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August 14, 2009


Greg Marx seems not to understand basic logic. One cannot apply the label "false claim" to the assertion that proposed health care reforms will lead to government-sponsored euthanasia. Why? Because that assertion is a projection of the future, not a statement about the past or present. It's not a fact. It cannot be proved or disproved, except by waiting to see what happens. Marx cannot be sure what will happen until Obamacare leads to euthanasia or it doesn't.

Furthermore, if government health care doesn't pass, we'll never know whether it would have led to euthanasia, because the assertion is a contingent projection.

It's too bad that CJR is so politically slanted that they are oblivious to misinformation on the left. E.g., they mention Bush's incorrect assertion that Saddam had WMDs, but don't mention Bill and Hillary Clinton's identical assertions.

Nor do they refer to the most significant political misinformation on the other side: The Sixty Minutes allegation that Bush was AWOL from the Air National Guard, based on forged documents. I think many on the left want to sweep this scandal under the rug. Or, they may still believe the myth. E.g., AFAIK the the New York Times, an outlet decidedly opposed to Republicans, has never admitted that the documents shown on TV were forgeries.

Greg Marx makes the mistake of characterizing concerns about allocation of medical care as concerns about euthanasia. (Many others are guilty of the same thing.) There may well be some who are concerned that down the road Obamacare will lead to euthanasia. However, many others don't go that far, but do draw from Dr. Emanuel's article and the imperative of bending down the cost curve of health care the concern that some types of medical treatment may be denied based on judgments about the patient's age, value to society, or ability to lead a "complete life."

Euthanasia means the intentional ending of a life, either by active measures or by withholding of extreme measures. As far as I understand, it does not encompass decisions to deny treatment that could extend life (such as chemotherapy), much less decisions on non-life threatening matters such as who is an appropriate recipient of a hip replacement. Those are concerns that are legitimately raised in the context of discussions about bending down the cost of care. To dismiss them as part of a "euthanasia myth" is to evade the issue, something that is expected from politicians (though they should be named and shamed for it by people like Brendan) but is highly regrettable for journalists and political scientist/bloggers.

One interesting possibility is to include in the bills a provision that would prevent the kind of choices that people like Sarah Palin are worried about, then let CBO cost out the provision. My guess is that the proponents of the bill won't be eager for that kind of resolution.

Maybe, instead of trying to correct the misinformation, you just fight fire with fire:

"If Fox News, Newt Gingrich, or Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the lying wingnut clowns had been around when Medicare was proposed, my mother and father would be, at best, blind and crippled in a homeless shelter due to medical costs. Probably with at least one or two of their medically tapped out adult children living in a dumpster across the street. Or, more likely, they would live only in my family’s memory."

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