Vol. 2, Issue 17, April 27, 2004
Midwestern Monkey Shortage Reaching Critical Levels
The American heartland is fast running out of monkeys and consequently may face a significant economic crisis as soon as 2010 if the government does not intervene, according to a newly released report by the National Research Council (NRC).
The report tracks simian distribution and workforce trends in the midwestern United States over a ten-year period. The NRC analysis indicates that Tamerin, Marmoset, and Capuchin monkeys are particularly scarce and their populations have declined over 80% since 1993.
"We believe several factors are involved in the simian exodus from the midwest," said John Clearwater of Auburn University, chair of the NRC committee that authored the report. "There has obviously been a certain amount of emigration to Canada, but I think the larger problems involve the incarceration rate, particularly in Minnesota."
Monkeys hold a variety of jobs ranging from concession stand vendors at sport stadiums to cosmetics counters in department stores. However, they are most highly sought after for low-skilled jobs in the assembly and manufacturing sector and are heavily used by the automotive industry.
"It's the only way we were able to kickstart our turnaround and compete with the Japanese back in the late 1980s and early 1990s," admitted John Devine, vice chairman and CFO for General Motors. "Saturn basically runs on Savannah monkeys and Grivets."
However, the monkeys are highly unpopular with the unions, and have been the target of a small but highly vocal protest group centered in Minnesota. The organization, Americans for a Monkey-Free America (AMFA), received a significant boost when independent candidate Jesse Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota in 1998.
"Governor Ventura campaigned on a platform of law and order," noted Clearwater. "However, his strict enforcement of Minnesota's anti-obscenity laws deliberately targeted the monkey populations in Minnesota, and led to a surge in arrests." Under Ventura's leadership, thousands of monkeys were arrested for indecent exposure.
"Well, of course monkeys don't wear pants," said an exasperated Devine. "That's the whole point about being covered in fur. We are asking our own employees to wear overalls, but they tend to take them off after hours. They're very hard to replace, you know."
The declining numbers of monkeys could mean $34 billion in losses for states in the midwest over the next five years, warns Clearwater.
"And don't think those chimpanzee enclaves in Indiana and Illinois are going to help offset these economic losses," he added. "Chimpanzees are apes, not monkeys."