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The Big Answer


To link to this article from your blog or webpage, copy and paste the url below into your blog or homepage.

Death and Budgets

an article in The New York Times by David Brooks

(our site's article review)

Brooks writes about Dudley Clendinen’s splendid essay, The Good Short Life. Referring to Clendinen, Brooks says that ". . . he defines what life is. Life is not just breathing and existing as a self-enclosed skin bag. It’s doing the activities with others you were put on earth to do. But it’s also valuable as a backdrop to the current budget mess. This fiscal crisis is about many things, but one of them is our inability to face death—our willingness to spend our nation into bankruptcy to extend life for a few more sickly months."

Why are we willing to spend our nation into bankruptcy to extend life for a few more painful, sickly months?
Why are we willing to spend our nation into bankruptcy to extend life for a few more painful, sickly months?

We have to ask ourselves: who is wanting sick, painful, depressing, expensive, slow deaths? Very few Americans want this. So why are they choosing this? Or ARE they choosing this at all? We believe that doctors, hospitals, drug companies (Big Pharma) and churches are choosing this, but that the patients, for the most part, want to be given a chance to CHOOSE a faster, more humane, more self-respecting option of ending life once it becomes bad. The doctors, hospitals, and drug companies (Big Pharma) want expensive, slow deaths to stick more money in their own pockets. The churches want the end of life to be "in God's hands."

The churches want the end of life to be 'in God's hands'—which we cannot afford
The churches want the end of life to be 'in God's hands'—which we cannot afford


Big Pharma spreading 'good health via medicine' across the land
Big Pharma spreading "good health via medicine" across the land

But this latter used to mean simply comforting a patient, like in hospices. However, doctors, hospitals, and drug companies have tried, for their own benefit, to define "in God's hands" as expensive, slow deaths, regardless of patient wishes. The expensive, slow death is one choice people have and the hospice is another. Death drugs are a third option in a few states, if certain criteria are met.

People want to be given a chance to CHOOSE a faster, more humane option of ending life once it's bad
People want to be given a chance to CHOOSE a faster, more humane option of ending life once it's bad

Brooks writes that we will never be able to seriously aid our sick budget ". . . unless people and their families are willing to do what Clendinen is doing — confront death and their obligations to the living" since the cost of failing to confront death, but instead supporting people having sick, painful, depressing, expensive, slow deaths, is so high that the cost of Alzheimer’s alone is projected to rise to $1 trillion annually by 2050. It is time this nation acquired some courage and got a clue—right now, we're clueless. Brooks is 100% right, and we admire him for calling our attention to a very important issue!

It is time this nation acquired some courage and got a clue about dealing with death
It is time this nation acquired some courage and got a clue about dealing with death