Professor John J. Pitney Jr. has a stirring argument against rationing health care found here. He's arguing against supposed medical ethicist and Harvard professor, James Sabin, who believes that Ted Kennedy should send a "message" and refuse his expensive treatment.
Sabin's message is that Ted Kennedy should pass up life-prolonging treatment and go gently into that good night. The ethicist would applaud if he gave a farewell speech saying "I should die more quickly!" But Americans admire the Kennedys because they fight like hell against illness and injury.Professor Pitney raises an interesting question. Just who is to judge the value of a life? What is an extra day really worth? An extra hour?
The comparison to Buffet is nonsense. If Buffet gets his way and pays more tax, he's still a billionaire. If Kennedy pulls his own plug, he's dead.
This is the ethics of redistribution applied to life and death. This is the world of Sophie's Choices and overcrowded lifeboats. It's not the world Americans want to live in.
For most of us, that decision is a horribly difficult one to answer, but not, it would appear for those who insist that we must ration care. For them, it seems an increasingly easy choice. Rather than grow the pie of health care, others quibble about how to divide the slices.
I've criticized Charlie Sprague CMC '10 for much the same kind of thinking here.