It is my strong opinion that doctors should be prolonging everyone’s life, but no one’s death. But, I am a stronger believer in health span rather than life span. Any sensible doctor knows when a person’s life has finished and their death phase has begun. When a person has entered the death phase, I believe it is the responsibility of the medical profession to ensure that person’s death occurs as quickly, painlessly and with as much dignity as possible. Unfortunately, many relatives and members of the medical profession believe it is their responsibility to pull out all stops and do everything possible to maintain someone’s existence, regardless of the quality of that existence.
The death phase, in my view, is when a person has a terminal illness with absolutely no possibility of recovering.
This doesn’t just relate to terminal cancer but it also involves end stage Alzheimer’s disease, a severe stroke with a subsequent disability from which there is no reasonable chance of recovery, severe intractable pain for which no reasonable medical therapy is leading to any degree of relief and of course end stage neurologic conditions, such as motor neurone disease.
If we had a more compassionate system of assisting dying people in reducing the length of their death phase, not only would people be able to leave the planet with a bit of dignity and end their discomfort, but we also would be saving millions of dollars in government resources.
Another major issue here is that modern medicine is unbelievably expensive and requires, not only very expensive medicine, procedures and investigations but also high-level expertise to administer all of the above. Unfortunately, our finite world only has finite resources and there is no world leader and only an occasional high-profile person who attempts to make any comments about what is the major issue on this planet i.e. overpopulation. Until this issue is addressed, it is my opinion that as a species we probably have somewhere between 50–100 years left on the planet.
If I can make the analogy here with cancer; what happens with cancer is the cells rapidly divide, rip the nutrients out of the host and pour toxic chemicals into the body leading to death. Therefore, cancers are stupid because they kill the host and therefore themselves. Clearly, human beings are rapidly dividing, ripping the nutrients out of the earth and pouring toxic chemicals into the earth & atmosphere, with the ultimate result that we are destroying all life on earth. Human beings are therefore stupid because they are killing the host and therefore themselves. There is this ridiculous argument for and against climate change with one side being strong advocates and the other side saying it does not exist and is not man-made.
The argument is a side issue because again, using the cancer analogy, if someone is significantly affected by cancer if the temperature goes up or down this is not the central problem but purely a symptom of the cancer or a secondary infection. There is no doubt that human beings are destroying the planet along with many other plant and animal species in humanity’s wake and whether the temperature goes up or down is purely a symptom of this obvious assault by humanity.
Obvious proof for this is now the clear fact that one in eight deaths around the planet are directly related to pollution and in the most heavily populated area of the world i.e. China, this is now one in four deaths.
Some experts have estimated that as a species we can only sustain indefinitely around 4 billion people across the planet and we are now getting close to 8 billion. Unfortunately, I can only see two major areas where this assault on the earth by humanity can be altered. The first is to reduce the amount of people coming into the system in the first place through restrictions on the number of children being born across the planet. The second being my earlier comments about ending the suffering of the dying.
Ever since homo sapiens first evolved we have believed it is our God-given right to bear children. In fact, a previous treasurer of Australia, Mr Peter Costello once encouraged each family to have three children, one for the mother, one for the father and one for the country. But, for the sake of our species and the planet we have to rethink this position. At the least, I believe contraception should be freely available and governments should sponsor programs to encourage contraception with any medical consultation involved in seeking contraception being free. At its most draconian, it may be suggested that if you are not financially contributing to your community then you forfeit the right to have children. Interestingly, an Australian Labor politician suggested this a few years ago.
There are many civil libertarians who will be horrified by this argument but I am purely making the suggestion that to prevent all of humanity dying off at some stage over the next 50–100 years we should be preventing births into families where the members cannot afford to bring up the child without government assistance.
Certainly, in my view, there should be no encouragements for people to have children such as baby bonuses et cetera. Assisted reproduction is another discussion & argument altogether.
Let me make the strong point that I do not believe it is acceptable in a country such as Australia where only 48% of the population is paying net tax and 40 cents in every dollar of our tax money goes to paying social welfare, that we can continue to fund such expensive social programs. Australia is already in $600 billion debt & growing daily, and our ever-increasing younger population will be saddled with paying back this debt unless we start to make some drastic changes.
I strongly believe it is the job of every government to look after the disenfranchised and disabled but we all need to strongly consider the contribution each one of us is making to society rather than what we believe is our right to extract from the public purse.
Unless someone with a public profile is brave enough to make these comments and to change the thinking of the population, we will continue to see an exponential rise in the population, wars fought over food and water and a continually rising divide between the haves and the have nots.
As Albert Einstein famously once said, “We cannot solve our current programs with the same thinking we used to create them”.