L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 234, August 17, 2003
THE DAN WEINER DELIVERY
Does The Government Want To Genetically Engineer A Population Of Docile Taxpayers?
Exclusive to TLE
I just read what may be the most nauseating anti-freedom article I have ever had the misfortune of coming across. The article was entitled 'The puzzling future of intelligence' by Maxwell J. Mehlman. It was originally published in the Boston Globe, but can now be read at: [link]
In brief, the article discussed the possibility that in the near future, it may be possible via genetic manipulation for scientists to increase the potential intelligence of a human baby. According to the author, this has already been done with mice, so it is not so far-fetched, nor so far in the future
Now, here is where Mehlman gets disgusting. According to him, "We cannot afford to do nothing: that is, allow the market for genetically enhanced intelligence to operate without restraint" for the rather flimsy reason that "The result would be too destructive to the fragile belief in equality of opportunity".
He goes on to say that the access to genetic enhancement by the rich and not the poor would cause the poor to lose hope that "they or their children could ever attain positions of power or prestige".
In other words, the majority of people have had a 'belief' in 'equality of opportunity' drummed into them by our government in order to keep the sheeple content as happy little taxpayers, and if they were to lose this 'belief' the resulting social disorder might discomfit our parasitic leaders.
Frankly, I do not find that such a 'belief' is a very good thing. There is not, has never been, will never be, and should not be, any such thing as 'equality of opportunity'. Someone like Stephen Hawking is never going to be a world class basketball player, any more than Dennis Rodman is going to be a world class astro-physicist. We are all born with different talents.
What there ought to be in our society, but isn't, is fairness of opportunity, and maximization of opportunity, neither of which exist, because through various means, the government is busy making sure that opportunities go to people not because they are the most deserving of them, but for some other reason (such as their skin color filling a particular quota). The same government is very also busy destroying as many opportunities as possible through taxation and regulation.
Mehlman's solution to this is even more disgusting (believe it or not) than his comments on the so-called 'problem'. According to him, people should be required to obtain a licence in order to be permitted to have intelligence-enhanced children, and that "we might condition their possession of the license on performing certain such socially desirable functions". In other words, only the people the government approves of would be eligible to get intelligence-enhancement for their children. You can bet that anyone who writes 'anti-social' articles to publications such as this one would be found 'not eligible'.
Then he goes on to say that we 'need a way to ensure that everyone, not just the wealthy, had an opportunity to obtain genetically enhanced intelligence'. According to him, it is 'too expensive' to subsidize this for everyone whom the government decides is a good enough citizen to be 'eligible' for their license. Therefore we should have 'a national lottery in which everyone would automatically be entered to win whatever package of enhancement technologies was currently available on the open market'. In other words, some people will have to subsidize the genetic enhancement of other people's children, at the expense of their own children.
Frankly, this whole proposal reeks from beginning to end. It starts with whining about a problem 'the fragile belief in equality of opportunity' that would not exist if it were not for the government, and it's solution is to put control of the whole human race's future and genome under the control of this same government. I don't know about you, but I would not let the government near my potential children's genome with a 10 mile pole. Even if they decided I was 'eligible' for their license permitting genetic enhancement, how am I to know whether or not some government-run laboratory is going to slip in a few genes ensuring docility along with the ones for enhanced intelligence into the embryos they are working on?
Mehlmann also ignores (deliberately I believe) a number of social, biological, and economic facts. First of all, although genetic enhancement would probably be extremely expensive when it first became available, in a free market, the price would soon drop, as the technology was perfected and more efficient methods were found. A good example of this is computers, the computer I am writing on costs about 20% now compared to what I had to pay for it 3 years ago ($500 vs. $2500). 3 years before that, this amount of computing power (1.2 gigahertz) was not even available to the general public. 3 years hence you will probably be able to pick up this sort of computer at a rummage sale for $100, or 4% of what it cost when it first went on the market.
Also ignored by Mehlmann is that it is possible to very cheaply, if you want to, spread desirable genes throughout a population. Sperm is a fairly cheap commodity, in some case you can get it for free (or even be paid to take it!) 18 years after the first intelligence enhanced children are born, they will be interbreeding with other people in the population and spreading those genes around at virtually zero cost, including among at least some of the 'poor' people that Mehlmann claims to be so concerned about. Of course, given our government's dependence on unthinking taxpayers, perhaps that is what Mehlmann is really afraid of.