Personally, I’m a Sucker for Kittens
“Financial incentive offered for vets to treat cows, not kittens”
That’s the headline from Missourinet, which brings us this detail:
Half a million dollars has been set aside in the state budget to lure six vet students into a large animal practice, an appropriation to get the Large Animal Veterinary Student Loan Program off the ground.
And why do we need this little subsidy? According to the acting state veterinarian, Dr. Taylor Woods:
[…] it would take at least ten years to ease a critical shortage of veterinarians to serve Missouri’s farms as well as its livestock markets.
Assuming that the wages of veterinarians are allowed to freely adjust to market forces, the subsidy is completely unnecessary. In the short term, the vets who are qualified to treat livestock can charge a premium. As a result, anyone who needs this sort of service is encouraged to seek alternatives, and to purchase these services only when they are absolutely necessary. Also, anyone who can provide treatment for livestock is encouraged to spend more time doing just that. In fact, this is exactly what is happening:
Woods says some [livestock markets] are staffed by elderly vets who have come out of retirement to help out.
Elderly vets certainly aren’t a long-term solution, but market forces take care of that, too. Because the shortage of livestock vets raises their wages, it becomes more attractive for people to become trained in the field. As this happens, the price of livestock vet services comes back down.
This isn’t a novel chain of reasoning, of course; it’s merely the operation of supply and demand applied to the caretakers of our animals.
Of course, the vets don’t really want to hear all of this — but you wouldn’t want to hear it either if the government was offering you free money.