Once again, Esther Dyson is full of it

Esther Dyson: Release 0.9: Knowledge Forces Responsibility – Business on The Huffington Post:

Once we know a lot, we will have to be more explicit in what medical care we pay for and what medical care we do not pay for, as a society (or in each country).

Spoken like someone in healthy late middle age with the money to pay for whatever medical care might be desired.

At first I was going to ridicule this article for the parts that implied — gasp! — that insurance companies might not want to stay in business if they couldn’t adjust premiums and exclude particular illnesses from coverage depending on your genetic testing results. What better argument for universal health care could you want?

“…perfect genetic information is not perfect information about people’s fates,” says Dyson. But then follows it with the pseudolibertarian 

It is, however, clear enough that it will force us to be much more explicit about what risks we will cover and what responsibilities society will force back onto individuals.

Last time I checked, our genes are perhaps the attribute each of us has absolutely the least responsibility for. (Unless Dyson is suggesting that people with expensive alleles should refrain from reproducing lest the rest of us be saddled with their children’s medical costs, in which case the argument goes perhaps a bit too far.)

And underlying all of this talk about risks and responsibilities, of course, is the long-time conservative-misanthrope notion that consuming medical care — i.e. being sick, going to the doctor, having your body cut open and pumped full of interesting compounds — is somehow a pleasure that people crave, so that they must be deterred from it by the expedient of making them even sicker.


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