American Elephants

Do Old People Have a Duty to Die and Get Out of the Way? by The Elephant's Child

Doug Ross@ Journal has a very funny piece that makes a good companion to my post below “A Warning Voice From Across the Water.” The Democrat view, and its results in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act now being argued before the Supreme Court, is a serious problem that nobody really wants to talk about.

It has been  a frequent subject in the British press, as the elderly in British hospitals are abused and mistreated in the name of saving money.  What do you do with those annoying old, sick people who need expensive medicine? Does society have a duty to make their lives pleasant and comfortable? Or should we force them to kick the bucket? Elderly family members used to live with their children, who cared for them. Now, with both members of a family often working; with families spread out across the country, situations are different.

Back in 1984, a Governor of Colorado, Richard Lamm, spoke on the “duty” of elderly people who are ill to “die and get out of the way.” People who die without having life artificially extended are similar to “leaves falling off a tree and forming humus for the other plants to grow up. Let the other society, our kids, build a reasonable life.” Nice.

In the wake of Vice President Dick Cheney’s new heart transplant, and aside from the leftist boors who hoped he’d die in the operation, voices were again raised to say that because he is 71, he should not have had access to a transplant. Seventy-one is not as old as it once was, and Mr. Cheney waited far longer for an appropriate transplant than others do, partly because he was unwilling to take any advantage. His operation was a great success, and we wish him many more years of fly-fishing and commenting on national and international affairs. He is a great patriot and an important voice.

What is medicine for? Is it only to fix the broken arms of healthy young kids? Much of the medicine that serves the young (the under 55 group) is precautionary in nature and not all that necessary, if we are comparing needfulness. Most old people are perfectly capable of assessing the value of expensive operations  at their age, and in their condition with the help of their doctors — without interference or regulation from the federal government.

People who fear being old, sick and in pain have voted in “assisted suicide” in the state of Oregon. The old do not want to be a burden to their family, either for care or expense. Then, of course we had Dr. Kevorkian, and a few rather ugly movies, notably “Solyent Green.”

I think the federal government should have no involvement in health care. To the extent that they have been— they do a lousy job of it. Why anyone who is familiar with the Indian Health Service’s record, or Veterans’ health care would want ObamaCare is beyond imagining.

I think assisted suicide laws are passed, like light rail laws, by people who think it would be nice for other people, though they have no intention of using it themselves. I think that caring for the old, sick and frail is an important part of what medicine is all about.

Volunteer to commit suicide if you choose, but don’t be telling other people what they should do. And maybe Doug Ross’s “Codgers” humorous take will do more to make people think about a serious problem than all the scare stories.

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