Yesterday’s post about assisted suicide drew a lot of comments. One interesting trend was that people assumed (maybe because of the blog being about religion?) that my skepticism re: assisted suicide and the slippery slope of killing perfectly healthy people was a God thing. I never mentioned religion in the post, nor God, yet the ever complimentary, patient and polite Red Star tried to tie the Almighty in, as did a couple others. The Time article I linked to also didn’t mention God, so maybe readers should consider that one can be against assisted suicide for humanist moral reasons, not only religious ones.
My primary point was this: “… there may come a terrible time not too soon in our fast-moving future where the choice to die (signing a living will saying you don’t want a feeding tube, for instance) becomes subtle pressure on the dying to just hurry up and get it over with: “You had a good life, Daddy, don’t you think? Isn’t now the time to just let go? Let me get you some medicine.” ” That’s not someone saying they want to choose their time to die; it is someone “encouraged” to line up for the death drip by family, friends, societial messages, etc.
Should society be allowed to regulate that or stop assisted suicide, especially in the cases of perfectly healthy people? Should we force people to keep living who don’t want to? Thorny questions, but one thing is clear: We are failing as a society if people feel pressured in any way to “choose” assisted suicide because they feel like a burden. The sign of a civilized society is the manner in which we care for those least able to care for themselves. Which brings us to the slippery slope and how illegal immigration could help eliminate the concept of “burden.”
Survival is in our nature (which is why suicide is an aberation and points to a deep malaise and could, on those standards, be considered “wrong”). Like all species, homo sapiens will do anything to survive. We are driven toward life and creativity, and one doesn’t have to believe in God to accept that natural truth or to verify it by looking around at life. However, a longer-living aging population requires a younger generation to care for it in its old age (as opposed to “assist” it on its exit to the Great Beyond), and, as the ever-wise and always thoughtful Jeff Hensley suggested in an e-mail last night, perhaps legalizing illegal immigrants could help.
“What no one is talking about in the discussion of rising health care costs are the demographic reasons for the soon to come doubling of the expense,” Jeff wrote. “It’s the change from the pyramid aging structure to the light bulb pattern, a small base of workers and a large top piece of the drawing representing the huge aging population of baby boomers … a little honest conversation could help us all deal with the need to legalize the immigrants among us, educate them and keep them healthy … so they can be prosperous and productive and make the largest contribution to the economic well-being of our economic life that they can.”
This isn’t just a question of justice, he said, but also of self-preservation – people need to be paying into social security and the health-care system in order for the country to survive.
So, all those aging anti-immigrant folks might want to consider the economic effects of their rhetoric on their own care in the future. Will assisted suicide become the norm for those over 80, whether they want to be “assisted” to leave this life or not, simply because it makes economic sense in an over-burdened (there’s that word again) health care system? Could legalizing and educating the millions of illegal immigrants currently in the country help us deal with the impending health care crisis – at minimum a doubling of costs due ot the aging baby boomer generation – in a way that proposed reforms cannot? Discuss amongst yourselves – but nicely, or I’ll put you in time out.