The Real Death Panels

At the CNN/Tea Party Express Republican debate the other night, Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul a hypothetical question about health insurance: What should happen if a healthy 30-year-old man who can afford insurance chooses not to buy it—and then becomes catastrophically ill and needs intensive care for six months? In the face of one of the most painfully vexing questions of our time, Paul hemmed and hawed, and finally dusted off the golden days before Medicare, and talked about freedom and risk and why should all take responsibility for ourselves. “But Congressman, are you saying the society should just let him die?” At which point, what sounded like a pretty substantial percentage of the audience shouted “Yeah!”

But if I’m not mistaken, isn’t this pretty much the same crowd that cheered Sarah Palin in 2009 when she accused the President Obama’s health care reform package of containing provisions that would require elderly Americans or people with such afflictions as Down syndrome, “to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel’ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care”?

So it’s not making judgments about a person’s worthiness to receive health care that bothers these people. It’s that they don’t want government bureaucrats using some cold criteria to do it. They would prefer that the job be assigned to a juiced-up mob!

[Cross-posted at]

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Jamie Malanowski

Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.