Skip to comments.(Vanity) Division of Labor, or Why Values Matter
Posted on 01/11/2006 11:19:07 PM PST by grey_whiskers
I was giving blood today at work. For those of you who havent given blood recently, there are some major changes in how the blood is collected. It used to be that blood was taken by swabbing your arm with rubbing alcohol, and then a needle was placed into the vein in your elbow, and the blood was collected in a sterile bag. That part is still the same.
However, there is now a choice of how one gives blood: the conventional way, or a new way called power red. This involved a complex machine which takes a portion of your blood, and centrifuges it to extract an extra-large share of red blood cells. Then the machine pumps back what is left of your blood back into you, together with some saline solution. The machine automatically cycles like this until a certain amount of fluid (about the size of the old fashioned bag) is collected. This donation contains approximately twice the amount of red blood cells as a conventional donation.
Sitting on the cot, listening to the machine whirr-whirr-whirr with my blood, and watching the calm, almost bored look on the faces of the blood drive volunteers, I had plenty of time to think. In fact, too much time, because I started wondering about the machine. Who on Earth came up with the idea for the machine? Who produced the prototype, and what kind of volunteers did they use to test it out on? In an age of planned obsolescence, where automobiles come pre-broken from the factory, and software has more bugs than features, I had better be very confident about a machine which is taking out my blood and pumping it into my body again.
And that got me to thinking. How is it that we are able to have such a fantastic machine, to automatically collect and concentrate blood? By specialization. If we did not have such a diversified, mechanized society, no one would have had the time, opportunity, or motive to create the automated bloodsucker (IRS take note!) Since we live in a society where people are rewarded for taking risks, someone saw the need for this machine, and filled it.
But there is another aspect. Just as someone I never heard of created the machine, and they could do their work without my asking, so too, people have now hidden from accountability by the same mechanism. If you do not know your customers, if you never meet or interact with those who are affected by your actions, then most of the protections afforded by common sense, by peer pressure, by opinions of ones friends and neighbors disappear. And the same impersonal façade of a corporation which allows the automatic creation of products, can provide a perfect legal smokescreen for avoiding accountability if one oversteps the boundaries. Equality before the law is all very well on paper, but it means much less when one party has virtually unlimited resources.
And that led on to thoughts of the scandals of tainted blood products, where convicted prisoners had their blood collected without thorough testing; the hemophiliacs suffering from AIDS; of former tennis great Arthur Ashe, who died from contaminated blood products. How is it that such a selfless activity, the very spirit of good citizenship, can be ruined, and its reputation sullied, merely by the selfish or careless actions of a few? Just think: the majority of people who gave blood did it in good faith. It was part of citizenship, of giving back to the community, of gratitude for favors done to them. But so many good intentions are often nullified by the careless or cynical actions of officials.
And this is why morality matters. For even if the great masses of people obey the laws, do the right thing, and play by the rules, if those who are in positions of power or influence are corrupt, then even the actions of the well intentioned may be nullified.
Full Disclosure: On a brighter note, there are many unsung heroes, among the masses, as well as among the elite. And even a small act of heroism like giving blood can mean a world of difference to the recipient.
Coaching women during childbirth has little impact
Reuters on Yahoo | 12/30/05 | Susan Heavey
Posted on 12/30/2005 9:19:46 PM PST by NormsRevenge