Much has already been written about Leona Helmsley's decision to leave $12 million to her dog, and I didn't see much need to jump into the fray. But I was on a business trip this week which gave me a chance to catch up on some out of date New Yorker magazines, and I had to quote this passage from an article ("Rich Bitch", by Jeffrey Toobin) about the legal issues surrounding bequests to animals:
One philosopher [Jeff McMahan, who teaches philosophy at Rutgers] draws a distinction between the needs of [Helmsley's dog] Trouble and those of dogs as a whole.... "To give even two million dollars to a single little dog is like setting the money on fire in front of a group of poor people. To bestow that amount of money is contemptuous of the poor, and that may be one reason [Helmsley] did it.
"But to give such a large sum of money to dogs generally is not frivolous," McMahan went on. "I think it shows some misplaced priorities, but many bequests do. In a world where there is starvation and poverty, you can say that it's wrong to give money to universities, or musuems, or, worst of all, to divide it up for your children and heirs who are already rich. Welfare for dogs is better than more pampering of the rich. It may indicate misplaced moral priorites, but it 's not frivolous or silly...."
Do you agree?