British ethicist: Senile should be “put down”
posted at 9:00 am on September 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
In yet another revealing moment for nationalized health care, a highly respected British ethicist said that dementia sufferers should get euthanized in order to preserve resources for healthier people. Baroness Warnock, described as “Britain’s leading moral philosopher”, said that the government should license people to be “put down” and stop being a drain on society:
The veteran Government adviser said pensioners in mental decline are “wasting people’s lives” because of the care they require and should be allowed to opt for euthanasia even if they are not in pain.
She insisted there was “nothing wrong” with people being helped to die for the sake of their loved ones or society.
The 84-year-old added that she hoped people will soon be “licensed to put others down” if they are unable to look after themselves. …
Lady Warnock said: “If you’re demented, you’re wasting people’s lives – your family’s lives – and you’re wasting the resources of the National Health Service.
“I’m absolutely, fully in agreement with the argument that if pain is insufferable, then someone should be given help to die, but I feel there’s a wider argument that if somebody absolutely, desperately wants to die because they’re a burden to their family, or the state, then I think they too should be allowed to die.
“Actually I’ve just written an article called ‘A Duty to Die?’ for a Norwegian periodical. I wrote it really suggesting that there’s nothing wrong with feeling you ought to do so for the sake of others as well as yourself.”
Shocking? It shouldn’t be. When the State has the burden of providing “free” medical care, that care will get rationed in ways that are, unfortunately, all too predictable. Human life stops being sacred and instead becomes a commodity with a balance sheet. If bureaucrats decide that a particular life, or a class of life, has become a net negative, then eventually they will find ways to eliminate the liability.
Totalitarian governments have always worked this way; the shock comes from the same impulse occuring in supposedly enlightened democracies. We’re seeing a new kind of government these nanny states, though — a democratic totalitarianism that makes all of the choices for its subjects after they willingly give the bureaucracy the power of life and death over them. It’s a voluntary totalitarianism, and it starts by assigning government the role of caretaker from cradle to grave, the latter point coming at their choosing.
Western civilization built itself on the sanctity of human life and the rights of the individual. It doesn’t take much for Westerners to give up that birthright. The only incentive for voluntary slavery appears to be low-cost prescriptions and catastrophic hospital coverage. Once we buy into that system, all manner of personal choices get removed: the foods you can eat, the beverages you can drink, your pastimes, and apparently your right not to be murdered just to clear a hospital bed.
Resources will get rationed in one manner or another. Only air exists in such abundance that it needs no rationing. The question for any society is whether they will choose the efficient method of market-based rationing or the caprice of a top-down bureaucratic diktat. The former encourages more of the resource to be produced, while the latter restricts new resources and forces a shortage management system onto its community. We see this more clearly in Britain’s NHS than in any other Western construct, and Baroness Warnock’s monstrous demand is only the natural result.