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  • Should Government Determine the Value of Human Life?

    Controversial Princeton bioethics professor and philosopher Peter Singer is making waves with his article outlining the case for rationing in last week’s New York Times Magazine. This is the same Singer who advocated infanticide, proposing that abortion be made legal for 28 days after birth, in order to allow parents to decide whether to keep an “imperfect” baby.

    Professor Singer’s latest piece, “Why We Must Ration Health Care,” should be a call to action for every American who cherishes personal freedom and self-determination. There is no doubt that health care reform proposals being rushed through Congress are the initial steps in government rationing of health care. As has been shown from experience in this country and others, under a government-rationed system the needs of the elderly, the disabled, and the unborn are pushed aside in the name of government bureaucrats seeking the “best value” from limited health care resources.

    In talking about their plan to federalize health care, President Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress have been careful to avoid using the word “rationing,” choosing to focus exclusively on the supposed benefits. But amendments to prohibit rationing in the health care reform bills have been voted down thus far. As abhorrent as his positions on infanticide and other issues are, Professor Singer at least has the intellectual honesty to admit that the federal government rations health care now and that he believes it should ration health care much more in the future.

    According to Singer, health care decisions should be removed from patients and their doctors and given to government bureaucrats who, using various formulas and calculations, will decide which lives are worth saving and which ones are not. Singer touts the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in its decision not to cover a new kidney cancer drug for its citizens, saying “NICE had set a general limit of £30,000, or about $49,000, on the cost of extending life for a year.” Because the cancer drug didn’t meet NICE’s cost-benefit criteria, it was out—and so were the patients who needed it. (Singer relates that after Britain’s national media took up the cause, eventually NICE decided to cover the drug. But he doesn’t say how many patients died waiting for the decision).

    Professor Singer’s argument, echoed by many on the left (including President Obama), is that rationing already takes place in private medicine in the form of inadequate care for the uninsured in emergency rooms and out-of-pocket costs that cause some patients to forego needed medical care. Rather than subjecting people to the decision-making mechanisms of the private sector (i.e., fixing the problem with consumer-driven reform of the health insurance markets and the redirection of existing government subsidies), Singer argues, it is much better to subject them to the decisions of government bureaucrats.

    Professor Singer believes the worth of human life can be measured in terms of rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness. He argues that because the abilities of infants and the unborn to reason, to take care of themselves, and to be self-aware have not developed, their lives have less value and they don’t deserve the same quality care. The same could be said, of course, for those who are disabled, elderly, or who suffer from diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia. In Professor Singer’s world, the young, healthy, and autonomous must take precedence, while others may be rightfully neglected. Logically, following Professor Singer’s premises, one may ask, given scarce resources in areas other than health care, why stop there? Shouldn’t food, water, electricity, and clothing be similarly rationed?

    In the name of expanding health care insurance to all, the administration and liberals in Congress are quickly leading the country down the road to government-rationed health care—where government holds the power of life and death over every American. In such a system, boards of “experts” will evaluate the relative values of human lives and make coverage decisions accordingly. What factors will they take into account? Look closely at the following exchange between President Obama and Jane Strum, an audience member at his televised town hall meeting on health care reform:

    JANE STURM: Hazel Homer is over 105 now. But at 100 the doctor had said to her, I can’t do anything more unless you have a pacemaker. I said, go for it. She said, go for it. But the arrhythmia specialist said, no, it’s too old.
    Her doctor said, I’m going to make an appointment, because a picture is worth a thousand words. And when the other arrhythmia specialist saw her, saw her joy of life and so on, he said, I’m going for it. So that was over five years ago. My question to you is, outside the medical criteria for prolonging life for somebody elderly, is there any consideration that can be given for a certain spirit, a certain joy of living, quality of life? Or is it just a medical cutoff at a certain age?
    OBAMA: Well, first of all, I want to meet your mom. And I want to find out what’s she’s eating. … I don’t think that we can make judgments based on peoples’ spirit. That would be a pretty subjective decision to be making. I think we have to have rules that say that we are going to provide good, quality care for all people.

    President Obama’s evident problem, and the problem of members of Congress who voted down anti-rationing amendments in the House and Senate committees, is this: the government can’t consider “personal circumstances,” such as an individual’s joy for life, in making health care decisions. Therefore, the end result is a process of government decision-making over benefits and medical procedures that must be a set of rigid, objective rules enforced or applied by bodies of experts. If these decisions are tied to reimbursement or cost-effectiveness standards, they will determine whether or not someone receives life-saving or life-extending treatment.

    There are many criticisms that can be offered for Singer’s view, including that it fails to grasp how the real world operates: the experience of health care in this country in programs like Medicare and Medicaid reveals that government attempts to rein in health care spending have failed miserably and led to greater fiscal crisis and waste. It also fails to recognize that medicine is becoming more and more personalized, and that doctors– not bureaucrats– are in the best position to diagnose and recommend the best treatment to suit an individual patient. But a more fundamental criticism is that his view is incredibly naïve at best and insidiously evil at worst; even if we could somehow create truly objective criteria for measuring the relative value of a human life, no government body, no matter how expert and insulated from politics, should be trusted to apply it free from bias or political influence.

    If Congress wants real guidance on this issue, it should consult the man who wrote our charter of Independence. President Thomas Jefferson, in his First Inaugural Address, warned: “Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”

    Posted in Obamacare [slideshow_deploy]

    42 Responses to Should Government Determine the Value of Human Life?

    1. Marc Brown, London says:

      'the end result is a process of government decision-making over benefits and medical procedures that must be a set of rigid, objective rules enforced or applied by bodies of experts'

      This is nonsense. The idea of making judgements about funding treatments revolves around how we build on what is the standard of care for a particular condition. The issue you fail to grasp is that millions of Americans cannot get or afford what is already standard care in universal healthcare systems.

      'It also fails to recognize that medicine is becoming more and more personalized'

      No – recommendations for using hugely expensive cancer drugs are increasingly being made on certain biomarkers, but we are a long way from anything more than a modest survival gain in many cases. I think the most misunderstood point about this debate is you seem to think it's about 'saving' or 'not saving' lives – when the truth is it's about mainly a few weeks or maybe months of living versus the quality of that life under often awful side-effects.

      In short, 'rationing' in a universal system means everyone gets the current best standard of care; current 'rationing' in the US means many don't get that at all.

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    3. Dr. Van Nostrum says:

      I will disagree with Marc on several points.

      Point #1 – "The issue you fail to grasp is that millions of Americans cannot get or afford what is already standard care in universal healthcare systems."

      The number of uninsured in the US is an abused figure – as I guess Marc would readily admit – since many of those individuals choose not to insure themselves, they are wealthy, they're young and relatively healthy, some are in between jobs, etc. But regardless of whether you put that number at 40 million of 4 million, anybody today can (a) get emergency services w/out insurance, (b) can get basic health services such as immunizations, check-ups, minor prescriptions — all at 'retail' clinics; often for the same or less than a co-pay of an insured doctor visit, and (c) can get access to an ever growing list of $4 prescription drugs. The fact that there isn't a waiting a line for these types of services is an indicator that already speaks in favor of this system over the rationed systems of Canada and Western Europe.

      Point #2 – "In short, ‘rationing’ in a universal system means everyone gets the current best standard of care; current ‘rationing’ in the US means many don’t get that at all."

      I would argue base on wait times we see in Canada, and the fact that many Canadians come to the US for critical treatments, that no, a universal system does *not* mean everyone gets the best standard of care. Sure that is the goal, but it doesn't do you any good if you have to wait until your critically ill or dead to get treatment.

      Besides, US system will ultimately have to control costs (whether its public or private). The only way to control costs in a single payer system is to (a) create price controls and/or (b) be selective about what services are available. You can't get around at least one of these in a single payer system, simply because of supply and demand. If providers have to take less for their services, we will see (a) in the short term, more people want access to the same amount of doctors = scandalously long waits, like what we see in Canada, and (b) in the long term, fewer people becoming doctors/nurses. The former Soviet Union was a great example of the folly of price controls, but you don't even have to look there…just look at Europe's track record of innovation in drugs and implantable medical device therapies.

      But ultimately the single payer system in the US – as it is proposed by the administration – is just going to hasten the fiscal apocalypse of the country. With estimates saying that Medicare+Medicaid alone (without single payer) will drive a $30 to $50 trillion (yes, trillion) deficit in the next several decades, the single payer system will only accelerate this fiscal nightmare.

    4. MaryAnn, USA says:

      Mark Brown in London- "when the truth is it's about mainly a few weeks or maybe months of living versus the quality of that life under often awful side-effects."

      Perhaps people in London are comfortable with government making that most personal decision about the "quality" of a few weeks or months of their lives.

      Perhaps Londoners believe that the government actually does have a role in deciding anything about the quality of life for anyone.

      Thankfully, America is not London. For so many reasons, in addition to socialism, I say again-

      Thank God America is not London.

    5. Barb, Arizona says:

      I prefer to have my God terminate my life rather than the Government. I trust God. I do not trust the Government.

      God gave me life and it's not up to Obama to take it away.

    6. Pat, Atlanta says:

      I first want to know if everybody in Congress will be on the same page. Will they allow their elderly parents die to save money and medicine? I don't think so. Personally, I don't want to die until the good Lord decides that for me; not Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid.

    7. Jeanne Stotler, Wood says:

      The Bible says are days are numbered on the day we are born by God. No where in my bible does this say Obama or the Gov't. are to make this decision. As a nurse I can say we have good medical care, there are some who put their luxuries ahead of health Ins., I know people who complain about it but will buy their teen a car, get a new Flat screen Tv, take expensive vacations, where are their priorities? There is Ins. available for most, those that are REALLY POOR, get Medicaid,Is it perfect, No but better than what is in England and Canada.

    8. Tom, MO. says:

      There is legal precedent that prohibits insurance companies from making decisions that should be left to doctors. I would far prefer an insurance company versus the Federal Government. I want my doctor helping me with any and all medical decisions not the federal government. If anyone fails to recognize that this liberal congress and the President are looney they need to have assisted euthanasia or rationed medical care.

    9. Jerry, Indiana says:

      This is a great article that exposes, once again, how little this administration values human life. The twisted logic of Mr. Singer is a great cause of alarm since this is the type of "expert" often referred to when liberals try to defend their policies. In their effort to be "progressive", they show how little they really know and understand about the greatness of American freedom. I appreciate the Heritage Foundation's great effort to keep us informed of these issues.

    10. Carol Anderson, Medf says:

      Only God has control over human life. At least mine. I refuse to consider the notion of the government having any say in my life, how long I live, what medication I take, how I live and when I no longer have enough life in me to warrant living. They concern themselves with "warnings" on everything to protect us, then, have the audacity to want to take away hard earned and long sought after cures and medical treatments we have. Where is the logic in that?

      The government need not care about giving input into its citizens private lives. If you can afford treatment, pay for it. If you can't afford treatment maybe God is telling you to take a different path to wellness. Why don't we employ natural wellness in America? Could it be the AMA and FDA don't approve of it? Where are my freedoms to make decisions for myself when government agencies refuses to allow its citizens the safe and natural treatments other countries utilize? And I might add, at much less cost.

    11. Brad S,, Detroit, MI says:

      Follow this link to a very basic review of why a government-mandated health insurance program will NEVER work.


      When everyone (no matter what their lifestyle) is on the same plan, nobody worries about the cost and therefore the costs necessarily go up. Any dimtwit with a basic understanding of economics has to realize that without competition – you destroy innovation, motivation, and costs go up. End of story. Obama does not want to compete with the private insurers – are you kidding me ? Once he has control of your health decisions – he has won.

    12. Larry McCracken, Orl says:

      When do we see Logan's Run Sandman go after the runners?

      Under Mr. Singer's rationale, do we stop providing hip replacement surgeries after 70? 60? 50? When do we stop providing care for Diabetes? When diagnosed? After 5 years? 10 years? Breast and Prostrate cancer are curable. Does the doctor start treatment immediately or do we have to wait for a bureaucrat to wade through the pile of requests on the desk? Who is responsible if the delay in treatment allows it to become fatal?Who decides what surgeries are performed and at what age? The doctor and patient, or a bureaucrat? When do we start rationing based on who you supported in the last election?

      We are all going to die sometime. Taking Mr. Singer's comments to the extreme, why not just eliminate the whole health care system? Get rid of all the doctors and nurses, since they prolong life and cost money. We can shut down all the hospitals, clinics and eliminate EMT? Imagine how much money we can save! No more Emergency Room care and the expenses that go with that! Cancel all the EMT's in Fire Departments and stop responding to accidents. People will just have to fend for themselves. Municipalities can reclaim that money for green programs or feed the homeless. Imagine how many lawyers will be out of work too!

      A doctor and patient should be the determining factor in the care given, not a bureaucrat exercising a set of rules. Human life is precious. People should be able to decide their fate, not the government.

    13. Grace, Florida says:

      Absolutely not! Only God determines birth and death.

    14. Pat, Vancouver WA says:

      The comment by Marc Brown, London, illustrates one very important fact about national health care. As life or death decisions are made by government entities become more and more commonplace, the people become desentisized to the withholding of care to others. It's the same principal as for assisted suicide; as it becomes more commonplace, people become more accepting of it.

      From thre, it's just a short slide to involuntary euthanisa as practiced in the Netherlands. Think about it.

    15. George in Mass says:

      This whole adminstration is not about our "inalienable rights" it is about imposing their views of social living on everyone else. Obama and company are very dangerous people and need to be stopped. They have no business in running this great country of ours.

      Who voted for these bean brains anyway?

    16. Gersheps, Maine SSR says:

      Once the Government gets us accustomed to withholding Care for some segments of the Ppopulation, how long will it be until the Government starts Euthanising those from whom it's withholding Care. Purely for Cost-Effectiveness, of course. This is exactly how the Holocaust got started. The Nazis started by killing off the Crippled, Mentally Ill and Retarded, and the Aged and Infirm. Hitler caled them "Useless Eaters." And everyone knows what the end result of that Thinking was. Just carry Obama's ideas to their logical Conclusion, and there will be Genocide in America. (After they take all our guns away, that is….

    17. Tim AZ says:

      This isn't too far from soylent green or the twilight zones obsolete. Well I can think of a whole lot of politicians in DC who are soon to be obsolete.

    18. Bill P says:

      Never in my long or short life, depending on how you view 60 years, have I ever seen an energized population!! It is amazing and refreshing to know people finally have woken to the responsibility of participation!! There are few times when you are given a chance to see history made, and such enormous turning points in the life of a country. My hope is that we take control of OUR repsonsibilties and tell the government how IT is to behave!!!!! Individual freedoms and responsibilties, from the beginning, were never taken for granted. They were fought and died for. Why should it be different now??

    19. Pete Stroempl of For says:

      The Government has already established the precedent. After the 9/11 attack, Washington appointed an administrator who decided the amount of taxpayer paid compensation to the families of the dead.

    20. leonard hrica says:

      all decisions and judgments are subjective…..whose making them is the issue….big brother is here to determine your fate….uva65

    21. Berwyn G. Steele Sr. says:

      I think our president wants to rush and stuff it down our wind pipes. He dose not give a damn about the little guy the poor as he has his Drs. and hospital that he can go to anytime for his family so he dose not care what gose on with the people. The guy just wants to make a name for himself and to hell with the little people. Three years as a senator and his time in collage makes him know everything I do not think so. Never been in the military dose not know the first thing about military life or people. Not good.

    22. Brian CA. says:

      "If people let government decide what foods they eat and what medications they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." – Thomas Jefferson

    23. Marc Brown, London says:

      Dr. Van Nostrum said:

      'The number of uninsured in the US is an abused figure…anybody today can (a) get emergency services w/out insurance, (b) can get basic health services such as immunizations, check-ups, minor prescriptions — all at ‘retail’ clinics; often for the same or less than a co-pay of an insured doctor visit, and (c) can get access to an ever growing list of $4 prescription drugs.'

      It's not just the uninsured but the underinsured. Your country has many many thousands of awful stories of people who can't afford treatment and drugs that we take for granted in western Europe. Apart from the headlining stories about experimental cancer drugs (which remain out of reach for more Americans in any case), no one say here in the UK has any reason to fear not being treated with the latest techniques, often at some of the world's best teaching hospitals.

      'The fact that there isn’t a waiting a line for these types of services is an indicator that already speaks in favor of this system over the rationed systems of Canada and Western Europe.'

      I don't think you're comparing like with like – the UK not only has private walk-in clinics and pharmacies etc but a superb state-funded primary care system. I can see a family doctor for free the same day. Your primary care system is in collapse and is not strategically planned to cover the population.

      'I would argue base on wait times we see in Canada, and the fact that many Canadians come to the US for critical treatments, that no, a universal system does *not* mean everyone gets the best standard of care.'

      Yes, wait times for elective, non-critical treatment can be longer. There's also no reason why a small country such as Canada should not buy treatment from a much larger neighbour – it doesn't make any sense to duplicate resources such as experimental proton units. But what you forget is that the traffic is much more the other way – many thousands of Americans travel abroad for affordable, high quality care.

      'Sure that is the goal, but it doesn’t do you any good if you have to wait until your critically ill or dead to get treatment.'

      It's a myth that countries such as the UK don't treat the critically ill. It may surprise you but that's pretty much what our hospitals and doctors do for a living. I take it that this goes back to the discussion about whether we throw every drug etc at the terminally ill – the news is that many of your own cancer doctors are as we speak having discussions with such patients about whether they exhaust their funds on maybe a few weeks extra of very unpleasant hospitalised care.

      'Besides, US system will ultimately have to control costs (whether its public or private). The only way to control costs in a single payer system is to (a) create price controls and/or (b) be selective about what services are available.'

      As you know there are huge unnecessary overheads in your 'system'. There's really no reason why you can't migrate to a sensible, planned provision with largely salaried staff.

      '…just look at Europe’s track record of innovation in drugs and implantable medical device therapies.'

      Sorry, but many of the most important innovations have come and are coming from Europe – in the field I know well, cancer, European clinicians are world leaders in trials for personalised treatments. In fact, where you do shine is … wait for it – the largely state funded National Cancer Institute, a model of which we could do with in Europe. But you have a heavy emphasis on basic science, not so much on clinical research.

      'the single payer system will only accelerate this fiscal nightmare'

      It will if you don't reform all parts of the system together. As Obama rightly says, good healthcare drives economic performance – so you can't really afford not to do it.

    24. John Roane Sarasota says:

      Answer to my question might answer it all. What has happened to President Obama's aunt who is here illegally?

      What would happen to the aged mother of a US Senator in the event of her poor health?

    25. Ben C, Ann Arbor says:

      When did health care become a "right" and entitlement? And I thought "Animal Farm" was fiction when I read this book many,many years ago. Clearly some people will be more equal than others. I challenge Congress to give up their "private" health insurance policy that we tax payers provide. Congress does not have a federally run health insurance program – it is a cafeteria style private program. And I thought "Separate but Equal" was not constitutional. Silly me. Wait until one of their grandkids is denied health care because the prognosis is dismal – will the kid go to Mexico or England for health care?

      The Obama proposal is absurd. Perhaps he should skip a trip to Broadway and stay home and read the 1000 plus pages before he recommends it.

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    27. Roger S., Ma. says:

      It is shocking that views such as Singer's even receive a forum in any civilized society, much less at an institution of higher learning of some renown like Princeton.

      There can be no "…truly objective criteria for measuring the relative value of human life." Relative to what or to whom? Measured by which device or method? Measured against what scale? A human life's value, objective, subjective, relative, or absolute is outside of the ethical judgement of any second or third party. Period. The value of his/her life, in ethical terms (there are no others), can be set exlusively by the individual concerned. Period. What Singer, his followers, and the government propose is pure collectivism having no place whatever in a human or humane society. It is a profoundly evil idea.

      The fact that such ideas have historically been practiced time and again by "human" societies in no way excuses their rediscovery let alone their future reenactment.

      This has been the best argument of all so far for getting the government completely out of the health-care business and anything pertaining to it and keeing it out forever.

      PS: Should anybody be so bold as to bring up the argument that Prof. Singer is basically advocating something no different than what is practiced every day on battlefields or disaster sites when medical means are inadequate, he should be informed that a "life-boat theory" is appropriate only in a life-boat situation. Outside this unusual setting no sane and ethical physician would ever consider triage. Most doctors who have been there have found it hard to stomach even when circumstances forced it on them. Outside this setting it would, moreover, be a violation of their Hyppocratic oath, and in a legal sense it would be murder. To let any government enact a supra-legal framework necessarily leading to such situations is an abomination of the first order.

    28. Dennis A. Social Cir says:

      The "guvernment" will ration health care. It already is, go to the nearest VA hospital and see for yourself. I do recieve VA health care, and have been told that the cost of certain treatments may have to be waited on because of money. No I do not have a life threating disease, yes I am currently working, and have done so for the past 50+ years, but you see I am nearing the age that I will not be able to work, and will no longer be a produvtive part of society, so I am expendablt. I will be cheaper to replace than to repair. I wonder if those in Congress will get the same treatment or will they be afforded all at taxy payer expense. I am willing to bet on the latter. WILL YOU BE WILLING TO SEE YOUR PARENTS, CHILDREN OR GRAND CHILDREN GET THE SAME TREATMENT IF THEY ARE SICK WITH A LIFE TREATING DISEASE??? i BET NOT.

    29. Bill, Forney, TX says:

      Two quick points:

      1). Didn't England have to pass a law requiring hospitals to see patients within a certain time-frame after admittance due to the excessively long lines in the government plan hospitals… and didn't the hospitals begin to require ambulances to stay away with patients until they could meet that requirement (resulting in a waiting room on wheels)?

      2. Congress and their staff work for the public and as such should be required to adopt whatever public insurance option they arrive at. They should be the FIRST citizens to experience what health care will be like when the government option prices our current system out of existence.

    30. Marc Brown, London says:

      Bill, Forney, TX writes:

      'Didn’t England have to pass a law requiring hospitals to see patients within a certain time-frame after admittance due to the excessively long lines in the government plan hospitals… and didn’t the hospitals begin to require ambulances to stay away with patients until they could meet that requirement (resulting in a waiting room on wheels)?'

      The government has set all sorts of targets for public funded bodies, including the health service. A few years ago one target was a maximum four hour wait for anyone to be seen in an ER department. In one isolated case one hospital tried to juggle patients out of the wait time by keeping some in ambulances for a bit. I've not heard of any other case, but as you will appreciate, one short-lived example from a huge system (our NHS is the world's third largest employer) gets conflated on the Internet by the rabid right wing to absurd proportions. In comparison, many of your ER departments are in a much worse state thanks to the collapse/absence of preventive primary care.

    31. Ted Nicholaou, Orlan says:

      When the current occupant of the White House promised change, he was correct. The intervening six months have marked change as none other in our nations republic. Steadily, we are herded towards government control of the means of production (albeit they are steadily decreasing in both size and capability) as well as de-facto control of the press; which in, and of itself, has willingly capitulated to ideological preferrences rather than objectivity. Our economy will shortly mirror that of a command economy rather than one of free enterprise. What is also obvious, is that both chambers, House and Senate, are incapable of safeguarding our constitutional rights and have themselves assisted in the piece-meal destruction of the national fibre. It is evident, that as one grows older, the government shall, as a normal aspect of policy, reconcile to death all those whose life span is deemed unworthy of continuing: as the cost to maintain their existence is either excessive or not in the best interest of the state. Government control of healthcare is nothing more than marching the elderly, the infirmed and the undesirables of the state into the limbo of bean-counter extermination camps.

    32. Ross Writes, Brade says:

      I remembering reading about another radical government doing something like this to "purify the race". They were call National Socialist. However they used concentration camps with all the instruments need to purify the race.

      When they got up to speed, there movement caused the death of hundreds of millions, men, women, children, all races, all ages, and over the entire world. We called it World War II…and they were socialist also.

      Can't forget the Communist, they have failed at heath care for they population, where ever it was tried. They rationed health care on everyone except the most elite and the military just like they did food and shelter.

      European socialist government now engaged in socialized medicine are in big trouble with having to ration health care, as is Canada. These nations are "has been greats". And Canada is a "never will be great" country because they are too tied to the European mindset.

      The USA was founded and became great by rugged individuals willing to take the challenge of life, for individual liberty, and the opportunity of the pursuit of happiness on their terms, not to the dictates of government.

      Government is the reason we have a "health crisis" today. It started with Social Security Act as the vehicle used to introduce socialism unintrusively into the fabric of the American society like an unseen cancer. It has grown to where it now endangers our very existence as a capitalist nation. Socialism is a cancer attacking individual liberties, community freedoms, and equal opportunities to succeed at whatever endeavers the individual chooses.

      It is time to eliminate social security all together for the taxpayers under 30 years of age. Eliminate all attached programs. Eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, and other socialized or subsidized programs. Eliminate HUD(or whatever it's called today), Department of Labor, Department of Energy, Department of Education, and anyother department that has no real purpose other than to remove individual incentives, confiscating wealth, property, or suppress liberties and drains the moral wealth of our nation.

    33. Leah, Seattle says:

      Singer would do well to look at the recent history of Germany who also had a formula for determining the worth of human life. At first it was limited to the elderly, deformed babies and the infirm in the T4 Euthanasia program. Eventually it expanded to anyone who was an 'undesirable' human being. How does someone who is Jewish so quickly forget?

    34. Gary, Atlanta says:

      I am one of those kidney cancer patients who are too expensive to keep alive. At diagnosis, I was expected to live a few months. After agressive treatment, including Sutent, I have been working some and am now given "years" to live (I have already survived 21 months.

      By coincidence, I found that some states (Rhode Island and Connecticut spend roughly the same amount per inmate per year in state prisons as the British National Health Services deems the limit to keep a patient alive ($49,000). However, I never hear any serious talk of killing anyone, no matter how heinous their crimes because "they are too expensive to keep alive."

      If I, a 25-year military veteran and medical professional, am worth no more to our society than a convicted child murderer, then we are a society with a death wish! Well, duh!

    35. Amanda B. says:

      Peter Singer has very little regard for human life. In fact, he thinks an adult ape should have more rights than a human infant or a sick senior citizen. It disgusts me that the media gives this immoral man a forum for his evil ideas and treats him like he's some kind of scholar.

      I wonder if he has requested to be "put down" if he ever develops a degenerative mental condition in his old age…

    36. Keith Christensen, C says:

      The question should be: Should a For-Profit Insurance Company Determine Value of Human Life?

      How many families are bankrupt because of unforseen medical emergencies? How many patients die while waiting for the insurance company to approve a procedure? Has any country voted to dismantle their national health care system? Who benefits (profits) when the U.S. doesn't have a national health care system?

    37. Andy,San Antonio says:

      While I hate to bring up the word, I seem to recall the Nazis, the Stalinists, and the communists had similar views – the state gets to determine if you have worth, and if you don't you don't get any needed services. There is some segment of the Native Americans whos ancesters would put out of the tribe the elderly to fend for themselves, left – literally – to the wolves. Perhaps other cultures did this, too. In my view it is not the governments place to say who is of worth. Who is of worth? We are all of worth, aren't we?

      If the determining factor as it seems to be, what will be the bang for the buck due to age, what about the bang for the buck due to return on investment? How long will it be before those who contribute less to society will be considered of less worth? How long before the Downs child will be forced to be aborted because the government made a decision? What about the blind, the lame, the deaf? We hear the cry that it will never go there, that this will not go there. It did in Nazi Germany and no one stopped it. It goes on now in mainland China and we sit silent. It goes on in many areas of the world right now – and yet we sit, wondering whats for lunch, complaining about Obama, or those complaining about Obama.

      This has to be stopped. You have to hand write a letter to your representatives. I was once told by a sitting member of congress that 20 hand written letters would change any representatives vote – 20 hand written, personally signed and mailed hand written letters. If youi want to stop this – that is what it will take.

    38. Lois, North Carolina says:

      Has anyone thought of linking health care reform to tort reform? Lowering the cost of malpractice suits and the insurance doctors have to pay to defend themselves against them would go a long way toward reducing health care costs, without rationing care.

    39. Ed Fuller, Australia says:

      How interesting to read comments from folk who have no idea how a government program can help and work in with a private system. My wife of 45 years is from the Bay area in California and myself from Logan Qld. Australia. During our married life we have lived for 10 years in USA (first 2 children) and 35 years in Australia ( next 4 children) where we still reside. We have experienced both the US private approach and the Australian system and there is no doubt in our minds that the Australia system is far superior from a cost viewpoint and equal in service and quality. To qualify you just need to be a Taxpayer. Let me explain. With any medical program can't be all things to all people. Here we have a dual system where the Govt system co-exists very happily with an insurance type program which is quite inexpensive by US standards. For 90% of common family ailments bone breaks,births, most common types of operations like appendix removal,gallstones etc and common diseases, etc the "socialized" (seems like a dirty word in America) approach is excellent with a minimal waiting period. However with many major operations requiring special expertise a small insurance policy is recommended to get immediate attention. Such operations are also available under the "socialized" approach but there may well be a waiting period. In all the above you can choose whomever doctor/specialist you want and the medical parties in volved can also charge whatever they want. The upshot is that a typical family is far better off financially for the same service under the Australian program. Living under and experiencing both systems has been a real eye opener for our family. Would be happy to answer any specific questions re these programs.


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    42. Thomas Dean, Sheffie says:

      To the people suggesting God decides when your life ends, I presume you mean all the modern day bureaucracy, brought about by years of control over people exercised by organziations more powerful than your own, others, and any man on his own.

      In the UK I am fortunate enough to be provided with treatment, surgery etc. if I need it, with my life being valued at £30k per year of extension/keeping me alive. I can go out and purchase extra insurance, I can also pay for private healthcare. (Now I might not be able to afford it, and I might not never need it).

      Taxes I pay go towards provided NHS care to all, receiving the care is free. The state I believe is in a better position to provide healthcare fairly, opposed to a profit making company. even though it may falter. Often when prescription drugs are not available its because they are being sold at a high price by a private company seeking to make profit. The sort of company with a bad ethical record. (One which might employ me to make their drugs, owing to my qualifications in a certain field of science).

      Bare in mind I can still pay extra for better healthcare. I think it is better for society. You Americans are welcome to visit our country, even claim citizenship. We will provide you with healthcare free of charge too. We all pay towards it somewhat you see, a large group of humans working together for the collective good. It is one of the only decent things I feel I can say about my country nowadays.

      If you believe in God and believe he decides when you should go. Should you not do God's work. Help thy neighbor and all.

      There are always going to be moral and ethical dilemmas in healthcare and fine line examples with regards to budgets. Mistakes are made sometimes. Would you not rather it be run by a democratic organization you participate in, than one which exists to make a profit.

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