Thursday, February 24, 2005

Fitter, happier, more productive...

Fitter, happier, more productive, comfortable, not drinking too much... Those familiar with the angst of Radiohead will recognise the opening lyrics of 'Fitter, Happier', a dark song about prescribed life and increased quality thereof... Which make this story all the more bizarre: "...on college campuses in the US...Faced with the pressure of exams and essay deadlines, students have been abandoning the traditional crutches of coffee and cigarettes for Ritalin, a stimulant best known as a treatment for hyperactive children" Workers are not allowed to be inferior. They must perform to maximum efficiency otherwise they provide the ammunition for their redundancy: look at the advent of technology over human workers. Workers can't be dumb: if there's stuff out there to make you smarter, bloody well go and get smarter and stop losing my money! Workers can't be handicapped: I'm firing you because you refuse to better your handicapped mental capacity with these pills. Worker's can be sick: you should be taking care of yourself, for God's sakes. Influenza is so last century! Get some vitamins in ya! Some flippant, cynical, alarmist statements, perhaps. Some of them are real and have been said to Kiwi workers. The idea of pill popping to improve the health or performance of workers is hollow without any commitment to safeguard work/life balance. Sure, if the technology is there to help us convalesce, then by all means use it, but the ethical nub of the matter is treating the healthy, as opposed to the sick. I'm actually quite sick of sounding like the thought police or Chicken Licken, but the concept of improving worker's health even when they're healthy is dangerous, in my opinion. I don't like the way it can lead to workers becoming farm animals, bred and fed to prime, or even circus animals, trained to be 'clever' and challenge their natural instincts. The Herald piece mentions the contradiction of marginalising dopers in sport while praising dopers 'at home' (my emphasis and words) in reaching for headache pills or cough mixture. The difference is treating the sick, not the healthy. Of course, as noted in the article, the boundaries become blurred very easily. Sure, I can survive without my asthma inhalers, but it makes life pretty difficult without them. A needs based qualification is inherently subjective and would never work for the purposes of argument. Truth be told, do we want to be farmed and lose our human frailties? Who do we farm out of existence next? Small people, skinny people, weak people, people with genetic predispositions to 'weakness'?


Blogger Mellie said...

I heard a cracker saying the other day: "Thank God for dull and boring [people]". When we hear of all this brilliance and prodigous talent and 8 year old physics students, it can certainly make little old you and me feel a bit stink with our B Bursary. Thank God for dull and boring people, because they are the building blocks of humanity and the source of all that is spectacular.

10:32 PM  

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