In his provocative book How Much Should a Person Consume, Ramachandra Guha asks “can the world as a whole achieve American levels of car ownership? Can there be a world with four billion cars?”
I don’t have any easy answers there, but I do think there are some limits on what a person should consume. And the case of Leona Helmsley’s will suggests some for dogs, as well. Consider her $12 miillion bequest to a puffball named Trouble:
Trouble . . . has expensive tastes. According to the Post, Ms. Helmsley would order her hotel chefs to drop what they were doing to prepare special meals for Trouble when she was hungry. Still, $12 million is a lot of money for an eight-year old dog — even if her kibble is made from kobe. If Trouble invests her money in a diversified portfolio, she’ll earn at least $600,000 a year — without dipping into her principal!
Is $600,000 per year too much to spend on a dog? Or is this another happy story of growing incomes for dog butlers, “five-star kennels, doggy sitters and paw manicurists?” Given that hundreds of millions of people who live on less than a dollar a day, perhaps over $1600 per day of pet care is troubling, however much it expands the GDP.