Historian and musician Doug Harvey could have stopped at the title for this essay and many of us would have understood the deeper meaning of a snippet of found poetry – “Trickled On” Economics. There have been posts with similar themes here. Paul Krugman’s regular posts and columns are perhaps the most famous of the anti-Trickle punditry. This much under appreciated blog also regularly tackles the subject – Perrspectives, so I’ll just leave it with a short excerpt,
The so-called “debt crisis” currently providing rationale for cutting social programs was created by capitalists manipulating the housing and financial markets for short-term profit, a scheme that crashed the global economy. While they were doing that, working class people struggled with a steady decline in income resulting from off-shoring American manufacturing, union sell-outs, and outright union-busting. To make up for this decline, they were handed credit cards, deregulated during the Reagan years, and usurious lending became the order of the day. In addition, instead of providing education for its citizens as some social welfare states of western and northern Europe have done, the student loan industry was created, with student loan giant Sallie Mae becoming a for-profit corporation by 1995. As if this was not enough (it never is), for-profit health care, starring Big Pharma, has become ensconced in Congress, K-Street, and Wall Street.
I suspect Doug knows this as well as I do, but proceeds to point out the obvious and by now repetitive point that something needs to be done. One of the supreme difficulties is a sizable portion of the U.S. public has a tremendous capacity for abuse. Some even vote for it with pride and some prattle about patriotism. I fail to see the patriotism in turning the U.S. into Pottersville replete with hopeless wage slaves. As soon as anyone makes the slightest move, hell, hints at fixing the system so that it is oriented towards rewarding labor, rather than lavishing wealth on top of wealth, you’re demonized for creeping socialism or communism.
Apropos of that demonizing: Critical thinking Part 3: The Man who was made of straw
Pop quiz. How long do you think a fresh shared new link lasts online before people stop clicking on it? Since I have been posting on this blog for so long I know that if links were currency I’d be living in a ditch. Not a bad thing necessary unless you are a blogger who enjoys or would like to enjoy the reputation for breaking news. What becomes hot or interesting – frequently two separate things – gets around fast. That is just the nature of the web.
I was outside doing some sky gazing and day dreaming the other night and was thinking about neural enhancement. For some reason it occured to me that I put a higher priority on mental enhancment than cosmetic. If the choice was between gaining 20% better memory or intelligence or 20% more attractive, its hands down better memory and intelligence. I’m not badly scared, don’t have have burn wounds and I’m not severely disabled so that does make the choice easier. Enhancements of various kinds are coming, ready or not – Redesigning People: How Medtech Could Expand Beyond the Injured
Other portents include first-generation machines and treatments that range from deep brain implants that can stop epileptic seizures to stem cells that scientists are using experimentally to repair damaged retinas.
No one would deny that these technologies, should they fulfill their promise, are anything but miraculous for Paul Thacker and others who need them. Yet none of this technology is going to remain exclusively in the realm of pure therapeutics. Even now some are breaking through the barrier between remedies for the sick and enhancements for the healthy.
Would you take a daily pill that not only stimulated your brain to help you do your best on a test, but also boosted memory?
Take the drug Adderall. A highly addictive pharmaceutical prescribed for patients with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), the drug works as a stimulant in people without ADHD — and is now used by at least one out of five college students to bump up their energy and attention when they want to perform well on tests or pull all-nighters.
Saying that college students are popping pills is like Claude Rains in Casablanca saying to Humphrey Bogart: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here.” Yet the widespread use — and acceptance — of Adderall and other stimulants by students to enhance their academic performance is bumping up against something new. It’s pushing us into a realm where taking powerful pharmaceuticals that boost, say, attention or memory is becoming acceptable beyond pure recreation.
Can we be too far from a greater acceptance of surgically implanted devices that increase our ability to hear or see? Or new legs that allow us to run like cheetahs and scramble up walls like geckos?
Physical enhancements beyond making it possible for a paraplegic to walk normally for instance are where the ethical issues arise and the ensuing consequences for society. If everyone else has twenty-ten vision are you really going to opt to stay 20-20. If your co-workers are bringing this well researched projects that make them look great and increase company profits by 2% are you really not going to take the same medication they’re taking. Along with these advances there is going to be a lot of peer and societal pressure to step up and be the new you.
One from a series of photos called ONCE UPON A STONE by ADDMINIMAL STUDIOS
Be prepared for the blood curdling scream at the beginning, Elsewhere by Mathy & Fran
Two ‘lovers on the run’ head into the middle of nowhere, armed only with strange trinkets and a silver boombox.
A short film by Mathy & Fran, starring Aneurin Barnard and Jessica Raine. Featuring music by Kurt Vile, Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, High Places and Lucky Dragons.
Supported by Film London, UK Film Council and the British Council.