General Question

SmashTheState's avatar

Is there such a thing as a completely useless human being?

Asked by SmashTheState (14228points) March 3rd, 2012

This question has two parts.

(1) Do you believe a human being can have no useful function? That is, to be so stupid, broken, disabled, disagreeable, or otherwise damaged, that they serve only to consume resources without giving anything of value back?

(2) Assuming the answer to the previous part is ‘yes’, then what do you think the ethical and/or logical course of action is with regard to that person? For example, if the person hirself is functional to the extent that sie recognizes hir own otherwise complete absence of function, what is that person ethically or logically obliged to do, if anything? What are we, as a society, obliged to do about a person who only seems to exist to consume scarce resources?

Goethe wrote, “What is my life if I am no longer useful to others.” Do you agree? Do human beings have an intrinsic worth apart from their willingness or ability to contribute to the weal of others? What if a person has no usefulness even to themselves? Does that change the answer?

(Please note that I am posting this in General. It’s fine to have an opinion, but I expect you to be able to support your answer with a line of reasoning.)

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77 Answers

zenvelo's avatar

This is a scary question: there are certainly people who are incapable of caring for themselves, who cannot provide joy or love to their families, or even accept that love that is given them. But because we value life we value them, They may be old, infirm, severely disabled, demented or stricken with Alzheimers.

Our obligation, as humans, as society, as a civilized people, is to care for them to the extent we can, to recognize their humanity and their dignity. And dignity is the issue here: whether the dignity to not want extraordinary life support, or to die in dignity, or to keep someone alive as they wish.

DrBill's avatar

yes, comatose with little or no chance of recovery. sever retardation, etc

What do we do with them? We care for them as best we can, it is not the logical thing to do, but it is the human thing to do.

seekingwolf's avatar

People who are disabled or incapable of caring for themselves may not be “useful’ in the sense of the word but are still valuable, because they still are a source of joy to their loved ones who hold memories for them. In that way, they still do “good” for others.

On the other hand, people who I think have no value are child molesters, serial rapists, etc. They add no good to the world and I don’t believe they should ever be in society. They just sit and rot in prison and are of no use to society. I think we should force them to do manual labour for free until the day they die! At least make use of them somehow without ever letting them go free!

gondwanalon's avatar

I think that severely retarded people have a right to live too. And if society has to pay for it then that is OK. Just because they may be unable to generate anything of value to society doesn’t mean that they aren’t worthy to exist. They may be very happy and content and enjoy their lives doing simple things like interacting with people, watching T.V., listing to music, etc.

If someone is brain dead such as in the Terri Schiavo case then I would considered that person as dead.

I have a living will that is suppose to protect from being kept alive if I have an accident or stoke that causes me to have no brain activity. In such a case I am not to given any water, food, IV’s, ventilator, meds, etc. Winding up like Terry Schiavo is among my worst nightmares.

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Nullo's avatar

My grandfather had a brother who wound up with most of his brain dead. The family had him on life support, and after a while just switched him to a feeding tube; the brainstem kept things spinning.
From a pragmatic standpoint, he was completely useless, except maybe as parts.

ETpro's avatar

@plethora And her I though you were a supporter of Ronald Reagan’s mantra, “Government isn’t the solution to the problem, government IS the problem.”

@SmashTheState No, I don’t believe there are any totally useless people. There are certainly people with extremely low IQs, or with debilitating disabilities. Some are so hampered by these conditions they contribute little or nothing to society aside from encouraging us to exercise our compassion and help them as best we can. That, in itself, is contributing to society instead of anarchy.

DellyCat's avatar

Nope. I believe everyone was put on this Earth for a reason! :)

King_Pariah's avatar

If you look at it with just raw logic then yes, people can be utterly worthless to the point of maybe being no better than organ farms or otherwise removed from society (fertilizer). However, you insert what makes humans “human” and you have an entirely different story as we are also emotional, illogical, and random (which somehow makes us capable of being wonderfully intriguing and lovely as well).

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Buttonstc's avatar

I think Rush Limbaugh fits that definition.

I think that the moral thing for him to do, the instant he has one iota of realistic perspective on this would be to off himself as efficiently as possible.

It would be our obligation, as a society, to not interfere with the process in any way (and perhaps even provide him with Hemlock, Cyanide pills or whatever else would assure his success in that noble endeavor )

I mean, seriously, think about it for a minute before you automatically assume my answer is frivolous. What useful function does he serve? Anyone who is THAT absolutely narcissistic while being totally devoid of even the tiniest shred of empathy doesn’t deserve to take up space on this planet.

Rarebear's avatar

Once an organism has successfully reproduced and passed along their genes to offspring their usefulness is gone and they as just taking up resources.

SmashTheState's avatar

I note that nearly all of you approach this question from the perspective of society standing in judgement of the individual, but what about the person who, though insight, grasps hir own objective uselessness? There are lots of people in this world who live in misery, who are loved or befriended by no one, and who possess no special or useful skills. They live out their lives in what Thoreau called “quiet desperation” and die unremarked and unlamented. Does such a person have a responsibility to cease using resources which could be better allocated to people who serve a useful function?

@Rarebear What about someone whose inferior genes mean society is better served by having them removed from the pool? A person who carries some combination of mental illness, nearsightedness, heart disease, diabetes, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and other such genetic deficiencies has a responsibility to make sure hir geneline dies out. According to your definition, this person is born useless.

rooeytoo's avatar

A young man suggested to me a few years back that everyone over 70 should kill themselves to make room for younger people. This was while I was working 7 days a week. He was in college on student loans, living in a subsidized apartment and using much of his welfare money to buy hash. All of which is being provided by tax payers regardless of their age. I suggested to him that I was a contributing member of society then and probably will still be at 70, maybe he is the one who should be done away with as non productive and useless. Those who cannot support themselves are a different situation, a compassionate society takes care of its less fortunate members and that includes old and infirm.

SmashTheState's avatar

@rooeytoo @ETpro @DrBill @seekingwolf @zenvelo But do the people want to be “taken care of”? Is it really all that compassionate to support someone in staying alive when sie knows sie is totally useless and is acting solely as a drain on society? Would the kindest thing not be to give that person the courage to do what is logical and remove hirself from the world? It might be that suicide is the only thing that person might ever do to earn respect from hir fellow man. Surely that’s better than spending a miserable life being “taken care of” because that person isn’t useful enough to shift for hirself.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think everyone has the right to end their life at any point they deem it proper. In the case of someone who is not capable of doing the job themselves or has not made their wishes clear before they became incapable, it is a difficult moral and legal dilemma. Seems as if I am frequently hearing about someone who wants to “pull the plug” on a loved one and other family members or the medicos fighting against it.

Who is to decide who is useless? Who dispatches the useless one? So many questions to be answered before I could make a decision.

flutherother's avatar

Before we discount people as being ‘useless’ we would have to decide what the purpose of life is and I don’t think we know.

CaptainHarley's avatar

As a christian, I believe that everything that lives has value. We may not always be able to see it, but it’s there. I hate the term “useless eaters!” The term implies that some lives are of no value at all, with the logical conclusion being that it’s ok for the State to end them; we already kill millions of babies, so why not old people and the disabled as well?

GoldieAV16's avatar

Children consume without giving anything back. We keep them around for their potential.

Let’s say that it is possible for an individual to ascertain that his or her life is “a total waste,” and they are devoid of potential. That they are the one making that assessment, and not society. To whom then do they have a responsibility?

We all start out in a state of helplessness, consuming only; we’ll all end up there as well. If at some time on that spectrum an individual decides that his misery outweighs the cost of being, he has a choice. But I think that choice should be based not on what he consumes, or produces, but on quality of life.

dabbler's avatar

a) “useless” “giving anything of value back”
Giving anything back to…what? I’m with @DellyCat , @CaptainHarley and others that God put us here with a purpose. It’s tough enough for most of us to figure out for what our own self is here never mind figuring out for what purpose someone else is here.

The medical question , pulling the plug on a loved one is a very tricky problem and each situation has its particular facts. It can be quite a struggle to understand what is the compassionate loving thing to do. ...with that in mind encourage each other to make your own wishes known ahead of time with a living will.

The prison question of what to do with people who don’t seem to get along with society is different. It can be (not always, there do seem to be sociopaths) a question of society’s failure to tolerate and support personalities that are not mainstream. Their lives are fundamentally no less valuable and precious than anyone else’s. What to do, what to do?

Coloma's avatar

Our society and culture values doing over being. I believe everyone has inherent value through their being alone. If you wish to segregate the doers from the be-ers, then you would have to include young children and retired people in your definition of useless and unproductive. Bah. The world has always had the disabled and less fortunate to care for. If, as Gandhi said, a society can be judged on how it treats it’s animals, it can also be judged on how it treats it’s elderly, disabled and poverty stricken.

saint's avatar

I know plenty of them. They only survive by relying on the sacrifice of others which is great until the others refuse to sacrifice any more.
What happens to any critter that can’t do anything? Same principle.

kess's avatar

Everyone…everything is useful…..the/their usefulness lies in the eyes of the beholder.

filmfann's avatar

I think there is a large leap between deciding someone is completely useless, and taking on the responsabliity to terminate that life.

Trillian's avatar

”...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped. ” ~ Last Speech of Hubert H. Humphrey

“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

Any person is more faceted than any ONE characteristic or trait; pedophile, rapist, church-goer, politician, minister. No person can be alive without touching or impacting the lives of others and cannot know the depth of that impact, good or bad. To arbitrarily decide that a life has no value is perhaps human, but to take action on that (erroneous) idea is not to be condoned. A better use of that energy, perhaps, might be to offer some small measure of comfort to one outstretched hand.~Trillian
“You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.”
K. Gibran

ragingloli's avatar

You can always use him as a negative example, food, fuel, fertiliser, medical experiments, entertainment by putting him up against a lion, but most of them go into right wing politics.

thorninmud's avatar

I don’t think that any human (or institution) is qualified to assess the value of a person. And I also don’t think that value is synonymous with usefulness.

Imagine a world in which the value of humans really correlates to how much they contribute to the welfare of society. The first thing you realize is that this idea of what constitutes the “welfare of society” is incredibly subjective. Does an artist have more value than an engineer? A doctor more than a cashier? Is one’s value a market commodity, based on supply and demand? I think most of us intuitively resist that kind of thinking, because we realize that there’s more to human value than mere utility.

Coloma's avatar

@thorninmud Well said! :-)

A humble, decent, “less than” is worth ten thousand arrogant bastards, regardless of their contributions.

Rarebear's avatar

@SmashTheState I“m not making a value judgement on anybody. I’m just taking a purely Dawkins-like evolutionary biology point of view—once an organism has successfully passed on their genes, their job is done.

Coloma's avatar

@Rarebear I agree, not that I have a death wish, but, in reality living much past 50–60 something, long enough to successfully launch offspring and purely from a biological standpoint, means ones organism is taking up space for the next generation of organisms. lol

lynfromnm's avatar

When I first read this question I didn’t consider it in terms of persons with disabilities. Persons with severe disabilities are born with the exact same rights as their non-disabled peers and have committed no action that would justify depriving them of any rights. I always start from the position that we all are born with identical rights. Humans are not required to produce anything in order to live or to pursue happiness, although most of us have recognized that “doing something” or being creative in some way is the road to fulfillment. I do not consider a person “useless” just because I am not personally benefiting from their existence. Once I am an adult I don’t have a right to personally benefit from anyone else.

I define a “useless” being as one who diminishes humankind or indeed individual humans, by oppressing, mistreating or removing choice from humans. A “useless” being has the arrogance to force others to his will. Such beings reveal themselves by their actions, and I deliberately excise them from my personal life. Since these beings often commit crimes, another way to deal with them is to refuse to let them get away with their useless behavior.

I think humans must be allowed to determine their own worth by their own lights. That’s being human. As part of that, humans must also take the consequences, and if one is “useless”, the consequences may include being friendless, imprisoned or ostracized.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Well, I’ll soon be 69, I don’t work but I do consume. Just shoot my ass and get it over with! : P

Coloma's avatar

@CaptainHarley You do contribute, you contribute your salty and savvy wit! :-D
Hey, I’m in no hurry to die, but, my reproductive life is 3 years on the shelf, the last dusty egg has passed through the great fallopian tube of life. lolol

Sunny2's avatar

I believe in the right to die. but the state does not. I would prefer euthanasia to living without being able to move or communicate or in pain that cannot be relieved. I also believe that should be a personal decision and not one made by anyone else, including other family members.

CaptainHarley's avatar

LMAO @Coloma

Well, I suppose that makes us even…. I no longer have a prostate! : D

annewilliams5's avatar

If I’m understanding your question: You are asking if a person, having assessed him or her self as being a drain on society’s resources, with no evident capability of returning anything back, is no longer a viable member of the human race and therefore disposable?...Then, also are you asking about the ethical basics of genetic selection? To do that we have to ask the inevitable question? Has the question of what is “life” been fully answered? There are those who would answer that in a spiritual way and those who would answer in a clinical way.
Define truly useless life. There are those, that in certain circles, would be seen as humans whose consumption completely outweighs production, with no apparent benefit to life, as a whole. I would disagree, in that even the most evil of humans are studied for the benefit of helping those who would only seek to find a cure for evil or at least control it. And, in retrospect, do we not create evil in some and watch it flourish in others, and then scream about it after the fact?
There are specifics mentioned in the several messages crafted here. Absolutely none are consistent with just one thought process-which just goes to show you there is no definitive answer, and that each opinion has a value.
As far as suicide is concerned-(and please understand that this is my opinion) It is usually used for the betterment of the person who is leaving their life. The mess that exists afterward has to be dealt with by the survivors. (a truly sobering thought) For all who believe that it would be better for those left behind-I would say that there is nothing like the grief that comes from having to pick up the pieces after someone has created a mess they are no longer around to help with. Having said that-I must say that it would be my right to choose, not to dictate to others how to choose for themselves. I would also say that there is use in how we choose to die, if we’re allowed that. Grace anyone?

linguaphile's avatar

This is me: I have contributed over 15 years of taxpaying work; have been a bilingual tutor since age 12, gave countless workshops, taught high school and college level courses— I study linguistics, literature, and art, can read Shakespeare easily, produce really good art and crafts and have gotten paid for my work, got 85th percentile on my GRE 15 years out of college, and a perfect score on my Praxis tests, am a published writer- a new piece will come out next month, and I am always looking for new ways to grow and learn…

And 100% totally deaf. I can’t speak well or hear at all. If the Gestapo walked down the street right now, I’d be shot.

According to some of what you guys are saying, I should be killed and done with because I am ” ” ” disabled ” ” ” You know… there are way more “normal” people out there are the are far, far more disabled than me.

My point: “disability” is, in actuality, a perspective, an interpretation, a collective opinion of a larger group. People with glasses and contact lenses are not considered disabled by society, and grossly obese people aren’t either. But fully-functioning, contributing members of society who have bipolar disorders or are deaf are considered disabled. At one time, gay people were considered diseased. It IS an opinion.

I wouldn’t do away with any person or determine them to be useless because of a collective opinion. Just because a contribution is not obvious doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

annewilliams5's avatar

@linguaphile I like the word challenged. It places everyone on earth in the same boat, which promotes the feeling that rowing together is more beneficial, than throwing people overboard. I can’t speak for anyone else, but you are not capable of being left behind. I really, truly do not believe anyone else would see that as being an option. Keep standing up. No one will doubt what a gift you are. You “hear” just fine.

linguaphile's avatar

@annewilliams5 Thank you, and I do know that I’m valuable. I’m challenging the assumption that disabled people are not valuable. That gets my goat.

Unfortunately, history has shown that too many people don’t see disabled people as valuable. History also shows that when the economy takes a nosedive, it’s very, very common for people to start questioning and evaluating the value of a person. It’s not new at all.

annewilliams5's avatar

@linguaphile You are correct, that history is repeatable. I think that there are those that, in any other time, would think differently about this and so many other subjects and the impact on others. We have grown as humanity, in our abilities to accept and enjoy, differences in others. Certainly not enough though. If my mother taught me anything, it was that it’s the differences in us that makes life interesting, and this world, that much more colorful. If some people were allowed to make all of the rules, it would be a very unpopulated place-with most of the “rule makers” being shown the door.

tinyfaery's avatar

Aren’t we all just products of nature? Great big bundles of random selection. I would argue that every human is useless until culture assigns them value; value being completely subjective, of course. Usefulness is only the judgments of others.

annewilliams5's avatar

@tinyfaery so are you saying that I am not valuable until someone else says I am? So that would mean that if someone becomes “useless” to one culture, that culture should have the right to get rid of him or her?

Coloma's avatar

@tinyfaery I disagree. Humans are part of nature. Are trees and birds useless until given value by a particular culture? From the biological perspective we might be useless for reproductive purposes after a certain age, well the female of the species anyway, but from the nature perspective every thing is of equal “use”, be it a rock or a blade of grass or a Seagull.
Life is life regardless of form, and life has value beyond usefulness.

Humans, dogs, horses and many creatures were at one time just enjoying their being, striving to survive, before culture established a use for them.

flutherother's avatar

Chuang Tzu Story – The Useless

Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu:
“All your teaching is centered on what has no use.”

Chuang Tzu replied:
“If you have no appreciation for what has no use,
you cannot begin to talk about what can be used.

“The earth for example, is broad and vast,
But of all this expanse a man uses only a few inches
Upon which he happens to be standing at the time.

“Now suppose you suddenly take away
all that he actually is not using,
so that all around his feet a gulf yawns,
and he stands in the void
with nowhere solid except under each foot,
how long will he be able to use what he is using?

Hui Tzu said:
“It would cease to serve any purpose.”

Chuang Tzu concluded:
“This shows the absolute necessity
of what is supposed to have no use.”

Coloma's avatar

@flutherother Clapping, clapping! Very good, bring in the Zen masters for a discussion of uselessness. haha

CaptainHarley's avatar

What is the sound of one hand, clapping, Grasshopper? : )

flutherother's avatar

Its good to know the Zen masters still have their uses.

LostInParadise's avatar

I do not go along with the premise of the question. Suppose that someone works hard, accumulates enough to live off of, and then retires and goes into seclusion. Should such a person be put to death? Let’s take things a step further. The same situation only the person does not work a day in his life but lives off of inherited wealth.

Descartes lived off of inherited wealth. He worked briefly as a soldier of fortune and toward the end of his life as tutor to the queen of Sweden. He occupied his time by thinking about philosophy and mathematics. If he had not made such productive use of his spare time, should he have been put to death?

tinyfaery's avatar

@annewilliams5 I don’t think the “state” or community has the right to do decide anyone’s right to life, nor the right to tell someone that they are worth more than they might feel—think in the relation to suicide. I don’t connect politics and human lives. One is real, one exists only in the mind. Or is it the other way around?

WestRiverrat's avatar

This used to be called eugenics. It was supported by several cabinet level members of the US government between 1900 and 1945. It is what was behind the forced sterilization laws that only recently got revoked in several states.

The Germans took it to an extreme during WW2, after which most of the civilized world rejected it. Any time a society decides to define the’ useless’ power hungry people will find a way to abuse the system.

So I guess no there are no useless people, if nothing else they serve to identify the tyrants among us.

augustlan's avatar

No, there is no such thing as a completely useless human being. And if someone thinks they are one, I would say they are mistaken. They should not act on a mistaken assumption.

linguaphile's avatar

@WestRiverrat Eugenics is not gone. It’s just called genetic modification now.

ETpro's avatar

@SmashTheState I can’t answer for the others you listed, but personally I do not believe in forcing someone to live when their wishes are to die. Who am I to make that decision for anyone but myself? In my own case, I have told my wife that if heroic measures are required to keep me alive, or if my quality of life is permanently gone and machines are required to keep me alive, pull the plug. I am looking now into how to put that into a living will.

@Rarebear. I disagree. We will face a life ending disaster on Earth. The question is not if but when. If the human race is to survive, we must learn to mitigate the natural events we can, and move on before the Sun begins to transition into a red giant with its corona past the orbit of Earth. Much of the scientific work necessary to do this has been accomplished by people well beyond their reproductive stage.

Rarebear's avatar

@ETpro Well, I was speaking purely from an evolutionary biological, not a sociological point of view. I agree with you, of course.

ETpro's avatar

@Rarebear This old man likes that agreement. :-)

mattbrowne's avatar

Only Nazism and other perverse ideologies support the notion of completely useless human beings.

So the answer is: no.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@mattbrowne I hope you include Carl Sagan.

bkcunningham's avatar

I have a new friend who is an RN. She works at a nursing home. She’s in her early 70s and has been a nurse her entire adult life. We were talking the other day about her job here in Florida. She said the saddest and most difficult part of her work are the people who don’t get any visitors and never leave their beds. Old people, and some younger people, who are sick and depend on her to turn their bodies to prevent bed sores and who depend on a tube for feeding and all sorts of medications. She said the kindest thing to do for them, in her opinion, would be to remove the tube and meds and just keep them comfortable and allow them to die in peace.

Her comments raised a lot of emotions in me and a lot of thoughts in my mind about the various levels of people who are living in that nursing home just around the corner from me. Sort of like the sermon about the shadow of the church. What are our responsibilities to others who are living in that nursing home who perhaps just a visit or a gentle touch may make their life useful? Not just to them, but for us as well. Does it make us more useful as humans to visit them?

rooeytoo's avatar

@bkcunningham – When I was still in the USA I would take my dogs to nursing homes. It was a heartwarming experience (as well as saddening) to see these folks’ eyes light up and a smile come to their lips. They loved the visit with the dogs and the dogs that I chose always seemed to understand what was going on and would be so patient with the hugging and kissing. I haven’t thought of that since coming here, I must look into it, I am sure they have similar programs here. The older I get though, the more difficult it is for me to see people existing in those conditions. Probably because I am terrified it will be me someday. I greatly admire your friend for her ability. And it makes me more determined to keep the nembutal handy.

CaptainHarley's avatar


You will not become like that. [ I will not answer any questions about this response ]

rooeytoo's avatar

@CaptainHarley – thank you, that is comforting to know.

ETpro's avatar

@bkcunningham Thanks for that thought. That’s a great idea and I think it would make me feel more useful doing it.

LostInParadise's avatar

Maybe the question should be turned around. What responsibility do we have to enrich the lives of others so that they feel recognized and appreciated? Our consumer society commodifies everything, including people. Maybe there is a better way.

bkcunningham's avatar

@ETpro, you are welcome. It is something I need to do more of as well.

ETpro's avatar

@LostInParadise I feel a strong need to do that. I don;t know whether to call it a responsibility though. It is more something to do for the joy it brings into my life.

noraasnave's avatar

We mustn’t fall into the intellectual trap of seeing individuals. Even if an individual appears to serve no purpose, they develop the humanity of the rest of us. The pain of caring for them, seeing them, relating to them, develops us, reminds us of the cost of living, what life is worth.

bkcunningham's avatar

See, I disagree, @noraasnave. I do see individuals. Where that person came from, their story and how they got to where they are today. Whether it is a nursing home, living under a bridge, the CEO of a corporation or in a cemetery. What is that individual’s story? I get what you are saying. But we are individuals with our own way of relating and our own individual stories. Not everyone is going to a nursing home or to a prison or to a homeless shelter to relate to individuals. We have to make our own paths and our own decisions as individuals.

lloydbird's avatar

A number of bosses that I have had the misfortune to encounter have displayed this characteristic in abundance.

augustlan's avatar

@bkcunningham I think @noraasnave is just making the point that the individual (any individual) contributes to the overall worth of humanity. Kind of a big-picture thing.

noraasnave's avatar

I was taking a spin on the ‘Chaos theory’, which says that a small change in one area of the world can have drastic effects in a seemingly unrelated other part of the world.

To apply to this situation: The terrible bosses I have had in the past have forced me to react in fear at first, but grow to learn to stand up to them over time in a professional and fitting fashion, which has garnered long term success for myself. My long term success affects my family and friends in a myriad of good ways (better Christmas presents, pay for their college, pay for their ballet/karate classes, etc), but also has potential to affect them in a myriad of bad ways (developing a sense of entitlement in them, giving them money vice time with me, etc).

The chain continues, the ripples flow outward, and many lives are affected because I had a terrible boss. Some in good ways, and some in negative ways…still the affect is there on people that we would probably agree have nothing to do with my boss or my work environment at all.

mattbrowne's avatar

@WestRiverrat – Care to elaborate?

Inspired_2write's avatar

Everybody is valuable.
One can learn even from “useless” people.
One can learn humbleness and compassion and understanding.
One can also learn how not to be.
One can be reminded on viewing these unfortunates that we ourselves are privilaged to have been given a good life.
On viewing people in that position we are reminded tht life can deliver a bad break at any given time.
That one day perhaps we ourselves could easily become that which we do not like in another frail or whatever.
That we are here on this planet temporarily.
To make the best of our existence in improving ourselves and our planet, and developing breakthoughs in medicines to aide those that cannot help themselves.

kados's avatar

There is little reason to keep ‘useless’ humans around, being they that consume more resources than are contributed overall. The ‘human’ element may sound nice and all, but we live in a world where resources ultimately are limited. It may not yet be a reality, but in the next few decades it will become clear; food, fresh water, and livable land will become geometrically more and more scarce for each person. The obvious solution is to find a new resource field, though I fear we are too close to resource scarcity for our species to advance to this level before severe food and water shortages come into play. The ‘human’ condition also calls for energy, which we are also far from implementing in forms that are not dependent on fossil fuels. I fear our lack of preparation in this field will also ultimately be destructive, my projections give us no more than 30 years before fossil fuel energies become too expensive for the working class to afford. While conservative, these factors illustrate a simple point: If you are not worth your while to humanity, you have no place. How much do you feel the ‘human’ factor will matter if humans drive themselves to extinction for it? Logic and reason have a place in this world. That some people insist on injecting ‘humanity’ into it, frankly, is somewhat sickening, considering what we face in the near future.

ragingloli's avatar

That is the exact same argument that the Nazis used to justify the murder of over 70000 mentally and physically handicapped people, men, women and children.
Here is a bit of Nazi Propaganda:

It reads:
“60000 Reichsmark does this hereditary defective cost the people during his life.
Comrade, that is also your money.”

What is sickening is that you can so blatantly use Nazi reasoning.

linguaphile's avatar

@kados Who decides value? Maybe I think people with low IQ are a waste and would prefer to keep people like Stephen Hawking and Jean-Dominique Bauby around because of their fortitude and ability to adapt, and their ability to contribute to society regardless of their limitations, but would happily do away with the waste of skin, bones and plastic Kardiashians? Who decides? You? The government? The BMI calculator?

I second @ragingloli. Sickening. And to add to that, very clueless.

Noonehere's avatar

The real question is; has there ever been a human being that wasn’t totally worthless, I doubt it very much.

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