Ezekiel Emanuel Writes a Love Letter to Death Panels

Ezekiel Emanuel never uses the term, death panels, in this horrifying essay, but there is no question they are the point of the entire piece. Reading him, I keep having to remind myself that this is not the Onion—this is not a parody webpage or a conservative satire site.

ezekiel emanuel

The title is, “Why I Hope to Die at 75.” This is Death sending you a piece of Valentine candy with the words, “Be Mine” written on it.

Everything you need to know about modern liberalism can be derived from the fact that Liberals consider Rahm’s brother a respectable academic and despise Sarah Palin even when they admit she told the truth about death panels.

I cannot possibly do justice to the sheer hellishness of this piece in my short post. Let me just address one example of the perversity. Emanuel writes:

It is true that compared with their counterparts 50 years ago, seniors today are less disabled and more mobile. But over recent decades, increases in longevity seem to have been accompanied by increases in disability—not decreases. For instance, using data from the National Health Interview Survey, Eileen Crimmins, a researcher at the University of Southern California, and a colleague assessed physical functioning in adults, analyzing whether people could walk a quarter of a mile; climb 10 stairs; stand or sit for two hours; and stand up, bend, or kneel without using special equipment. The results show that as people age, there is a progressive erosion of physical functioning. More important, Crimmins found that between 1998 and 2006, the loss of functional mobility in the elderly increased. In 1998, about 28 percent of American men 80 and older had a functional limitation; by 2006, that figure was nearly 42 percent. And for women the result was even worse: more than half of women 80 and older had a functional limitation. 

Notice there are two possibilities here. One is that the “80 and above” category includes more people in their upper nineties now who are losing some functions. If so, that argument does nothing to get us near Emanuel’s, uh, deadline of 75 years. It just means that, as life expectancy goes up for more people, a few more people suffer some loss of function at the ever-rising upper end. You still get more quality life so why not?

The other possibility is far worse. The other possibility is that, for some unknown reason, the number of people losing functions in the same age category has increased by half! What could possibly have caused that huge jump in less than a decade?

Emanuel doesn’t ask and doesn’t seem to care. He just wants you to decide to die to avoid it. That’s all.

Think about that: He drops on the reader this amazing (in a bad way!) possibility that we have become less fit in old age, and shows no curiosity about the cause or any indication that anyone should devote their creative resources to diagnosing the cause. He just wants you to die younger.

In light of this information about the sudden increase in elderly people losing functions, his earlier moralizing about people pursuing longevity starts to look creepy:

I am talking about how long I want to live and the kind and amount of health care I will consent to after 75. Americans seem to be obsessed with exercising, doing mental puzzles, consuming various juice and protein concoctions, sticking to strict diets, and popping vitamins and supplements, all in a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. 

Uh, no, they are trying to avoid the premature loss of function that was much easier for people to avoid only a decade ago. Is it really a sign of irrationality to think that could be done? Why would nature change in less than a decade?

So right there you begin to get a hint of what a society would be like under this regime. Continually improved longevity is out. It is assumed this decrepitude is “natural” even though there was a time when a much younger age seemed to be a natural limit on human life.

Of course, Emanuel says he doesn’t actually want to kill people: “Since the 1990s, I have actively opposed legalizing euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.” That’s great. In 2008 President Obama opposed homosexual marriage. And one can easily see a linear progression in Obama’s policies on that issue. In this case Emanuel is the reputed architect of Obamacare and has made medical spending, even more than it already was, a matter of public policy rather than private decision-making. Thus, someone else is going to decide who qualifies for what kind of medical care. The limits are now set by intellectuals in power—like Ezekiel Emanuel himself.

And notice that his logic is that, unless you can make “creative” contributions to society, your life is not worth preserving. In fact, the whole reason that living above 75, or “consuming” healthcare after that point, is that one will likely be disabled.

[H]ere is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived.

So, then, if aging is so bad because it leads to—“gasp”—something not quite as bad as disability, I assume that Ezekiel Emanuel thinks that it is a waste and a misallocation of resources to give medical aid to those who by birth (assuming they survive the abortion industry) or by accident become really disabled.

And ultimately, for all Emanuel’s pretense of the wisdom of not pursuing longevity at all costs, it really comes down to pride. He can’t stand the idea of being humbled in the future.

It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

So this man’s personal ego problem with decrepitude is now being used as a propaganda front for the coming public policy of healthcare rationing.

We are headed for a sick, sick, world. Try to imagine how much contempt will become normal toward any septuagenarian who doesn’t have a death wish.