‘An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia.’

I’ve seen flaming globs of rhetorical magma flung back and forth over who is “lying” about health care reform, and aside from the fact that there are clearly people on both sides running around deliberately distorting and hyping things I think it mostly comes down to interpretation. Those supporting health care reform see it as  a well-intentioned effort to address known and serious problems; and while the more credible among them would not say the reform package is perfect, they see it as a good-intentioned attempt to improve which will gradually improve itself as a natural development of those intentions.

Some of those opposing reform deny that there are any good intentions at all anywhere by anyone supporting the reform, excepting idiots who don’t know better; and thereby they lose their chance at a hearing. The sober argument is that good intentions is an intoxicating will to power, which, despite the intial emotionally beneficient inclination of the reform leaders, will will naturally corrupt and pervert itself. You could say “power corrupts” or you could simply say that human nature is corrupt; this is really an argument about human nature, not health care. Are humans fundmentally morally corrupt, so that the more effort they put into a moral goal the more perverse it becomes? Should we depend on a capable and aware creator to manage the infinite inequities that abound in human interactions? Or are humans evolving toward a better moral capacity, which behooves them to rework prior less equitable systems with modern, advanced understanding?

The headline quote from Ezekiel Emmanuel does not say that we should kill old people who have dementia. It says that we should not guarantee health care for them. This leaves freely open the possibility that concerned family members could still take whatever steps they wanted to care for their own loved ones; it merely says that the state should not guarantee the futile or impossible. Yet I find the statement thoroughly odious. For more disgusting opinions on how to manage governmental providence, read the Wall Street Journal Opinion roast.

Incidentally, when searching for this article, I came across a rebuttal. I have no idea how authoritative or effectual this rebuttal is considered by the other side, but I can say for myself I understand but do not accept the argument that Emmanuel is being misrepresented.  The explicit contention is that there are concepts in Emmanuel’s writing which will develop into horrible practices. If you had some right-wing fanatic saying “Let’s bomb the Iranians for their own good,” it would be spurious to say that the person was quoted out of context if qouted as “‘Let’s bomb the Iranians.'” The fact the Emmanuel means his system to be beneficient and realistic does not touch on the opposing contention that it will not end up beneficient in practice. The rebuttal fails.