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A chimera is a living thing that has cells from two or more animals. The Greeks created a mythological creature called a chimera from the parts of a lion, goat, and snake. Scientists have been intrigued for years with the idea of crossing human cells with animal cells to create chimeras whose organs could be used for transplantation into ailing humans. This is Brave New World science all over again. A report out of Spain indicates a scientist from the U.S. Salk Institute has produced a human—monkey chimera in research conducted in China. If true, this new animal-human creation will elicit comments from ethicists everywhere.
Professor Juan Carlos Ispisiua Belmonte and other scientists have produced pig and sheep embryos which contain human cells. Why? There are huge fortunes to be made from such creations. Pigs and sheep have many vital organs the same size as those in humans. If transplanted organs have enough human cells they may not be rejected. Scientists believe that if organs genetically matched to a human recipient could be grown inside animals, it might eliminate organ rejection.
The Japanese government has granted permission for scientists to develop embryos beyond the previous 14-day limit. They will then be implanted in a uterus. They plan on creating a mouse-human chimera first. The researchers have said it is “highly unlikely” the animals, if brought to term, would take on human-like behavior, but they admitted the animals might not behave like “normal rodents” either. This portends that we are moving rather dramatically into the predictions of Aldous Huxley in his1932 epic novel “Brave New World,” where all children are decanted in huge bottles and created to fill five roles in the year of Lord Ford 632.
Will We Ever Be Smart Enough To Eliminate All Menial Jobs With Robots?
Huxley predicts that a world limited to two billion people 600 years from now will be a totalitarian world dominated by a static, very efficient, welfare-state government with no war, poverty, or crime. It will have five very stratified castes. The top caste, the Alphas, will rule while four brain-damaged castes in this order: Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons will do the menial scutwork and keep happy with a drug called soma. It is much like marijuana. A few robots are used, but the five castes are raised in decanting bottles where they are either intellectually gifted or limited by the amount of oxygen and nutrients they receive. They are automatically conditioned to fit their caste by mind control while sleeping. The Alpha World Controllers determine how many people are needed in each class. Lowly Epsilons do the most menial work.
When I was teaching Senior English at Fargo Central High School eons ago I always used Huxley’s novel as a discussion point of what society would be like in the future. “Brave New World” is now considered to be one of the one hundred most important books ever written. If you haven’t read it, you are missing a thought-provoking book that describes our future. Because of our descent to white nationalism and divisive politics, I think of Huxley’s predictions almost every day when I read the Trumpian political news. We are currently experiencing Stage One in some of his predictions—and are at Stage Four in others. The major problem today is King Donald, the Controller of the World, who thinks he is in the Alpha caste at the top of the intellectual pyramid (“I am a genius!”), while actually being an ignorant, empty-headed Epsilon capable only 0f menial tasks. He was never fed enough oxygen to make brain connections.
Do We Really Need Art Historians, Musicians, Actors, and Archeologists?
In a “Brave new world” no one in the four lower castes will ever be promoted to the leading Alpha caste because members of castes have been scientifically, physically, and emotionally trained to fit only the role of their caste. We still define intelligence by using the scale of 100 as the average of human intelligence. That essentially means that 50% of us are average or below and 50% are average or above. Although where you are on the economic ladder is often important to where you are on the societal ladder, even in today’s income inequality and political divisiveness a child born from a human uterus in the bottom 1% can still rise to our Alpha class and lead a nation. Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman were not Harvard or Yale graduates but were Alpha caste level because they had had sufficient oxygen and nutrients to educate themselves. But what would be their chances today?
We have reached a point in this country where no person below the top 20 percent can afford to go to college without borrowing themselves into a lifetime of bank serfdom and performing menial tasks. Over 45 million Americans of all ages owe over $1,5 trillion in student debt because state legislatures have failed their primary duty to fund prek-16 education so the poorest family can have children in college. We have reached the point where one child out of one hundred can rise from the bottom 10% to the top 10%. With our present economic and social policies it will only get worse.
Teacher Calvert Loses Arguments—With Himself
Fargo retired political science teacher John Calvert has had two articles in recent Fargo Forum editions: (1) “The Liberal Arts Are Not Useless, and (2) Higher Ed Shouldn’t Be Free To All.” They both are very informative articles because John seems to do his homework, but I don’t always agree with his conclusions. I agree that the liberal arts are important but I don’t agree that higher ed shouldn’t be free to all. If a child in poverty can perform intellectually at an above average level, why shouldn’t the state pay for most of his education costs at a public community college or university? It’s the responsibility of a state to educate all of its citizens to the level of their ability to college graduation. This is the only way a society today can survive without eventually suffering a revolution.
John writes: “How would ‘free tuition’ be paid for? Why, by soaking the rich, a perennial fantasy among the Left. (Elizabeth) Warren’s plan would tax families with a net worth of $50 million or more. But several European countries have tried this and found that it didn’t work. All the rich had to do was leave.” John, being a historian, I was surprised you didn’t name those countries. Historians always supply the evidence to back a statement.
The Walton family has become one of the richest families in the world by having their trucks deliver products to their 4,759 Walmart stores in the U.S.to be sold for a profit, using public roads, bridges, airports, and infrastructure paid for by taxpayers in 50 states. The Forbes 400 richest didn’t get rich all by themselves. They had taxpayer shareholders in every state. They all owe taxpayers for some of their great wealth. If they don’t want to pay their fair share of taxes, we should kick their asses out of the country by paying their yacht’s expenses to Monaco or some little Pacific tax haven—or make it illegal to stash cash overseas.
Will Minnesota Ever Be An Education State Again?
Minnesota was once an “education state” before former Governor Tim “Toolittle” Pawlenty took Paul Bunyan axes to state education budgets when he and the Republicans were in power. They filled their pockets and of their friends while making higher education unaffordable for many Minnesota high school students. Governor Tim Walz wants to make Minnesota an ”education state” again.
Priscilla Mayowa, a Minneapolis community college student, has a good answer for Walz: “If Minnesota is going to be ‘the education state,’ we need to focus on supporting students all the way to achieving a post-high school degree—a credential, certificate, trade program, or a bachelor’s degree. According to The Center for Education and Workforce at Georgetown University, 0nly 26% of jobs in Minnesota will require a high school degree or less by 2020—the remaining jobs will require some sort of education after high school.”
Calvert writes: “College graduates have been in oversupply for fifty years, and millions hold down jobs that don’t require a degree. Not everyone needs a college degree to gain a decent income. In 2017 plumbers made $52,404. For electricians, it was $54,327.” But it takes a great deal of education beyond high school to become a certified plumber or electrician—or even a truck driver at $73,000. It may be true that only one-third of the jobs now require a college degree, but certainly most good paying jobs require a lot of training beyond high school.
Calvert: “The Liberal Arts Are Not Useless”
Although there is an all-consuming interest in getting a decent-paying job from an education, Calvert is right about the liberal arts. In order to have an interesting, progressive, entertaining, and productive society, we must have about 20% of our populace trained in the liberal arts. We need artists, writers, musicians, historians, archeologists, social scientists, and humanists as well as computer scientists, engineers, economists, bankers, doctors, nurses, mathematicians, and technologists in many fields. Societies have to be carefully balanced between the “practical” and the “cultural.” That’s why we must provide an opportunity for all children, even if they are in the bottom 20%, to become educated so they can provide that balance in society. Student debt substitutes for lifetime steel shackles for too many of our students—and parents-- today. A recent survey of Minnesota community college students by Temple University found that 2 in 5 experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days. In the richest country in the world?!! Evidently we are losing that balance that can make a great society!
First-generation college graduate Paul Tough in his book “The Years That Matters Most” has the answer for avoiding Huxley’s predictions: “For me, as for many first gens, a college degree was transformative. If you’d met me when I was ten—pulling copper from radiators in my father’s junkyard—you would have thought my trajectory was set….There would be marriage at 17 or 18. Children soon after. If I worked, it would be as a cashier at the local grocery store. When I was 17 I enrolled in college and everything changed. History, philosophy, geography: A decade at the world’s best universities will lift you to new ground. The life I live now is not the life I was born to. I was propelled up to it, and the motor that powered my ascent was a university education.”
I have had similar experiences. At ten, I was living in a farmhouse without electricity or plumbing, milking five cows in the morning and five at night, and “slopping” the pigs daily. But the state gave me a chance to get a public college education on the cheap. It made me a public school teacher so I could teach “Hamlet,” a school administrator, and the ability to teach at NDSU and Concordia for a period of time. It was a brave new world for me. I hope kids today have the same opportunity.