2.04.2009

Ethical and Moral Consistency: 3.0

Why do Republicans hate children? Ok sorry, I apologize. I shouldn't start any posting the way Carl Rove or Rush would word it, but there are some questions which demand answers now that a new administration is in place. There is an opportunity to correct the myopic compartmentalization that has been allowed to flourish for far too long.

Back in 2006 President Bush exercised his first veto to block a bill that would have released some additional funds for stem cell research. Citing moral concerns about the plight of all those frozen clumps of proto-human tissue sitting in cold storage, he blocked the bill. I don't happen to agree with him on that but I could have respected his decision if he would have adhered to the principles of moral and ethical consistency.

The problem of course is that there are many examples that prove that he did not. One worrisome allegation is that in 2005 the FDA became aware that the suppliers of high fructose corn syrup were or had been using buffering solutions in its manufacture contaminated with mercury. Now, there are many controversies in healthcare but one which is not disputed by anyone is that mercury in food is bad. Many potentially harmful elements are found in trace quantities (selenium, zinc, etc.) in the human body and perform important biological functions. But with the possible exception of the Silver Surfer, mercury is not one of them.

So what is the problem? It is alleged that the FDA was instructed to bury the report. Since almost all processed food contains some HFC the average person consumes 8-12 teaspoons of the stuff per day. In the age of super size me, kids and adolescents consume even higher doses. Should we not actively address such charges?

Why is the political right, or what perversely passes for the voice of conservatism in this age, not outraged by these threats to clumps of tissue that actually walk around, play, laugh, interact with the world and often are named after characters in the Bible? What is it about tissue samples with the potential to become human that inspires such rabid protectionism that is sadly lacking for those who actually are human?

It's something to consider. It is certainly easier to pontificate on the fate of the contents of a test tube than to belly up to the bar and feed, educate, clothe or nurture an actual child. It's easier to ignore the limbo like state of frozen embryos than confront whether those with fundamental religious beliefs should forgo the kinds of fertility treatments that create them in the first place. Easier yes - morally or ethically consistent? No.

11 comments:

mac said...

I'll refer back to your health care post, Pliny.

If we cared about our children, shouldn't we be spending 10 billion a month on health-care instead of an unjust war? I think Bush and company answered these questions already, in their actions if not their words.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

No argument there Mac

Harvey said...

Pliny:
"What is it about tissue samples with the potential to become human that inspires such rabid protectionism that is sadly lacking for those who actually are human?"
Once again, I strongly suspect that this is another of your rhetorical questions.
Clearly, the Christian right thinks it is more important not to intervene in or do anything to avoid conception, for that matter, than it may be to find ways to support the products of conception (as we physicians have been taught to describe them) once they are no longer intrauterine parasites. It's OK by them if little kids continue to be parasites (as they should be) on their parents, but allowing the rest of us or "big government" to help shoulder the responsibility when parents cannot or will not do so smacks of Socialism, which obviously Jesus would not want us to abide.
Certainly, these views seem consistant to the far right, one issue voters and those who seek their support at the polls. Never mind that stem cell research holds more immediate and long term promise to result in better management and even cures for some of the major afflictions of mankind! I do not for a minute think that GWB cared a jot about what might happen to these potential embryos. He was just paying a political debt to the far right, one issue voters who elected him, especailly since I think he realized that he could not deliver on their real agenda, to overturn Roe vs Wade.

Asylum Seeker said...

Wow. That information was new to me (well, the mercury in the food news, that is), but doesn't surprise me. An odd feeling, especially since I am not as horrified or disgusted as I should be, and actually far more entertained. Once again, pro-life stances of a wide variety prove to be a bit of misnomer, in that do not care about, you know, the living. It's kind of good to see that the evidence for that fact just keeps rolling in. Good in morbid, depressing, morally reprehensible kind of way. Which is the only kind of good I care to acknowledge.

Asylum Seeker said...

Amazing. I left so many words out of that last post, I don't even know where to start. Feel free to fill in the blanks if you can!

pboyfloyd said...

Rampant capitalism is booms and busts, bubbles and busts.

Religionism is anti-socialist because socialism and secularism go hand in hand.

Equality is socialism therefore pro-choice.

Look at the crazy situation right now. Rock bottom interest rates yet lay-offs and inflation.

'Business' is against Democrat government on principle. You get 'even' by laying off half your workers and doubling your prices as if you can 'end the game' by grabbing all the money!

Republican is a mixture of these silly ideas.

Of course there's no consistency.

They think that that is a good thing.

Stacy said...

I didn't know about the mercury either, until I started seeing the commercials defending high fructose corn syrup. "...whaaat is all this about..??"

Thanks for letting us in on it Pliney.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

So far, to the best of my knowledge these are allegations regarding the FDA's response - needs to be investigated at least.

The contamination of the HFC and the more recent peanut problem generated at a single plant must be a wake-up call to re-evaluate the vulnerability of our food chain. We complain about the Chinese but the same thing goes on here in the land of unbridled capitalism.

Seeker - I think you've touched on part of our problem. there are so many egregious things going on (well defended by sophisticated marketing and disinformation campaigns) that our sense of outrage is deadened or is limited to local events.

Tangent: HARVEY - a question for you. What's your sense of the data coming in about the potential overuse of CT scanning and the lifetime radiation dosing that is raising some concerns?

Harvey said...

Pliny:
Lifetime radiation exposure is, of course, a potentially serious issue. However, we have mountains of data from records of people like radiology technicians and radiologists who have to work around lots of radiation exposure opportunities for a lifetime, showing that it is rarely a serious threat to health or longevity. In essence, it is true that the less radiation exposure one experiences in a lifetime, the better. On the other hand, needed exposure for CAT scans and other types of imaging must be balanced against the hugely valuable information that can be obtained in no other way. Much of this current concern arises from the recent efforts of some
(?unscrupulous?) companies to promote "whole body scans", often carried out in non-medical facilities like ahopping malls, which they suggest might allow "early detection" of various illnesses, such as cancer. Needless to say, there are probably at least some Physicians who knowingly obtain CAT scans that could be safely avoided, either because they need to pay off the CAT scanner they have purchased for their office or because they fear litigation that may arise out of "failure to diagnose" (currently one of the legal profession's favorite torts) and choose to practice defensive medicine.
As you can see, this is another in along line of statistically significant risk data that comes out of the scientific literature from time to time, but which needs to be understood in a more realistic, global sense. Clearly, CAT scanning can be overused and, if overused enough, can have unwanted negative results. This should not lead us to "throw the baby out with the bathwater", however. I do not have the sense that any of this data has been hidden or held back, at least from the medical community, who, after all, should be responsible to their patients for prescribing radiation exposure only under circumstances where the risks and costs to the patient are outweighed by the potential benefit.

GearHedEd said...

Yikes! There's HFC in the Colonel's "Genuine Honey-Like Substance" that I squirt onto my biscuits!

I'm gonna die!

pboyfloyd said...

On topic.. ethical and moral consistency.

The 'left wing' media NEVER talk about inflation and/or jobloss when the right wing is in power!(Or if they do, it's very low profile)

If the 'left' get in power, the 'left wing' media talk about NOTHING ELSE BUT inflation and jobloss!

Case in point.. do you remember how many jobs were lost when BUSH came into power and there was a recession?

Shit, now everyone who loses their job is getting their individual fifteen minutes of fame 'fer-fuck's-sake'.

How goes the book GearHedED?.. come back on Absence-0f-Good.(breaker..breaker, gi'me a 10:36!)