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The Law of Compensation

September 25, 1946

Law of Compensation department: Bleats about the high cost of living are getting pretty commonplace. That doesn’t make them any less painful but it does reduce their copy value. However, there was one on the newswire from Atlanta, Georgia that strikes a fresh note. It is the wail of George Simon, the general manager of the Atlanta zoo. Mr. Simon complains that the high tariff makes it impossible for him to afford the purchase of a new animal exhibit. You probably didn’t know this . . . what with all the attention focused on the daily quotations of the livestock market . . . trying to peg the price of nonexistent cuts of beef and lamb . . . but Mr. Simon says you used to be able to buy two hump camel for five hundred dollars. That would be roughly 250 per hump. Now you can’t get one for less than 900 dollars. Monkeys that used to be reasonably available at 7 bucks per monk are now twenty dollars. Common baboons have gone up from 75 dollars to 100. And the lion who used to call himself respectable if he brought two hundred and fifty dollars in the open market now costs twice that much. How this will affect annual membership dues in the Lion’s Club, I can’t say. Nor is it immediately discernible why the high cost of keeping the cages at the zoo populated should be going higher. Possibly the Fran Buck Local of The Bring ‘em Back Alive Federation Amalgamated has negotiated a new contract calling for shorter expeditions at higher wages and air conditioned jungles.

But Mr. Simon is not too shaken at the turn of prices. It’s the old law of compensation that steps in and saves the day. Just as . . . not many months ago when we were all being admonished never to put bananas in the refrigerator . . . the task was made light by the fact that (a) there were no bananas available not to put . . . and (b) you couldn’t get a refrigerator not to put them in. Simplified it. And so in this case, Mr. Simon isn’t distressed by the high cost of middle aged lions because he couldn’t possibly get the meat to feed them. Comes out even.