P. Edronkin

How Private Property May Kill You

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If we take a look at pictures made by artists like Hieronimus Bosch about death and the plague, specifically about the Black Death that ravaged almost the whole northern hemisphere between 1333 and 1352, the impression that death is the great equalizer of social classes, pocket depths and religious beliefs becomes immediately apparent.

The study of this period of human history is of paramount importance because conditions may repeat themselves, and with the advent of the first human-made mass destruction weapons about a century ago, plus the existence of numerous infectious and epidemic diseases that tend to evolve into various forms, some of which are highly dangerous and contagious, we may be once again at great risk.

The Black Death seems to have wiped out about half the population in the then known world: the religious, economic, political and social impact was enormous and this is considering that societies in medieval Europe, in the Middle and Far East - the regions affected - were feudal and rural. In a society like ours, the impact of such a catastrophe may even be more profound, so it is not just a health hazard but a matter of state and global security to develop methods to deal reasonably with a similar problem.

In the past centuries, medical and biochemical research passed from the individual laboratory work performed by alchemists, philosophers - in the old sense of the word - and then somewhat modern scientists, to the university and hospital labs. Now, for whatever reason, this research is almost exclusively performed at research facilities owned by giant pharmaceutical companies that, of course, want to make a profit out of their work.

The question is: Will this prove to be the safest thing to do for the general population in the advent of a pandemic infection? What will happen if such or such lab becomes the only producer of a given drug or antibiotic needed by far too many people to survive? It becomes obvious that either people will perish in mass quantities, or that they will become virtual hostages to one corporation, and this is indeed a matter of national security.

Private property is fine: it has helped us to evolve from savages clinging to trees into reasonably healthy, well-fed and educated people, but we should reflect a little on the fact that our human constructions may at one or more crossroads of history conspire to kill us ass effectively as the deadliest of viruses.

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