I first published this piece on my Six Crooked Highways blog on April 17 2020 but my views have not changed. The way matters are developing has, if anything, reinforced my view.
Lest you leap to the conclusion that this is just another woe-is-us piece on the world bequeathed to us by the C-word, list a while. It is my attempt to suggest a rational and compassionate way forward.
Much as The Who pined to die before they got old in ‘My Generation’, today’s younger generation tend to think they wished we had because then the planet would be a far better place than it is. Be that as it may, I find myself increasingly attracted to the sentiments behind it.
We have known for many weeks now that the virus is almost exclusively taking the old and the medically compromised, many of whom have remained on this mortal coil due to highly profitable drugs and eye-wateringly expensive health services. And of course many of the medically compromised are so as a result of the self-inflicted wounds of over-indulgence in food, smoking and alcohol. (I know of what I speak because I fit into both risk groups but if you thought this aside was to be an episode of True Confessions you will be disappointed.)
If we’d wanted the world to stay largely the same when it became obvious where the most likely deaths from the virus would occur, the logical strategy would have been to isolate those groups and let the rest of the world go about its business. But, being the illogical humans that we are, we didn’t. Instead we decided (slowly, to give the virus a sporting chance) to lock everyone down and wreck the livelihoods of 99% of the population for decades to come. As a result, the few remaining people over 12 and under 40 who didn’t already hate Boomers have now been given permission to go to the dark side.
How we got here, in my view, is that gradually the idea that we all should be allowed to live as long as possible, in any condition possible, has taken over any rational analysis by both electors and governments and abolished any notion of the cycle of life.
Most people over 60 have had more than enough time to live a productive life through spawning and nurturing the next generation, growing food, teaching, writing a novel or any number of other worthwhile pursuits (not including being a politician, operating cruise ships, being a computer expert etc). Absent major medical interventions and medications, most would pop their clogs in their seventies, with a smaller cohort winning the lottery of life into their eighties and beyond. The net result is we have developed an unsustainable health care system and an aged care system that is eating up an increasing proportion of our GDP.
Closely linked to this phenomenon is the dictatorial medicalisation of death by doctors and religious zealots. When anyone bothers to ask them, the vast majority of older people say they would choose to depart this life peacefully and painlessly when their body, and more importantly, their brain, fails them to the point of incapacity. Even when they leave strict instructions in this regard, their wishes are routinely ignored by doctors and families who refuse to come to grips with their own mortality and are, in fact, the real underminers of ‘God’s will’ or the natural cycle of life (whichever you prefer.) What we would do in the blink of an eye for a suffering pet suddenly becomes unthinkable.
So, ‘where to from here?’, I hear you cry.
In a nutshell:
- Let social movement, business, education etc return to normal immediately, knowing that otherwise healthy people who are infected will survive, as they survive the flu, which is also never going to go away.
- Provide palliative care only to infected persons over the age of 70 and offer them the option to depart this world peacefully and painlessly.
The positives to this approach include:
- Rebuilding the economy and providing jobs as soon as possible and before it bankrupts us all.
- Re-starting the education vital to our children’s and our grandchildren’s future.
- Kick-starting a real community debate about the rational allocation of health resources in a time of crisis and more generally. To provide just one example, it would be more rational to give priority to a single mother who needs a knee operation so she can return to work to support her children than it would be to put a corona virus infected, obese, lifelong smoker and drinker in an ICU ward.
Over to you, dear readers.
Note: These are my thoughts and opinions only and I’m happy to hear your views. However, any comments I find abusive, obscene or moronic will be deleted and no further correspondence will be entered into.