Friday, May 20, 2011

Just think what Free Market Medicine could bring

From this to this

Electrode Experiment Shows Promise as a Paralyzed Man Stands
Published: May 19, 2011

A young man paralyzed by an injury to his spinal cord has regained the ability to stand for short periods, take steps with help and move his legs and feet at will, with the help of an electrical stimulator implanted in his lower back. The device is experimental and not available to other patients, and because it has been studied in only one person it is not known whether it would work as well in other people with different types of spinal injury.

You can bet there would be a market for this devise, and that at first only the very wealthy would be able to afford it. But, then like computers, and cars, and refrigerators, and cell phones, with time the cost would come down and more and more people would be able to afford it, then the truly needy could be helped by private charity.

All we have to do is let go of the idea of instant equality and the coercive wealth redistribution which follows from that ideal, and then let innovators, profit and value seekers do the rest.



Keith Weiner said...

Let me play devil's advocate for a moment. What if the "truly needy" (I won't even touch whether this term can be defined), but let's assume the needy would not get everything they need from charity.

Ok, so?

Is that reason to prohibit development of technology that improves the lives of those who do have something to trade in exchange (to improve the lives of the inventors of such medical devices?)

The argument is much stronger without addressing the truly needy! :)

HaynesBE said...

I think it's a moot point.
Although it is perfectly moral to proceed no matter what the effect on the "truly needy" would be--they won't be left behind because free human beings overflow with goodwill for the less fortunate.
Those truths go hand in hand--so why alienate those who can't understand the first point because they are so concerned by the second point. The moral is the practical--both parts are important.

Keith Weiner said...

Because I think it gives sanction, if perhaps implicitly, to the idea that a social system is only as moral as the promises of unearned handouts it makes (and to the extent it sanctions the idea that some people have neediness baked into their identity like one's body or hair or brain). And it concedes the point that perpetual poverty is a matter of fortune, or luck, rather than failure to expend effort.

Note, we are not talking about people of mediocre ability who work as waiters, or truck drivers, or other semiskilled laborers for a modest wage and fit their expenses to their income.

We are talking about the perpetually needy, the metaphysically needy, for whom the only given is need. These people do not work productively, nor want to work productively, but instead want to wallow in the self- and other-pity of how it's not their fault, how they are victims, and entitled to largesse...

I am arguing against the idea that largesse is the only coin of the realm or even a legitimate coin at all!

HaynesBE said...

I understand your point very well and I agree that one man's need is not a legitimate moral claim on the life of another. I also understand the point that this is the fundamental idea that must ultimately be expunged from the cultural psyche. I think we are debating tactics here--what is the best way to achieve that goal.

Altruism is destructive and not even truly compassionate. But most people care about others. I care about others. I like to point out the fact that Objectivism's ethics is also the root of real compassion and good will. Too many people stop listening to the Objectivist defense of selfishness because it fails to resonate with the very real feelings of joy they experience from giving and receiving human kindness.

I go back and forth about which tactic is most effective at making change-the blunt defense against need as a claim on another's life, or the gentler approach which makes the room for generosity explicit. I think that at different times, each approach has its merits.