Human life is on a pathway toward meaninglessness

As a generality I think we as a culture, are becoming far too selfishly frivolous when it comes to matters of life and death.  Or put another way: those who are most in need of protection are having that protection rationalized away from them.  Those in the womb, those whose “plug” gets pulled, and many in the nursing home are being marginalized and stripped of their inherent value for — let’s face it, the convenience of others.

Some argue for rationing certain health care options for the elderly because of their age and the time-limited future they have left.  Why spend copious amounts of time and money (hospital rooms, medications, and surgeries) on an 85 year-old to prolong their lives when they only have a few years left anyway?  Every so often there is someone writing some essay defending the (for lack of a more sophisticated term) ‘mercy killing‘ of the elderly.  Because the elderly pose a potential financial burden on either themselves, relatives, or the government, some make the case that it is more feasible to plan “end of life care”, which is a euphemism for: either get your affairs in order and die, or we will get your affairs in order for you and “convince” you this is the right thing to do.

Then there are those who would coerce, to whatever degree, family members to remove life support for their loved ones in an unresponsive state.  The reasoning employed here is quality of life.  Quality of life is as ambiguous and self-serving as the personhood defense for abortion.  It is a subjective set of qualifications which may be adjusted depending upon who needs to pass or fail the protection test.  “What kind of life is it that they just lay there unconscious like that?  I know I wouldn’t want to be kept alive like this” or some other such rationale is given.  Now, it’s one thing if the patient has stated that they would prefer to be removed from the support, but it’s another thing all together to make that decision for them.

Next is the ever-present social hot button issue of abortion.  Abortion defenders will go to any lengths necessary to ensure a mother has the legal ability to end the life of her child while it is still in the womb arguing (falsely) that it is not human or not alive.    Although the only one’s arguing for post-natal abortion i.e., infanticide, are philosophers, we are not far from a time when some group will lobby for post-natal abortion.  Defenders of abortion make their case saying that the pre-born baby is missing some intellectual qualities i.e., personhood all the while making exemptions for post-birth human beings in the same psychological state.  

The criteria for personhood is routinely being adjusted depending on who it is that they are trying to have fail the test: the pre-born baby, the vegetative woman on life-support, or 93 year-old who needs a laborious and expensive surgery.  And why, because they get in the way.  They create some kind of burden on someone else’s desires and aspirations.

Babies get in the way of sexual liberty.  The solution isn’t killing the child, it’s abstaining until you are financially and emotionally prepared for children.  But of course, sexual liberty trumps life when it gets in the way.  The invalid elderly and someone on life support create a financial and emotional burden on family members, or the government.  Their life gets too expensive, money drives life decisions.  It takes time and patience to care for the invalid and the medically dependent. My grandmother had to rely on my mother and aunt for all her basic needs.  I saw how emotionally and time-consuming it is.  It wasn’t easy.  But who ever said life is supposed to be easy and comfortable?  Sure, you could pull the plug, or withhold nutrition, but is it for your benefit, or theirs.

It seems to be the case that groups of human beings who were once worthy of having their lives protected simply by virtue of their being human is gradually dwindling.  Over time, cases are being made as to why certain demographics of people are being targeted for death.  And not just arbitrary groups either.  The ones being targeted are the most vulnerable among us.  Who is more vulnerable than a baby in the womb?  An unconscious patient in a hospital bed?  Or an elderly individual who may not be able to speak up for themselves?  It is these who are the least able to stand up for themselves that are being marginalized.

Comments

  1. Taking care of children in orphanages and the elderly in the profusion of places where they now occupy, to mean well beyond the usual old folks home, is a costly endeavor, and only getting more expensive as the economy goes in the tank, and while simultaneously the cost of healthcare skyrockets at a pace well beyond inflation. Add to this the retirement of the baby boomers and it’s a recipe for financial disaster.

    This act of having the state and federal governments taking care of these two demographics is socialist in nature. Meaning that the continued rise of these costs is something that will have to be budgeted for as the 50% at the bottom will not be able to tackle the costs of their parents medical welfare.

    How exactly, given your fiscal conservative bent, do you plan on pleading this cost case to the masses? By some estimates in the next 8 years the cost will be 1.65 trillion a year to take care of the elderly alone. I smell a lot more deficit spending.

    That said I took care of my grandparents until the end just better than a decade ago at tremendous cost. And they had DNR’s in place so there was no end of life decision making by family to be made. I sold everything and then some. It forced me into bankruptcy. And now the prospect of taking care of my parents seems impossible. Thankfully there are some other siblings that can help out this time around.

    So where do you draw the line John? How much money should be spent? And by who? The state and the feds can eat some of the cost, and some families can eat some of the cost, but to what end? Where is the line drawn by you to continue care? Should everyone be kept on life support indefinitely just because that might pass as life to some?

    • I dont necessarily have a hard and fast rule in mind. What im basically complaining about is the rationale in many cases. Of course there will always be anecdotal exceptions.

      But as far as spending, I could cut a trillion out of the budget and never look back. I think there are legitimate things to spend money on. Care for the indigent is one of them.

      • Well in fact the line is hard to define, but should you or I be in charge of the rationale for someone else or everyone else?

        You and I both could cut a trillion dollars out of the budget! But it still leaves this uncomfortable paradigm in which a socialist view and mechanical practice weighs financially and otherwise on us all. I find that conservatives hold this seemingly contradictory view with regards to a few other things as well. So you would cut a trillion from the budget to spend it on healthcare for the aging invalids or women’s healthcare so that they can have a safe pregnancy and delivery and then give the infant up for adoption, another state regulated and expensive process? That seems a bit like the ACA in spirit.

  2. Jeffrey Kraus says:

    There are more people arguing for infanticide than just philosophers. In Canada, infanticide is not the same as murder, http://infanticide-canada.weebly.com/
    In the past, it was said that a sick child had been swapped with a changeling as a justification for infanticde, http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/changeling.html
    Martin Luther on changelings
    The Grimms do not identify their “reliable citizen of Leipzig,” but they do identify another of their sources, a man whose name certainly carried a great amount of authority and respect throughout Protestant Germany: Martin Luther. The influential church reformer was not only an avid storyteller, but — as his own writings demonstrate — he was also a true believer in changelings. Luther was very much a product of his own times with respect to superstitious beliefs and practices. He sincerely believed that Satan was responsible for the malformed children known as changelings, and that such satanic child exchanges occurred frequently. {footnote 9} In Luther’s theological view, a changeling was a child of the devil without a human soul, “only a piece of flesh.” This view made it easy to justify almost any abuse of an unfortunate child thought to be a changeling, including the ultimate mistreatment: infanticide. Luther himself had no reservations about putting such children to death. {footnote 10}

  3. marshalart says:

    “But of course, sexual liberty trumps life when it gets in the way.”

    There was a troll at my blog who would respond to the above in this way: “No sex for you! You’re a sex-Nazi”. It was a less than clever Seinfeld reference, but it never addressed the plain fact that we do not need to engage in sex just because the urge strikes us, and that we should be considering that the act, designed as it is for procreation, might result in a child that deserves care.

  4. The notion that there needs to be ANY government involvement is only true, if true at all, because government decided to involve itself at all. The conservative play would simply be to live as though you truly do not want anyone’s help getting through life. Plan, live and act as though your life is your own responsibility, because it is. No socialism is required if this is done. No one who lives life in this way needs the financial assistance of anyone else.

    But, since sometimes things happen unexpectedly despite our best efforts, well supported charities (supported by people who truly give a shit about their fellow man rather than expect taking the tax dollars of others to do so) should be able to assist until assistance is no longer necessary.

    People like Nash are generally assuming nothing will go wrong in life and when it does, then they believe there should be help coming from all corners, when they should be considering all the things they didn’t do to prepare, and then do them to prevent a recurrence should life hand them another bowl of poop.

    How we deal with our own lives is up to us exclusively. There is no excuse for “unwanted” pregnancies and none will occur if no one engages in intercourse without preparing for a child in advance of doing so. There is no excuse for the aged to be without if they (and perhaps their own parents and/or children) took time to prepare for that stage of life. No one who earns a low wage should ever engage in behaviors that put their health at risk, leaving them little else but to impose on others for assistance. Certainly it is impossible to anticipate every possible curve ball life can throw. But how many spend time in the batting cage at all? How many examples of people facing hardship does it take to motivate the next generation to live accordingly?

    But some expect others to take up the slack for their own neglect.

    • What a fantastical utopia you live in Marshalart. What is the address of this mystical place of puritanical goodness? Where personal responsibility is taught and where everyone follows your oughts and shoulds?

      You use a lot of “should” in your mass generalizations. Why not try the reality of the current US in the state it is right now, as opposed to the delusion in your mind? The reality is that we have almost 3 straight generations that have been ever poorer. These peoples upbringing and the exponential effect of that upbringing on the next generation have had the whole personal responsibility thing take a back seat to other things like survival etc. No one is saying it’s right, but it is reality. I am also not saying it’s your responsibility. Nor am I saying it’s the governments responsibility. What I am saying is that the laizze faire, hum drum attitude of conservatives and their “should” and “ought” are obviously having exactly net zero effect.

      Your premise that everyone else in the country is in the same financial/social strata as you are, with all of your possible plans in place for when things go wrong, is absurd. To assume that these folks can or should have planned better when the bread earner dies of a heart attack at work, is arrogant and presumptuous. It wreaks of the elitism that is both counterproductive to reality and so far has a horrible track record. This is why this dogma isn’t invited to the table when solutions are sought. It’s delusional.

      If this economy of ever increasing service sector jobs continues, along with the unfolding failures of the ACA and the dollar continues to lose value while inflation trudges forward, this form of capitalism will catapult another 30 million people into this exact category. And no amount of ignorant finger pointing and “I told you so” bs about how they should have planned better is going to work to turn their situation around. It’s just insolent, it lacks humility.This is exactly why this line of advice hasn’t worked. You talk of specific charities. Even if that were true, how exactly could these charities handle a doubling of this demographic? They more than obviously can’t handle the situation now.

      This is exactly the diametric opposite of what the liberal socialists do. They just hand it all out without any checks and balances. There is no solution, there is no critical thinking about how to affect long term outcomes. There is only bleeding hearts while they give the bank away. Couple this tendency with the generation above who has now been raised without a sense of personal responsibility. No sense of how to plan ahead. And just for kicks throw a monkey wrench into the economy for a decade. Now what?

      And I would love to know where you gathered the assertion that ” People like Nash are generally assuming nothing will go wrong in life and when it does, then they believe there should be help coming from all corners, when they should be considering all the things they didn’t do to prepare, and then do them to prevent a recurrence should life hand them another bowl of poop.” What is the genesis of this assertion? Did you even read my posts? I took on the cost and time for years to do what I could for my grandparents, and am now preparing to do that for my parents. Where did I mention help from any corners? What example did I give in which I took a dime from any entity, charity or government? All a rhetorical exercise of course. Maybe you “should” learn to read and then “ought” to respond in context….

      No excuse for unwanted pregnancies?!?!?! What a freaking howl! Oh maybe except for the rape and incest, or for the folks I mentioned above who didn’t have parents who could teach them the perfect version of personal responsibility that espouse. Just more utopic bs. Not to mention that the far right has fought for 30 years against anything related to birth control or sex ed. Just more should and ought. Which doesn’t even work in their own backyard. Between 44+47%(Gutt. Ins.) of all abortions are occurring in rural, white, bible strongholds……. so much for should and ought huh? And those women are a captive audience to that message every Sunday in church!

      “No one who earns a low wage should ever engage in behaviors that put their health at risk”. Does this include the military E-5 and below, or almost 50% of the working population in the US. Nothing but wishful thinking, which of course has no net effect on reality.

      Re-read your posts. There are exactly zero tangible, non-feel good solutions, only should and ought.

  5. “What a fantastical utopia you live in…”

    Au contraire, mon frere. It is because life isn’t a fantastical utopia that conservative principles are the better option for living, which is my point. What’s telling is that your condescension suggests that an ideal isn’t worth the effort it takes to create. Far better to just surrender to whatever compulsions divert us from responsible planning and living.

    “Why not try the reality of the current US in the state it is right now…”

    Conservative principles still are the better option for navigating life regardless of the current state. You are suggesting that the current state exempts one from acting on one’s own accord or that the current state justifies dipping into the pockets of others to absolve one from one’s own struggles. Here’s the thing you are too arrogant to consider: The responsible thing might indeed be to hold out the tin cup on occasion. But to insist that anyone else is duty bound to drop in a coin is merely rank covetousness. One’s duty toward charity is sourced within the giver, not the beggar, and certainly not any governmental body who simply takes from one to give to another and calls itself (as do those who support such) compassionate and charitable.

    What’s more, it isn’t difficult to find case studies of those who have been in dire financial straights who have overcome and risen to a level of wealth in every economic condition. That’s because they don’t worry about excuses or who put them in those straights, but simply took action and by resolve and dedication improved their lot.

    “The reality is that we have almost 3 straight generations that have been ever poorer.”

    And how did that happen exactly? By accident? As with all things, by choices made and not made. By actions taken and not taken. So easy it is to assume the role of hapless victim, wondering who did what to whom rather than to get on with it an effect change to the best of one’s ability.

    “What I am saying is that the laizze faire, hum drum attitude of conservatives and their “should” and “ought” are obviously having exactly net zero effect.”

    Nonsense. Doing the right thing always has a positive effect, just as doing the wrong thing always has a negative effect. The problem you think exists comes from too many not sticking to it and falling into a victim-hood mindset. They give up. That’s what sinks them.

    “Your premise that everyone else in the country is in the same financial/social strata as you are, with all of your possible plans in place for when things go wrong, is absurd.”

    First of all, I do not see my financial situation as in any way an ideal I would wish for anyone, even the truly destitute. It only looks good from their perspective, but isn’t a worthy goal in and of itself. It falls short in so many ways. But what you miss by your whining is that I am not pretending I’ve covered all the bases well, as my over two years without a job clearly proved. But I did have the sense that I needed to prepare for such an eventuality and at the time conventional wisdom dictated at least three months of expenses saved for the possibility of job loss. The economy, however, demanded more than that, as well as more than the six months I actually had. What I did do got me a long way, and still I had retirement money into which I could dip after that. The point here is that I was doing what even at that time I considered just barely better than the least I should be doing, which was and still is more than most do (before the shit hit the fan, a financial counselor with whom I began to consult was impressed with what I had amassed, saying how uncommon it was for her to see it. As gratifying as that was to hear, I was not myself impressed by my “accomplishment” and my lay off demonstrated I had no right to be).

    Having found myself in that situation, however, I never spent much time whining about how shitty things had gotten. I don’t expend emotion on “woe is me” when “what do I need to do now” is more important for extricating myself from the situation.

    “To assume that these folks can or should have planned better when the bread earner dies of a heart attack at work, is arrogant and presumptuous.”

    No, it’s the truth. It’s reality. Any bread winner who leaves his family destitute by dying didn’t do a whole lot in the planning department at all. Who are you kidding? Why does he have a family and no plan for their care in place? Why is there nothing in the til? What was he doing with both his income and his personal behavior and choices that made his family situation so precarious that his death would leave them impoverished? His situation was not a failure of conservative philosophy if he wasn’t employing the principles of that philosophy in the first place, which he couldn’t have been if the family was so threatened. His family’s circumstances were the result of choices and actions made or not made long before he passed away. The real delusion is that these time tested principles can be ignored without consequence. History proves how false this is.

    “If this economy of ever increasing service sector jobs…..obviously can’t handle the situation now.”

    Absolute and unmitigated nonsense. “This form of capitalism” has nothing to do with it. We are now at a point where too many people think as you do. It has manifested in extremely poor choices of politicians as well as poor choices in personal behaviors and beliefs. The problems of today is a result of NOT doing things as we should, either collectively OR individually and the remedy is to things we should have been doing all along, mindful that now it will be harder, take longer and be less than comfortable that we would like. It’s called “maturity” when one does what should be done regardless of the work required. Correcting the results of our choices isn’t done by avoiding the necessary choices and work and then expecting the desired results occur, despite still doing things wrong.

    It’s not as if the time tested ideas are not still readily available. Those raised poorly still have the ability to study and learn what they were not taught growing up. We have this place in my town called a “library” that is full of books that one can borrow for free to learn most anything.

    • Atypical Marshalart,
      Where did I say that your principles weren’t worth striving for? Yet another rhetorical question.
      I made the case that in spite of your principles and the wishy washy feelgoodedness behind them, you have failed. And continuing to only do the same thing in spite of unmitigated abject failure is the very definition of arrogance. Your principles failed. You are incapable of adjusting.
      So maybe keep your principles in play while seeking something other than ought and should?

      You are suggesting that the current state exempts one from acting on one’s own accord or that the current state justifies dipping into the pockets of others to absolve one from one’s own struggles”. Where did I say this? Why the gross and purposeful misrepresentation?

      “But to insist that anyone else is duty bound to drop in a coin is merely rank covetousness.” And agin I said the opposite. Not to mention that the country by its historical nature is indeed a social democratic state. We all pay into a big pot and then do universal and utilitarian things with said monies. But that fact aside, why continue to represent the opposite of what I said? What do you gain with the desperate amateur spin?

      Hapless victims, victimhood? Seriously? We have nearly 60 million people in this country crying hapless victim? But you have brand name Marshall “should” and “ought” solution products on ther way?!?! No need to worry folks, if you had simply known to get flood insurance, in spite of not being in a flood zone, Marshall says, Plan better!!! Just another solution in a short list of non tangible solutions from the conservative dogma machine!

      Is it fair that my homeowners insurance is as high as it is because I have to eat the cost of all of those idiots who live in tornado alley, or near a river, or the coast?

      Your central paragraph about your layoff is a perfect example Marshall. This is the crux of the point. You had an upbringing in which you were taught to prepare. Even if it was modest or imperfect by your standards. Here is the central difference, you have something that millions of others don’t. You have that mind set to prepare for outcomes. It is indeed part of the social strata in which you came from. These kids have had no such influences in their lives. Further, I rarely hear from these people that “woes-is-me” generalization. That is another weak ploy that conservatives use to dismiss more complex problems that their shoulds and oughts are capable of confronting.

      You can dig your heals in but it still gives zero credence to your laws and absolutes in whatever passes for your delusional utopia. Perfect example, I know lots of folks here in central Texas who have lost their grazing lands to eminent domain. They were of course paid for their land but the cost of replacement land is to high to replace. What plane. for these conservatives could be in place for that? They had to sell their cattle off and are now getting out of the beef business. Another example are some friends of mine who farm just north of Waco. Their 3 wells are now contaminated with fracking waste. They can’t pump any water for crops or livestock and of course all of their property and numerous others in the area have property values going through the basement floor. Their land is virtually worthless. I would love for you to sit with these christian conservatives and tell them to suck it up because they should have planned better.

      Maturity? For the white 14 year old in Nebraska seeking an abortion? Or is she just playing the victim card. She “should or “ought” to know better? Right?

      This says it all. “It’s not as if the time tested ideas are not still readily available. Those raised poorly still have the ability to study and learn what they were not taught growing up. We have this place in my town called a “library” that is full of books that one can borrow for free to learn most anything. would love to see you preach this bullshit to the poorest of the poor on the Navajo reservations throughout the West or to the inner city 10 year old on the south side of Chicago.

      Your dreams don’t reflect reality. But I am glad they allow for you to tell all those in need to fuck off because they should have done it your way.

  6. “And I would love to know where you gathered the assertion that ” People like Nash are generally assuming nothing will go wrong in life and when it does, then they believe there should be help coming from all corners, when they should be considering all the things they didn’t do to prepare, and then do them to prevent a recurrence should life hand them another bowl of poop.” What is the genesis of this assertion?”

    By your own comments, which I peruse completely. That you now insist you handle things without outside help is good to know (kudos if true), but that doesn’t absolve you of using your anecdote to justify spending for situations just like yours. Is that not true? Why use the illustration in the context of this post if not to do so? How is one to know not to conjoin the anecdote to the talk of “costs to the masses”?

    “No excuse for unwanted pregnancies?!?!?!” No. NONE. Are you trying to suggest that the bulk of abortions and unwanted pregnancies are due to rape, incest and some pre-teens engaging in intercourse as opposed to older teens and adults who know full well that intercourse is how pregnancies come to be? REALLY??? If all we had to concern ourselves with were pregnancies from rape, incest and ignorant kids having sex, there’s be a massive reduction in “unwanted” pregnancies. But the death culture would still be regarding those pregnancies as expendable inconveniences, rather than dealing with them maturely and compassionately like an honorable society should.

    “Not to mention that the far right has fought for 30 years against anything related to birth control or sex ed.”

    A far too typical distortion of reality. A little honesty is in order here. The right (near and far) has fought for teaching reality, stressing responsibility and maintaining high expectations for our young. We’ve been fighting against the abdication of parental and adult responsibility present in the notion that “kids are gonna do it anyway”. We have been fighting against the notion that abortion and abortifacient drugs is an acceptable solution to “unwanted” pregnancies. And some of us have been fighting against the absurd position that states that any pregnancy can be unwanted when two people engage in the act designed to bring about pregnancy. It’s that kind of dismissal of reality that has put our country in the state it is in.

    “Does this include the military E-5 and below, or almost 50% of the working population in the US. Nothing but wishful thinking, which of course has no net effect on reality.”

    Yeah. I do wish all people would take responsibility for their own actions and the consequences thereof. But doing so does indeed have an incredibly powerful positive effect on reality since not doing so has done the opposite. IF one is earning poorly, then it is incumbent upon one to live accordingly, making choices that reflect one’s own reality as regards the ability to deal with the consequences of those choices. To pretend that this is not a solution is to be in an extremely warped state of denial. It is the only way to correct our problems nationally and individually. And, to get to the point of the post, doing so will allow us to more easily deal with treating the aged, the sick and injured and the unborn with the respect and dignity to which we are all worthy.

  7. I’m not any sort of biologist or science guy or anything, but it sure seems like pregnancy is pretty much always preventable.

  8. Of course there are (sort of) exceptions… , well I guess that rape might be the only potential exception. Fortunately we don’t make public policy based on things that are extremely rare.

  9. Nash,

    Are you suggesting that the notion of living within one’s means, saving for a rainy day and a hundred other time tested principles that are even taught in fairy tales are denied anyone in this country? Do the indian reservations not have schools that teach any of this stuff? Are these things beyond picking up by merely observing the world at work, by even a cursory reading of stories, articles and novels, by what is put forth in movies and TV shows to which almost no one deprived access given how common it is amongst the poorest in our nation to own at least one TV? You’re kidding, right?

    It is cruel and deceitful nonsense to say that conservative principles don’t work. It simply isn’t true. What is true is that how rare it is for people to persevere in the face of hardship before they throw in the towel. I totally relate to the compulsion of giving up the hunt for work. I simply didn’t succumb to it. (And I’m basically a lazy guy by nature)

    None of this means nasty shit doesn’t happen to people doing the right things. The issue is how they respond to nasty shit.

    And yes, all of your commentaries lean toward denying these points, the alternative of which is that which you deny you support. Well, maybe you don’t support the alternatives. That leaves you with no solution to offer and simply whining instead.

    “I would love for you to sit with these christian conservatives and tell them to suck it up because they should have planned better.”

    I’m sure that’s unnecessary, as they are likely sucking it up as we speak without any encouragement from someone like me required.

    “Maturity? For the white 14 year old in Nebraska seeking an abortion? Or is she just playing the victim card. She “should or “ought” to know better? Right?”

    Was she born in a barn in Nebraska? Of course she ought to know better than to engage in intercourse at that age. I’m sure she didn’t do it with the full knowledge and approval of her parents, did she. And if she is seeking an abortion, she is definitely playing the victim card as if her pregnancy was the result of some immaculate conception.

    C’mon. Cut the whining.

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