Dear UCubed Leader:
Last month, the National Institutes of Health announced that they would “retire” over 300 government-owned chimpanzees from research. This follows on the heels of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposing to designate all chimps, including research chimps, an endangered species.
Dr. Francis Collins, who leads NIH, lauded the decision. “These amazing animals have taught us a great deal already.” Press reports quoted Collins as saying, “Chimpanzees are very special animals. We believe they deserve special consideration as special creatures.”
The NPR report on this historic moment explained:
The retired chimps will live out their lives in an environment similar to those in the wild. They will be in social groups of at least seven, and live inside enclosures where they can climb and forage for food.
NPR then explained that “NIH has to work with Congress to change legislation regulating chimp retirement.”
I don’t know about you but I see a golden opportunity for the jobless. When combined with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) survey about volunteering, the NIH decision to end bio-medical research of chimpanzees offers unemployed and underemployed Americans the chance to serve their country. They can volunteer to be the replacements chimps.
Seriously, think about it.
If you’re doing medical research on chimps because they are the closest approximations of humans, why not just cut out the middle man? Go directly to the source.
Who better to be the subjects of drug testing? After all, GOP leaders believe the jobless should be drug tested. GOP congressmen complain that the Federal Drug Administration is too slow to approve new life saving drugs. To silence those critics, the unemployed could offer up their bodies for the betterment of all mankind.
Who would be more invaluable as test subjects for invasive medical procedures than the jobless? They can explain in detail how much pain they have endured. They can even talk the researchers through gruesome surgeries with a local anesthesia. Unlike chimps, they can tell researchers where to stick their probes.
Who can compete with actual humans when it comes to conducting behavioral and genetic studies? The unemployed behave just like everyone else – they cry; they laugh; they play; they mourn; they love; they hate and, best of all, they get depressed and discouraged when the stimuli of a real job is withdrawn for months. When researchers talk about longitudinal studies, some Americans have been unemployed for so long they have left the workforce, perhaps, forever.
And who better to participate in the human genome project? The underemployed have the same genetic composition as every other human. But they have far more variations on a theme than do chimps. And since joblessness is not a hereditary but a temporary condition, their lack of work is an advantage. They have lots of free time to be sitting in labs and being observed. But best of all, they are free men and free women exercising their free choice to volunteer freely, not a caged and cross chimp whose only reward is a ripe banana.
So why not?
The Fish and Wildlife Service would not object. To them, the jobless are neither fish nor fowl. The Humane Society, which fought for sanctuary for every government-owned chimpanzee, could care less. Humane and humans are but one letter and a world apart. The Corporation on National and Community Service gets its fondest wish: more volunteers.
And the National Institutes of Health, which received $8.2 billion for extramural research from the 2009 American Recovery Act, knows a thing or two about using the unemployed as guinea pigs. They told the Government Accounting office that their 21,500 grants in 2009 would produce 51,000 FTE’s – Full Time Equivalents – by putting already employed scientists and their highly-paid staffs to work while the 99ers foraged for food just like chimps.
This modest proposal is a win-win-win. NIH wins. CNCS wins. And jobless Americans win a chance to make medical history.
IF they survive, they can be relocated to the national sanctuary operated by Chimp Haven in northwest Louisiana. There they can hang out with other retirees, socializing, scratching, climbing and exploring in play grounds sculpted with $30 million in government funds.
Maybe by then, a congressman with a strong sense of satire will introduce legislation renaming it CHUMP HEAVEN.
In unity – strength,