Alice Dreger has a new post up discussing How to be a Bioethicist. She admits, upfront, that she sort of sucks as one, and not for reasons the snarkier or more vindictive readers of this blog might assume. Rather, she sucks as a bioethicist because she has a penchant for naming names and citing her work, because she is concerned about principles, and because she hasnâ€™t figured out how to get a staggeringly high salary, regardless of currency. (Of course, she missed the fourth reason she makes a bad bioethicist: her unfortunate affliction with XX Syndrome.)
Sarcasm, and even personal issues aside, I think Dreger raises a very interesting point about North American bioethics as a whole: what I rather jokingly referred to as the advent of â€œpower broker bioethicsâ€ before I realized that this, indeed, was actually and precisely the correct phrase.
A power broker, for those of you who missed the 80s or anything to do with Wall Street, is â€œa person who is important by virtue of the people or votes they control; a power broker who does you a favor will expect you to return it.â€ It, in many ways, describes the behavior Dreger details: attempts to suppress dissent via appeals to authority; trading favors for benefits; obfuscating financial details in an effort to hide paper trails; and always, always looking for ways to inflate oneâ€™s sense of self via title and position.