StumbleUpon (the best tool no-one talks about, so long as they keep the paid placement to a minimum) delivered me to a good defense of applying resources to healthy life extension:
It is slowly becoming more and more clear that we are approaching a revolution just as great as the Industrial Revolution once was, and maybe even more so - the Aging Revolution. As medicine and science keeps advancing, we are approaching an era where we'll have the technology to obsolete aging and age-related death. In short, medicine will be able to make us live as young and healthy for a lot longer, perhaps even forever. The view that we'll be able to achieve an eternal youth during our own lifetimes is endorsed by the SENS project, and even many of its vocal critics think that the healthy lifespan could be increased, though they don't think aging could be entirely prevented. In any case the general direction does seem to be clear - given sufficient funding, the ability to drastically increase our lifespan will soon be upon us.
However, one argument - one that sounds like it'd make perfect sense if you didn't stop to think about it too closely - pops up every now and then. "We could cure malaria and extreme poverty and [insert disease here] whenever we wanted to - isn't it more important to concentrate on that?"
Read the whole thing to see this argument taken apart and demolished - feel free to pitch in to the discussion taking place in the comments. Thoughtful folk who support rapid progress towards healthy life extension should certainly be encouraged.
I see this class of opposition to healthy life extension as a facet of general economic ignorance and the false quest for "equality" - the desire to build at the bottom by tearing down the top. Quite aside from the fact that you'd have to stamp out freedom to do it, thereby destroying all that is good in our culture, from a pure utilitiarian standpoint this process of equalizing by building up the bottom and tearing down the top never works. Look at the Soviet Union for the logical endpoint of serious attempts to structure a society this way - or to structure a society at all, for that matter.