I have often been struck, at funerals of the elderly, of the common phrase that while the deceased will be missed, he or she led a “full life.” Adding years to a life doesn’t necessarily make it any fuller.But no, no, no, there are no death panels. Just nudging, withholding, moralizing, disparaging.
We may properly hope that scientific advances help ensure, with ever greater reliability, that young people manage to become old people. We are not, however, obliged to help the old become indefinitely older. Indeed, our duty may be just the reverse: to let death have its day.
What is the social benefit of these old people?
It used to be considered immoral to ask that question.
ADDED: Here's a NYT op-ed from August 2012 also stressing 80 years as the appropriate life-span:
I provided four possible answers [to the question how long would you like to live?]: 80 years, currently the average life span in the West; 120 years, close to the maximum anyone has lived; 150 years, which would require a biotech breakthrough; and forever, which rejects the idea that life span has to have any limit at all....This one ends with a quote from Albert Einstein: "As he lay dying of an abdominal aortic aneurysm in 1955, he refused surgery, saying: 'It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.'"
The results: some 60 percent opted for a life span of 80 years....