Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Our Nation's Feet of Iron and Clay

I'm overwhelmed with a mixture of nausea, pity, and horror when I read things like this (link below). The religious right -- the people who believe and distribute this kind of excrement -- is the faulty foundational substance that is poised to result in the collapse of our nation. The obstinate perseverence with which this segment of our population refuses to use their minds appalls me, as does their willingness to consume, unquestioned, the decaying refuse that is fed to them by their so-called spiritual leaders. If someone wants to argue against the currently proposed healthcare reform bill, there are plenty of reasonable, rational angles from which to attack it. It's so much easier, however, to be told that something is an absolute evil than to have to recognize and accept shades of grey. Absolutes are simple, elegant, easy... dilusions.


Here is the response that I posted on Facebook (I reigned myself in a bit and directed it towards the likely target audience. Maybe tomorrow I'll add more... without reserve):

I have nothing but respect for [the person that posted this link], but it would be irresponsible of me as a physician to hold my tongue. This article is an example of the worst kind of destructive and misleading rhetoric. It attempts to prey on the emotions and spiritual sensitivities of its target audience while ignoring the truly important facts of the matter. It talks of putting healthcare decisions in the hands of bureaucrats while ignoring the fact that in the current system, decisions regarding your medical care are made by private insurance companies. In the current system, physicians are NOT at liberty to treat you as they see fit, primarily due to the evils of the private health insurance companies. And I assure you, that if you're concerned that the government doesn't have your best interests at heart, the for-profit insurance are even less interested in your health; they are interested in your money and in NOT paying that money out when you're sick. Please DO NOT trust articles such as this just because they are coming from a pastor. If history has taught us anything about the church and its shepherds, it is that they are human and that they are as corruptible as any other human. Examine the facts. Look at the numbers. Look at the millions (46.6 million, approximately) of uninsuredAmericans who are suffering every day. If you have never lived in a poor city, such as New Orleans or Albuquerque (I've now lived in both) and seen the horrors wrought on the health and lives of the uninsured poor, do some research before you let a pastor's article on a website make up your minds about what is or isn't best for the country as a whole. Consider the amount of time Jesus spent promoting health for the poor and the words that he had for those who preyed upon them (think of today's insurance companies as vaguely equivalent to Judea's corrupt tax collectors). I know I can't convince anyone of anything. however, I do hope to remind people to use their minds... the minds that God gave them. Think critically. Look at the evidence. Our minds are equipped to examine issues in detail and it would be a slap in the face of the creator of these minds to just accept ANYTHING that is handed to us on a plate. Use that organ of consciousness andcreativity to dig deep, think hard, and make sure that what you're reading (regardless of where you're reading it -- including right here), jives with the common sense and skills of logic that are part of your legacy as members of the human race.

On a side note, I am personally very upset at Mr. Joyner's (mis)use of Tolkien's character Gandalf. Examination of Tolkien's writings make it clear that he did not want his works to be seen as spiritual allegories, and that the evil powers in his books are, if anything, representative of the military-industrial complex and the way in which it destroys the environment and oppresses the poor.


Seth said...

Don't hold back, Micaiah. Tell us how you really feel.

I had an email exchange about the Advance Care Planning section of the bill. I had to point out that it isn't actually forcing euthanasia on people, but some people are stuck on interpreting things with the most sinister meanings that they can imagine.

I'm sure there are many things in the bill that I would disagree with, but articles like the one you linked to spread lies and distract from serious debate about the subject. I'm not currently at a computer, so I can't cross check how accurate the breakdown of most of the bill is, but if the section on advance care planning is any indication, not very.

M. Huw Evans said...

Thanks Munjaros.

I'd love to see any of the more salient points of the above-mentioned email exchange that you feel like distilling/sharing.

Seth said...

In a two part comment:

It started with a forwarded email titled "Is Euthenasia in Obama's Health Care Bill? (Fred Thompson Interview says - YES!)" talking about how the healthcare bill mandates euthanasia counseling and how it will push suicide on seriously ill, handicapped and elderly. Interview link: http://fredthompsonshow.com/premiumstream?dispid=320&headerDest=L3BnL2pzcC9tZWRpYS9mbGFzaHdlbGNvbWUuanNwP3BpZD03MzUxJnBsYXlsaXN0PXRydWUmY2hhcnR0eXBlPWNoYXJ0JmNoYXJ0SUQ9MzIwJnBsYXlsaXN0U2l6ZT01

My response to the forwarder was:
"The healthcare bill may have a lot of undesirable things in it, but please go to page 425, as referenced by the woman in the Fred Thompson interview, and read about the advance care planning consultations for yourself. It does not advocate euthanasia. If she doesn't think elderly people should have their rights and options made clear to them, maybe she's not as caring as she implies. If there is any actual encouragement of euthanasia in the bill, please point out where it is."

Following is her response (edited for space) and my subsequent responses to her points. Her portion of the exchange is bold, while mine is italic.

I cannot vouch for Betsy- I thought perhaps Thompson was fair about such things. I did not know his guest. However, You also have to understand the jargin. Why does the Gov't want elderly to know about "Living Wills" ?

Perhaps because many people who would like to have a say in how much or how little medical intervention they receive don't realize that they have that option. It's providing them with choice and options. If they are pushing the patients to forgo life sustaining treatment, then maybe, as the pro-euthanasia site you linked to says: "Persuasion or provocation to the act of self-killing are deplorable and should be punished according to relevant laws."

It is NOT the gov't place to force people to know about these things that are more and more pushing the sick and elderly into a guilt trip to not accept "Extreme Measures" to save their lives. Who decides what those measures are if cost becomes and issue- than cost will be one of those measures?

I tend to lean toward a position in which the government should have almost no say in people's lives and I realize that my position runs into some ethical dilemmas, so I have to keep an open mind. That being said, it seems to me that most of the people in this country want the government to take care of them and are willing to give up some personal freedom in exchange for personal responsibility. So the government will be involved in all of our lives (yay democracy?) I would still like to see where the evidence is that the government is guilt tripping the elderly about end of life issues. We probably disagree on this, but I think it's acceptable for people to choose how they are going to live or die, and providing them with more info on their options is a good thing.

Cost will always be an issue, whether under government plans, personal savings, or private insurance. It becomes a bigger issue the older people get. How will this be addressed under this new plan? I don't know because it doesn't say. I'm not saying that health care will not suffer under this plan. I'm not sure of the outcome, and it could be disastrous.


Seth said...


We must use logic here.
Also, why do we have to see Gov't social workers instead of simply discussing our health with our doctor. Why does some "appointed, minimum wager" get to hear our deep medical issues? I thought we decided these with our families and our doctors alone !

I don't think it says anything about social workers. It looks to me like it's a discussion with your doctor or a nurse. (I could be misunderstanding it, so let me know if it can be read differently.) Granted, the government is sticking it's nose in and telling the doctor some of the things that he must discuss with you. Are they bad things to discuss? I don't think so, but my personal opinion would be that the government has no say in what a doctor (or any other service provider) says or does, as long as he's not deceiving or going against his patient's (customer's) wishes. Anyway, I might as well be wishing for pigs to fly. This isn't going to happen, the government already has a lot to say in the doctor/patient relationship and this is one more intrusion.

It is my view that basic food and water is needed and is not EXTREME care. If this bill allows the removal of Basic Food and Water even if given artificially, then to me that is euthenasia.

This bill would not have any effect on whether food or water could be removed. That can already be done, look at the Terri Schiavo case. What this bill includes is the instructions that your doctor has to tell you that you have those options if you want them.

Seth, when my mother had her stroke, they determined that it was SO MASSIVE that she probably would NOT survive. They moved her to another private room, AND MADE THE DECISION WITHOUT consulting me or my dad to withhold food interveinously. I walked in the room and asked where her feeding tube was. They told me that the doctors had determined to remove it due to the prognosis that she would not survive! My father at the time was very passive, well, I literally RAISED hell and told them that they were NOT GOD. The doctors were NOT pleased with me, but given that it was years ago and the laws in place, they conceded to give her back a feeding tube. I had the same thing happen with my father in a different venue when I put him in a nursing care facility. I WILL FIGHT,Seth, for human rights, and at one point my father told me before he died, the reason his care was what it was, was because I was NOT AFRAID to speak up and DEMAND explanations and action. You can tell me intellectually or academically all you want with answers that apease your mind. Now go a live through EXPERIENTIALLY the specific situations and then, tell me from experience.


I respect your boldness in fighting for your parents' rights. I can't claim to have gone through what you have, but I hope that, if I end up in a situation that demands it, I'll fight as boldly as you did for the rights of my loved ones to have whatever medical intervention they would want.



M. Huw Evans said...

Thanks Seth.

I agree with all of what you said. In addition, I think that this exchange highlights some general misconceptions about end-of-life care, the process of dying, and "extreme measures".

I've got much more to say on the topic, but not the time to say it. Will try to do so soon.