The One Good Outcome of the Healthcare Debate

In a recent post, I alluded to the need to have a meaningful public debate about healthcare choices in America.  Unfortunately, I think that opportunity has now been lost as what could have been an opportunity to forge a national consensus has devolved into a shouting match with our polcymaking class eagerly jockeying for political gain.  So goes Washington…

In our financial planning practice we often talk with clients about “playing the movie” of what happens at their death.  I’m generally a little less diplomatic and go with the “let’s say you’re hit by a bus…” approach.  Either way, while the focus is on estate planning, it also gets into end-of-life choices.  While this is an important to discussion to have, I’m not sure it should government-sponsored in the way that some of the House bills propose.   Depending on which side of the shouting match you’re on, this element of the healthcare debate is either about empowerment and dignity or the promotion of a death culture.

So what’s the good outcome?  This end-of-life discussion has renewed interest in “Soylent Green,” a 1973 movie with Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson, in which the government facilitates suicide of the elderly as a population control method.  The whole movie was a great reflection of the zeitgeist of the 1970s — Malthusian visions of limitations, starvation and an environmentally decimated Earth.  As 36 years have passed since its release, we’re now much closer to movie’s 2022 setting, and I’m happy to report that the screenwriters dismal vision of the future is not on track!  I have not seen the movie since being a teenager, but it has always stuck with me, particularly the haunting demise of Edward G. Robinson’s character, Sol.  Courtesy of the healthcare debate, you can now find this scene on YouTube:

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