Monday, August 10, 2009

Of smart questions and Obamacare

In one of the prolife workshops I attended quite a spell ago, I remember a group case study brought up for discussion.

A deadly virus outbreak has suddenly contaminated the earth and some survivors were fortunate enough to avoid the fatal contamination by holing up in securely-sealed habitable underground chambers. In one such chamber, there are 10 people holed up waiting for the virus outbreak to end. These people are composed of the following: 1) a scientist, 2) an eminent educator, 3) a priest, 4) a young bright boy, 5) a physician, 6) a young pretty girl, 7) an old woman, 8) a pregnant mother, 9) her husband, and 10) you. The virus outbreak is estimated to clear up in 100 days, after which the survivors in underground chambers can safely move out.

Unfortunately, the food stocked in this particular chamber where you among these 10 people are holed up can only accommodate to feed 5 people in 100 days. You have been recognized as the natural leader of the group, and as one of the 10, has been unanimously elected to decide your group's fate. You are obviously faced with the hard decision of choosing who among you should stay in the chamber and survive by partaking of the food sufficient enough to feed only 5 people comfortably for 100 days. The rest would be immediately let out of the chamber to fatally face the virus outbreak and die immediately.

What would you do? If you had to choose, whom would you choose and why?

In this case study, it would be easy to drawn into debating the practical needs of the majority, based upon the the relative "worth" of each person. The root question that seems apparent goes like: "Who are the persons who deserve to die more than others?". The question appears challenging, except when one questions the very question itself. Why can't the available food be stretched so that ALL ten people may eat and live?

Apparently, a similar question of the first sort haunts the controversial health reform program being pushed by Obama. Ex-governor Sarah Palin asks the questions here.

"Who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course," the former vice presidential candidate wrote on her Facebook page.

"The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have 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. Such a system is downright evil," Palin wrote.

The America I know is a super rich, first-world superpower country that is capable of taking care of ALL its citizens, with more than enough spare to give aid to less developed countries. Maybe it is a matter of not asking the right questions. I have yet to hear a smart politician convincingly defend the proposed health care program against the charges of fatally marginalizing the sick, elderly and disabled. Speaking of smart politicians, here's an oldie but goodie, slightly revised.
There were four men in an airplane: The pilot, a smart politician, a priest, and a boy scout.

They were flying along when the plane started to crash. Noticing that there were only three parachutes, the pilot grabbed a parachute and jumped out, saying: "I have to live to report this accident".

Now with only two left, the smart politician said "I have to live so I should go ahead too. I am a very smart public servant and the world needs me to save it.", so he grabs a parachute and jumps out.

The priest turns to the boy scout and says, "Son, I've lived my life and I know where I'm going, so you go ahead and take the last parachute."

The boy scout replied, "No, we can both go. The smart politician took my backpack".

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