Merger of CVS and Aetna

In what was a disturbing interview on PBS NewsHour between Judy Woodruff and Larry Merlo (CVS CEO), Judy pressed Merlo several times about how the merger will benefit individuals. Continually, Merlo ducked that specific question by advocating better procedures, better integration of services and a number of platitudes all of which reflect a larger corporate-driven control of market, profits by collusion and most disturbingly, the point Merlo ducked, was quality control of corporate costs by managing patients directly.

This is an article/video that is very important for the reader to read/watch. It speaks clearly to the control factor that large data clouds and massive records of daily life are being integrated for corporate benefit, not for personal benefit. Go to:

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/health/what-the-cvs-aetna-merger-could-mean-for-you

The reader may recall a recent post in which mariner mentioned John Hancock converting it policies to a program called “interactive policies” where insured will be screened and if selected, must participate in the interactive program.

John Hancock, one of the oldest and largest North American life insurers, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones, the company said on Wednesday.

 The move by the 156-year-old insurer, owned by Canada’s Manulife Financial, marks a major shift for the company, which unveiled its first interactive life insurance policy in 2015. It is now applying the model across all of it’s life coverage.

It works like this:

Policyholders score premium discounts for hitting exercise targets tracked on wearable devices such as a Fitbit or Apple Watch and get gift cards for retail stores and other perks by logging their workouts and healthy food purchases in an app. In theory, everybody wins, as policyholders are incentivized to adopt healthy habits and insurance companies collect more premiums and pay less in claims if customers live longer.

Privacy and consumer advocates have raised questions about whether insurers may eventually use data to select the most profitable customers, while hiking rates or not accepting those who do not participate.

Hancock says customers do not have to log their activities to get coverage even though their policies are packaged with the Vitality program. The insurer will begin converting existing life insurance policies to Vitality in 2019, it said.

As mariner understands it, your insurance company knows if you eat three strips of bacon instead of one or skip a morning run when Grandma visits and will have the right to raise your premium or even drop you for someone else who helps the company’s profit margin. As regular readers know, mariner is extremely sensitive to corporations telling him what to eat, know, or do with his life – especially if it is for the benefit of the corporation.

– – – –

To wax philosophically for a moment and promising not to be verbose, we are watching capitalism leverage a changing technological society for profit. The way to tell the difference between capitalism and other isms is that the wellbeing and advantage in other isms is driven by the individual or by government in the individual’s behalf – not using the individual foremost as a controlled instrument for profit. If there is no profit in an individual, buzz off. Who cares?

The beginning of this post mentioned the merger of CVS and Aetna. Leverage gained will be through combined databases about customers. Then, just like the book 1984, the customer will have to do what the corporation says to do – which cuts overhead and locks in pharmacy prices based on each individual’s profit value instead of what the market in general will bear.

And to top it off, one’s life is not managed by one’s own decisions.

More disturbingly, these corporate controls smell of Harari Yuval’s belief that in the future unwanted humans will not be cared for by society. Is the future now?

Ancient Mariner

 

The United States Senate

Virtually everyone in the US agrees that things are not what they should be for the common citizen. First glance criticism points at inbred party politics; others are concerned about the shifting economy that takes growth and reward from working classes and feathers the nests of capitalistic oligarchs; others worry that the cash-rich special interests own Congress through donations, favors and intense lobbying.

All these issues are real and burdensome. But they are political in nature, that is, these issues affect the rituals of governance. There are larger issues that affect the doctrine of our nation, its Constitution, its court systems and the relationship between State governments and the Federal government. Some doctrinaire issues are:

֎The US Supreme Court is the only ‘appointed for life’ court among other nations with similar high courts. When times change slowly, as they did before the telegraph, telephone, television, and computerized decision making, perhaps life time appointments were satisfactory. Today, as everyone is aware, culture, science, technology and economics are changing at lightning speed. Given the constraints of knowing most about one’s own developmental years and less about current society as one grows older, is it relevant that lifetime, politically anointed appointments degrade the decision quality of the Supreme Court? Thinking differently, should judges be rotated?

֎Gerrymandering and a politically controlled census process seem to be just political at first glance but coupled with voter suppression not only at the polls but not allowing voting via modern techniques e.g., mail-in and email ballots, party or government manipulation of voter registration records and the idea of an Electoral College – together permit a virtual plutocracy to exist hidden beneath a plethora of manipulative laws and regulations. Mariner need only point out that he and his wife were not allowed to vote for their candidate in the last Presidential primary. One person, one vote has not existed for a century or more.

֎The United States Senate is an old fix to encourage the original States to go along with new Federal powers that impinged on the independence of states at the time. In fact, voters did not have a say in their Senator’s appointment until 1913 when the 17th amendment was ratified. Still, the representation stayed at two senators per State rather than integrating their election into a population-based representation. As a consequence, today, 12% of the US population elects 60% of the Senate. Ironically, the fewer citizens a State has, the more powerful is their voice in the Senate. Politically this means that farm states, low population states like Idaho, Montana and North Dakota – all typically conservative because of the lack of industrial cities and population density – are able to sway the Senate voting power in a way that does not genuinely represent the common US voter.

One wonders why the gun issue cannot be resolved – could it be the Senate with 60 % of the vote coming from rural and underpopulated states that do not have inner city gun murders on a daily basis, does not care so much? Mariner suspects hot issues like guns, prioritized education and comprehensive discretionary funding similar to welfare, health and career opportunity will remain unresolved because the Senate is intrinsically biased.

It was a man in West Virginia recently who said to a reporter that it was time the Senate was eliminated. Perhaps he is right.

Ancient Mariner

Central and South America are Different

Mariner promised many posts ago that Guru would investigate Central and South America, which seem to have a separate world history from North America, the West and even an Asian influence. Understand that Guru is quite theoretical in nature and does not always have documentation. This liberty, however, enables Guru to visualize history in very broad sweeps of insight. Having said that, Guru does his homework by searching for thematic truths that together encompass history, geography, environment, culture and politics.

As Pogo Possum once said, “We have met the enemy and it is us.” The abuse is racism. From the beginning, it is part of our genetic heritage as tribal apes living 100,000 years ago in Africa. Homo sapiens is a tribal ape; there is nothing we can do about that. A point of reference most folks know is how H. Neanderthal was overrun in Europe by H. sapiens. Common reasons for this fratricide were differences in appearance, physical and mental composition, the withdrawal of an ice age, the changing environment, etc. Today, all of us have a few genes that originally belonged to the Neanderthal; rape and pillaging exists in H. sapiens just as it does among indigenous chimpanzees, another brother ape. Ironically, the original H. sapiens was a black skinned variety living in Africa. Today, a late ice age variety with white skin has turned against its black ancestors.

If a phrase may be proposed for the American racial experience, it would be ‘urbanized racism.’ Guru will not digress into the North American experience because it is heavily and continually documented. The focus is Central and South America. Brazil is examining racism in a proactive way. For example, they consider affirmative action an extension of racism. Universities in Brazil are looking for national equalization solutions that are not available except through socialism – a long reach for the plutocracies today.

We must remember that the American continents for eons were not populated by European or modern Asian varieties of H. sapiens. Long, long ago, in the midst of the ice age, the original inhabitants migrated from the Asian continent up through Russia to the Bering Strait, bringing with them not only a different appearance but a different perception of theology and social justice. In North America, these original inhabitants were dealt with in the tradition of the Neanderthal elimination – genocide. In the southern continents, these original inhabitants still exist in enough numbers that an active subculture is a visible part of the society – consider the Amish in the US as an example. Many readers have knowledge of the spiritualist religions remaining in the Caribbean which originally came over with slaves.

The Spanish conquistadors inadvertently cut off the southern continents from North America. Native tribes and cultures were disrupted enough that the Aztec civilization in the southwest lasted only 200 years; trade with North American natives disappeared.

Because the southern continents were isolated from western history for an extended time and because the huge forests of the Brazilian catchment and the foreboding mountains to the west made it difficult to experience North America’s western expansion, South America remained largely undeveloped until the age of fossil fuel early in the twentieth century. The nations of South America remained poor, ill-managed governments that survived primarily on International Monetary Funds (IMF) until the middle of the century. To this day, the southern continents are underdeveloped and suffer the pains of political growth the rest of the western world experienced in earlier times.

The political history often is jaded by economic abuse and class discrimination. Even in today’s news cycles, most of the nations are in financial difficulty and suffer governmental mismanagement.

But a new day is coming for the southern continents. Several minerals that are becoming harder to find around the world lie in wait – especially in South America where beryllium, thorium, lithium, rare-earth metals, and mica are in abundance. Chile, for example, sits on the world’s largest source of Lithium.

Further, the undeveloped nature of southern continent economies is a plum for economic expansion by larger industrial nations. China spends more development money than any other nation – ranging from Mexico to Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego. The coming age of internationalism may be good for the southern continents if colonialism can be kept under control.

There is much more to write about southern continents with regard to environment, culture, social structure and ethics. But that is another post.

Ancient Mariner

 

Watch the European Union

The European Union (EU) is having a more intense disruption with populism, nationalism and a drift toward totalitarianism. We in North America – particularly the US – should pay attention to what’s happening across the pond because the causes of disruption are quite similar.

IMMIGRATION – Donald has heightened the reactions of his base by taking the side of racist politics and exacerbating border issues with his fence initiatives; along with Jeff Sessions (lest we forget Jeff took Strom Thurman’s place as the leader of racist policy in the Senate), has eliminated sympathy, empathy, fairness and every other human instinct from ICE, tearing families apart not only in the Southwest but across the country. Further, Donald is defunding several assistance programs for immigrants, for example, DACA and aid programs for newly arrived legal immigrants. This legislative turmoil is magnified in the EU by confrontation in 28 member nations.

Actually, US citizens statistically are not as upset about global migration as Donald and his followers are. The proportion of immigrants in the US is quite a bit less than the proportions in EU nations; as of 2015 immigrant population in the EU was 19.9 percent of total population (1 of every 5) while the US immigrant population is 14.3 percent (1 in 7). These numbers reflect all immigrants, not just the headline wave in the news. Unlike EU migrations from the Middle East and Africa, US migrations largely are from Central and South America and some from Asia.

Having made this case, it can be seen that Donald did not cause immigration woes; he is the result of a populist condition energized by several circumstances in the US having to do with economic imbalance, technology and cultural transition. Fortunately, the size and democratic philosophy of the US have not permitted totalitarian leaders as in Greece, Turkey and other small nations suffering from the same woes – though Donald wishes it were so.

ECONOMY – The following chart from The Economist magazine shows a relative comparison between the US, EU and other nations for the quality of life for the poorest 10% and the wealthiest 10% in each nation. Note not only the relative quality between nations also note the US has the greatest spread between the poor and wealthy groups.

 

 

The US does have the widest spread between rich and poor. Further, with middle class income stagnant for forty years and still not climbing today with record profits among the wealthier, it is no surprise that there is a populist reaction in the US. As a philosophical note, the three countries with higher quality for the poor (Canada, Sweden and Australia) have constraints on capitalistic abuse: Sweden has a socialist economy, Canada has socialist policies and, as an entertaining note, Australia keeps capitalism in check with a robust news media!

TECHNOLOGY – While for the moment the US is the leader in several technologies, Europe is no slouch. In fact, the European population is 196,734,765 people larger than the US and is second only to the US in GDP – United States 19,390,600 and EU 17,308,862. The point is, although the US perception is that all countries including the EU are tiny in comparison to ourselves, the EU is a global competitor not only in commerce generally but a competitor in technology and in some ways a leader in responding to the emerging AI global market (witness an EU trade agreement only days ago with Japan, usurping US economic influence (thanks, Donald).

Just as with the United States, EU is struggling with the definition and role of jobs in the future. Although not as thoroughly capitalistic as the US, taxation and industrial strength both are up for reinterpretation in the near future; EU is suffering the emergence of AI as is the US but even more so because of multinational issues among EU member states. An example is the push back on privacy usurpers like Google et al – something the US has not begun to do at Federal levels.

 CULTURAL TRANSITION – Many decades ago, perhaps in the late 80’s, Oldsmobile introduced the world to the slogan, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” No one denied it was a different vehicle with newer technology but many opined that the older versions had more power and comfort. Since then the phrase has become an icon for claiming significant changes in familiar objects and circumstances. We can safely say today a variation: “This is not your twentieth century!”

The millennial generation was the pivot generation to new behavioral forces that today continue to erode our 20th century religion, job security, Federal conservatism (AKA Establishment) and class/race relations. Each generation has put more pressure on social change that is long overdue.

Mariner burns leaves in the fall. The approaching age of artificial intelligence, perhaps only one more generation into the future, has an effect on culture change that pouring gasoline has on a leaf pile.

Perhaps by watching the European Union wander into this vortex, we may have a few weeks lead on what will happen on this side of the pond.

Ancient Mariner

 

VOTE with a new Feeling

Mariner’s last post was about an unusually good Global Public Square (GPS) hosted by Fareed Zakaria on Sundays on CNN. Fareed’s subject matter is typically international in nature, dealing with economics and culture. He addresses the US political scene with fairness. To borrow just one quote, Bono said, “Europe is a thought that needs to become a feeling.” Ironically, having feelings for a national ethos is not new. Rodney King said the same thing in 1992. The ‘spirit’ of unity is still around but buried beneath a burdensome amount of nationalism – a lot like mariner’s garden is hidden by humongous weeds.

But there are signs here and there that Homo sapiens has an internal nature that knows there is something important about belonging. It isn’t a feeling that requires one definition but is more like a membership among differently defined participants – differences that ironically contribute to a greater feeling of security and unity.

Mariner has a life example that speaks to Bono’s ‘feeling’. He knows two men who are close in their friendship. Conversation flows freely, events are shared, tools and physical support are shared, families participate in social events. It is clear that each man has the other man’s back. One would not believe this possible comparing the two biographic backgrounds.

Man-A is an intense advocate of Donald Trump; He wants to put Hillary in jail; People without jobs are derelict; Federal discretionary spending is a violation of his rights and obligations. Man-A grew up on a farm and has been a laborer and career big-rig truck driver for 40 years.

Man-B is a liberal who begrudgingly voted for Hillary because she had no vision about the future; Man-B thought Donald would destroy democracy. Man-B grew up in Pennsylvania in a college community; his parents were white collar workers in education. Man-B went to college and earned two graduate degrees; he worked for several government agencies.

How, we may wonder, can these two men be fast friends? Bono the poet had the right word: feelings. Feelings about each other’s worth as a human being determines what is good, as opposed to what is discriminatory, about their relationship.

By its nature nationalism and similar identity postures demand institutional authority sealed in a monolithic block. There is no space for diversity; there is no use for feeling. But feeling is a survival feature for humans; we are tribal down to our genome. As creatures of evolution and as members of the mammalian class, we must belong to other humans, not to an emotionless monolithic block of absolute rules devoid of ‘feeling.’

On November 6 vote with an awareness that the United States has been and will be a leader in the world not because it spends 10 times any other country’s budget on the military but because there is freedom to belong, to participate, to share humanness among our fellow mammalian Homo sapiens friends. The American experiment is at stake. Vote to restore American ethos.

Ancient Mariner

 

What lies ahead

Mariner recently posted a metaphor relating the status of the United States, its culture and its economy at war with itself. This cultural war is the result of inadequate regulations on wealth. As if this were not enough, another war is horning in on the citizen’s awareness: Artificial Intelligence (AI) – but even more so the domination of daily, personal human life by computers.

Artificial Intelligence will displace our need to perform mundane tasks, even sophisticated tasks. The hidden agenda is that using AI, corporations will know so much about our daily activity, preferences, illnesses, and common daily behavior that computers will decide how much insurance will be available at what cost, how much salary will be permitted, what we can eat, buy or have access to. Where we are permitted to live, how much housing cost we will be allowed and what medical insurance we may have based on our daily behavior, all will be based on monitoring our lives in minute detail. In short, computers will control our choices in life and our routine behavior – the concept of privacy will disappear.

The simple conveniences of talking to ECHO or similar devices will do us in. The data tracking behind ECHO will capture every instruction, every activity, and every movement of daily activity into a complex database that will determine who you are – statistically. Not so much who you are as an individual but who you are compared to everyone else. You will be allowed behaviors commensurate with your statistical relationship with the population – statistically.

Perhaps younger generations see no problem being defined as a statistic somewhere in a database. Mariner is of an older generation, perhaps one that has lived too long given its genetic foundations. Mariner still has a unique persona with its own consciousness, intellectual awareness and the idea that he can be who he wants to be in society. While statistics may describe him, they do not create him; free will is still a dream with which he can build his life.

Ancient Mariner

 

Of Battlefronts

Mariner hopes dearly that most of his readers have not experienced a battlefront experience. The noise can be truly deafening; there are bombs, tanks, airplanes, field cannons, grenades, machine guns and incessant gunfire; acrid smoke clouds vision; soldiers screaming and dying – some by a soldier’s own hand; good friends are lost; anxiety reaches peaks destructive to the human psyche. It is no wonder survivors of a battlefront choose not to talk about the experience.

Not as life-threatening and not as explosive, the battlefront metaphor can be applied to the battlefront of the United States, its governments, its human values, its economy and the security of every individual citizen. All are at a point of open conflict. There are visible battles like the elections and the battle-hardened party war; there are regulatory battles that fall on industries and individuals alike as if they were hit by a grenade; there are battles involving humaneness and civil rights that are scarred by political strafing; dollars are the ammunition – oligarchs sending ammunition to preferred hot spots in the battle.

As in any war, it is the human casualty that remains afterward. We live today amid the rubble of an active battlefront. What will remain of trusted values, citizen rights and family security? From what values will we, the citizens, build a post-war peace? What new influences will be imposed in a new age?

We are the soldiers. We will suffer the confusion, the irrationalities, the false promises, and the politically motivated leaders who lead us into battle. We will suffer losses. When the smoke clears, what will we soldiers have accomplished?

Ancient Mariner

 

Everyone’s Main Topic

Mariner receives many emails from news services, magazines and news analysts. Today, with a rapid fire sort of experience, mariner copied the following quotes from his emails and could have copied many more:

֎ Trump won by speaking directly to voters who had the least experience with democratic institutions… A nation of passive observers watching others make decisions is a nation that will succumb to anger and resentment—witness the United States. [Yoni Appelbaum, journalist]

֎ “Whatever may be tolerated in monarchical and despotic governments, no republic is safe that tolerates a privileged class, or denies to any of its citizens equal rights and equal means to maintain them.” [Frederick Douglass, December 1866]

֎ “Human beings are tribal,” says Amy Chua, Professor of Law at Yale Law School. “We’re hardwired that way. We need to belong to groups.” The problem, Chua says, is when tribalism takes over a political system—and that’s just what is happening in America.

In a new video filmed at the 2018 Aspen Ideas Festival in June, Chua explains that, in an unprecedented fashion for America, whites are on the verge of losing their majority status, leading to “destructive political dynamics” that are difficult to curb.

֎A longer article in the Atlantic marked the beginning of tribalism or identity politics to the influence of the Tea Party. Referencing a quote from Adolf Hitler who said early in his political life, “If they stop me early, I will not make it to power; if they don’t act early, they can’t stop me.” The reference alludes to the fragmentation of the citizenry and the government when one clique is allowed to derail normal democratic processes.

– – – –

The disappearance of democracy as a philosophical model producing equality for everyone regardless of tribe has malfunctioned quite dramatically in just 30 years. Today, it is the main topic of writers, thinkers, political practitioners and even many individual citizens.

Who should we blame? Just about everyone from our prominent political and corporate leaders, to Congress, Courts, and especially to the individual citizens who chose not to maintain the American experiment – democracy.

We could blame automation and electronics which make it easier to stay home rather than participating in clubs and civic organizations. We could blame public education for not requiring civics in 12 years of instruction. We could blame capitalism with its tendency to hoard. We could blame the media for championing tribal values, jousting at one another like knights in the lists – thereby creating fake news and alternative news. Each of these examples has, in its own manner, attacked democracy but at the core, it is the public citizen – the electorate. The electorate is Chairman of the Board for democracy.

Above, Amy Chua references an issue deep in this caustic salad bowl: racism. The penchant of the United States to sustain racism is about to turn around and bite the whites in their butts. Certainly a deep and visible characteristic of American culture, the transition may emerge subtlety as a shift toward socialistic governance.

On the other hand, more direct conflict emerges daily between tribes. Consider the following, each one entrenched with an attitude of ‘my way or the highway’:

-Theocratic dominance. The idea that a religion (Christianity???) supersedes state rights. There are several confrontations: abortion, gay marriage, right to deny service because of Christian values and the intent to oppress other religious principles, e.g., atheism, Islam and situational ethics as law (Roe v Wade). Whence the desire for equality?

-Libertarianism and Tea Party conservatism. (Modern libertarians defend the right of productive people to keep what they earn, against a new class of politicians and bureaucrats who would seize their earnings to transfer them to nonproducers.) Government must be kept to an absolute minimum; size and multiplicity are dangerous and unfair to the liberty of individuals to live prosperous, self-managed lives. One can imagine the conflict with a government whose discretionary (transfers to nonproducers) budget is more than half of the entire budget. Harari draws his opinion from this philosophy when he says useless people will not be cared for in the future.

-Progressives. The antithesis of libertarianism. Probably the least wordy description is to borrow Jesus’s words when he says,

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” [Matthew 25:40]

In other words, equal value among everyone – regardless whether they are producers, nonproducers, wealthy, poor, healthy, sick, etc. An interesting reference, Native Americans were progressives in the sense that everyone was cared for. Of course, survival was more of an issue than it is today unless one is truly indigent.

-Conservatives. Share economic and capitalistic views of libertarians but more important is social order. Change is anathema. A good example is the persistence of racism; it is difficult for conservatives to change social order. The same is true of whatever subtribe is important, e.g., having a job is a universal discriminator, what neighborhood they live in, how the church service is run. In mariner’s town, well-kept lawns are an important demonstration of community unity and, if conservatives have anything to do with it, will be sustained into the future.

-Climate Change. This isn’t really a battle between advocates and deniers; it’s a battle between the massive, global investment in fossil fuel and those who want to shut down fossil fuel. It’s all about dollars and profit versus a slow, inevitable impact on the state of all economic and political circumstances. A characteristic of capitalism is greed – take the profit up front, push the overhead into the future.

Mariner can name several more tribal conflicts but already he is on his third page. No doubt readers understand that when tribal values dominate the overall political condition, fragmentation is bound to happen. The Russians understand this even if the US doesn’t. Remember Rodney King? He was right.

Ancient Mariner.

 

About that last post

Please view a very short animated video –

WITH CURSOR ON THE LINK BELOW PRESS CLICK then return to this post.

https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/567739/universal-basic-income/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=video-series-editors-picks&utm_content=20180901&silverid=NDkwMjIzMjA1Mjg2S0

In the last post mariner mentioned that many issues would be too large for nations to manage well given their current economic structures. As Harari suggested, massive numbers of people will be jobless by current definitions of ‘job.’ Many of today’s nations, especially smaller authoritarian nations, will experience a virtual disappearance of national economy similar to today’s situation in Venezuela where even today a crooked, profit-driven authoritarian government cannot hold an economy together.

The future phenomenon will roll out slowly; there will be time for nations to take several steps in preparation for the economic collapse of the Job Religion. If the reader watched the animated video, it will be clear that, like climate change, slowly a clearly unbalanced economy and its negative impact on the world’s population already is beginning to emerge; especially given the ill-fitting capitalist, oligarchical economy in place in the US at this time.

The current emigration reflects the same issue as millions and millions of humans are displaced by oligarchies, religious and political wars and shifts in the climate on several continents.

Needless to say, there is feedback: Mariner is a socialist; mariner is a communist; mariner is a lazy person who does not want to work. Without gathering numbers, mariner suspects virtually all these criticisms come from members of the Donald Party – rich and poor, entrepreneur and laborer. Mariner’s wife will confirm that mariner is not happy with any –ism. Nor is he happy with the American electorate in general – including all the identity groups across the rainbow.

For the record,

Capitalism works best to fill economic vacuum – like the early US or now, artificial intelligence.

Socialism works best to homogenize and pasteurize a disruptive and unstable culture.

Communism works best to standardize diverse cultures and contentious economies.

Humanism is the best generic umbrella for any –ism.

Somehow, somewhere, Christ’s second commandment, the 6 – 9th commandments in Islam, or achieving dharma in Hindu, will become central principles for governing the populations of the world. Albert would call it reverence for life.

Ancient Mariner

The Times – They are A-Changin’

Mariner found the article below in an old Time magazine. Currently, scientists anticipate 20 billion living humans by the end of the century. If they all live forever and each couple continues having two children, what a fine thing that will be???

Is an Anti-Aging Pill on the Horizon?

By Alexandra Sifferlin

“NAD+ is the closest we’ve gotten to a fountain of youth,” says David Sinclair, co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging at Harvard Medical School. “It’s one of the most important molecules for life to exist, and without it, you’re dead in 30 seconds.”

NAD+ is a molecule found in all living cells and is critical for regulating cellular aging and maintaining proper function of the whole body. Levels of NAD+ in people and animals diminish significantly over time, and researchers have found that re-upping NAD+ in older mice causes them to look and act younger, as well as live longer than expected. In a March 2017 study published in the journal Science, Sinclair and his colleagues put drops of a compound known to raise levels of NAD+ into the water for a group of mice.

Within a couple hours, the NAD+ levels in the mice had risen significantly. In about a week, signs of aging in the tissue and muscles of the older mice reversed to the point that researchers could no longer tell the difference between the tissues of a 2-year-old mouse and those of a 4-month-old one.

Now scientists are trying to achieve similar results in humans…[1]

– – – –

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said, “Change is the only constant in life.” Indeed so as we enter what looks like it will be civilization’s most disruptive century since the Black Plague. Consider this list:

Climate change – coastal cities around the world will be flooded; much of the temperate zone will become tropical; ocean life will dwindle to a serious degree; penguins and polar bears will be homeless and hungry; environmental stresses will interfere with war; the travesty of climate destruction will test the strongest economies.

Artificial Intelligence – already reducing major job markets and soon will displace many lawyers, family care physicians, financial advisors, mortgage brokers and everyone who performs data entry tasks; public transportation including trains, planes, cars and 18-wheelers will drive themselves (this likely may require making human drivers illegal); AI will interfere with cultural policies about race and religious segregation – simply because identity politics won’t be affordable.

Banking and Finance – Artificial intelligence also will affect the way we relate to income and assets; economies will be influenced by increasingly socialist solutions to solve problems too large and diverse to be addressed by individual national economies or corporations; individual families may not own much directly but will participate in largescale consortiums (think something like Amazon.Com); salaries will be separated from most jobs and distributed directly to citizens. [Yes, this may sound blasphemous to fiscal conservatives but mariner draws this opinion from existing evidence that banks, corporations and governments are thinking about how to manage a future where everyone around the world has instant contact with everyone else and personal assets are managed electronically; ways to bundle housing, payroll, transportation and accessories as a single package; ways to bundle services like health care and education.]

Mariner is concerned that we may simply turn over to others our privacy, independent choices in our lives, even our choice of taste in clothing and other daily interests. Both the book 1984 and the movie Matrix loom as literary shadows if we do not move into this century level-headed and wisely.[2]

Ancient Mariner

 

[1] http://time.com/5159879/is-an-anti-aging-pill-on-the-horizon/

[2] For someone who has given the immediate future great thought, buy the book, We’re doomed, Now what?: Essays on war and Climate Change. by Roy Scranton.