The Knowledge of the Lord, part 3
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

The Knowledge of the Lord, part 3

Last essay I suggested that one way to help fill the world with the knowledge of the Lord is to create incentives for people to act in a more loving, compassionate, and godly fashion. Encouraging people to do the right thing works for some of the people some of the time, but the human capacity for self-delusion and self-justification is so strong that people can often justify to themselves almost any activity, however heinous. To illustrate, the vast majority of people, in order to satisfy a taste preference, seem to have no qualms about having nonhuman beings submitted to unrelenting pain and misery.
Although I donít think people are totally self-centered, I think appeals to self-interest are among the most effective motivators. Economic incentives can be particularly effective. Subsidies or taxes that lower or raise the cost of goods or services can have a huge impact on what people consume. An attribute of a tax is that it can account for what economists call externalities, which are costs of goods or services not contained in the normal cost of those goods or services. For example, if the production of something involves polluting the environment or sickening individuals, there is a cost that is not reflected in the purchase price of the product. The purchase cost of the item, then, would not reflect its actual cost. A tax on that item would help rectify this situation and, potentially, the generated income from the tax could be used to address the cost.

There are several externalities associated with animal agribusiness, including the health costs related to eating foods that contribute to diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and certain cancers; the loss of scarce land, water, and energy resources due to the inherent inefficiencies of raising animals for food; and the climate changes related to the extensive use of fossil fuels by animal agribusiness. What if any taxes would be appropriate to address these externalities? Iíll consider this question next essay. 

Go on to: Creating Economic Incentives to Reduce Animal Abuse
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