Monday, January 7, 2013

Efficiency - The First and Last Remaining American Virtue

My brother is a small independent farmer. He feels the pressure of agri-business harping about the pressing need for carte-blanche acceptance of GMOs all day long. He says it works like this: If a scientist writes about ethics he is bio-ethicist. If anyone else writes about science he is just an idiot.

In the days of 21st Century high insanity we have real debates on whether or not "scientists" can claim human parts, (and parts from other living things) as their own intellectual property.  Scientists quibble and claim that they only want to patent the extraction method, ("you see Your Honor, I used a knife while my competitor must use a saw, which allowed me to extract the brain first, which makes it mine. Finders keepers you know.") Yet, they haven't invented or created anything to patent. They only want a legal exclusive on profiting from these particularly parts of living organisms. The extraction argument is a mere technical point on which they hope to win. The body parts from other people and other organisms are what they must use to secure profits. Is this good?

The new druids of Europe, (they call themselves bio-ethicists and award themselves certificates as experts of medicine AND morality), do much hand-wringing that backwards Luddites are doing irreparable damage to this odd and mysterious force they call "progress." Progress is quite fragile apparently, almost a vapor of a deity. Easily scared off and quick to sucomb to the titan "Stagnation."

The ACLU will argue that you cannot patent a gene. 

Greenpeace, gets downright pro-life on us.

Igor and other agents of progress argue that they are only working to advance science for the good of mankind, and therefore must be allowed to objectify...mankind.

Human embryos are a viable commodity for these people.
It is a pressing matter that the law be interpreted such that any restrictions be removed on the trend of taking credit for naturally occurring living beings. Science is entitled to extract any living thing as patentable, harvestable and profitable.

The question of whether or not this is "good" will not stand up to the question of legal precedent and the urgent need for perpetually sunny quarterly earnings forecasts.
Profit and legalism are the only things that can be measured for efficiency.
Goodness is to messy.
"I have spent all my life under a communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is not quite worthy of man either. A society which is based on the letter of the law and never reaches any higher is taking very scarce advantage of the high level of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relations, there is an atmosphere of moral mediocrity, paralyzing man's noblest impulses.
And it will be simply impossible to stand through the trials of this threatening century with only the support of a legalistic structure"-  Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Harvard 1978

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