Tuesday, 19 February 2013
The Observer's first rule...
...And it's a very simple one.
Those who abuse their rights and freedoms will inevitably cause the dissolution of said rights and freedoms, no matter how inviolate and sacrosanct they are perceived to be. Or in other words:
Abuse it and lose it.
Now, as with all rules, there are exceptions. You can work hard all your life and have everything wiped out by a natural disaster on the eve of your retirement. The effect won't be immediate, either - it might not even affect the generation that does the abusing, depending on mitigating circumstances.
But it will eventually happen.
Since I've been using my antibiotics example for the last couple of posts, I'm going to take that ball and run along with it. We mostly think of antibiotics in terms of pills we pop when we catch some sort of disease, but it's easy to overlook just how vast the role antibiotics play in our modern lives. A big reason why modern surgeries are so safe is that antibiotics are used during and post-op to ensure that the incision wounds don't get infected. The same goes for receiving treatment for more serious wounds. We use antibiotics in agriculture to ensure that livestock animals stay healthy. Antibiotics, in conjunction with birth control, makes possible the free-rutting bonobo masurbation society (to borrow a term of Aurini's) that we have today. Antibiotic creams and sprays are marketed as disinfectants. Antibiotics this...antibiotics that...
It's a little hard to argue that with the way antibiotics are used this frivolously, they're not being abused. Better to pump people dying from infection full of them than healthy pigs.
Now, the development of any drug, let alone an antibiotic, is a tricky process. I've only taken an entry-level course on the subject, but it's enough to appreciate the huge costs that go into it. Drug development isn't something you can just pour money into and expect to get something out of; sure, you can study similar drugs and do some engineering based on biochemical principles, but the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry - it may turn out in the end that your novel drug molecule does nothing at all. Drug development isn't something you can say "all right, I'm going to pour a million into this, and then I'll get a new drug." You can pour millions into a new drug and end up with nothing.
Then there're the costs of animal and human tests, the costs of marketing, getting things past regulatory agencies, long-term studies of users...
...All the while bacteria are multiplying, mutating and adapting like mad. One hundred years after penicillin, the rate of discovery of new antibiotics is rapidly falling short of the rate at which drug resistance is surfacing in pathogens; I've posted a number of articles regarding drug-resistant diseases surfacing. These aren't new, horrible pathogens out of some secret government lab, they're diseases humanity has been struggling with for a long time: TB, gonorrhea, syphilis. I've come across hearsay that having casual unprotected sex in the San Francisco area is a really bad idea due to the rise of incurable STDs there.
But the situation is clear. Where we should have been using antibiotics responsibly to treat illnesses and not giving in because someone had the flu and wanted a placebo, we've instead been flooding the environment with all sorts of antibiotics, giving pathogens more than enough opportunities to come into contact with with them and adapt accordingly. Our own misuse of antibiotics has directly led to their benefit being steadily withdrawn from us, and deservedly so.
Perhaps another example would suffice? Let's take the right to vote as a good example. It ought to be no surprise that peoples in much of the western world have realised they can whore out their votes in return for wealth transfers and plenty of government cheese with which to stuff their plates - with the caveat that they're from a protected victim group, of course.
So here we have the simplest abuse of the right to vote: voting in more loot for yourself. And the more loot that people want, the bigger the state has to grow in order to regulate the loot, find new ways to extract loot from the productive class, dispense the loot, and of course, take a share of the loot for themselves. And so the state grows bigger and bigger, until it starts acting with impunity at first, corrupting the supposedly democratic process next with the populace's ability to answer questions but not ask them (whichof course, is reserved for the political elites), and finally people wake up one day to find the state owns everything and the cheese is gone.
Where people should have been voting responsibly, instead we get "low information" (I.E. ignorant) voters who are bought and sold, and it seems like western governments all around the world are set on importing more. Oh well.
And it's fully deserved, folks. Private possession of firearms may be banned in Singapore, but I fully support the rationale behind the 2nd amendment. Of course, I don't think anyone would argue with the idea that if someone takes a gun and shoots up a bunch of people, they should lose their right to own a gun.
Abuse it and lose it, folks. Remember that.
I'm getting back in my box.