Be a Good Little Worker Monke

I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as creepy:

Scientists in the United States have found a way of turning lazy monkeys into workaholics using gene therapy.

Usually monkeys work hard only when they know a reward is coming, but the animals given this treatment did their best all the time.

Monkeys are rather like people in their approach to work – at least, those who live in a laboratory and learn to press levers for rewards of food and water.

They concentrate on their task only when the moment of delivery approaches.

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health near Washington DC, led by Dr Barry Richmond, have now developed a genetic treatment which changes their work ethic markedly.

And why was this research done in the first place? If the boss catches me goofing off today, can I plead genetics?

I find this news chilling because of the recent report that the Bush administration will propose “a sweeping mental health initiative that recommends screening for every citizen and promotes the use of expensive antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs favored by supporters of the administration.”

Maybe I’m stretching too far to connect dots here, but I’m not sure I want the government in charge of deciding whether I, or anyone in my family, is mentally healthy. This seems an awful lot like the methods used by the National Socialist Party in 1930s Germany to cleanse the populace of undesirables.

Stepping back further to take a big picture view, I see a trend in the U.S. to ensure that our nation is full of happy, well-adjusted, genetically optimized, hard-working drones. Meanwhile, the population of the Third World, especially Africa, is being destroyed by starvation, AIDS and malaria. In some areas south of the Sahara, the average life span is now about 37 years.

What does it all mean? I’m not sure. The facts are out there. We just need to tear ourselves away from “reality” television long enough to piece them together, draw some conclusions, and act.

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