As an idle line of thought, what could you have done to yourself today in the field of cutting edge medicine and biotechnology at a moderate to high cost, setting aside the oppressive prohibition of medical regulation? Absent entities like the FDA - and a million other government employee busybodies who itch to regiment and enforce every aspect of our lives - it would be perfectly possible to get out there and solicit deals with researchers and clinics to try new things. To take your own estimate of risk and benefit, rather than being forced to wait for years or decades longer for medical technologies that might in the end be blocked entirely thanks to regulatory costs.
But what could you do today in world that was more free, and with enough money to pay for a major medical procedure? Here are a few examples with varying risk-reward profiles, pulled from the air:
- Have your aging immune system wiped out with chemotherapy and replaced from your stem cells. Your wager here would be that undergoing chemotherapy (not a wonderful experience under the best of circumstances) will cause you less harm in the long term than keeping your original, increasingly misconfigured immune system. Alternately, you could wait a decade for targeted cell-killer therapies demonstrated in mice to become a practical concern in humans.
- Undergo any one of a number of potential enhancing gene therapies. For example, why not pay your way into possessing a myostatin mutation? That boosts muscle mass, increases resistance to a range of age-related conditions, and otherwise seems to be beneficial all-round in mammals.
- Purchase stem cell infusions of the sort that seem to be at least modestly helpful for any number of degenerative conditions - a better option than traditional pharmaceutical medicines. But of course you can't do that in the US, just like you can't benefit from near all of the most recent advances, locked away in trials for years yet. You'd have to head overseas as a medical tourist to become a customer of the more reliable clinics in Asia or the Middle East.
- Decide in your healthy old age that the possible benefits outweigh the risks for infusion-based biphosphonate therapy. Of course you can't obtain that legally as a healthy person - those regulators again, deciding that they know better and anyone who disagrees with them will ultimately wind up in jail.
- Choose to end your own long-lived life in a safe and painless way at the time of your choosing, while attended by cryonics professionals who can provide an immediate and expert preservation - offering absolutely the best chance of later restoration with minimal damage, while keeping the cost to a sensible minimum thanks to scheduling.
I could go on - that just scratches the surface. But of course any group that gathered in the US to try these things, or offer services, or make the process as safe and transparent as possible would quickly find themselves prosecuted and jailed. The land of the free long ago ceased to have much to do with liberty or personal freedom. Freedom is the freedom to take your own risks and pay the costs if you pull a bad card from the deck - and that freedom is exactly what drives progress. Take it away and what results is the regulatory stagnation you see in medicine today.