July 23, 2008

Should the government decide that you've lived long enough?

William Saletan says yes.

ADDED: I thought we'd committed to the belief that age discrimination is wrong. How could we backtrack on that?

Young people want to believe they will live to be very old, so even they would balk at telling old people they can't have the heart surgery they need.

Imagine the human interest stories there would be about beloved great grandparents who only need a simple pacemaker but whom the government has slated to die.

Saletan's idea is emotionally and politically obtuse.

65 comments:

El Presidente said...

The United States has long accepted beginning of life eugenics, why is end of life eugenics anything but a logical extension.

Margaret Sanger would be proud.

Roger J. said...

El Presidente is right on. Why throw away money on someone who is creaky?

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

Why throw away government money on someone who is creaky?

knox said...

The theory is that just as some people have enough money, others have had enough time.

Distribute your hate more equally: No need to resent just the rich... hate the old too!

mcg said...

Whoever pays the bills gets to make the decisions.

mcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mcg said...

My grandfather was in his late 80's when his doctor told him he needed to watch his cholesterol. When he told me this I was flabbergasted, and said, "are you kidding? You're 87, you can eat whatever the heck you want." (Yes, I'm sure I said "heck", he's an old-fashioned fellow.)

He is now in his mid 90s and lying in a nursing home. His brain is still sharp, and his ears work great. (In both cases he is unique among his age peers.) His memory of events 60, 70 years ago is frankly amazing. But everything else about his body is going to pot, and has been for awhile. It's been frustrating for him and those who love him. Thankfully---yes, thankfully---it is clear he is finally dying. (And FYI, his high-cholesterol diet had absolutely nothing to do with that.)

As I walked out of a visit with him with my grandmother, she said that this was likely the best nursing home in the area. I looked around and the lifeless hulls sitting in wheelchairs, arranged in groups of three so they could be more efficiently fed by helpers. I told her, "Yes, I imagine so, Mamma, but I have to say that when you look at this place it kind of makes you hope you die suddenly of a heart attack." She did not disagree.

William Saletan is not talking some sort of Logan's Run eugenics program. He's talking about performing significant life-prolonging surgeries like pacemaker implants, heart bypasses, valve replacements, cancer surgeries, etc. on people who are 90 or older, and having you and I pay for it.

The level of entitlement we have now around medicine really is amazing. As soon as some medical advance is even remotely mainstream we give no thought to making it an expectation at any stage of life and health.

News flash, folks, people die. Nobody has managed to beat that yet. William Saletan is simply asking us to recognize the futility of trying.

El Presidente said...

Maybe a governement program to buy motorcycles for everyone on their 70th birthday would be a better idea.

reader_iam said...

This is a complex issue, and I'm very torn.

I'm not sure it's fair to use the term eugenics, in that we're not talking about euthanizing old people, en masse or individually, at least not in this case.

OTOH, should age be the prime definer? Some people are healthier in their 80s or 90s than others in their 50s or 60s, say. It's been five years, so far, since Mrs. Homer had her implant. What's the average length of time that people live after such a procedure? I have no idea. What if she's doing as well or better than the average, even compared to people in their 60s or 70s who've had the procedure?

If you click over to the NYT article on which Saletan is commenting and read the whole thing, you'll find on the second page of the article some interesting context:

Mrs. Homer’s cardiologist, Dr. Gary R. Friedman, said that without the operation, he did not expect her to live past 100. She turned 104 on April 27.

Before a heart attack at 95, her only previous hospitalization had been during the birth of her daughter, Jane Sturm, now a robust 81.

But over each of the next four years, Mrs. Homer, who has three granddaughters and a great-grandson, was hospitalized nearly every other month, for heart failure and fluid in her lungs. Mrs. Sturm said her mother would emerge each time weaker than when she was admitted.
[snip]
Dr. Greenberg admits he “wouldn’t have wanted to advertise” the operation on Mrs. Homer immediately afterward, when it was unclear how long she would survive. Now he argues that the operation, which was covered by Medicare, cost less than repeated hospitalizations for heart failure. “People pay more for their BMW, which will not save their life,” Dr. Greenberg said.

Dr. Friedman said Mrs. Homer’s heart is much stronger since the operation, and that her health is generally good — akin to that of, perhaps, a 94-year-old. Her only hospitalization since the procedure has been a brief stay for pneumonia, he said.

“She might have passed away in 2004, so theoretically Medicare wouldn’t have been putting a lot of money out,” he noted. “But our goal, as a society, hopefully, is quality of life with some kind of cost we can afford.”


So if the issue is monetary, as Saletan is saying, who's to say how long Mrs. Homer might have continued on, with repeated hospital stays costing more than the $35,000? Would Saletan argue that, at a certain point in time, "If you make it to 100 and can fund [your own hospital stays], that's terrific. But Medicare should focus its resources on people who haven't been as lucky as you. [sentence modified, all emphasis mine.]

***

Medicare--like all health plans, really--does ration care already, at least insofar as what it will pay for, and, indeed, it will do so based on other medical conditions. Should age be the defining factor, or medical condition?

John said...

Saleten is exhibit number one why we can never allow socialized medicine. He wants to treat health like wealth and make things more equal by killing through denial of treatment those who live to be very old. Note that he doesn't say we should deny treatment to save money and spend it elsewhere. He is even more perverse than that. He says we should deny treatment to equalize health; kill the old so that they are more equal with those who died young.

If I was the editor of Slate, Saleton would be cleaning out his desk within 10 minutes of my reading this abominable post. Sometimes I wonder how it is that things like the Holocaust happened and the people like Saleton remind me how.

El Presidente said...

First they came for the elderly's heathcare and I did nothing because I was not old.

Or is that cliche?

reader_iam said...

You know, life really is a crapshoot. It's so hard to tell what might or might not turn out to be wasted.

mcg said...

Yes, that's true. But no solvent health care insurer can afford to cover everything that exhibits any chance of success no matter how small. They never have and never will. To expect otherwise goes against reason and evidence.

Subsidized health care is and always will be a scarce resource. Thus debates about what is appropriate to cover are inevitable and necessary.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Why throw away government money on someone who is creaky?

Why throw away taxpayer money on someone who is creaky.

Just a nitpick I felt compelled to fix.

reader_iam said...

MCG: While that's true, that doesn't address whether age, in and of itself, ought to be the deciding factor.

reader_iam said...

Hoosier Daddy: Will your personal medical plan cover you once you're Medicare eligible?

mcg said...

reader_iam: well some actuarial categorization has to be used, and age is as good as anything. I don't hear anyone complaining that age is a determining factor for life insurance or even auto insurance. And it already is a determining factor in many health insurance plans.

If we could come up with something similarly objective and nondiscriminatory (in other respects) I'd be all for it. Something like an odometer reading for cars.

reader_iam said...

I think it has to be "a" factor, I'm just not sure ought to be "the" factor, across the board, for reasons I alluded to in an earlier comment.

reader_iam said...

The problem with "nondiscriminatory" is that nature, health, family history & etc. are already discriminatory. You have people in their 80s and above who are in better shape than others in their 60s and 70s, and who may very well be better candidates for certain procedures, from a medical rationing standpoint apart from age. Life's a crapshoot, in that respect. Do we level the already inherently discriminatory playing field by picking an arbitrary age and applying it across the board? It seems that's what Saletan's arguing, or, at least that this would be the logical outcome.

Christy said...

While I don't like the government making these determinations, I do recognize that if the government is paying, choices must be made. I just want the government to use my criteria, not yours.

On the other hand, I wish we could still ease family members out after a certain point. I remember my momma explaining to me back before we had "brain death" as a category that everyone died when their heart stopped, so heart failure was sometimes code for a hastened death.

bearbee said...

Why throw away government money on someone who is creaky?

Why throw away taxpayer money on someone who is creaky.

Just a nitpick I felt compelled to fix.


Brillant choice of nit to pick.

Grrrrrrrrr....... we throw away boatloads of TAXPAYER money on bailing out the greedy, incompetence and malfeasant because of Congressional failure to conduct appropriate oversight, yet cry over a few crumbs spent on seniors.

When...does...it...end.

Harsh Pencil said...

This is why government provided health insurance is such a bad idea. A better system would be that you get whatever care you agreed to. Do you get a pacemaker at 100? Look up what your insurance contract says. People should be free to buy contracts which cut them off at a certain age (and pay lower premiums as a result) and free to buy contracts which don't (and pay higher premiums as a result). The governments role should be to provide a well functioning legal system so that such contracts can be written and relied upon.

vbspurs said...

Slate's William Saletan wrote:

But Medicare should focus its resources on people who haven't been as lucky as you.

Since Liberals tend to focus on those who LACK something, they consequently run roughshod on anyone who HAS something.

Even if that something is a long-lived constitution which needs extended care.

It's almost as if they're accusing the extremely aged of hogging all the good health out there.

Spread it around. Age equality for all!

Cheers,
Victoria

Randy said...

Don't waste money on replacing pacemakers for those over 90? In the big scheme of things, it isn't all that expensive a procedure. A good friend will turn 95 this September. She's still as mentally sharp as ever. Although extremely hard-of-hearing, she's otherwise physically sound thanks to her pacemaker. I disagree replacing it was a waste of money.

reader_iam said...

It's almost as if they're accusing the extremely aged of hogging all the good health out there.

Well put--that does seem to be an implied aspect of what Saletan's saying.

reader_iam said...

Just saw the update.

ADDED: I thought we'd committed to the belief that age discrimination is wrong.

I guess I question that premise. If anything, my perception is that ageism has been back on the uptick for quite a while now--maybe even since the late '90s? I'd have to think about that. In any case, I've seen quite a bit at least implied ageism especially in recent years. Or maybe I've gotten more sensitive or aware of it? Not sure.

(And, of course, I could be wrong, however much I may think not.)

reader_iam said...

We're a youth-oriented culture with a disproportionately large generation embarking upon "early old" age. I've often thought, in recent years, that this has something to do with what I've been noticing.

Just thinking out loud and, again, I could be wrong.

Randy said...

Ageism is rampant in the Silicon Valley.

Original Mike said...

Saletan said: "If you make it to 100 and can fund your own surgery, that's terrific."

Don't believe him. A likely component of single-payer government health care is that self-funding your own care will be illegal. It was a feature of Hillarycare (it was the feature that made me adamently opposed to the plan) and will likely be a component of any future plan. It will be done in the service of "equality".

Andrew Berman said...

If Age Discrimination is wrong, then why do we have an age cutoff for Medicare? Or for that matter, Social Security?

Budgets are always going to have winners and losers and we can play the tradeoff game to our hearts' content: We could save X more lives with healthcare if we cut subsidies to Y, where Y is just about anything that's, well, not part of healthcare, right? But within a government healthcare budget, who gets what and how much of it? And do voters have the right to place limits on that budget? I have the right to think that putting a pacemaker in a 100 year old woman is a complete waste of my portion of the $35K. Sure it's ageist. Big deal-- it's merited ageism. Put the money towards Alzheimer's research or, even better, some children's disease research. Or maybe even some nice flower gardens for the Mall in DC. I'm fine with that, too.

vbspurs said...

We're a youth-oriented culture with a disproportionately large generation embarking upon "early old" age. I've often thought, in recent years, that this has something to do with what I've been noticing.

RIA, you are not wrong, IMO. This generation you mention has a lot of people like Grace Slick in it.

Remember this Althouse post on her?

"I'm a 67-year-old fat, white-haired, liver-spotted woman."

Of her body, she says, "It's all lumpy stuff with lines."

Ahem. Anything else?

"I think old people are scary," says the former hippie vixen. "They remind you of your own death."


Old people remind you of your own death. Think about that line. There's something unmercifully hateful about it, an echo of the 60s mantra of "you can't trust anyone over the age of 30."

So you know, why prolong the lives of these liver-spotted death-reminding bodies?

Cheers,
Victoria

James Wigderson said...

Logan: NO! Don't go in there! You don't have to die! No one has to die at 30! You could live! LIVE! Live, and grow old! I've seen it! She's seen it!
[Shows the crystal on his palm]
Logan: Well, look! LOOK! LOOK, IT'S CLEAR!
[Crowd laughs]
P.A. System: Lastday, Capricorn 29's. Year of the City: 2274. Carousel begins.
Jessica: No! Don't! Don't go! Listen to him! He's telling the truth!
[More laughter]
Jessica: We've been outside! There's another world outside! We've seen it!
[Sandmen grab them]
Logan: Life clocks are a lie! Carousel is a lie! THERE IS NO RENEWAL!

Trumpit said...

Suppose someone's indigent 100 year old grandma needs a heart operation costing $200,000 that may extend her life by a couple of years at most. Why not give grandma the choice: have the operation or receive 1/2, $100,000 in a trust fund to be used for her great grand children's college eduction. (This would be a bargain for the taxpayer.) Which should grandma choose? Put the guilt trip back on grandma where it belongs. Is she going to stiff her progeny and live on in infamy after her death? I don't want grandma to die, unless she has other grander celestial plans.

Another cost-saving option would be to just give grandma $100,000 to spend as she wishes. If she wants a last luxury cruise around the world and a trip to vegas instead of a possibly fatal surgery and painful recovery, I don't blame her one bit for chosing to have some great fun to end it all. It beats a scalpel any day of the week. Have a last blast, at taxpayers expense, grandma!! What a great way to give Uncle Sam the finger...

Methadras said...

This reminds me of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode that was about a star that was going supernova in a short while and the planet that orbited it had a brilliant scientist working on the problem to reverse the process of it going nova. But he lived in a society/government that had it mandated that anyone at the age of 60 must commit ritual suicide by poison. A mother of one of the crew members on the Enterprise fell in love with this scientist and it just so happened that he had finally discovered the secret to stopping the star from going nova, but now he was in a quandry. Does he ditch hundreds of years of culture for the sake of the new woman he loves and for passing on the information of stopping the star from exploding and destroying his planet? Or does he just pass of his data to other scientists that will screw it up and have him commit ritual suicide in front of his family and preserve their culture instead?

The reasoning, as was told in the episode for the ritual suicide was because of increasing health care costs and the burden on families for taking care of their elderly. Also it was the burden on society and the government for those that couldn't afford to deal with their elderly and nearly bankrupted the government.

Is this basically what this proposition has come to? Get rid of the elderly because they are now a burden on society and since we are becoming nanny-statist already, then it's easier to weed out the infirmed than it is to take care of them as our civic and moral obligations dictate? I'll never subscribe to this nonsense and this is what happens when you devalue human life via secular policies.

Eli Blake said...

OK, you guys:

I agree that whether to let you live or die should not be up to the government. Now, do you agree that it should be up to an insurance company? Health insurers regularly deny life-saving surgery to people on the basis that they are too old (one of the many excuses they have available.)

Or is it just the Government you hate telling someone to drop dead?

TMink said...

mcg wrote: "The level of entitlement we have now around medicine really is amazing."

We agree. It is worst (in my practice) with people who have me pay the bill for them through my taxes. In Tennessee, I cannot charge a no show fee to TennCare patients. So I fire them when they no show too much. Heck, we (the taxpayers) should give them $5 for showing up to a medically necessary appointment. And fines for people who come to the Emergency Room with minor medical needs.

Nah. It makes perfect sense.

Trey

Richard Dolan said...

Rationing of the sort Saletan writes about already occurs in the transplant area, where the patient's age is taken into account in determining eligibility. The ostensible justification is that there are more candidates for certain transplants than there are available organs. Some criteria for making the selection must be adopted, and age is often one of them.

It's a different issue, however, where there is no such inherent need for rationing of the medical service. No one asserts that giving the 100-year old an operation costing $100,000 has any direct impact on the availability of the same operation for the next in line. Instead, the argument is that a dollar spent on the 100-year old is not available to spend elsewhere.

True enough. But there are two differences that bear on the morality of societal choices that the utilitarian calculus of economics does not deal with. The first is the distinction between active and passive; and the second between the singular and the mass. They come together when, for example, a mine disaster traps some workers below ground, and a huge (and hugely expensive) effort is made to get them out before the air runs out. As with the 100-year old, it is true that more lives could be saved if the same funds were spent elsewhere (e.g., providing antimalarial measures where the disease is endemic). But the choices routinely made by societies (i.e., to make the rescue effort at the mine) show that we do not measure the morality of choice in those terms.

Most people resist an attempt to make life-or-death choices based on claims that one person's life is worth more/less than someone else's -- i.e., the miners or the 100-year old are not valuable enough to make the effort worth it. Yet where that results passively from more general societal decisions -- e.g., not to build a clinic close to some remote area, even though the decision means that some number of people may die because of the time it takes to get to a more distant hospital -- people have a different reaction. Just as they would if the equipment needed to make the rescue effort at the mine was too far away to get there in time to do any good.

The most economically efficient allocation of resources is thus not always the same result as that required by society's sense of the moral requirements called from by the particular situation. Triage and rationing is acceptable where shortages make no other choice possible. But otherwise, it is difficult to justify the denial of lifesaving treatments based on the patient's age where the patient wants the treatment and could benefit from it medically. Saletan should know better.

OldGrouchy said...

MM: You're correct in so many ways. after all, the Government makes money so it is the one to decide how to spend it. Makes perfect sense to me.

Now, if we taxpayers (And, I used to be one before getting very old and grey!) funded the government that would be a different story. That's all Obama is trying to do, get us to fully fund the government and to stop using money in wasteful ways.

Jeez, some people sure are creaky,
cranky, even grouch a lot too.

knox said...

my perception is that ageism has been back on the uptick for quite a while now... In any case, I've seen quite a bit at least implied ageism especially in recent years.

RIA, I would not be surprised if this is true. Baby Boomers are getting older and will soon be our "Seniors". They are not a popular group.

I am going to be brutally honest here: I feel truly lucky to have grown up with my grandparents and to have known my neighbors who were part of the "Greatest Generation." And I get a little bit depressed when I consider that the "elder statesmen" for my kids are going to be Boomers. No way will I have the respect for the elderly I used to.

knox said...

Or is it just the Government you hate telling someone to drop dead?

Eli, If it is established that an insurance company has a pattern of acting in bad faith, they can be sued and put out of business. If the government's in charge, there's no other option. It's a cliche, but when you go to the DMV or call the IRS, they don't give a shit because they don't have to. Whereas, it's in the interest of a private entity to serve their customers. Sorry if I have ZERO faith that a government bureaucrat will ever, ever treat humans as anything but a distraction to their coffee break. At least someone in private industry who's an ass or incompetent has to worry that they could lose their job.

Kirby Olson said...

In Holland a woman died at 115 in 2005. Her brain showed no signs of aging. She attributed this to the fact that she liked to eat pickled herring.

Her names was Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper. She donated her body to science. She had experienced no decline in mental ability, and still cracking jokes, and she had no signs of Alzheimer's at all. I read this in a journal called Brain in the News, from the www.dana.org published by Dana Foundation.

I'd rather that they threw Saletan on the bone pile than Mrs. Andel-Schipper. Scrap his column, and give him a tin cup to beg for money.

vbspurs said...

Kirby, not only did you and I reply the same way about Vietnam-McCain at the same time, but I was just Googling info on assisted suicide, as provided in the Netherlands.

Sure, they say it's voluntary, if the older person wants it -- the doctor will help out an older person to commit suicide.

But I'd just as rather not have government-run health care involved when you're old when you're seen as hogging resources that could go to less "fortunately" healthy people.

Cheers,
Victoria

Revenant said...

If you want to force people, at gunpoint, to cough up money for your medical treatment, you need to present a good argument as to why that medical treatment is really necessary.

I have no interest in paying to extend the life of a 90-year-old man I don't even know. If he was my father or uncle, that would be different -- but if he was my father or uncle, I'd willingly pay for it myself.

Host with the Most said...

Believe what you will, but abortion rights will lead in future generations to a further winnowing of the edges: next the real old, then back to born infants - just the first couple of weeks mind you - then back to the 80 + year olds who aren't economically feasible. Then a detour on the way back to the 6mo - 1year olds to knock off the invalids, then Downs, then the autistic.

The question has always been framed as being about the "quality of life".

Sadly, it should always be about the "value" of any life, and that value standing alone, not in relation to any other life. Either a human life is valuable completely, wholly on it's own, defenseless or not, at whatever age, or then it ultimately is only of market value at all.

Everything else is the rule of the strong over the weak. Darwinism.
The law of the Jungle. Marxism.
Just don't ever call it what it's not: selfless.

Revenant said...

then back to born infants - just the first couple of weeks mind you - then back to the 80 + year olds who aren't economically feasible. Then a detour on the way back to the 6mo - 1year olds

Uh-huh...

And when, exactly, is this support for infanticide supposed to materialize? We've had nation-wide legal abortion for a third of a century and there isn't even the remotest sign of it. In fact I'm being told I have a moral obligation to pay higher taxes so the little rugrats get better medical coverage.

Everything else is the rule of the strong over the weak. Darwinism.

If you Darwinism is "the rule of the strong over the weak" it is painfully obvious that you don't know shit about either Darwin or the theory of evolution.

John Lynch said...

Prime example of why the government should never, ever be in a position to make choices like this.

If they don't have the power they can't misuse it.

Kirby Olson said...

Victoria, I saw that we answered the same way on McCain.

But what's the deal with not caring about the elderly? Why should they suddenly stop having human rights?

The lady was perfectly viable.

I would understand if she had been a vegetable for twenty years and was costing a fortune.

But all she wanted was a cup of yogurt and pickled herring, and a glass of tea, and she gave the whole world hope.

I can't understand why you'd want her slaughtered just as an expense thing? Doesn't sound like you!

It sounds like Beth!

vbspurs said...

*looks around*

Kirby, where did I say that?? ;)

veni vidi vici said...

The title of this post reminds me of the moment in the "Into the West" miniseries where one of the Lakota has finally had enough of the arrogant cavalrymen and says something along the lines of "I have lived long enough!" before the fighting begins.

Lest one (understandably) think otherwise, that miniseries was far better in the watching than it could ever be in my telling. It took much from "Black Elk Speaks" and the like in providing the Lakota point of view.

But like the comment above, "This is a complex issue, and I'm very torn." For me, it's between the foregoing "Into the West" bit and the Lastday / Logan's Run thing others here have also raised.

No, I haven't read the article. Anything posing a question as dumb as the post's title and purporting to be taken seriously just isn't worth my time. Sorry Will, try again.

amba said...

Equality of outcomes thinking again.

Saletan is an anagram for Stalean! (Bet he thinks fat people have had enough food, too!)

Sofa King said...

The solution is perfectly obvious: for much less money, the government could simply promote smoking. Smokers knock off nice and early, saving money for the rest of us.

amba said...

My mom had a knee replaced at about age 80 (i can't pinpoint it exactly). She'll be 85 in November.

She is so happy, so vital, walking all over the place.

Granted, she's not 90 or 100. But my impression was that at those ages, many people are considered a poor risk for major surgery: they're just too frail. And others decide on their own that they don't want to go through surgery. I wonder if the numbers of old people who are in poor overall shape but want these procedures anyway is rather small. It may be a fake problem. If both the doctor and the patient believe there is more good living on the far side of the procedure, then the patient is probably robust enough to benefit from it and to benefit the people around him or her.

Michael McNeil said...

mcg sez:
News flash, folks, people die. Nobody has managed to beat that yet. William Saletan is simply asking us to recognize the futility of trying.

People said much the same thing about the first trip to the Moon. Nobody had ever done it before, indeed no living thing over 4.6 billion years of Earth history (except perhaps a few microbes blasted off via giant meteorite impact) had ever left the Earth. Many called the idea impossible or crazy — yet it occurred.

Sometimes things do happen for the first time ever — and from then on remain possible.

In this regard, it's worth noting that modern medicine and specifically in-depth genetic knowledge of the human body provide the theoretical and technical basis for a greatly enhanced lifespan — which is already happening.

One might peruse this interesting article from a bit over a year ago, about the enormous medical advancements over the last half century.

For instance, when the president of the United States Dwight Eisenhower suffered a heart attack just over 50 years ago, his physicians' prescription for coping with the extreme medical emergency was that the president's wife should cuddle closely with him during the night to keep him warm!

It's also worth noting that the lifespan during the single year between 2005 and 2006 increased by four months! (NY Times article “U.S. Life Expectancy Raches New Record,” June 11, 2008; link broken.) Similar improvements go on year by year.

mcg said...

I thought we'd committed to the belief that age discrimination is wrong. How could we backtrack on that?

We did? I missed the memo. I mean, the last time I applied for individual private health insurance, they asked my age and adjusted my premiums accordingly. I haven't applied for term life insurance but something tells me they're going to ask my age, too. The last time I checked, the Social Security Adminstration expects me to be quite a bit older before I can start drawing benefits. And heck I can't even get Medicare yet.

Let's cut the crap. Age is a much better predictor of health than, say, Middle Eastern origin is of one's tendency to be a terrorist. I know, I know, I know, everyone knows some octagenarian who looks and acts a decade younger. But they are the exceptions that prove the rule.

Sure, we can avoid all age discrimination in Medicare if you want. But inevitably that's going to reduce benefits for everyone in the program. It's going to screw someone. So don't think you're taking the high road here. Someone loses either way---it's just that you'd just prefer to use inertia to decide that instead of actual deliberation.

And for those of you approaching Medicare age I suggest you investigate your private supplemental insurance very carefully. You're going to need it!

reader_iam said...

I believe I was trying to deliberate. Sorry if that offends.

Kirby Olson said...

The Dutch lady lived to be 115 after she beat Cancer at 101. It would be sad to me if the Social people took a shotgun and blew her off her stool at 101 just to save money for somebody who needs the money to fight their rampant sexual diseases at age 23.

Let the elderly live on and on! More power to them!

mcg said...

reader_iam: you did indeed deliberate. I apologize for not being clear, but I was referring to Ann's comment "I thought we'd committed to the belief that age discrimination is wrong. How could we backtrack on that?" as if that settled the issue.

mcg said...

It would be sad to me if the Social people took a shotgun and blew her off her stool at 101 just to save money for somebody who needs the money to fight their rampant sexual diseases at age 23.

Yeah, that would be sad. Of course, it's also a straw man.

mcg said...

Look, let's do a mental exercise here. Let's say for the sake of argument that budget constraints require that Medicare limit the care it provides. Which procedures would you eliminate? Where would you cut? No fair picking things that aren't currently paid for.

OldGrouchy said...

Of course, blowing people off a stool with a shotgun blast is a straw man! Jeez!

However, refusing care to someone because he's old or infirm is not a straw man. Be over 65 and overweight and doctors will say that they won't spend time to save you if something bad crops up.

Britian's NIH said, last year IMMISC, that it was limiting healthcare to the elderly. And, we're supposed to revere NIH or Canada's lovely version? Bullcrappy.

OBTW: When de Gummermint comes around with its meals on wheels tanker truck dispensing free high protein drink, be wary! Yummy!

mcg said...

Of course, blowing people off a stool with a shotgun blast is a straw man! Jeez!

Yes, and so is talking about 23-year-olds with STDs in the context of Medicare.

blake said...

Ageism has gone up tremendously just since about...oh...whenever it was the media decided it was gonna be McCain vs. Obama in November.

And when, exactly, is this support for infanticide supposed to materialize?

Isn't one of the controversies of the election about Obama's support for infanticide? It's not called that, but when a baby is born instead of killed during an abortion, and they kill it after it's been birthed? Or wouldn't that count?

blake said...

Look, let's do a mental exercise here. Let's say for the sake of argument that budget constraints require that Medicare limit the care it provides. Which procedures would you eliminate? Where would you cut? No fair picking things that aren't currently paid for.

One doesn't need to imagine too hard, given that we're approaching that time of the year when the State of California simply skips paying its Medicare bills for the month.

Nor need we imagine too hard, in a world where the state is responsible for health care, and it is therefore "free", that rationing will be necessary.

noexit said...

Wow, some of you people are really demented. I just hope you have the same feelings when its' your mother or father that is sentenced to death by a government troll, or for that matter, when its' you that is sentenced to death by that same government troll. My god, this country is screwed. For the first time in my adult life(39 y/o) I am seriously considering leaving this country. If we are going socialist then I have plenty of other choices with regard to where to live.