Tom Hayden, in 1996. Hayden heroically campaigned on behalf of a law that would extend the period that shelters hold animals to four to six days before euthanizing them.

Cutting funds that help animals is a no-brainer for most Democrats and Republicans. Animals don't vote. They don't send in campaign contributions. They can't demonstrate on their own behalf. They can't speak out for themselves. Instead, they sit in cages for a day or two or three, trembling, disoriented, waiting for something to happen, not knowing that the something is going to be the end of their short lives.

My various Facebook friends and groups post pictures of shelter dogs and cats that are on "death row" and desperately need to be adopted before being euthanized. Their adorable yet sad pictures fill my Facebook page. On many of the images, there is a caption: "Sorry we failed you. Rest in peace." My heart sinks every time.

If Jerry Brown were a true, well-rounded progressive like Tom Hayden, he'd fight to keep that small portion of the budget intact that helps animals. Unfortunately, it's beginning to look like Brown is a pragmatic "progressive," someone who talks the talk, but has yet to connect the dots.

1 comment:

  1. The inability of some "progressives" to follow out the obvious logic of their stances is puzzling and curious and sometimes disheartening. The principles of equality for all and no fair bullying are apparently extremely difficult notions to apprehend and enact for many human animals.