Apr
15
2009

Every day is ‘tax day’ in the animal kingdom

Rare species: Joe the Plumber belongs to a sub-species of humans who don't like to pay taxes.
Rare species: Joe the Plumber belongs to a sub-species of humans who don't like to pay taxes.Courtesy Rona Proudfoot
Today – April 15 and its federal tax deadline –may be a miserable day for Joe the Plumber, that vocal opponent of the redistribution of wealth through public taxation. But he’ll likely not find too many sympathizers among the animal kingdom.

While much of our humankind political debate revolves around if and how much wealth should be redistributed through public taxation, the issue is a given among most other animal species. Follow this link to a complete rundown by the New York Times. In essence, many animals have a culture of helping each other out and making sure the minimum needs of all are met. And sometimes they get real serious about it.

Don't beat me up....I've paid my taxes: Rhesus monkeys have a culture that encourages the sharing of food – a redistribution of wealth – that penalizes those who don't contribute to the good of all monkeys.
Don't beat me up....I've paid my taxes: Rhesus monkeys have a culture that encourages the sharing of food – a redistribution of wealth – that penalizes those who don't contribute to the good of all monkeys.Courtesy J.M.Garg
I found especially interesting the practices of the rhesus monkey. When out hunting, if a single monkey finds a huge load of food, he/she is compelled by the species’ culture to notify others to come and enjoy the bounty. If it’s discovered he/she was hording the treasure and not sharing, a dominant male will unleash and harsh, stern physical penalty (without any preliminary audit like the IRS).

Vampire bats will actually do an “audit” of the stomachs of their comrades. If a particular bat appears to be bloated, they will “vigorously encourage” the glutton to regurgitate the excess food it had consumed to share among other bats in the group.

So if you’re having a hard time coughing up that dough to the IRS today, just be glad you’re not a rhesus monkey, vampire bat or some other tough taxing creature of the animal world. The means of taxation could be a whole lot more painful.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Gene's picture
Gene says:

The difference, of course, being that animals take responsibility for their own actions. And should they fail to, other individuals assume the responsibility of enforcing social norms. There is no central government, restricting liberty or forcing individuals to act against their free will.

The other difference being that animals for the most part don't have free will. Even "culture" is a tricky word that shouldn't be applied too broadly.

Finally, the government(s) take a percentage of every dollar I earn. And since I earn a certain number of dollars every hour, then every day is Tax Day for me, too.

posted on Fri, 04/17/2009 - 11:15pm

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