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The Death Panel Is In [Updated]

August 9, 2009

Sarah Palin’s facebook post in which she opposes creepy Obamacare has triggered a lot of negative reactions to her criticism. Tiens, quelle surprise. Is this because old habits die hard or because the left is still afraid of Madame Palin? Maybe it is because the former governor is right on spot with her comment. Here’s the most “controversial” part:

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

For the French Cowboy the logic of this paragraph is perfectly clear. Primo:  When the government takes over, costs typically increase. But artificial prices are set so that the real costs are hidden. To counteract the always resulting imbalance between supply and demand, governments ration. Secundo: What are the criteria for rationing? The most likely scenario is that those whom the questionable ethics of the far left consider to be less valuable than others will be last in line when health care goodies are distributed. Those are the elderly and the disabled, no doubt about that. And the “level of productivity” may well be the unspoken criteria to evaluate a human life’s worth. Tertio: Who will decide who gets what kind of health care treatment? Well, Obama’s bureaucrats, who else? Or as Obama put it: “We can let doctors know and your mom know” whether a pacemaker is going to make your mom happier or not. In other words: the Obama death panel will decide whether your mother’s life expectancy is worth a pacemaker or whether that would be a “waste”.

Furthermore Palin writes:

Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.


We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

To this the French Cowboy couldn’t agree more. It is a refreshing contrast to President Obama’s “Let’s rush it through so no one can build effective opposition against this sloppily crafted piece of legislation that will enormously increase the power of my government for ever! Harharharr!!” attitude.


Mark Tapscott quotes William Jacobson from Cornell University explaining that the “level of productivity” idea originated not with Madame Palin but with Obama’s health care adviser Ezekial Emanuel:

“The incoming fire has been withering, as usual. Palin is accused of becoming the ‘Zombie Queen,’ certifiably insane, ‘clinically wrong,’ and espousing a ‘gruesome mix of camp and high farce.’

“These critics, however, didn’t take the time to find out to what Palin was referring when she used the term ‘level of productivity in society’ as being the basis for determining access to medical care. If the critics, who hold themselves in the highest of intellectual esteem, had bothered to do something other than react, they would have realized that the approach to health care to which Palin was referring was none other than that espoused by key Obama health care adviser Dr. Ezekial Emanuel (brother of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel).”

Jacobson explains that:

“The article in which Dr. Emanuel puts forth his approach is ‘Principles for Allocation of Scarce Medical Interventions,’ published on January 31, 2009 …. While Emanuel does not use the term ‘death panel,’ Palin put that term in quotation marks to signify the concept of medical decisions based on the perceived societal worth of an individual, not literally a ‘death panel.’ And in so doing, Palin was true to Dr. Emanuel’s concept of a system which
considers prognosis, since its aim is to achieve complete lives. A young person with a poor prognosis has had a few life-years but lacks the potential to live a complete life.
“‘Considering prognosis forestalls the concern the disproportionately large amounts of resources will be directed to young people with poor prognoses. When the worst-off can benefit only slightly while better-off people could benefit greatly, allocating to the better-off is often justifiable … When implemented, the complete lives system produces a priority curve on which individuals aged between roughly 15 and 40 years get the most chance, whereas the youngest and oldest people get chances that are attenuated.’
“Put together the concepts of prognosis and age, and Dr. Emanuel’s proposal reasonably could be construed as advocating the withholding of some level of medical treatment (probably not basic care, but likely expensive advanced care) to a baby born with Down Syndrome. You may not like this implication, but it is Dr. Emanuel’s implication not Palin’s.”
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