We have a buddy who believes that the best thing about being a doctor would be that if another doctor gave him six months to live, he could give that doctor five months to live. Other than sentencing judges and mafia hitmen, doctors are the only ones who can deliver news like that. That’s why there is a bit of a stir around the announcement by Ezekiel Emanuel, a doctor and former Special Adviser to the Obama administration on health care policy, that he wants to die at the age of seventy-five. This would be more shocking if he was seventy-four and a half – there’s that six month figure again – but Emanuel is fifty-seven. “I plan on dropping dead eighteen years from now” is a lot easier to say than “I’m blowing my brains out the next time the Steelers lose,” and would also have less of an effect on attendance.
In the article, published in The Atlantic magazine, September 17, 2014, as, “Why I hope to Die at 75”, Emanuel points out that most of your major brainiacs made their greatest contributions to science and related fields when they were in their 20’s and 30’s. Somebody should show him some crime statistics which demonstrate that most of the serious criminal offenses are perpetrated by the same age group. Hey Zeke, they’re not all child prodigies, okay? Also, young people do more strenuous activities like skateboarding which cause them to break their legs and collarbones at a frightening clip, using up precious health-care dollars. And they expend staggering amounts of energy by dancing, which pumps lots of CO2 into the atmosphere and contributes to global warming, not to mention global chafing.
So why die at 75? Here’s a particularly wacky observation by Emanuel:
“How do we want to be remembered by our children and grandchildren? We wish our children to remember us in our prime. Active, vigorous, engaged, animated, astute, enthusiastic, funny, warm, loving. Not stooped and sluggish, forgetful and repetitive, constantly asking ‘What did she say?’”
What a crock. If you’re sluggish, repetitive and deaf, why shouldn’t you want your family to remember you properly? Even if you’re sluggish and repetitive. You heard me. I don’t even have clear memories of my parents when they were young. They were always working or cleaning or cooking or fussing over the young ‘uns. They were much cooler as old people who could wow their grandchildren with that thumb-detachment trick, stuff them full of goodies and then smile with relief as they sent them away.
Emanuel goes on to say that as we age, our ability to concentrate and our attention span deteriorate – something like that, I didn’t read it all the way to the end. But the suspicious thing about this piece is Emanuel’s role in promulgating the Affordable Care Act. Cost control is the big promise made by government health care proponents – hence the “affordable” – and health care costs rise dramatically as people get older. So their scheme can only work if people will do the right thing, namely, assume room temperature before they get too old and expensive. Call us a cynic, but we think we know what Emanuel is really saying. He doesn’t want to die by the time he’s 75; he wants you to die by the time you’re 75. Sooner, if possible. The Idler wants his grandchildren to remember him as too smart to fall for that.
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