Maimonides, the great 12th century codifier of Jewish law, said: “The good doctors will go to hell first,” because skilled physicians will be tempted to play God.
Enter Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, a member of Biden’s recently-announced Coronavirus Advisory Committee. The architect of Obamacare, and brother of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, is one scary dude. Kindly, Old Doc Emanuel is an advocate of health care rationing for the elderly.
In a 2014 article for The Atlantic, “Why I hope to Die at 75,” Emanuel wrote: “Living long is also a loss. It renders many of us if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to society …. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”
When he became prime minister in 1940, Winston Churchill was 66. He was 71 at the end of World War II and 77 when he became prime minister for a second time in 1951. Feeble, ineffectual and even pathetic aren’t words generally associated with Britain’s greatest wartime leader. Ronald Reagan was 70 when he took the helm in 1981.
The problem here isn’t that Emanuel doesn’t want to live past 75, but that he doesn’t want the rest of us to live beyond that age either. In 2009, medical ethicist Wesley J. Smith wrote that Emanuel “explicitly advocates rationing based on what appears to be a quality of life measurement.”
By our “ability to contribute to society,” Emanuel doesn’t mean performing neurosurgery, composing symphonies or designing skyscrapers, but paying taxes. Thus the quality of life will turn on the individual’s ability to support the state.
Even though he “contributed” for 40 or 50 years, in retirement, the senior is drawing benefits – including Social Security and Medicare. Unless they have investment income, chances are they’re not paying federal taxes. From the progressive perspective, what good are they?
The septuagenarian Dr. Emanuel wants to slip into that good night may have served his country in time of war, raised a family or built a business. He deserves better than to be told he’s lived too long.
For those like our esteemed doctor, everything is considered from a cost/benefit perspective. The longer we live, the more it costs to keep us alive. In the last years of life, medical expenses often soar. Besides, where are we going to get health care for illegal aliens if seniors soak up resources which should be earmarked for one of the Democrats’ favorite constituencies?
Things get really dicey at the intersection of health care and declining fertility, AKA Demographic Winter.
In the West, we live in rapidly aging societies where the elderly population grows, while the number of workers paying the taxes that fund social programs declines.
Between 1950 and 2017, the U.S. fertility rate (the number of children the average woman will have in her lifetime), fell from 3.5 to less than 2 – with 2.1 needed to replace current population.
In 2009, those 65 and older were 12.5% of total population. By 2019, they were 15%, projected to rise to 20% by 2030. In 1950, the ratio of workers to those of retirement age was 8 to 1. Today, it’s 5 to 1. By 2030, it will be 3 to 1.
Demographic Winter is another gift of the cultural left, which encourages late marriage or singleness and discourages procreation.
How to solve the birth-dearth? For conservatives it’s obvious: have more children. For progressives, it’s equally obvious: get rid of the elderly. After all, Emanuel has told us that beyond 75, their lives really aren’t worth living anyway.
It won’t be anything as obvious as euthanasia or doctor-assisted suicide (Emanuel says he’s opposed to both), but simply withholding services other than palliative care. In Canada and the United Kingdom (countries with more advanced cases of state-run medicine), seniors are routinely denied certain tests and procedures – or they’re delayed in the hope that the patient will die first.
Biden might want to start looking over his shoulder. At age 77, and with what appears to be pronounced cognitive decline, he’s a prime candidate for Emanuel’s medical triage. Really, Joe, do you want to continue this “feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic” existence?
Photo: National Review