I just watched the fourth installment of the Torchwood miniseries, Children of Earth. If you haven’t watched it and plan to, don’t read this post. It contains spoilers. If you’ve watched the entire five episodes of the miniseries, don’t spoil the ending for me; I haven’t watched the fifth episode yet.
In the show, alien baddies have come to Earth and world leaders must make a decision. The have two options: They can submit to the alien demands and hand over 10% of the world’s children or they can try to fight the aliens who promise to kill everyone on Earth if the 10% aren’t surrendered. The leaders decide to give up the children, predisposing that the loss of 10% of the Earth’s children is better than losing 100% of everyone. It’s an interesting dilemma to be sure, and I wonder if the percentage Russell T. Davies (the writer/producer of the show) uses is another swing at religion in his mind, but what I find most compelling about the fourth episode, is the fictional UK government’s debate on how to choose the 10%.
Very quickly, an all encompassing lottery is dismissed; none of the decision-makers want to give up their own kids. One practical-minded woman suggests that they choose the 10% of children who are least likely to be useful to society in adulthood. In other words, they will get rid of the kids who likely will be a drain on the UK system. One government guy at the table even suggests that they sell the idea to the public as a public service; his argument is that, with an expected population boom on the horizon, getting rid of the ones who won’t contribute in propping up the government could be seen as an opportunity.
What I find most chilling about the discussion is that I see such a debate happening in the US health care (Obamacare) debate. We already have people joking about certain minority groups getting better service. Hell, we already have promises that Obamacare will not cut services to the elderly because it would be wasteful (I suppose that’s because they won’t be “useful” to Obama in propping up the government in the future). And there’s a new WSJ opinion piece out that lists other groups that will suffer.
Obamacare can’t possibly serve everyone equally, so who gets cut? How do they set that standard? What about government preferred groups? Do they go to the front of the line? “At risk” people seem to be liberal politicians’ most favored recipient of government attention; do they get more service?
The decision-making process is important because they are deciding who lives and who dies. I am most uncomfortable with the idea that it is the government making such decisions about my life.
Alas, we don’t have sexy Captain Jack to save our bacon.
LATER: This post is called “Spock!!!” because the Torchwood episode reminded me of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and the whole “needs of the many > needs of the few” BS.