September 21, 2009
'Killing Granny'By Cliff Thier
A virulent moral blindness has seized hold of a substantial slice of America's educated elite. Convinced they know better, they argue for a shallow, illogical, and horrifying vision of people as disposable.
I was wrong last week when I declared that Newsweek's cover showing a baby next to a headline declaring that we're all born racist was evidence that the mainstream media had hit bottom and destroyed itself. It was intellectual arrogance on my part that led me to underestimate the determination of Newsweek's editors to find new deeper bottoms to hit.
This week's Newsweek cover exceeds the sheer breathtaking ugliness of last week's cover: "The Case for Killing Granny." Alongside a photo of an electrical plug. The cover story is penned by Evan Thomas, (Andover, Harvard, Virginia Law), currently teaching at Princeton, alongside Peter Singer, who believes newborn infants can be killed because they lack "rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness" and thus don't qualify for personhood.
There is also an opinion piece declaring that America's "character" is less than the "character" of those countries that have government-provided ("universal") health care. It's by Washington Post columnist T.R. Reid (classics, Princeton, who coincidentally is the author of a new book pushing for "fairer" health care).
A third "thumb-sucker" piece titled "I Was a Teenage Death Panelist" (yuk, yuk) argues that we all need to be "more comfortable" with death. It also attacks "right-wing opponents" of ObamaCare for the "lie" that ObamaCare will include "death panels." The author Jon Meacham, Newsweek's editor (summa cum laude, English, University of the South), doesn't explain why that is a "lie," and is content to only say that the idea of death panels arose from the "sensible and humane" idea that families should discuss end-of-life options.
The central idea behind each of these three pieces is that we spend too much money on people during their last six months of life. We all should be more willing to die, say these writers. And, we should all be more willing to "let" other people die (by withholding medical treatment, water, food, air, etc.)
Newsweek seeks to make us more comfortable with the idea of killing our parents and grandparents. The ObamaCare deal they want us buy is that only if more old people die, will there be better medical treatment for everyone else. That is, you and me.
It's a sucker's deal. Because not only will more "old" people die with ObamaCare, but more of everyone else will die too. Because the quality of care for everyone will deteriorate for a long list of behavioral and economic reasons. Clearly, all of us would be at the end-of-life way station much, much earlier in life if we didn't get medical care we need. The same is as true for a person over 65 as it is for a person who is 25 -- only more so. Not just rationing for Granny and Gramps, but rationing for Mommy and Daddy and Dick and Jane, too.
The dishonesty of the we-spend-too-much-money-on-the-last-six-months crowd is a result of their inability to think clearly. In the course of their elite educations, they came to think of themselves as a lot smarter than they really are. They mistake verbal and written analytical skills with wisdom. Surrounding themselves with like-minded people, they don't question their own choice of perspectives and premises.
Consider the 65-year-old individual who needs an expensive medicine. If the government decides that a person over 65 shouldn't get that medicine, then almost every one of those people are in their last six months of life.
If, however, they get that medicine, their lives may be extended another 10 years.
Which category do we count such people in?
T. R. Reid, while saying that the US is morally inferior to countries with socialized medicine, doesn't get around to postulating what it says about the "character" of those countries deprive older citizens of life-extending medicines and treatments.
I'll take a crack at it, though. I think that we (society, you, me, us) owe the oldest among us the most. The world we live in, our affluence, our civil rights, our drugs and life-extending technology, all exist because of their work. The America that we (and the entire world) benefit from would not exist but for the work and sacrifices of those people over 65, over 75, over 85.
All the medicines and all the health care technology that we have we owe to them. They already "bought" them by making their discovery and invention possible.
What kind of country would we be if we withheld the fruits of their labors so we can have them all for ourselves?
I am nauseated by the arrogance and moral blindness I see on display here. When elites start regarding certain classes of people an inconvenience worth eliminating, a terrifying slippery slope is in prospect.