Member Rara Avis
Using DNA (mis)information to attempt to determine the future of someone is Genetic Determinism just like Racial Determinism was.
Choosing loaded terms isn't likely to sway opinions in here as much as logic is. It's misinformation only in the sense that it's incomplete, and it's not Determinism at all. I also think you're fostering confusion by lumping everything together. Identification is one issue, insurance/employer use is a very different issue, and your hypothetical University scenario something else entirely.
Identification : If there's a law, as you suggest, making it illegal to archive fingerprint information without due cause, it's a fairly recent law. Everyone in the military is routinely fingerprinted. Many government jobs require it. Virtually every law enforcement agency mandates it. I suspect there are more instances, especially in the high tech sectors. It isn't new, and the federally sponsored costs have been more than offset by the savings. One can argue whether it's right or wrong all day, but I personally prefer to fight winnable battles.
Insurance/Employment : I'm not suggesting we don't need controls in this arena, because we do. Discrimination based on opinions needs to be discouraged, but that doesn't mean facts should be thrown out with the biased wash water. If someone who is 98 years old suddenly wants to take out a million dollars of life insurance, they should be charged a bit more than my 25 year old son would pay. Based on facts like date of birth and statistics like probable life expectancy. If you want to argue about the reliability of genetic testing, that becomes a science issue, not a moral one.
Hamburger Flippers : Your scenario is already reality. Counselors routinely discourage overly optimistic careers based on IQ and SAT scores, both of which are probably much less accurate than genetic testing (or tossing a coin, for that matter). Sadly, that kind of bias isn't even first encountered at the college level, but rather during the first few years of grade school. Even more sadly, limited resources probably makes it a necessary compromise. Our only ray of hope is that it can still be overcome by plain old stubbornness, as countless people prove every day.
Finally, the SSN system is far closer to the GPS leash you propose than DNA samples are ever likely to come. It has become virtually impossible to engage in legal financial transactions without a SSN, and the US government can track you far more reliably via income than it could with a removable chip. As computers and networks become more powerful, the delays and difficulties of retrieving this information will vanish. The final step will be paperless cash, making even illegal financial transactions difficult. As Brad suggested, Big Brother is already here. He just doesn't usually care much about you and I, but our only real hope is to remain beneath that radar level.
Brad, I don't think socialism is a dirty word, nor do I automatically equate it to irrational distribution of resources. On the other hand, I don't think capitalism is a dirty word, either.
As I've said in other threads, I don't believe unrestrained capitalism can survive for more than a generation or two. We need controls, and limited socialism is absolutely vital, both for our economy and for our conscience. But I also believe that every restraint placed on a free capitalistic system is potentially dangerous and should be very carefully considered. Those decisions need to be made with the head, not solely with the heart. While I agree caring for the elderly is logically (as well as morally ) justifiable, I also know the arguments for such things are often just well constructed justifications for what someone wants.
I guess I should also mention that I see socialism standing front and center in a very serious chicken and egg quandary. Do we need to mandate care for the elderly because the extended family and community no longer provide what they did a hundred years ago? Or is that familial care not commonly available today because we've asked the state to furnish it? In too many instances, if not most, I think social welfare gives the wrong message. "You don't have to plan for your future, because we'll do it for you."
(I know the above argues extremes, rather than reality. Familial care was far from perfect and too many people fail to plan their future regardless of what the government does. But in trying to correct those problems, I think socialism usually moves too far towards the other extreme, placing too little emphasis on personal responsibility.)
Last but not least, I couldn't disagree more vehemently that "rights" are decided upon by the people. Whether one argues God, nature, or morality, I believe Jefferson was correct when he wrote that all men are endowed "with certain unalienable Rights." One might disagree about what rights should be on that list, but I believe no one can change the list. However, I also believe that exercising those rights is never without personal cost, even in a completely free world. In a less than completely free world, those costs usually rise, perhaps even to the point where few are willing to pay the costs. That doesn't, however, eliminate the right.
In other words, and as I once argued poetically, people don't grant rights to other people. They can only determine the costs of exercising those rights.
So what do you thing, guys? Could we possibly crowd a few more very complex issues into a single thread?