Assessing People as “Units” is Evil – UPDATED

Assessing People as “Units” is Evil – UPDATED November 23, 2011

As regular readers know, I rarely listen to talk radio — the reception is lousy in the house and when I’m driving I like to listen to my cd’s. But I was monitoring traffic on the all-news station and something annoyed me so I started flipping around. I hit the Mark Levin show and was stopped in my tracks by a conversation between Levin and a caller who identified himself as a neurosurgeon. Now I need to confirm if this is real.

The caller said that he had recently gone to Washington to participate in a conference involving both the American Association of Neurosurgeons (AANS) and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS). I couldn’t take notes while driving, but the gist of the call was this: these surgeons were told, by a member of the Department of Health and Human Services that under the new health insurance legislation (aka Obamacare) government-insured people over the age of 70 who present with brain issues — stroke, hemorrhages, etc — would see no automatic surgical intervention, as they might now. Before any surgery could be begun, an “ethics” panel — made up not of doctors but of administrators and bureaucrats — would convene assess whether the person would be treated. “As a general course, though,” the caller said, “only ‘comfort care’ would be offered if you’re over 70.”

“So, generally speaking, it will be ‘comfort care only’ for patients over 70? That will be the rule, rather than the exception?” Asked a horrified-sounding Levin.

“Yes, but they’re not referred to as patients, or even subjects,” the caller corrected, “they’re called ‘units’. That’s what they called them.”

The caller made a point — as I think any neurosurgeon or nurse or well-read person would — that when it comes to brain-bleeds and strokes the faster the intervention, be it medical or surgical, the better a patient’s chances of minimizing damage; the faster the intervention, the better chance of overall recovery. “My ancestry is German,” the doctor said, (paraphrasing from memory) “and I am troubled by what I heard; to have administrators instead of doctors make the assessment…right now, if you come in at 2 AM with a stroke, no one is convening a panel — we’re going to aggressively attempt to limit the damage.”

Under Obamacare, an “ethics panel” will convene to determine whether your life is worth saving or not. But you will not be a “you”; you will be a thoroughly de-humanized “unit.” And the reason you will be a “unit” is because if this enlightened sort of “ethics panel” discussed you as a male or a female, they might be tempted to think of you as a human being — someone’s mother or sister or wife — a person who is beloved, and whose life is valued, even if the brain and body aren’t functioning at optimal levels.

So if you are a 70 year-old Nancy Pelosi
, or Paul Krugman — with a potent private health insurance plan such as the one enjoyed by Members of Congress and other bureaucrats — you will get every appropriate surgery and treatment applicable.

But if you are a 70 year-old former bookkeeper or waitress on Medicare, well — you have swung your last golfclub or danced your last waltz, because the “ethics panel” that assesses your unithood will have no problem inventing a equation that goes something like, “Potential-Tax-revenues-minus-potential-cost-divided-by-social-and-political-value-equals…a negligible unit.

And you’ll be shuffled off to the room with the big screen full of daffodils and excellent speakers blasting Vivaldi, and made “comfortable.”

Assessing human beings as “units” is Evil. Period, full stop. It is a diabolical disorientation. The only people who do not understand that are people who also have difficulty with that inconvenient old conscience thing.

The caller to Levin’s show said he was a neurosurgeon, and of German descent. He mentioned his ancestry at the same time he discussed “units” and admitted he was distressed. The source of his distress was very likely his recognition of a the sort of ruthless efficiency someone in his family once knew first hand, either from one side of the ledger, or the other.

Those “ethics panels” by the way?
Paul Krugman slipped up and called them something else, not too long ago. See if you can hear what he calls them, at right about 1:15:

“. . .some years down the pike, we’re going to get the real solution, which is going to be a combination of death panels and sales taxes…”

If there are any neurosurgeons or other medical personnel out there who can confirm what this caller said on Levin’s show, can you let me know?

And let’s bear in mind that this “ruthless efficiency” is going to argue that it can insert itself into your reproductive rights; how many units you can have, whether your unit should see the light of day or will be too big a burden on the system — it will perhaps eventually find a preference for genetically engineered units who will cost less, overall. The ruthless efficiency is what some of us, and dare I say, some churches, oppose. Because ruthless efficiency is evil.

Oh, and here’s the Krugman bit, with transcript for the harddrive.

UPDATE: The Right Scoop has the Levin Audio and a partial transcript. My paraphrases were accurate in the basic info.

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