Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Video Response to TEDTalk by Niall Ferguson on The 6 Killer Apps of Prosperity

To listen and view the talk I'm discussing you can view it here.


The 6 killer apps are: 
1.) Competition
2.) Technological Innovation
3.) Property Rights
4.) Modern Medicine 
5.) Consumerism
6.) Work Ethic
Niall compares East and West nations and their implementation of these values or "apps" and the results that follow. 

I appreciate the thought behind this but end up ranting about social injustices these often create. Does the use of these 6 killer apps result in a zero sum game? i.e. The success of one nation means the determent of another. If a nation becomes wealthy, does that mean the individuals are wealthy? So what is wealth? Adam Smith said its not money but the exchange of goods and services to meet the needs and wants of the people. 

If all of our needs are met then what is left? Our wants. Marketing fuels our wants and turns them into "needs" which helps drive economic growth through the exchange of more products and services. Is this necessary though for society to function? And, more importantly is this a good idea? Scarcity drives prices and we aren't short of people or wants but natural resources are scarce. 

Are patent laws and intellectual property rights limiting economic growth? If innovation and the creation of spreading ideas, goods and services fuels true wealth creation how do our laws assist in this?  Is there a point in which our need for jobs to supply exchanging of goods and services is greater than our ability to create new ideas? Are great nations of wealth built on the backs of the poor. Does it have to be this way? Are we focusing more on building wealth by just creating jobs or are we pushing forward to a better tomorrow? As great as these values may be could they truly be "killers" in the long run? 

Video Response to Freakonomics podcast on "Misadventures in Baby Making"

To listen to the podcast I'm discussing you can download the mp3 here.

Part 1 - Podcast Discussion                                                               Part 2 - Clarification on Roe v. Wade on follow-up to previous post


Part 3 - These are sensitive topics so forgive me if I don't handle them with the care they deserve.


Part 1

Did the ultrasound machine result in higher rates of abortion? If so, does that mean we should ban it? What about if we knew people were selectively aborting certain children e.g. children with disabilities or based solely on their sex? What if we had a test that could tell you more such as hair or eye color, intelligence, or physical capabilities? Should we ban certain abortions based on motives? Who then defines which "motives" are appropriate or inappropriate? As we move further into the future with advancement in technology these questions are becoming much more important.

In the show they discuss how Steven Quick created a blood test to determine several genetic factors. His purpose for creating the test was to reduce the stress of not knowing, reduce the chances of harming the baby, and allow parents who choose to not abort their children to begin preparations in the event they find out the child will have disabilities. These arguments are good reason to not blame the technology for peoples actions. 

Another difficult question to answer is "When is it ok to kill a child in the womb?". In my opinion the only two reasons would be 1. If it jeopardized the life of my wife 2. If the child would face short term terminal death and only live a short life of suffering. Although, in my context I'm suggesting taking the child early rather than doing a D&C. I share a personal account regarding this very question. 

What if we had the ability to modify or engineer children at conception? Could one of the consequences of eliminating handicaps be the reduction of the drive or human spirit to over come adversity? Even so, who are we to not allow parents to make the tough choices which they see as best for their children? Life is difficult enough, removing any other obstacles seems a given.
Part 2
In part 2 I try to explain my understanding of Roe v. Wade. That it was more about the right to doctor/patient confidentiality or privacy rather than the "reproductive rights of women" (do men have any rights?)  or a women's "right to her body" (does the child have no rights to theirs?). They deferred to common law to avoid dealing with the question "when is a child a person". The Republicans use this hot button issue to keep a strong voter base realizing they really don't have to do anything about it. Roe v. Wade could have been overturned at Planned Parenthood v. Casey but nothing changed even with a strong Republican majority. Ironically, the question of "when is an unborn child a person" is defined and coded into law under 18 U.S.C. § 1841: US Code- Section 1841
I also attempt to clarify my thoughts on the scenario of the terminally ill suffering child or adult. 
Part 3
 I felt the need to add a Public Service Announcement regarding the difficult topics of abortion, euthanasia, and suicide. 
So here it is: Don't give up. Don't take the "easy" way out. Don't insult the Creator by destroying his creation. Instead, turn to Him and reflect on the suffering of His Son Jesus to assist you through it and may He carry you to the end and welcome you into His presence. May your suffering not go in vain.