Chris L on August 10, 2009 at 7:34 pm
[Greetings! This is a guest post from Chris L from Fishing the Abyss and CRN.Info - After I discussed the concept for this article with John, he invited me to make a guest post here at VS - Thanks, John!]
A MODEST PROPOSAL
For Preventing the Poor Senior Citizens in America from Being a Burden to Their Children or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public
It is a tragedy today to encounter men and women who have passed by the productive years of their lives – times when they held meaningful jobs which provided the grease with which the wheels of society are oiled. Men and women who now find themselves in the pitiable situation where they are dependent upon the generosity of others to provide their ever-growing needs. Needs that, when met with increasingly sophisticated technology, will expand the duration of years in which they live in such miserable dependence.
I think it is fair to say that all parties concerned would agree that the huge number of senior citizens that must be carried on the backs of their children and society is a looming nightmare, and that their deporable state is partially the fault of a healthcare system that is going bankrupt at a time in which they need it the most. Therefore, it seems to me that whoever can find the easiest, cheapest and most fair way of rescuing these citizens from their state of dependency, and society from the burden of their care, would be owed a deep debt of gratitude.
As such, I feel that it is my duty as an American to come forward with a modest proposal that would be such a welcome remedy. A proposal that would fit well, and most logically, with plans already in motion in our fair capital, where lawmakers toil in their benevolent desire to aid the citizens of this grandest of nations, Washington D.C.
I have read recent studies which show that senior citizens account for 60% of the healthcare expenditures, and 47% of hospital days in America. Additionally, I also understand that, as members of the Baby Glut generation (the “glutters”), born from 1946-1964, move into retirement, this percentage of healthcare expenditure is likely to top 75%. At the same time, the ratio of producers to non-producers (the “dependency ratio”) will be dangerously low, and unable to pay for the increased costs of healthcare.
My proposal takes into account this dreaded ratio of dependency which either drives our economy forward or pulls it back into a quagmire. It takes into account the despair of the elderly, who have no way of maintaining themselves in dignity with the meager services provided by the government – along with the discomfort to their children, whose finances are often ruined during the prime of their earning careers when they are forced to care for their ailing parents. It would prevent the inhuman, institutional-green hallways of nursing home care and ease the burden of guilt for children who do not wish to have the albatross of their parents’ health forever tied around their necks until they, too, become burdens to their children. Unchecked, the population of elderly in America will have reached 95 million – nearly the size of the productive population of America at that time!
Without bold leadership and action, not to draw too dramatic a point, the very fabric of the American way of life may be destroyed!
Fortunately, such a bold solution is within our grasp.
Considering the wild success of the US government’s “Cash for Clunkers” program, I am suggesting that it would be advantageous for our society to pay the children of the elderly, upon their reaching 65 years of age, $10,000 apiece in exchange for the euthanization (hereon referred to as “retiring” or “retirement”).* It could also be similarly branded – for example “Funds for Fogeys” or “Greenbacks for Grannies”
While such an amount may seem initially to be exorbitant, upon investigation, I have found that the components of the human body may be worth up to $45 million, if properly isolated. Even if we take into account the obvious lowering of this amount if the supply of human organs were to increase a thousandfold overnight, the cost to society saved just in health care bills alone – simply by removing the most greedy consumers of that care – would more than pay for itself in short order.
Such a solution – aside from completely eradicating the current crisis in healthcare – would have a number of side-benefits, as well:
Firstly, this proposal would keep the respect for and dignity towards life at the forefront of the public and family conscience. It would help ease the “sting” of death felt by most American families as they age. A number of studies have shown that the greatest source of fear of death is its untimely and seemingly capricious nature. By removing this uncertainty, families will be able to celebrate their loved ones’ lives – with the soon-to-be-retired loved one. Also, unlike the “traditional” method of death, the soon-to-be-retired citizen will be able to comfortably enjoy all of the nice memories their friends and relatives wish to share upon their exit from this earth, rather than miss them due to an untimely death.
Secondly, it would avoid all of the messy years of downward-spiraling health and ever-increasing costs borne by society. As officials in countries much farther down the path toward this proposal have noted, it is to the elderly a “duty to die” for the betterment of their families and their nations’ health care systems. My proposal would simply codify that patriotic duty into law, while providing compensation to their families. For seniors who are in good health at the time of their retirement, they will also have the satisfaction of knowing that their organs will be able to be used to save the lives of the young and (somewhat) healthy who are unfortunate enough to need an organ transplant.
Thirdly, my proposal would greatly increase the money flowing into the tax coffers of the US government. The so-called “death tax” – an estate tax on the wealthy that brings in up to 50% of an individuals’ accumulated wealth – would become an engine for growth in the funding of our government. This would particularly be true as the glutters reach retirement age and contribute their fair share to the system.
Fourthly, my proposal would have a side-benefit of helping America reach its carbon-reduction goals. The average human being expires 330 kilograms of carbon dioxide each year. By artificially reducing the average life expectancy in the US from 77 years to 64 years, we could reduce the US’ CO2 emissions by 350 billion tons per year. Add on top of that the reduction in human waste and consumption, and you have to wonder why we have not implemented such a reasonable proposal years sooner! With such a plan, the US would become the envy of the industrialized world in its carbon emission reductions, alone. No longer would the world be able to scorn our lack of concern for the environment.
Fifthly, America could contribute to the environmental betterment of the third world, and help to eliminate world hunger. With Amazonian tribes burning much of the remaining rainforest to grow food, America could cure and prepare meat from the retired citizens, and provide it free to the Brazilian savages in exchange for their ceasing their deforestation efforts. Again, a win-win proposition.
Sixthly, my proposal would improve the math and science capabilities of American children by providing them with a ready supply of human cadavers – valuable teaching tools once exclusively available to medical students on their way to becoming greedy doctors who milk the government’s health care system for all its worth. With such teaching tools, our children would quickly excel in medical sciences, readying themselves to fill positions as state physicians, nurses and other government medical positions. Think of the children!
“Surely,” I can hear you say, “there have to be some down sides to this proposal!” If you said this, you would be correct. However, I believe that most problems could be easily worked through.
For example, it is possible that the government could become addicted to the enormous surpluses such a program would inevitably add to its coffers, only to find out that, once the “glutters” have been depleted in 2029, demand has outstripped the supply of retirees. In such a case, it may behoove the government to look for other sources of healthcare savings. For instance, they could follow the lead of Britain, which has much more experience with universal healthcare, and encourage parents to abort children with bad genes.** Or, they could post actuaries in emergency rooms who would have the ability to call a “code green” on a patient, at which point his or her family could choose to let the patient die for a cash incentive (saving the American people thousands of dollars for care not likely to greatly improve the live of the patient) or agree to pay for all further treatment out-of-pocket. Either way, this could help meet the shortfall in bodies.
But what about burial space? Wouldn’t such a program lead to cemetery overcrowding? Of course not. Why waste a perfectly good body by burying it? Families should not have the right to take away the government’s purchased property and bury it! Instead, a monument should be built in Washington D.C., where these wonderful patriots’ names can be enshrined for time immemorial, in honor of their service to their country. While this will still take up space, hundreds of thousands of names can be chiseled into granite in a space vastly smaller than what would be required to bury an equal number of bodies.
There will also be a problem brought about by an overabundance of funds in the government treasury. I think it is important that we resist the temptation to spend it in ways that would genuinely help the poor – for to do so would grant them a sliver of independence, which might result in them turning on the source of their succor – the government. No, it is far better that the poor live in the natural consequences that sum up their lives, recognizing the only potential source of comfort and happiness as the government. Only then will they be fully committed to my solution, and only then will the sheep-like masses on the educated left be moved with compassion for the poor and support such plans in droves, willingly blinded to the truth of their plight.
But you might also challenge me – aren’t there better solutions out there. Ones that don’t lead to such perceived government intrusion?
What about tort reform – particularly for malpractice? Of course this isn’t a good solution. One of America’s distinguishing characteristics is its world-leading, per-capita number of lawyers. Without these upstanding citizens, the rabble would pay much less for all consumer goods (resulting in less tax revenue), greedy doctors would be able to save on their malpractice insurance, and medical device and “big pharma” companies would be able to produce more innovative breakthroughs – resulting in higher healthcare costs! Additionally, why should doctors and pharmaceutical companies be allowed to work for a profit, when the government can run them just as well, with simply the well-being of its customers in mind?
Or what about elimination of fraud? After all, recent government audits show that fraud may be eating up 10% of Medicaid outlays, while it only spends 0.2% of its operating budget on preventing fraud. Shouldn’t it do more to combat fraud? By no means! If we eliminate senior citizens from the rolls of Medicare and Medicaid, the overall savings to the system would be much higher than trying to act like “Big Brother” by tracking down fraud. Besides which, as has been recently shown in New Jersey, government does not operate efficiently without a certain level of graft to grease it. Without it, the wheels of government come grinding to a halt. Eliminating fraud is a foolish thing to do.
But, you might ask, what about utilizing technology and standards to make healthcare more efficient? Such things won’t work, because even if they’re very effective, they don’t make a “splash” when explaining them to normal Americans, which means that the people won’t believe progress is being made, even if costs are being significantly decreased. Like an eskimo watching his grandmother float away on an ice floe, a taxpayer needs visual reminders of the improvements brought to his life by progressive government policies. Technology upgrades don’t fill that bill.
What about instituting changes or supporting high-deductible insurance plans, like Health Savings Accounts, which drive consumers to spend their medical dollars more wisely? Or requiring doctors and clinics to post the costs of their procedures and their relative outcomes? Surely, you might ask me, wouldn’t such things help drive down healthcare costs? While you might be correct about driving down costs, you would end up making people less appreciative of the government – which will only make passing needed reforms more difficult. Citizens need to know that the government is the source of their health, wealth and happiness. Only then will they be free to enjoy those freedoms they are allowed to enjoy! Additionally, high-deductible insurance plans remove healthier people from insurance pools with higher-risk individuals. This will only delay the inevitable move toward a single-payer system!
And don’t even try to ask me about providing tax-credits to the poor and less fortunate for purchasing health-care. Such programs, while increasing tax revenue, end up – again – making citizens less dependent on the government. This is an undesirable outcome.
So, what is the way forward?
HR 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, is a good start in laying down the groundwork for the inevitable path to the outcomes of my proposal. However, it is too timid in its approach. Instead, I would recommend a level of transparency and trust with the American people. Rather than deny that this plan will lead to a single-payer system – go ahead and lay that out as the intent so that, rather than waiting three to five years for the “public option” to squeeze out private insurance, it can be done away to begin with.
Also, we should look to Oregon’s example as a government that has a single-payer system which incents some of its senior citizens to take their own lives, rather than waste public resources extending them. It has been a long road to this point, and the federal government should start from this hard-earned point, rather than gradually working its way here. Through greater transparency of intent the government can quickly implement my proposal in 2010, rather than spending decades of blindly wandering before accepting my plan as the inevitable outcome of the system. By arriving there by haphazard and naturally progressive means, we will have missed the opportunity for the economic salvation my system will provide.
In closing, I would just like to reaffirm my sincerity, and that this program is not being led from any designs of personal gain. While I confess that I, like all Americans, would likely see a decrease in the annual deficits and all the benefits my plan affords, I have no special circumstances which would result in my gaining from this plan any more than other Americans.
So please, take this modest proposal for what it is worth, and call your congressperson to express your support for my plan and to ask for more transparency on HR3200, so that we can more quickly arrive at a solution that eliminates the burdensome costs of caring for the elderly…
*Obviously exceptions can be made for the selfless public servants responsible for drafting the legislation backing such a proposal, along with the K-Street denizens who tirelessly represent the interest of others in helping craft these government programs.
**Please note that HB3200 already provides public funding for abortion, so providing additional incentives to abort children with birth defects (who would, therefore, require a larger-than-average amount of healthcare throughout their lives) should not prove that difficult. There should be no worry that healthy children might be aborted due to the use of more economical tests.