For an interesting new argument against horse slaughter, you’ll want to read this entry in The Hill’s Congress Blog. If you’ve never read The Hill, you probably weren’t an earnest journalism student with a debilitating interest in U.S. politics, and that’s okay, because it’s generally just wading through all sorts of House Resolutions and lobbyist nonsense. But this is a surprising article, with a surprising author:
Yes, Trent Lott, our former Senate majority leader, who resigned his seat following a controversial mutter that Strom Thurmond should have been elected president, despite being on the ticket as a member of the openly racist Dixiecrat party. Sometimes I wonder if he just said it to be nice. Or to curry favor. I don’t know. But it back-fired.
But Trent Lott may have just made quite a few new friends in the horse world, me included, with this insightful piece. Speaking of his son, who bought horses from a kill buyer and retrained them as polo ponies, selling them for a profit:
His experience showed me that live, active horses support an important infrastructure of jobs and economies in the United States. A live horse needs to be fed, groomed and trained, as well as receive vet care, among other things. This in turn creates and maintains a viable and enduring way of life in rural America. The sale of horses to killer-buyers in fact generates very little profit for the seller while simultaneously choking off the demand for the goods and services that other buyers would create.
This reminds me of a similar argument I’ve made regarding people who think that horse racing should not receive any sort of help from the government. Whether or not you believe that any business unit should be subsidized by federal or state dollars, to deny that the horse racing’s overall affect on the economy does not stretch far beyond the handle at the local racetrack is to be incredibly short-sighted. Who gets paid, when there are horses to be taken care of?
Farriers, grooms, veterinarians, feed store owners, hay farmers, tack stores, manufacturers of horse clothing, of saddlery, fencing supplies, building and home improvement stores, tractor companies, auto-supply stores… horse breeding, alone, while usually far from the urban centers that support (however poorly) racetracks, is a mainstay of many agricultural and rural communities. Livelihoods depend on the horse-racing industry, just as surely as any other. You just don’t see them; that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
And how much money do you spend every year on your horse? Even if your horse lives in your backyard and you don’t show? What are you contributing to the local and national economy every year? Whose livelihoods depend on your hobby, or your profession, or your obsession?
I support this legislation for three compelling reasons: Banning horse slaughter would save taxpayers millions of dollars every year, as it would eliminate a wasteful federal program that only serves to benefit a handful of foreign-owned companies; it would help foster and promote sustainable jobs in rural America; and it would end the needless suffering of more than 100,000 American horses each year, which are hauled across the United States to slaughter houses in Mexico and Canada to supply so‐called “high‐end” restaurants in France and Belgium.
Maybe there are people out there who don’t speak in the language of the modern American horse owner, who keep horses as pets and kiss them on their noses. That’s okay. Maybe there are people out there who don’t speak in the language of the rescuer, who thinks every living thing deserves a chance at, well, living. That’s okay. But come now. They all speak the language of money. Lott has written a compelling argument for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, and I, for one, appreciate it.