Wednesday, October 25, 2006

BRAVE NEW GIRL . . . OR BOY

Reuters reports that a new form of cosmetic surgery is sweeping the nation:
Eyelash Transplants
Yes indeed, folks, you read that correctly. For only $3,000 an eye, daddy's little girl can replace her ordinary eyelashes with sweeping, lush, thick versions. Perfect to match her nose, her boobs, her dimples, her blue eyes, her slimmed-down jawbone, and every other manifestation of of her imagined beauty that science rebuilt, reconstructed, rejiggered, and reified. And lest you think I'm picking on women, let me assure you, there's no doctor I'm aware of that'll refuse these services to a man (unless, of course, he lives with his "partner," which might offend the delicate sensibilities of certain Christian fundamentalist cosmetic surgeons).

Apart from my aesthetic and other philosophical objections to this slicing & dicing, it's the economics of it that really concern me. For money, and nothing more, people can turn themselves and their children into "better" versions of their breed. We've all seen the studies indicating that those who are "better looking" are deemed to be more intelligent, nicer, friendlier, and more trustworthy. Hell, deny it though we'd like, we know it to be true in our own lives. Think of co-workers you profoundly dislike. While a handsome fella or hot babe will show up on the list, more likely than not, it's the unattractive that are over-represented. There's a reason movie stars are all great-looking. We like attractive people, beyond the aesthetic or sexual.

And right now, the rich can purchase that cache for their children. I'm not saying that shouldn't be allowed. But it's a reality I can't ignore, and I'm not sure how anyone can.

Slowly but surely we continue to move towards a world where the wealthy can enjoy every imaginable advantage over their less-fortunate brethren & sistren. It's always been true that a wealthy man could marry a beautiful woman, thus ensuring comely and handsome offspring. But with a medical system that rewards doctors for the superficial rather than the medical, as well as a society obsessed with youth and appearence, Huxley's world of Alphas & Betas & Gammas doesn't look to be too far off.

Think about it. We have the ability to clone sheep and dogs and other species. We're able to engage in all sorts of genetic engineering. It doesn't take a genius to extrapolate to humans (I'm no genius and I just did it). And of course, the costs of such procedures will be astronomical, prohibitive to all but the wealthiest. Do the math: two-tiered society at its most fundamental.

In the meantime, cosmetic surgery-for-cosmetic surgery's sake remians merely a philosophical and medical abomination. But with the door to genetics opening ever wider, those of us inclined to give a knee-jerk rubber stamp to cloning and other methodology need to think seriously about what it means for the future of society and humanity. Odds are, most of us and our offspring won't be alphas.

I'm not saying we need to join the Bushes and Santorums of the world in opposition to stem-cell research and other scientific innovation. These methods are here, and they're here to stay. Plus, they can & will legitimately help people to live longer, to live heathier. But, as with everything, those with money & power will use them to their own advantage, possibly to the exclusion of everyone else. Just food for thought.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Mike. You don't get it. The rich will be compassionate and advocate for, and the less well off will demand, either that insurance fully fund such procedures, or the federal gov't pay for them with taxpayer money. This ghoulishness will be democratized at rate-payer and taxpayer expense. None will be allowed to fall through the cracks, and become an unpretty.
Its nice to see your critical faculties are still somewhat intact. I hope you don't let your near psychotic obssessive hatred of Bush and Santorum dissuade you from your sensible position on this issue. This is going to be a big one in the near future. And its going to be a moral swamp for those who aren't ready for a face to face moral decision making struggle.


dangerbird

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

You don't get it.

I do. I've thought about what you say, and I don't agree. For example:

The rich will be compassionate and advocate for . . .

Surely you don't believe this.

the less well off will demand, either that insurance fully fund such procedures, or the federal gov't pay for them with taxpayer money.

Absolutely. Here we agree. Insurers may cover such procedures, but the premiums for such . . . premium coverage, will be all but out of the reach of the middle class and lower. And employers won't include this in their plans.

On the federal government angle, you may be right. But you may be wrong. I certainly wouldn't want to see the problem compounded by adding this to the scope of governmental largesse.

None will be allowed to fall through the cracks, and become an unpretty.

Oh, c'mon man. Gimme a break. In case you haven't noticed, it ain't 1979 anymore. Lots of cracks and lots of folks allowed to fall through them. Now your stripes are showing.

I hope you don't let your near psychotic obssessive hatred of Bush and Santorum dissuade you from your sensible position on this issue.

Eliminate the word "psychotic" and I'll cop to that sentence. But there's nothing psychotic, let alone irrational, about my hatred for those guys.

But you know where I stand, and I know where you do. So let's move on.

This is going to be a big one in the near future. And its going to be a moral swamp for those who aren't ready for a face to face moral decision making struggle.

There you go. I'm not saying I have the answers here. But like you I know that we as a society, as a species (in all countries), need to come to terms with these issues. It'll be one of the great moral choices we face in the coming century.

9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever heard of Limousine Liberals Mike? I guess I should have put a sarc/ tag around the word compassion. Their compassion always involves OPM, (other people's money). But the big hearted of them won't abide by the lessers going without these perfectionization procedures. And you and I will be forced to assuage their guilt and quell the fires of their compassion with our most likely increased tax money. And they will get the credit. They'll probably call it the Madonna bill of perfect bodies for Jerry's Kids. And she'll win a nobel.
By the way. I did say "near" psychotic. Just like in the past when I referred to you and Jorge as half-sane. But y'know, I am a little worried about you guys. I hope you have some valium or something, to take the edge off if this election doesn't go your way. I wouldn't want to see any of you moral high-grounders go postal or anything.


dangerbird

10:16 AM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

I think the important question is can strippers/porn stars write this off like they can boob jobs?

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ed-

It is an important question, implicating not only US tax policy, but one of the nation's strongest industries.

That said, even though the terms "porn stars" and "eyelashes" form an interesting juxtoposition and offer plenty of openings for my trademark juvenile sense of humor, I'm not touching that one.

1:29 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Nope. Don't see taxpayers ever footing the bill on this one. Cosmetic surgery is nothing new and it isn't tax deductible unless it's for medically necessary reasons (burns, severe disfigurement, etc). I'm cynical about the power of wealth, but I don't believe this will happen.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Ded-

I don't believe this will happen

What's that, the tax-payer funding part? Yeah. But you don't think the ultra-wealthy'll take advantage of medical technology?

2:56 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

ded - cosmetic surgery (read boob jobs) is also deductible if the person is self employed and it is shown that the work enhances income. Hence, the porn star/stripper highlight I gave.

I want to thank the recent HBO Pornucopia special with Katie Morgan for that little tidbit. Though there is nothing little about Katie.
Wowza indeed.

That being said, it pisses me off that this is the case, as much as the write-off for gas guzzling SUV's did. Why the hell should I have to pay for someone to get new boobs? Aren't I paying for that when I hit the buy button on my remote control? (forget I said that).

And yet, the tax break for buying hybrids from certain car companies is phasing out because there are "so many" on the road. This break I agree with. If anything, it should be expanded. Hey Detroit, you're missing out on some sales here. Well, that and the fact that most American cars are ugly.

3:40 PM  
Blogger DED said...

Mike: I was referring to the taxpayer funding part.

Ed: Yeah, I'd heard that boob jobs for strippers/porn was tax-deductible because some judge had a liberal interpretation of the tax code. Sadly, I can follow the logic of the argument that it's a business expense. However, I don't believe that eyelashes will make it, but some schmuck will probably prove me wrong.

So where does one draw the line at business expenses if it isn't written specifically in the tax code. I used to own a small business so I know a little bit about it. There was a line for business/personal use for stuff. If you used something 40% of the time for business use, then you could only deduct 40% of the expense. So, is anyone going to ask the strippers how much time their new boobs are used for business vs personal?

That being said, the wealthy still don't get away with tax deductions for boob jobs, nor will eyelash alterations hold sway.

I agree with the small business tax breaks for SUV's. It was bullshit. And the car companies lobbied Congress not to let that tax deduction go, for fear of a decrease in sales. Dicks.

As for hybrids, yeah, it's way too soon to be ending the tax break on them. Btw, the phaseout has only begun on Toyota's hybrids as they're the only ones that have hit the sales benchmark that Congress implemented.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

There was a line for business/personal use for stuff. If you used something 40% of the time for business use, then you could only deduct 40% of the expense. So, is anyone going to ask the strippers how much time their new boobs are used for business vs personal?

LOL. Ded, you're on a roll today.

2:39 PM  

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