I’m not sure if it’s because I’m just getting older or if I’ve becoming a bit more cynical. Of course, it could just be a combination of the two. Whatever the reason, I’ve come to the conclusion that politics and reality don’t seem to intersect too often – if at all.
Case in point –
A couple of days ago, I read an article from UPI about one specific piece of legislation.
The bill, H.R. 3501: Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years Act – also known as the "HAPPY Act" – was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich) on July 31, 2009.
The bill, if ultimately approved and signed into law by the President, would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and allow pet owners a tax deduction of up to $3,500 per pet owned.
Don’t misunderstand me. I have nothing against pets. And – although I currently do not own one – I love them.
According to The Humane Society of the United States website, a 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey estimated that in the U.S. there were approximately 74.8 million owned dogs and approximately 88.3 million owned cats.
Therefore, there would be 163.1 million pets just in cats and dogs alone. Then of course, there are those folks who prefer birds, or some other form of "pets."
If I’ve done my math correctly, the total amount of "tax-deductions" (just for the cats and dogs) would come out to a little over $570 billion annually!
Contrast that amount with how little is being spent by government to help our nation’s homeless and you can see my assertion that politics and reality don’t mix well together.
I realize that some folks will justify the tax-deduction by saying that we should provide for our pets because they can’t fend for themselves and we therefore have an obligation to care for them. And that is probably a valid line of reasoning.
However, consider that each year millions of our fellow citizens experience homelessness – with approximately one-third of them being children.
Don’t we have the same – if not greater – obligation to care for our nation’s homeless youth?
What was a bit of letdown about H.R. 3501 is that it wasn’t Congressman McCotter’s idea to begin with. It was actually "brought" to the Congressman by actor Robert Davi.
I find it a bit disappointing that so many of our celebrities will lend their names for causes and organizations which advocate for the humane treatment of animals or to feed and house the needy in other countries throughout the world. Yet, those same celebrities seem to have forgotten about those within our very own national borders who are living in on the streets of our cities in "third world" conditions.
It disturbs me greatly when I hear of someone who neglects or abuses an animal.
But, it breaks my heart to its very core when I think of the tens of thousands of children who will have experienced homelessness this year.
How can we heed the barks and meows of our nation’s pets and be moved to do something to alleviate their suffering – yet ignore the sobbing of our nation’s homeless children?
The kind of "Happy Act" I’d like to see passed through the halls of Congress is one which ensures that no child in our nation is homeless.