A Modest Proposal Redux

The economy is tumbling.  Americans are suffering.  Nearly 50 million of us don’t have health care.  College education provides little in terms of job opportunity while mounting the average American with massive debt.  After much deliberation, I’ve devised a modest proposal to set right again the ship that is our nation.

Have you ever seen that movie “Logan’s Run”?  I’m not suggesting we kill anyone over the age of thirty, but let’s be honest, do we really need more than 70 years on this planet?  We could rein in health care costs, open new jobs, and provide much needed organs for those of us who have more years ahead.

Sure, maybe we could raise taxes by two percentage points on those who make millions of dollars, but politically, that’s a climb uphill — those uber-wealthy Americans obviously deserve every penny they earn, which is why we should target our efforts at a demographic no one cares about.

If you have a mother, grandmother, or other elderly relative who you are looking to dispose of, then please, donate their bodies (living or dead) to the U.S. government.  Not only can we teach future doctor’s with them, but we can then take their most valuable organs and use those funds to plug the hole in our national budget.

In short, we simply must cease to give way to the political obstructions that prevent us from using our own citizens remains for the benefit of our national economy.

If we’re so willing to send our young and brightest talent to die on foreign battlefields, then what is the hold up of taking the assets of those who’ve yet to sacrifice to their nation’s military?

So I say to you, America, now is the time to sell off our geriatric division in order to pay for those programs we need now.  Health care, education, and the environment.

Repeat with me: Yes We Can!

10 thoughts on “A Modest Proposal Redux

  1. Yes, needless to say, this should also be filed under humor. I thought the reference to Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” was adequate in labeling this as snark.

  2. In all seriousness, Americans need to come to grip with end of life issues. More than 70% of Medicare dollars are spent during the final 30 days of life. Medical ethics need to help change the demands for drastic surgery on the truly elderly. “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should” could lead to better hospice care, which could begin once the family comes to grips that grandma doesn’t need to go back to the hospital for another heart surgery. The beloved family member would be much happier passing quietly at home rather than in a hospital bed.

    And with the rising unemployment, that 50 million Americans without insurance is surely understated at this time.

  3. I agree with this. The truth is, I’d like to see a non-partisan, expert panel to determine the effectiveness of various techniques and whether such treatments be applied to various patients.

    It’s all well and good to say that everyone should be provided every opportunity in health care, but as you correctly point out, most costs come at the end of life when there is honestly nothing to be done.

    We can’t rein in health care costs until we admit that we’re all going to die one day. I’m not advocating euthanasia or age discrimination, but merely an efficient use of our resources.

    I frankly, wouldn’t want my family to spend $50,000 simply to gain me one more week of life. It’s unfair to them, it’s burdensome to either them or the insurance company, and it needlessly drives up health care costs.

    What we should focus on is preventative care, and providing all Americans with the ability to visit doctors instead of ERs.

  4. Give us all the same health care as our congresspersons, that’s all I ask. A true progressive tax plan would take care of it. We are a class society though, so that will never happen. We all need to know our place. /snark

  5. When my mother was told that her cancer was terminal, the doctor gave her two options: she could be admitted to the hospital and receive all kinds of invasive treatments or she could go home to die. The hospital would maybe give her two or three more months. My mother said, “I’m going home”. She died at home peacefully and without pain with her daughter by her side.

  6. Sorry, Big Blue, I interpreted what you wrote as denial of medical services for the elderly.

    Most reasonable and rational people would not spend thousands for treatment that would only give someone a week if they knew, in fact, that is all they would get.

    But, if I knew a heart surgery would give someone a couple more years I would be all for it.

    Also, I do not like the government or any one else saying that a person has had “enough time” on the planet and should clear the way for someone else. It devalues life, period.

    First, the cut off is 70. Then, in the interest of “clearling the way” or “cutting costs” the bar is lowered to 60. Eventually, it evolves into “Don’t trust anyone over 30.”

    “Give us all the same health care as our congresspersons, that’s all I ask.”

    Please don’t hold your breath on that one. Hell, they want to exempt themselves from the plan they are trying to pass.

  7. I understand the moral conflicts involved. Obviously, my post was just meant as an absurdist take on de-valuing the lives of the elderly as well as pointing to the challenges we face in paying for health care.

    That said, the nugget of truth is that at some point — and this isn’t based on age, but on the average results of certain medical treatments — we’re going to have to have a cost to benefit analysis of certain treatments. If we suggest that everyone is entitled to all possible medical treatments regardless of the chances of their success or the amount of time such treatments might afford the patient, then there’s simply no way to rein in health costs.

    I don’t think the answer lies in full denial of service, but I can see drawing a line in the sand wherein patients would need to pony up higher co-pays on certain procedures depending on where they fall within this cost-benefit analysis.

    That said, the greatest savings to be found in health care are through preventative measures. Everything from improved school lunches to set our children on the path to healthy diets to the cessation of subsidizing corn and thus encouraging high fructose corn syrup in so many of our foods. Obviously, access to regular doctor check-ups for all Americans, increased vaccination rates, and perhaps gearing the food stamp program to shift more of its benefits toward healthy diets could provide massive long term savings by decreasing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, etc.

  8. Almost exactly a year ago, my Mom was at the end of her life. She’d fought against a terrible autoimmune disease for 15 years, and in the last few years emphysema was added to the mix. Her decline had become precipitous in the last year.

    She landed in her local hospital with several collapsed vertebrae, due to osteoporosis caused by the prednisone she took to keep her alive. Kind of a “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” situation.

    While in that hospital, she acquired two hospital-borne infections: MRSA and pseudomonis. Her condition became critical overnight. After having been life-flighted to a hospital in a larger city, she was in intensive care for a week.

    Finally, the doctor spoke to my father, and told him that mom’s body simply could not fight off the infections — no matter how strong the antibiotics they were pumping into her. Mom was still conscious, and they spent the whole night talking about what they wanted to do. That was the first time Mom realized she was not going to go home again. I doubt my dad will ever be able to tell me all they talked about.

    My sisters and I gathered at the hospital, and the doctor told us the same thing he had told dad. Certainly, they could keep her alive, but she would not be conscious past a certain point, and she would not know any of us, or the fact that she even existed. After 50 years with mom, dad didn’t want to make the decision on his own. The sad fact was, that if WE didn’t want to let her go, we could trump her decision.

    We all agreed that as active and lively as mom had been all her life, even though at times she was so desperately ill, she would not want that sort of life. That was the first time I ever saw my dad cry.

    They moved mom into a “family room.” This was a room where all of us could be in the room with her, and be fairly comfortable. Mom wanted to be sure to speak with each of us, even though she could barely breathe. She told me that she always thought I was so beautiful, and that she wished she hadn’t kept that to herself. She said she was so proud that I’d thrown everything to the wind, and finally had gone to college. I told her that I loved her so much, and would miss her. And that I had always admired how brave she was, and how she was never afraid to try anything — and that finally some of that had rubbed off on me.

    Later that evening, the nurses unhooked all of the tubes and monitors from mom, except the oxygen. We couldn’t bear to have the oxygen taken right away. The nurse gave mom a large dose of morphine, and told us that if she seemed in any distress at all, she would give her more.

    The next morning, we had them take away the oxygen, and within a few hours, she slipped away. She was 69 years old.

    It was not a peaceful death — emphysema does not allow you to go gently — but it was on her terms. Mom saw what the rest of her life would look like, and she made the decision not to allow it.

    People will talk about the possible “euthanization” the old and the sick, because they have a political agenda to uphold, or because they selfishly cannot face the end of a loved one’s life. But really, seeing what lies ahead and making a decision to end life on our own terms, is something we have earned the right to do over the course of that life.

    Big Blue’s post is obviously satire, but certainly, almost every person “of a certain age” has let their mind wander to such a place. And rightly so — it’s their own life.

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