Taking Us to the Edge of Darkness?

“I have no personal stake in these people, Jean-Claude, but they are people. Good, bad, or indifferent, they are alive, and no one has the right to just arbitrarily snuff them out.”

“So it is the sanctity of life you cling to?”

I nodded. “That and the fact that every human being is special. Every death is a loss of something precious and irreplaceable.” ~ Laurell K. Hamilton

Social Security came to be during the Great Depression as a way of moving older workers out of their jobs to make room for younger workers. Robert W. Merry points out that, today, the Social Security fund is running out of money.

“Consider the recent report that Social Security costs will exceed the program’s income next year, which means Social Security will have to begin dipping into its $3 trillion trust fund to maintain benefit payments. And that trust fund, under current projections, will run out of money within 15 years.”

The problem looms like an oncoming freight train, yet there is little discussion of a solution.

We’ve seen this problem before. In the early 1980s, Bob Dole, a Republican, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, put their heads together to save the program, which was in crisis at the time.

The solution Dole and Moynihan came up with involved taxing Social Security benefits and postponing those benefits until later in life. When the program began, life expectancy was not what it was in the ’80s although it remains close today to what it was during Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

With fewer children being born, the fund can only become more unstable or more expensive per person. Veronique de Rugy writes that between “1945 and 1965, the decline in worker-to-beneficiary ratios went from 41 to 4 workers per beneficiary. Now that rate is 2.9 workers for every recipient.

The cure, if there is one to be found, for this situation may depend on who holds power in Congress and the White House as the problem comes to its inevitable head.

One solution may include higher taxes–both on workers and recipients–and more delays in receiving benefits although it seems unlikely that elder voters will embrace putting off their benefits beyond age 70.

Some may suggest yet another solution–one that is already in play in some places–the withdrawal of medical care from the terminally ill–or the withholding of care from those who need it to continue living–or the overt act of killing someone whose productivity has passed or will never come to be.

Andrea Peyser writes about Stephanie Packer who suffers from scleroderma–an auto-immune disease that causes scar tissue to accumulate in her lungs. She has outlived her prognosis by six years. But not because of any help she got from her insurance company or the state of California–which allows physician-prescribed-suicide.

“[At one point,] her doctors suggested that switching to another chemotherapy drug might buy her time. Her medical insurance company refused to pay. She says she asked if the company covered the cost of drugs to put her to death. She was told the answer is yes — with a co-payment of $1.20.”

We need to let that sink in. The insurance company refused to provide care that would extend Packer’s life, but killing herself would only cost her $1.20.

Some countries where the government manages all health care have moved even further down this road than America has.

In the United Kingdom, there were the cases of Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard–children who died because of a lack of care–care which would have been expensive.

Medical personnel wanted to actively kill Alfie, but his parents protested. The child finally died after authorities ordered the removal of his life support and a court refused to allow him to go to another country for treatment.

Medical decisions are happening based on cost-effectiveness without regard to patient outcomes, families’ wishes, or even a patient’s own desire to stay alive.

Very concerning: right now, 72 percent of Americans believe euthanasia–assisted suicide–should be legal. The only group for which the numbers fall under a majority are weekly churchgoers.

It’s sad to see that so many people don’t see the slope that slides between voluntary death and mandated murder. When the government is the highest authority–when the government pays for everything–or even when it doesn’t–life becomes secondary.

Simon Fitzmaurice, a victim of ALS, escaped death in Ireland only because the person helping him breathe didn’t know the rules. And the rules state that ALS patients don’t receive ventilators–even though the equipment is available at no cost to the government.

This filmmaker and writer would have received a death sentence–if not for the accident of his rescue–and his refusal–even under pressure–to have the ventilator removed after he received it.

Where once America provided for retirees to make room for younger workers, we may soon find ourselves eventually officially abandoning care for our elders, as well as the weak and sick, to make a financial way to care for everyone else.

But everyone else will then have to watch their own backs.

Such a turn of events would be tragic indeed. Life offers few securities. Embracing euthanasia would deprive us of the security that comes from having a society that reveres human life–a society that understands our lives are worthy of respect until their natural end.

Embracing euthanasia would deprive us of precious and irreplaceable human lives snuffed out on the altar of cost-effectiveness.

It is too great a price to pay to save a little money. There must be a better way.

There must be.

“All life is sacred. Human life is especially so. Protecting it is of utmost importance to God. He takes this so seriously and personally because He made humanity to reflect Him. We are His earthly representatives, made in His image. To murder another person is to mount an attack on the One who created him.” (Genesis 9:8-10 Voice)

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