Why do animals not act as agents of economy?


Original snail model by Patrick W. Crawford is HighPoly Snail + Rig | Blend Swap

Why do we not pay money to animals?:

The question actually came from my surprise at the situation we are facing.
When we are going to protect animals such as a kind of red-listed primate, We don’t pay money to them to protect themselves.
Rather, What many activists of protecting environment are doing is awareness campaigns for people and lobbing activities to governments.
Everything is about humans.
I’m surprised at that.

If I take action for protecting a species in a very primitive way, I would pay money to the animals for the works they serve us –directly and indirectly. Then the animals use the money to hire people for protecting themselves.
That’s natural for me. Why does it not happen in reality?


In today’s world, animals are just property or external environment in economical view:

Actually many living things are working for humans. That would be huge if it is measured by amount of money.
But in the economics view, they are just property or external environment, like rooks and soil.

Animals are goods that can be treaded with money. Not payer or earner. Thus for human society side, animals are not recognized as agents.

Of course, animals are not treated in the same way as rooks. The laws of many countries force us to care for animals to some extent.

However, there are gaps between getting economical power and being given rights from humans.
For example, increasing woman’s right to politics after world war 2 In U.S. was a partly result of increasing importance in product line during the war time.

Although which is the first step is unknown, probably both of them are act as positive feedback each other.
Getting economical power is a driving force to increase welfare. And animals don’t have it.


Money would be a hard concept for animals:

But aside from economical define, can’t animals really use money?

Money is a tool to get something you want. And using tools needs ability to infer the indirect result via the tools.

In fact, many animals can use tools. Beavers make a dam for their lives. Dogs can be trained to bring newspaper to their owners. Chimpanzees can collect ants with a twig.

Probably, some animals can be trained to take money after a behavior and put money to a human.

But the concept of money is not limited by the motions.
Economics defines basic function of money by a medium of exchange; a unit of account; and a store of value.
In those of three, recognizing money as a medium of exchange could need high mental capacity. An animal could exchange a stone to a food. But money has versatility of its usage. you can use the same coin to get toys and warm room.

It would be very hard task to know even for big-brain primates that a stone or a piece of paper is a proxy of such versatile goods.
Whether it is true or not, contemporary animals can’t use money properly in reality.


What if Neanderthal men hadn’t been wiped out?:

But dominating money by human seems not to be inevitable consequence. In history, there were kins of human, including Neanderthal, that have better intelligence than today’s animals.

They all apparently had been extinct for various reason. But we can imagine they can survive to the modern ages.
It is unclear whether they could manage tools as humans. However we should see the fact that humans also hadn’t have elaborately-crafted tools including money for a long time.

Therefore, it’s unfair if you judge the ability of perceiving concept of money by the evidences that Neanderthals remain at that time.
There would have been a chance that Neanderthals could use money.


Can we enhance animals’ earning and paying with technologies?:

Money itself is a new technology. And we are helped by systems that allow us to join economy.
You can’t make coins and markets by yourself.  If you are in secondary or tertiary industry, you can’t even live a week without depending on the monetary system. Not to mention financial sector’s people.

I wonder what technology can enhance animal’s joining economy? In despite of their limited intelligent abilities, can a devise help them to use money along with their utility curves?

It’s very elementary though, I imagine a device that adds fee when a dog bring a newspaper to the owner, and pays the deposited money to dog food as the dog’s preference.


Animal’s money changes incentives of human society directly:

The important change when animals join economy is that the money flows are not intermediated by the dog owner. The dog’s work and preference flow directly in economy.

Extending the flow, animal to animal flow could form. Like food chain, but this new chain would be mutual.

Another important thing is that dominated money by human will spill out to animals, meaning incentives of human change a bit to the animal’s preference.

When it would happen, we can avoid discrimination between cute animals and ugly animals.


This is One of the big purpose for the future:

There are already big objectives that well-accepted in the world, such as racial equality, protecting environment. Animal rights is a growing concern especially in developed countries.
On top of that, I think animal’s joining economics also could be a big picture in the future.


Remaining Questions:

  • Is there effort for animal to use money?
  • Is there animal-agent model in economics?
  • What can the best intelligent creature other than human do?
  •  How clever is neanderthal men?

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