This posting is utterly off the regular topic of this blog. It was inspired by the fact that I had bacon from a free range pig for breakfast, and it was extremely delicious.
Pork bellies are an economic commodity traded on the stock market. People essentially gamble on the accuracy of their predictions about the future demand, supply and thus price of pork. The traders never actually take delivery of the pork, because during the time they are trading it like a hot potato, the pigs haven't been slaughtered yet, or maybe even haven't been born yet.
That made me think about enormous pig factory farms. By keeping pigs in extremely confined conditions, they're creating inhumane conditions for the pigs, the human workers, and the people who have to live near the effluent. In some places they may also be doing environmental damage to fisheries and drinking water, but are they also devaluing the currency? Would changing the laws so that "standard industry practice" like no longer provides an exemption from prosecution for animal cruelty laws merely address animal welfare issues, or would it constitute tinkering with the economic system itself? Is this the real reason why we as a society don't demand that animals that are made of delicious, delicious bacon are not treated at least as well as convicted rapists? If you treated a single dog the way factory farmed pigs are treated, the dog would be taken away and you would not be allowed to own another animal.
And then I wondered, can people who are forbidden by religion to eat pork or handle pig leather ethically make money in commodities trading if they hold pork belly futures? Is contact with the animal itself unclean, or does that extend to its effects. Pigs aren't soft and furry, and they're very robust, but they're also intelligent and sociable. If I buy factory-farmed bacon, I'm paying someone to abuse an animal for my breakfast pleasure. I don't think I'll do that anymore.
If you haven't had your daily dose of bleeding heart liberal hopelessness yet, see this blog on the myriad ways the planet is doomed.