Satire echoes reality
The Onion – America’s finest news network – seldom runs anything as satirical as this argument for euthanasia from the CMC Forum, an on-line magazine at Claremont McKenna College. Charlie Sprague argues that “those with terminal illnesses are resource sinks for society… Their continued existence may be personally meaningful to the those who love them, but from a economic perspective they are all cost and no benefit.”
Then he really hits his stride: “a system of legalized euthanasia transfers medical resources from those who want to die to those who want to live. This Pareto improvement is especially clear philosophically when we consider that the government will undoubtedly play a larger role in America’s health care industry, which means that any money saved by allowing geezers to choose euthanasia frees up more health care dollars for the needy.”
This is almost certainly satire, but interestingly, a couple of people – probably other undergraduates – agreed with Mr Sprague. Does this foreshadow intergenerational conflict as workers staggering under the burden of caring for the elderly search for solutions?
Mr Sprague’s essay may sound absurdly cold-hearted, but the cost-cutting argument has been seriously proposed by the world’s best-known voluntary euthanasia activist, Australian Dr Philip Nitschke. In his 2005 book Killing Me Softly, he contended (page 131) that if voluntary euthanasia lopped a mere six months off the lives of ailing elderly people, immense savings would result:
"One can but wonder when a government will have the guts to stop digging the fiscal black hole that is their ever-deepening legacy for future generations. While the enabling of end-of-life choices will not fix the economic woes of the next forty years, it would not hurt, given half a chance.
"So the next time you hear a government minister trying to argue why this or that payment or welfare program for single mothers or war veterans must be cut, counter their argument with their fiscal irresponsibility on end-of-life choices.:
He also advocated voluntary euthanasia for "the troubled teen" and involuntary euthanasia for seriously ill newborns. Another possible clientele is prisoners — at least those who feel that life behind bars is literally the living end. Voluntary euthanasia, mused Nitschke in Killing Me Softly, may be the "last frontier in prison reform". Great minds think alike — Dr Nitschke’s website, Exit International, posted a link to the CMC Forum article.
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