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Death sets you free. And saves us money.

20/08/2013

“While no one in the Voluntary Euthanasia Party is an economist, and no one is saying we should put people down against their will, we are suggesting it is a worthwhile debate to have – especially if hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars in the health budget could be saved or redirected.” – Dr Philip Nitschke

Philip Nitschke has done it again. With the possible exception of Ludwig Minelli, Nitschke is probably the most open of the campaigners for legalised euthanasia as to the reasoning behind it and its ultimate destination in public policy.

Not because he’s honest. He’s not.

He lied to his former patient, Nancy Crick, regarding the prognosis for her bowel cancer, falsely telling her she was terminally ill. Crick’s subsequent suicide formed the centrepiece of a three-ring media circus Nitschke used to promote his political agenda.

He lied about the motives of Exit Australia member Shirley Justins in killing her much older partner, dementia sufferer Graeme Wylie. A court heard she had changed Mr Wylie’s will shortly before killing him, making herself the prime beneficiary of his $2.4 million estate. She was convicted of manslaughter. The jury didn’t hear evidence of the personal phone calls made to her new lover in Germany expressing her joy at their pending reunification after Mr Wylie was gone.

He lied to thousands of readers of his book “Killing Me Softly” about the purity and reliability of Nembutal obtainable from veterinarians in Mexico. Post-natal depression sufferer Erin Berg took his advice at face value and died ‘a painful and lingering death in a Tijuana hospital’ after buying adulterated Nembutal from a Mexican vet. Berg’s family was forced to take legal action to stop Nitschke misrepresenting her death and using her photo in promotional material.

When Nitschke tells the truth, it’s not because he’s honest. It’s because he’s so blinded by fanaticism he can’t see the consequences of what he is saying.

The Nazi T4 project that exterminated over 200,000 asylum and nursing home residents commenced in 1938 as a ‘voluntary’ euthanasia program for disabled children (i.e. the parents or guardians had to make the request for ‘mercy killing’).

Aktion T4 propaganda

“60,000 Reichsmarks is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the People’s community during his lifetime. Comrade, that is your money too.”

Right from the start the program was justified by arguing the cost to the public purse of maintaining ‘defectives’ and by 1941, with T4 ‘officially closed’ but continuing in secret and medical resources in Germany prioritised for the newly opened Eastern Front, it was realigned as an involuntary euthanasia program. Families were told their loved one had died of pneumonia, stroke, heart failure or suicide.

Like Dame Mary Warnock, Nitschke has revealed that some euthanasia advocates are driven not just by a desire to end suffering, but by a desire to save money.

Let’s assume for a minute that Australia will never be in such dire economic straits as Nazi Germany in 1941. That safeguards of unprecedented effectiveness in Australian legal history succeed in protecting outback Aboriginal renal patients and depressed nursing home residents from pressure to comply with a process they may not understand will end in their own deaths.

Does anyone believe that palliative care, remote community health centres and nursing homes will be likely to receive adequate funding when ‘Exit Mobiles’ are at hand to reduce demand for their services?

Would you care to imagine what your life might be like as a high maintenance nursing care recipient in a society in which patients, staff and the general public are being told the disabled are not only a burden on friends and family, but on everyone?

With Nitschke campaigning for his ‘Euthanasia Party’ and the pro-euthanasia Greens fielding candidates such as Peter Singer – a longstanding advocate of involuntary euthanasia for disabled children – how long will it be before we start seeing the same sort of widespread public propaganda that paved the way for Aktion T4?
The Australian Greens strongly advocate state-sponsored euthanasia
Philip Nitschke does not speak for all euthanasia advocates. While many talk about ‘not wanting to be a burden’ in terms that make it clear they don’t want others to be a burden either, I suspect that most would be horrified at the suggestion that attempting to justify euthanasia with health economics is “a worthwhile debate to have”. In fact it is a debate they are very careful to avoid, blocking their ears and crying “Slippery slope fallacy!” whenever the potential victims of involuntary euthanasia attempt to raise it.

But with the legalisation of euthanasia comes its commercialisation and bureaucratisation. Cost cutting becomes the main imperative when public policy passes from the hands of activists into those of big business and the state.

As an Aboriginal Australian I am very aware of what is on the cards when white middle-class Australians offer to ‘smooth your dying pillow‘. I also know that they will avert their eyes from the consequences of their well meaning zealotry as they did for almost a century of the Stolen Generations and as they are doing now with the Northern Territory Intervention.

Legalised euthanasia is a power we must not entrust to the politicians, CEOs, accountants and bureaucrats of Australia.

We sure shouldn’t entrust it to people like Philip Nitschke.

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Postscript: In his recently published autobiography Nitschke confesses that after killing patients during the Northern Territory’s short-lived flirtation with legalised euthanasia he had an “overpowering need for sex”.

The Canberra Times reports: “After performing my role in those deaths, I had an urgent and pressing need for sex,” he wrote. He was having an affair with a journalist and the sex, he says, was “frantic and sometimes desperate”.

So if you seek out the services of Dr Philip Nitschke, rest assured. While you’re going, he’ll be coming.

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From → politics, racism

6 Comments
  1. Another informative and interesting post! You get some really salient (not soylent) details that stick with me. I have quoted information in your posts to other people. I really like the info about how slaves were considered insane if they tried to escape, from another post (and also how any rejection or resistance to authority is considered a sign of mental imbalance). Here, in this post, your point about (involuntary) euthanasia being misused in order to cut costs is abundantly clear.

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    • It gets pretty scary when you look at the business model for Australian nursing homes.

      Basically the client must put down a deposit of tens or (more usually) hundreds of thousands of dollars – usually by selling their home – that is steadily depleted by care costs throughout the client’s life. The leftover is refunded to the estate.

      The reason the governments lets them do this is ostensibly to address the severe shortage of nursing home beds. By handing proprietors such as massive capital base up front they can invest in more nursing homes.

      Of course nursing home owners have no interest in bringing supply into line with demand so most of this money goes into property speculation. They say they have bought land on the suburban fringe for nursing home development but usually they just initiate ever-escalating development disputes with local government until the land has appreciated enough to be flogged for a handy profit.

      Land speculation has become the primary profit earner for most Australian nursing home owners.

      A newly opened Australian nursing home is like a Potempkin village. Good staffing levels, cost cutting in building has not yet begun to show, plenty of activities, etc. The new residents it attracts will come with their large deposits, providing a huge boost to the capitalisation of the nursing home developer.

      A ‘mature’ nursing home is full of people who have already depleted a sizable proportion of their deposit. Staff has been cut, maintenance gone to pot, that weekly bus excursion has become monthly, then three monthly … if the bus hasn’t broken down again. The ‘smell’ of nursing home is everywhere, along with the traditional despair of residents.

      When someone dies it is a bonus for the proprietor. A new bed opens up complete with a new deposit. Even though the place is run down you can probably charge the same or greater fees because their is still a huge shortage of beds.

      See where I’m heading here?

      The higher the take-up of ‘voluntary’ euthanasia in such facilities the higher the turnover and the higher the recapitalisation of the proprietor (i.e. more money to invest in his primary business – land speculation). Even the staff have a stake in replacing high maintenance, low morale long term residents with healthier new ones who are yet to be broken by the environment.

      Nursing home despair becomes an asset to the owners under such circumstances.

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      • Right. Uh, I also think you can make that response into a new post. On another note, some of us, like me, aren’t likely ever to be able to afford any kind of a nursing home or retirement community. And I imagine most people won’t be able to. I think we’re supposed to do a cliff dive into the Soylent Green mill, or better yet, be made into pet food for the cats and dogs of the fabulously wealthy.

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        • I also think you can make that response into a new post

          Yeah, it was kinda longwinded for a comment, wasn’t it?

          Done.

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        • Yeah. If you can write that well off-the-cuff, that’s impressive.

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        • I’ve been thinking on the topic ever since my grandmother’s kids put her into a brand new Potemkin nursing home.

          But also I find comments ‘conversational’ and they just flow.

          Posts I often approach as ‘essay writing’ and I labour them more.

          Poems and aphorisms just pop into my head and the trick is to write them down before they pop out again. I reckon I’ve seen more poems go down the shower drain than I’ve ever got to paper. ‘God spoke not‘ came while waiting for a counseling session and I had to borrow a pen and notepad off a receptionist. I think she was used to manics making strange and urgent requests.

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