An Identical Twin, Born Much Later 

Monday, April 25th, 2022

In America, cars that fail to meet minimum fuel efficiency standards are subject to additional taxation. Though inefficient automobiles are still permitted, a Gas Guzzler Tax is levied on them. This surcharge is intended to dampen the demand for these vehicles.1 I’ve always liked both the idea, and the forthright name it received.

Also in America, a Texas-based company called ViaGen Pets will take tens of thousands of your dollars and return to you a genetic copy of your animal. This clone will probably look the same as your beloved pet, though it will of course not actually be the same. In addition to the incredible expense, the process may cause pain and suffering for other animals.

“People think, ‘Oh, I’ll just press a button and out will come Fido,’ but that’s just not the case,” said Robert Klitzman, director of the masters of bioethics program at Columbia University. “So you may love Fido, but do you really want several animals to die and suffer in order to have the one healthy Fido?”

“I can either pay thousands of dollars to create a new pet that’s actually going to have a different history and personality,” he said. “Or maybe I could adopt an animal that would otherwise be killed in a shelter. Those are things that ethically need to be considered.”

I generally favor a light touch when it comes to regulation. I would be quite hesitant to outright outlaw most things. But perhaps we could implement a candidly-named “Stupid Tax”, for things which no one should actually do.


Footnotes:

  1. This tax is also an attempt to encourage the development of more efficient engines. Lamentably, it does not apply to “light trucks”, which includes SUVs and pickups. As such, the effectiveness of the tax in actually improving overall fuel efficiency has been limited. ↩︎


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