As the economic stimulus packages waddles through Congress getting fatter as it goes, there are a few things people ought to be mindful of as we get enthused about the idea of paying for it for the coming 200 years or more.
Everybody seems to have suggestions for what should be done about the failing economy and a few of them are downright frightening. Take Steven Kotler, for example. In a recent entry on his blog for Psychology Today he advises:
You think the economy is bad now—wait a few years. Wait until we're almost completely out of oil and food and water and available land and really I could go on for two more pages listing everything we're running out of. Why? Because we are quite literally running out of everything.
And his recommended solution to this is
Stop Having Children. I call it the 5 Year Ban. For the next five years let's not have any kids.
We won't get into his reasons for making this silly statement, but the point is that, in his view, the problem in America is people and his recommended solution to that situation is banning children from being born. The abortion industry must be lining up outside his office to commend him.
Or, if that idea sounds sort of ugly, how about looking at that economic stimulus bill and thinking about the possibility that contained in that bill one can find a government authorization for euthanasia? After all, if banning babies sounds a bit over the edge, maybe banning granny from a hospital bed by killing her is a better way to go. And no, I am not joking.
This first came to my attention in an article by Betsy McCaughy. The title "Ruin your health with the Obama Stimulus Plan" disturbed be, but not as much as what I subsequently learned is really in the bill.
It seems that Senator Tom Daschle wrote a book a while ago entitled Critical: What we can do about the Health-Care Crisis. The Center for American Progress, which gives the book nothing but accolades, describes the book as follows
Daschle's solution [to the health care crisis] lies in the Federal Reserve Board, which has overseen the equally complicated financial system with great success. A Fed-like health board would offer a public framework within which a private health-care system can operate more effectively and efficiently—insulated from political pressure yet accountable to elected officials and the American people. Daschle argues that this independent board would create a single standard of care and exert tremendous influence on every other provider and payer, even those in the private sector.
Now let me point out that the government's handling of the "complicated financial system" in America has clearly been a disaster. So why would anyone want to model a health care program after it? Well, now that we know what is in the economic stimulus package, we can answer that …rationing health care based on age, health and condition of dependency.
In Section 3001, of the bill the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is defined. And as McCaughey points out in her article:
[T]he National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and "guide" your doctor's decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis. According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and "learn to operate less like solo practitioners."
The federal government established the office of Health Information Technology four years ago, and the purpose is clear:
Health information technology (Health IT) allows comprehensive management of medical information and its secure exchange between health care consumers and providers. Broad use of health IT will:
Improve health care quality;
Prevent medical errors;
Reduce health care costs;
Increase administrative efficiencies;
Decrease paperwork; and
Expand access to affordable care.
That sounds like nothing less than help for citizens of every age and at every income level, but the Obama stimulus package goes a whole lot further and has some convinced that the elderly will pay with their lives, if the latest version is approved by Congress and signed into law. In the stimulus bill, there are provisions that make it clear that subjective standards can be used to determine who will receive care, the type of care or whether or not the patient in question is deserving of care. The single most chilling section in the bill, dealing with the management of information technology reads as follows
(b) Purpose- The National Coordinator shall perform the duties under subsection (c) in a manner consistent with the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information and that–
(1) ensures that each patient's health information is secure and protected, in accordance with applicable law;
(2) Improves health care quality, reduces medical errors, and advances the delivery of patient-centered medical care;
(3) reduces health care costs resulting from inefficiency, medical errors, inappropriate care, duplicative care, and incomplete information
First of all, a health care system that is based on sound medical ethics does not need "big brother" policing the situation to make sure that there is uniformity at the expense of individual ability to pick and choose providers, and so forth.
Second, it isn't a far stretch to envision a back door for euthanasia proponents who will argue that there actually are patients who, because of illness or conditions like that of Terri Schiavo, really should not be given care because they are "hopeless" and the care being recommended is "inappropriate."
Who is going to make these value judgments? Who is going to decide who lives and who dies? An Information technology specialist surely is not in the position to order around physicians and others by defining what is and is not "appropriate."
While nobody knows how the final stimulus package is going to look as negotiations continue even now, one thing is quite clear: there are aspects of the economic stimulus package that make it very difficult to accept as fact the theory that the bill is supposed to help families who are in dire need. If the bill is supposed to expand the job market and provide hope for families in need by providing change in the monstrous size of government, then this bill should quietly go away.
The economy is made stronger by people, not programs and ideas that eliminate them.