The other day, my father-in-law sent me a clipping of this article from the Wall Street Journal, about the flight of entrepreneurs and investment capital from California. (My in-laws had been thinking of moving here, but the high cost of living has made them reconsider.)
One part of the story struck a particular chord in me. The writer, Republican lawmaker Devin Nunes, chose the following as an example of a particularly burdensome state regulation: "this year a new law enacted by ballot initiative bans cages chicken farmers use on the grounds that it is inhuman[e] to put birds in cages that prevent them from spreading their wings. Complying with the new law will cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars..."
Now, I know the economic basics at work here. Of course the law will cost farmers money and no doubt force some of them out of the egg business. And that's a shame.
However, I found it funny that Nunes would choose the new cage law to personify burdensome regulation. Surely there must be hundreds of equally onerous laws that aren't quite so inviting of sympathy on the face of them. Birds having space to spread their wings? What an outrageous notion!
Is my world view really so different from the intended readers of Nunes's opinion piece? Yes, apparently. As my father-in-law put it, "To these people, letting chickens spread their wings is just as ridiculous as the idea that people with brown hair and blue eyes should pay more income tax than others. To them, compassion for sentient beings isn't even on the list of things one should care about."
That may be so, but I know I'm not alone, because on the door of the egg refrigerator at the food co-op where I shop is a chart showing which farmers use cages, which debeak the birds, etc., and it's the brand that exemplifies the most humane practices that's always in highest demand.