Humans are the cleverest animals, one proof of this assertion being that we are the only species to have created the means to live beyond our means. Only humans can borrow from the future.
Imagine acquiring food and shelter, impressing a potential mate, and so on, based on something that does not yet exist and may in fact never be. Genius, or chutzpah? You be the judge.
But if humans are animals then so are animals, and so the animals have decided that if humans can do it, then non-human animals certainly can too.
Animals are now demanding access to micro-credit financing, a sort of Grameen Bank for the furred and the feathered.
Let's say a hungry squirrel can borrow twenty or so acorns against next year's gathering in order to get through a particularly trying winter. Or maybe she thinks it would be a better investment to have an extra two or three pups this year, when there's an early spring or to take advantage of particularly low interest rates, and then spread out the cost over several years of low monthly payments. Currently in nature there is no simple way for her to accomplish this. She can save a limited amount of acorns, but the earnings are effectively negative due to decomposition and the depredations of the lower orders. There is no mechanism for her to borrow against future earnings, and this in effect is a denial of her rights as a nonhuman animal.
If a squirrel had access to credit, say it could borrow enough to invest in something like a popcorn machine, just think what a squirrel selling popcorn to the other squirrels could make. Squirrels love popcorn. This squirrel could then franchise the business, creating good jobs for many other squirrels while retiring to live fat off their hard work for the rest of its life. (Only on the order of ten years or so, let's keep in mind.)
Of course many will argue that it is only the elites of the animal kingdom, the top 0.1 % in terms of net wealth, the rent-seekers (or 'job creators' if you prefer) who live on the toils of the lower classes (not to mention phyla), who will really benefit from this development. But this short-sighted view is based on a misconception of nature as a zero-sum game: in fact, one squirrel's gain need not be another's loss, or in other words a rising tide lifts all stoats.
The question is not so much whether humans should allow this nor whether we can stop it, but how we can profit from it. It is the next natural step in the evolution of the animal kingdom. We enjoy dominion over the entire planet (more or less) and lord it over all animal species: why should they not be our debt slaves too?
Animal micro-credit is coming: you can bank on that. I'm former child star actor Bobby Donatelli who went on to sell depilatory creams on late-night cable, reporting live from right here where I’m trying to rebuild my brand as a no-nonsense journalist, live at the scene, reporting. Alex?