5/8/12 questions and discussion
2-what are the best ways to "train the elephant"?3
3-should we disallow all charitable deductions?5
4-should American football be outlawed?5
what are the conflicts between survival and morality?
Jim: during the "Great Leap Forward" in China, lots of people were starving. A phrase, "Swap baby, eat food", began to be used for families who ate their infants in order to survive. We end up with interesting things about morality. Eating your own baby, etc. The constraints we put on our life, when actual survival comes in: it gets complicated. Is it better to at the survival point take someone else's stuff rather than kill your baby? The Titanic, a lot of the wealthy didn't even try to get onto the lifeboats.
Larry: one of my old Army friends has told me of his Captain in Viet Nam. Apparently they were being fired on and the Captain was shot in the chest but still alive. They tried to move him to safety but it was very hard to do, given the circumstances. The Captain ordered them to leave him there. They did -- my friend said it was the hardest thing he has ever done -- and my friend never saw that Captain again. He says he thinks about that still to this day. Where do we draw that line?
Kevin: a 20 lb. baby is 10 lbs. inedible. This means not much food for an entire family, so how far up the chain do we sacrifice in order to get enough to eat?
Jim: one abortion argument is about prescience in the baby/fetus is the definition of life. Yet it is likely that a Baby's prescience isn't there until the age of two or three years.
David: "Alive", the book about the survivors in the Andes' plane crash, describes their process with cannibalism: when they started eating the dead they were selective. That some wouldn't eat human flesh -- they died. Yet the survivors have really been affected/haunted all their lives by what they did.
Larry: our bodies are temples so we ought not do anything to harm a temple.
David: is this religious sanctity?
Larry: not necessarily
Jon: I'm still reading that 2000 page Suicide Note (available free on the internet) wherein he argues that absolute equality/egalitarianism, taken to their logical limit, will mean self-destruction for us all. I do see this manifest in a much less dramatic way nowadays. We have, in America, expanded equality of rights farther than we historically have; civil rights, women's rights, gay rights. Back in the bad old days when primarily white men were the majority beneficiaries of rights our economy could afford providing them. Now as we expand access to such rights to women, gays, minorities, it gets more expensive, perhaps too expensive.
David: there's the l overloaded lifeboat thought experiment. How do we decide who goes overboard?
Jim: it's a group dilemma, are we a member or the master? It all depends.
David: cannibalism; there are cultures that have no qualms about it. New Guineans eat their ancestors as part of religious ritual.
Kevin: the human body would be an inefficient food source. A calf in two years weighs hundreds of pounds while it takes 15, 20 years for a human to grow to full size.
John: is there an argument against drawing straws? If everybody is equal important?
Jon: is morality something we're told of or something we already have? In J. Haidt's book The Happiness Hypothesis , he bemoans how we've become too interested in teaching our kids how to think and not interested in teaching them what to think. He says morality is not relative, yet teaching us how, rather than what, to think can lead to moral relativism.
Jim: if it's a boat moving one civilization to another place, we'll need the females more than the males!
Lynn: what is the morality of our contemporary health care choices if we can't afford health care for all?
Jim: medical care, the good kind, is based on a society's productivity.
Jon: supposedly in India they have begun finding ways of providing excellent health care for fractions of the cost we here assume to be unavoidable.
John: in the National Health Service in Britain, everyone get "quality adjusted life years" applied to their care considerations. If a procedure isn't going to create quality adjusted life years, the procedure won't occur (unless one has independent wealth and opts to pay for it oneself).
David: asking medicine to keep us alive beyond reasonable time is not natural. here's a morality question, as a smoker am I entitled to care for this problem I made? If I become ill with a smoking related illness am I entitled to decide to be euthanized? To refuse all care/treatment?
John: only if you can pay for it. For the rest of us we should accept a reasonably limited access system.
Jon: the morality of health care and the morality of survival are equal?
David: it's true.
Kevin: it only applies because our prices are over the top.
David: but our high costs of health care aren't equaling longer life as compared to other countries with lower health costs.
Jon: is it more moral to maintain life at any cost or to agree to accept health care limits?
John: it's moral if we agree, collectively, to it.
Jon: is agreement morality?
John: fairness is most important in considering morality.
Jim: and (unfortunately, from my perspective) it removes the consent of the individual.
John: opting out is allowed. This doesn't affect Warren Buffet!
Jim: we're arguing about the wrong thing. This problem is solved via productivity. We can provide just as much health care as our economy's productivity can pay for.
Lynn: is that possible?
Jim: yes, but it demands of us decisions and priorities that we don't believe in, generally.
David: but London and New York in the years[masked] there was a lot of money being made (by a few people). Yet those cities' populations were fixed because the less-than-wealthy inhabitants died as fast as new inhabitants moved in.
Jon: is productivity moral?
Lynn: is productivity enough?
Jim; if the society is wealthy, if not that choice doesn't exist.
David: we are productive and wealthy, yet health care remains problematic. How do we make it fair? Spread the wealth?
Jim: spreading the wealth is wrong. Its accumulation has a purpose: maximizing productivity. Without that -- as the result of wealth redistribution -- means even poorer health for the citizenry.
David: how do we get the healthcare to the poor without redistribution?
Jim: as soon as the wealthy become altruistic they no longer profit or successfully research. Productivity will decline.
Larry: capitalism is in the end predatory.
Jim: no, it's an efficient use of energy.
John: back to 1880-1920. We don't have the data before us, but I dispute David's statements about London and New York. Life expectancy started to rise during those years. Living standards began to rise. Lots of profit was created, which means greater productivity. We taxed that wealth and bought better water quality, for example.
David: is somebody with limited funds entitled to excessive care?
Lynn: hospice care emphasizes palliative care, dying more naturally, and less expensively.