killing them softly
Entitlements, in the sense of the benefits promised by government-funded social programs, are a way in which politicians buy votes with your money. In First World countries, however, the un-funded liabilities have reached the point where politicians now buy their votes with your children's money. It's as if the Good Samaritan, having collected the smiles of gratitude for his compassion, mugged the innkeeper's grandson in an alley in order to pay the convalescence bill.
Canadian Mark Steyn takes a stern look at the outlay we have yet in store for us in payment for the electoral triumphs of yesteryear.
Take the "aged dependency ratio" -- the number of elderly people receiving state benefits relative to the working-age adults slogging away each day to pay for them. In 2000, America, Australia and Canada all had 0.26 seniors for every working stiff. In 2040, America will have 0.47 seniors for every worker, Australia 0.56, Canada 0.63 -- i.e., we'll have a lot fewer young Canadians to stick with the bill for increased geriatric care. Aging societies are a global phenomenon but with a wide disparity of effects: by 2040, state benefits to the old will comprise 33.1 per cent of GDP in Spain and 32 per cent in Italy against 16.6 per cent in Australia and 17.6 per cent in the United Kingdom. Canada is an in-betweeny sorta nation on these projections -- 22.9 per cent. But that's still potentially catastrophic, for the health system and much else.
What to do? In The Globe and Mail, John Ibbitson says hey, no problem, let's just do what we've been doing for years, only more so. Or as the Globe headline put it: "Canada's Future Rests With Open-Door Immigration." But just because you leave the door open doesn't mean the folks you want are going to come through it. Hard-working talented young immigrants will be at a premium in the years ahead, and there aren't many compelling reasons for them to come here and pay tax rates of 60, 65 per cent or whatever it'll be by then to fund the swollen state liabilities cooked up in the seventies and eighties.
So, how will the politicians of tomorrow pay off the mortgage today's politicians saddled them with? Malcolm Muggeridge got it dead right thirty years ago:
I know, that as sure as I can possibly persuade you to believe: governments will find it impossible to resist the temptation ... to deliver themselves from this burden of looking after the sick and the handicapped by the simple expedient of killing them off.
We're already witnessing the softening-up propaganda barrage. There's strict radio silence on the subject of involuntary euthanasia. The focus is exclusively on voluntary, even hyper-voluntary, euthanasia: we only hear from sober, thoughtful, professional types who make moving but articulate pleas to have their misery ended. And of course they're invariably described as "brave," "generous," and (most of all) "unselfish." They don't want to burden others, you see.
Why is that so important? Because it sets up the really crucial move, which is getting voting majorities to overcome their reluctance to kill off grandma and grandpa for the benefit of the public purse. It'll be a lot easier if grandma and grandpa can be persuaded themselves that it's selfish to refuse euthanasia when their illness becomes expensive -- unselfish people, after all, steer scarce resources toward the young. A well-managed shame campaign, especially one that promises to free the electorate of a crippling tax burden, should do the trick handily. (Remember that, unlike abortion, there'll be broad bipartisan support in the U.S.; this time the Democrats won't be alone in urging a surgical solution to a social burden.)
The photo below, which I pinched from the BBC website some months ago, shows an English cancer patient on the day of a court ruling that permits her to travel to Switzerland to undergo euthanasia. Her celebratory toast is distinctly macabre, but we shouldn't underestimate the force of the sentimentalism behind the social rejoicing -- a rejoicing the BBC clearly wants us to share. Note what's going on: pity for another's suffering is itself painful to feel (that's what the word com-passion means). Our relief at seeing an end to our own (vicarious) pain, being a natural but not especially noble emotion, wants to present itself to the conscience as charity: "How much better off she'll be dead! How generous of ME to understand that!" Resisting this sentimentalism won't be easy, especially when the propagandistic power of the state and media is relentless in its support. The time to begin the counter-attack is now.
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Posted by: sparch -
Jun. 12, 2006 2:06 PM ET USA
I think there is a great deal of useful experience and education from caring for our loved ones who can not care for themselves. I beleive that God uses them to bestow his devine revelation of life and dignity through the infirm and dying. To deny your children your final testemant is to abandon all that you lived for.
Posted by: NonSumDignus -
Jun. 11, 2006 10:33 AM ET USA
"Soylent green is people!" Yesterday's science fiction truly is today's reality. Or will be if good people stand by and do nothing.
Posted by: benedictusoblatus -
Jun. 07, 2006 11:41 AM ET USA
Janet is right. The Schiavo case seems special in that one family member (the only one with any legal say-so) was hell-bent on seeing his wife dead.
Posted by: Pseudodionysius -
Jun. 06, 2006 11:14 PM ET USA
Perhaps - just perhaps - Diogenes has uncovered the reason that Europe (and now Canada) has so much trouble condeming the Islamist Death Cults. At bottom they admire the intent, its just the tools that need some modification.
Posted by: News Hound -
Jun. 06, 2006 9:14 PM ET USA
It's nice to know that when these inevitabilities become a drumbeat for acceptance that I shall be dead and thus unable to register my objection to the proceedings. Therefore, let me register it now so my voice does not go unheard when that eventuality arrives.
Posted by: Fatimabeliever -
Jun. 06, 2006 8:07 PM ET USA
It is a good thing Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II didn't live here in the good ole USA!
Posted by: -
Jun. 06, 2006 7:23 PM ET USA
Of late, nothing, but nothing surprises me regarding the length that our increasingly Godless society will go. Diogenes is right. State sanctioned killing will be offered as a glorious exit by our "one happy step beyond" progressives . Of course, the opposite may be true. "Thou shalt not kill" still binds us whether killing is in cold blood, state sanctioned, or accompanied with a festive "happy fairwell tour." An awesome judgment awaits those who are cowed by this diabolical master plan.
Posted by: Janet Baker -
Jun. 06, 2006 7:18 PM ET USA
Benedictusoblatus wrote, "Involuntary euthanasia probably won't happen to the sick and elderly who have families willing to care for them at home." Au contraire, it has happened and is happening now. Ben, have you ever heard of Hugh Finn? How about Terri Schiavo? Both of them had family willing to care for them, yet Hugh and Terri were murdered. It's here!!
Posted by: -
Jun. 06, 2006 3:58 PM ET USA
The horror of euthanasia will dwarf abortion. The reason is that most people have not had an abortion or faciltated one. But when euthanasia gets going miilions more will be complicit in the evil. This will weaken the moral fiber of society more than any other thing. Check it out sometime...those who are rabidly "pro choice" either have had abortions or had a hand in procuring one.......sin corrupts our soul.
Posted by: Charles134 -
Jun. 06, 2006 3:27 PM ET USA
Government governs, ultimately, by the sword. If I refuse to pay the social security tax, I'm put in jail. If I try to resist, the government will use, if I resist strenuously enough, deadly force. The elderly who use government force to take money from the young shouldn't be surprised if their victims fight back. Let's stop the violence on both sides. No euthanasia, certainly, but no welfare state either! Both are unjust and violent, but one is more subtle.
Posted by: Gaby -
Jun. 06, 2006 3:11 PM ET USA
Many parents who've opted to abort their unborn offspring reason along these lines: "I love you, but this isn't the right time. You'll be better off dead than being born at this point in time in my life." 100% selfish, but phrased to sound compassionate. The media strive to focus our sympathy on the parents making this "difficult choice". The stage is set for the exact same scenario to be played out with the elderly. We can't protect fetuses; we won't be able to protect the old and the sick.
Posted by: Gene Church -
Jun. 06, 2006 3:00 PM ET USA
As a nursing home owner and administrator in Pensacola, we will not allow someone to choose to die within our facility. The State may say that they have the right, but at this time, it won't be in our home.
Posted by: Quadratus -
Jun. 06, 2006 11:50 AM ET USA
My father was bed bound for many years and I remember a hospital “councilor” trying to convince me to hold water and food from him so that he “wouldn’t suffer”. My mother is now also in the same situation and there has been a certain pressure and inference from some of the nursing home staff to not “force feed” her, ergo let her starve. There are people who want to kill the old and they will keep trying and the government will cut expenses by allowing it.
Posted by: Sir William -
Jun. 06, 2006 11:22 AM ET USA
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,17129-2178237,00.html - this article details debate in the House of Lords on a bill allowing 'voluntary euthanasia'. Read the arguments for it - it will chill your marrow. Baroness Chapmen, who suffers from brittle-bone disease, argues against this bill in her own defense, but her words convince none of those for it. The last statement, by Lord Hughes, sums the pro-death position nicely. This will probably pass in the near future, so determined are they.
Posted by: -
Jun. 06, 2006 10:30 AM ET USA
I agree that if current trends continue we will be seeing a mass euthanazian of the elderly in the near future. It already happens in hospitals now. Sooner or later you have to pay the piper and materialistic contraceptors will feel the reap what they have sewn. A curve ball has been thrown. I am reading a book by JH Kunstler and he demonstrates that we have already reached peak oil. With the near depletion of fossil fuels, there will be a massive breakdown in society. The party is almost over.
Posted by: Ignacio177 -
Jun. 06, 2006 9:27 AM ET USA
On a talk radio show I heard a young Marine ( a Jew from N.Y.!) give the best definiton of a "Liberal" I have heard: "A liberal is a person who wants to be virtuous without pain or effort." medicare and social security benefits must be cut to bare bones to cover only: 1)early screening and prevention 2) catastrofic care. Families must care for themselves. - The problem is the result of the contraceptive mentality that has poisoned the culture.
Posted by: Canismater -
Jun. 06, 2006 7:00 AM ET USA
The counter argument is: the dignity, sacredness, and value of life at all stages; the worth and meaning of suffering; and the importance for society to recognize all of its members regardless of the financial burden. Wait a minute…that’s already a counter argument that’s being ignored for a whole range of other issues. In fact, it’s part of the core of Christian belief which is not only being ignored, it’s being attacked and vilified. How, then, do you propose to fight this?
Posted by: benedictusoblatus -
Jun. 06, 2006 6:22 AM ET USA
Involuntary euthanasia probably won't happen to the sick and elderly who have families willing to care for them at home. But for those living "on the dole" I am sure the day will come when they will be quickly and quietly despatched after two doctors sign a chart saying there is no likelihood for a patient to return to an active and productive life ....
Posted by: benedictusoblatus -
Jun. 06, 2006 6:17 AM ET USA
Involuntary euthanasia is not an inevitable event on our horizon. Its major impediment in our society will not be Catholic bishops, but the pharmaceutical industry. Every day I see 85 year old patients who are taking 10 - 20 medications at incredible expense, just because 3rd party payers will pay the bill. When the money dries up, the people won't take the meds. No one has a moral duty to reduce themselves to penury in order to take non-curative medications indefinitely.