There’s hope for young

June 27, 2014

There’s hope for the young – the left has lost Generation Y:

BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast a programme entitled Is this generation right?. It was based on a 2013 study by Ipsos Mori which examined the generational differences in attitudes towards the UK benefits system. According to the study, ‘Generation Y [18- to 30-year-olds] is more likely… to believe the role of the state should be more focused on providing opportunities and less on managing the risks individuals face. This suggests that Generation Y is a more individualist generation than the others, more concerned with personal independence and opportunity.’

Putting aside the rather trite conclusion that views on welfare alone mark the difference between left and right, the findings of this survey do raise an important issue: the inability of the modern left to engage with Generation Y. While, in times past, being left-wing was bound up with ideas of opportunity and social mobility, the left’s present incarnations have patronised and alienated ambitious young people. Policies implying that young people are incapable of self sufficiency, and are in need of constant guidance, vigilance and support have suffocated a generation. . .

The cotton-woolling and we-know-best might work when people don’t think for themselves.

But once they start thinking independently and working to achieve their ambitions they realise that isn’t helping them up but holding them back.

Young people who are doing it for themselves don’t want the government to get in their way as those on the left inevitably do.

Hat Tip: Not PC


Rural round-up

June 18, 2014

N. Otago couple sell Angus bull for $55,000:

A joint record of $55,000 in this season’s bull sales has been achieved by North Otago Angus breeders Neil and Rose Sanderson.

Fossil Creek Hero H006 was purchased by Tangihau Station, near Gisborne, at the Sandersons’ recent on-farm sale at Ngapara.

Earlier this month, a Hereford bull from David and Rosemary Morrow’s Okawa stud, near Mt Somers, also sold for $55,000 to the Kokonga stud at Tuakau. . .

The world now produces more farmed fish than beef - Not PC:

You know, years ago when this blog first started, we had a discussion about property rights in fish, large and small, and talked about property rights as a way both to save the oceans, and to de-politicise them.

The solution to the imminent and watery Tragedy of the Commons represented by whale-harvesting and out of control fishing is similar to the problem solved by nineteenth century cattlemen by the imperfect means of branding, and eventually by the invention of barbed wire. It is one of recognising and legally protecting the property right in these animals.
    And no, it’s not easy to protect property rights in big fish, but then there was a time when it wasn’t easy to protect property rights in cattle either, particularly on America’s great plains.  But that was before barbed wire.
    Branding and barbed wire were inventions that allowed the cattlemen to identify “their cattle” and to ask the law for its protection for them. The solution for those who wish to protect “their whales” is essentially the same  — a technological advance that allows them to identify to themselves and others which whales are theirs, and which therefore have the full protection of law. . .

Awards recognise pride in property:

Taranaki sheep and beef farmers Robin and Jacqueline Blackwell have always taken pride in their property. That pride was publically recognised at this year’s Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

The couple took home four awards: the Beef + Lamb New Zealand livestock award, Hill Laboratories harvest award, Donaghys stewardship award and the Taranaki Regional Council sustainability award.

Blackwells farm Mangaotea, a 658ha mainly flat to rolling sheep and beef property at Tariki, north east of Stratford. It sits at 200-300m above sea level and averages 1800mm of rain annually. Mangaotea is about 20 minutes drive from the base of Mt Taranaki and includes some steeper ridges. It winters 11,300 stock units, with a cattle to sheep ratio of 90:10. The main focus is producing bulls for an annual September sale on the property and grazing young dairy stock for long-term clients. . .

Success for Plant & Food Research’s Seafood Team:

Plant & Food Research’s Alistair Jerrett and the team involved in the Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH) programme had several reasons to celebrate at last night’s second annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards. Mr Jerrett’s 30-year career as an innovator and entrepreneur within the New Zealand seafood industry saw him collect the coveted Researcher Entrepreneur Award, before he and his team also collected the People’s Choice Award and runner up in the BNZ Supreme Award category.

The awards, held at Auckland’s Viaduct Event Centre last night was attended by around 250 people from throughout the research, business and investment sectors, including politicians Hon. Steven Joyce, Nikki Kaye and Grant Robertson, and New Zealander of the year Sir Ray Avery. The annual awards aim to bring together the people and technologies changing the research commercialisation landscape in New Zealand.  . .

Long shelf life for new type of pear:

Crown Research Institute, Plant and Food Research has bred a new variety of pear which will be grown in Australia.

The fruit has been released by Prevar, a joint venture between Pipfruit New Zealand, Apple and Pear Australia and Plant and Food.

A Prevar spokesperson said the new cultivar combined characteristics from European, Japanese and Chinese pears, which gave it a crisp, juicy texture. . . .

US visit focuses on duty-free access to TPP markets:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand CEO, Dr Scott Champion pressed home the need for comprehensive tariff elimination in the Trans Pacific partnership during a visit to the United States last week.

Dr Champion met with the leadership of several major US trade and farming associations, including Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s US counterparts, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Sheep Industry Association, as well as state and federal government agencies, members of the US Congress, and US and New Zealand businesses. . .

Comvita lifts cash component of $12.3 mln NZ Honey purchase:

(BusinessDesk) – Comvita, which makes health-care products and supplements based on honey, has lifted the cash component of its takeover offer for New Zealand Honey, the Timaru-based honey produce owned by the New Zealand Honey Producers Cooperative that operates the Hollands Honey, 3 Bees and Sweet Meadow brands.

The purchase price will now comprise $10.3 million in cash and $2 million Comvita shares issued at $3.50 apiece, Comvita said in a statement. The deal had originally been for $7.3 million of cash and $5 million of shares. The NZX-listed company last traded at $3.80. . . .


How liberal are you?

January 8, 2014

I’ve added a new word to my vocabulary today – minarchist.

That’s what I am according to this quiz which asks what kind of libertarian you are.

You Scored as Minarchist

Minarchists are libertarians who advocate a strictly limited government and usually a more decentralized form of it. Minarchists may vary in the degree to which they think that government should be limited, although the bare bones position is essentially nothing more than police, courts and the military. Minarchists tend to think that some minimum level of government is a necessary evil, or at least an inevitability. The contemporary libertarian movement in America is dominantly minarchist, although it has had a long history of dialogue and debate between minarchist and anarchist libertarians.

lib

The reliability of that answer – if such quizzes can be called reliable anyway – is compromised because I chose the middle option for several questions when I didn’t know enough about the people or issues to make a reasoned response.

Hat tip: Not PC

 

 


Muddle East mess

September 3, 2013

The Middle East is really the west from our point of view.

But which ever direction you look at it from, it’s not easy to understand.

What could more accurately be called the Muddle East is still a mess, and sadly too often literally a bloody one at that.

The politics are difficult to understand but the result is not – it’s  human misery, death and destruction of lives, businesses, homes, communities and eocnomies.

The scene and players change but the plot remains the same and it’s always a tragedy.

The Washington Post has nine questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask  and a map that shows why it’s so complicated.

That’s just one country, others in the area are equally complex.

Who supports or hates whom and why is not easy to explain, but this idiots guide from blogger Big Pharaoh might help:

bigpharaohchart

Hat tip: Not PC.


Rebalancing

June 18, 2013

Jami-Lee Ross’s Bill allowing employers to take on other staff to replace striking workers has been greeted with howls of outrage.

But as Not PC asks, do you own your job?

. . . Strike action by unionised employees is certainly their right.  But the unionised employees have no right to forcibly exclude non-union labour from taking the jobs from which they have voluntarily walked away.

They will disagree with me. They would place pickets and law in the way of employers hiring new folk to replace those who’ve walked out. They will argue, essentially, that they own these jobs and have a right to exclude others from taking them—to exclude them by force, if necessary.

But they don’t own those jobs, and the mistaken idea that they do is what gives unions their power to destroy. . . .

The destruction isn’t only of their employers and his/her business, the damage goes much further than that to all the other people whose lives and businesses are affected.

After the prolonged Ports of Auckland strike a friend was buying jandals and was offered two for the price of one.

The shop keeper said the footwear had been delayed by the strike. By the time he got the shipment it was too late in summer for most people so he was offering two for one to get rid of them.

The right to strike will remain if the Bill succeeds but it will rebalance the power which at the moment is tilted in the favour of unions by allowing employers to keep their businesses running while staff are striking.

It will also reduce the damage done to other businesses not involved in the dispute but which are also affected by a strike.


Progress best prescription for people plague

January 23, 2013

Gareth Morgan has got the fur flying and alienated all cat owners with his cats to go campaign which declares the felines animalia non-grata.

David Attenborough has gone further by declaring that people are a plague on earth.

The television presenter said that humans are threatening their own existence and that of other species by using up the world’s resources.

He said the only way to save the planet from famine and species extinction is to limit human population growth.

“We are a plague on the Earth. It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now,” he told the Radio Times.

I won’t go as far as Not PC who says you first David  because as Tim Worstall points out there is a far better way than death to manage population growth:

. . . we do in fact know how to manage this process of curtailing growth in the number of humans.

Get rich.

Everywhere it has happened, everywhere this species of ours has gone from rural and Malthusian destitution to a bourgeois urban middle classness, the population growth rate has fallen like a stone. Indeed, so much so that it becomes the population contraction rate. It doesn’t actually need you and Jonny Porritt demanding full body condoms for all. It only requires that people know they can eat three times a day, have a roof over their heads and that there’s a decent chance that all the children they do have will survive into adulthood. Absent immigration there just isn’t any population growth in the rich world. Far from it, there’s contraction (to be absolutely accurate you have to adjust for it taking until the second generation of immigrants to reduce childbirth down to the rate of the indigenes). . .

Yes, those of the deep, dark, anti-progress, anti-people persuasion might not like it but the best prescription for the people population plague is progress of the economic kind.

I’m not sure what affect it will have on the cat population though.


Affordable housing requries culture change

October 30, 2012

Affordability of housing isn’t a simple matter.

Someone wanting to sell, or with a large mortgage wanting more equity in their property will be happy with higher prices.

However, there are more people finding it more difficult to buy and in responding to the Productivity Commission’s report on housing affordability, Finance Minister Bill English spells out why it matters:

“High house prices matter because many New Zealanders spend a large portion of their incomes on housing and that has helped fuel household debt and contribute to damaging imbalances in the economy,” Mr English says.

“In particular, high housing debt diverts money from more productive investments, contributes to New Zealand’s significant overall level of indebtedness and exposes taxpayers to growing demands for State assistance with housing costs. 

“Those factors make it vital that housing becomes more affordable. In addition, projections suggest that many more homes will be required in coming years than are being built.”

There are no quick fixes and improving affordability isn’t just the government’s responsibility but it has a programme with four key aims:

  • Increasing land supply – this will include more greenfields and brownfields developments and allow further densification of cities, where appropriate.
  • Reducing delays and costs of RMA processes associated with housing – this includes introducing a six-month time limit on council processing of medium-sized consents.
  • Improving the timely provision of infrastructure to support new housing – this will include considering new ways to co-ordinate and manage infrastructure for subdivisions.
  • Improving productivity in the construction sector – this includes an evaluation of the Productivity Partnership’s progress in achieving a 20 per cent increase in productivity by 2020.

Decisions made by local councils not only affect their local communities, but have wider effects on the economy and the Government’s books. 

“Many of the changes that will make a difference lie with councils and the Government expects them to share the commitment to improving housing affordability,” Mr English says. . .

These measures will help, but a culture change is also needed.

My generation and older were brought up with the idea of a single story house on a quarter acre section as the norm.

That is still possible in some places but in cities, notably Auckland, where demand for housing is so high and land supply inadequate it is no longer realistic.

People who want to live in those places need to accept that their sections will have to be smaller and houses higher. Terraced housing and apartments are normal in most other parts of the world where a lot more people are packed into cities which cover far smaller areas than ours.

Not PC discusses some options and shows some examples.

Denser housing will affect communities too – if people no longer have big sections round their homes, there will be a need for more public green spaces and play areas.

Those not willing to accept the change will have to move to smaller cities and towns where there’s less pressure on land and prices which could be good for both the city they leave and the place where they settle.

The full report is here.


Economic freedom helps prosperity

September 20, 2012

The link between economic freedom and prosperity is shown on the Fraser Institute’s World Index of Economic Freedom.

Nations that are economically free out-perform non-free nations in indicators of well-being
• Nations in the top quartile of economic freedom had an average per-capita GDP of
$37,691 in 2010, compared to $5,188 for bottom quartile nations in 2010 current
international dollars (Exhibit 1.7).
• In the top quartile, the average income of the poorest 10% was $11,382, compared to $1,209 in the bottom in 2010 current international dollars (Exhibit 1.10).
Interestingly, the average income of the poorest 10% in the most economically free nations is more than twice the overall average income in the least free nations.
• Life expectancy is 79.5 years in the top quartile compared to 61.6 years in the
bottom quartile (Exhibit 1.11).
• Political and civil liberties are considerably higher in economically free nations than in unfree nations (Exhibit 1.12).

Calls for government regulation and protection are getting stronger but this shows that it’s more economic freedom not less that we need.

The index measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of countries are supportive of economic freedom.

It is based on the cornerstones of economic freedom:  personal choice, voluntary exchange, freedom to compete, and security of privately owned property.

Forty-two variables are used to construct a summary index and to measure the degree of economic freedom in five broad areas:
1 Size of Government;
2 Legal System and Property Rights;
3 Sound Money;
4 Freedom to Trade Internationally;
5 Regulation

The top 10 countries are:

In this year’s index, Hong Kong retains the highest rating for economic freedom,
8.90 out of 10. The other top 10 nations are: Singapore, 8.69; New Zealand, 8.36;
Switzerland, 8.24; Australia, 7.97; Canada, 7.97; Bahrain, 7.94; Mauritius, 7.90;
Finland, 7.88; and Chile, 7.84.

• The rankings (and scores) of other large economies in this year’s index are the United Kingdom, 12th (7.75); the United States, 18th (7.69); Japan, 20th (7.64); Germany, 31st (7.52); France, 47th (7.32); Italy, 83rd (6.77); Mexico, 91st, (6.66); Russia, 95th (6.56); Brazil, 105th (6.37); China, 107th (6.35); and India, 111th (6.26).

• The scores of the bottom ten nations in this year’s index are: Venezuela, 4.07;
Myanmar, 4.29; Zimbabwe, 4.35; Republic of the Congo, 4.86; Angola, 5.12;
Democratic Republic of the Congo, 5.18; Guinea-Bissau, 5.23; Algeria, 5.34; Chad, 5.41; and, tied for 10th worst, Mozambique and Burundi, 5.45.

 Not Pc notes:
. . . Curious to note that around half of the top ten places are those in which the British came, saw and then buggered off, leaving behind them rule of law and the British legal and common law system. Thank Galt for the Brits, eh. . . 

 


One thing led to another

May 11, 2012

The Telegraph published a feature on beautiful British bridges which was noticed by Not PC  who posted soem photos which were noticed by Hamish who posted some more photos including the one of the Tay Bridge in Dundee.

That led me to reminisce about a painting of the bridge my father had and to suggest no list of British bridges would be complete without the one in the Hundred Acre Wood on which Pooh used to play Pooh Sticks. That inspired Hamish to give the link to  All about Pooh Sticks.

At the bottom of the page was a link which invited me to play virtual Pooh Sticks but when I clicked on it I got a page-can’t-be-found message.

Bother, as Pooh was wont to say. I’ll have to be content with memories of playing on the real bridge and one which is almost as good –  the St David’s Street bridge in Dunedin.


Did you see the one about . . .

January 23, 2012

Go back at RivettingKate Taylor – bad word, clever cartoon.

Building a cheese press at The Road to Raelands – latest post on a new (to me) blog – other posts have recipes including yoghurt and quark and buttermilk pot cheese and  biscuits.

Red flags of quackery – Sci-ence.og’s guide to spotting quacks. Hat tip: Sciblogs

Mere desire vs burning ambition – Not PC has a clip explaining the difference.

Every presentation ever – Whaleoil has a clip of where we’ve all been.

Calligrams – Visual Poetry and The Power of Visual Poetry – Destiny -  Look Up at the Sky makes wonderful word pictures.


In memory of Steve Jobs

October 8, 2011

You dont’ have to be an Apple user to appreciate the contribution Steve Jobs made to the company, communication, technology and business.

You will find better tributes than I could write in Celebrating Crazy  by  Roarprawn, Steve Jobs 1955-2011  by  Not PC and Steve Jobs – he lived by Liberty Scott.

I’ll stick to borrowing someone else’s pictures:


Quake communication by social media and memoirs

March 1, 2011

Discussion of on-line matters with Jim Mora on Critical Mass started with how on-line media complemented the MSM in coverage of the Christchurch earthquake.

Facebook, Twitter and blogs helped people connect with family and friends and also mobilise volunteers and equipment to help with recovery effort.

Among the many blog posts was one in which Brian Edwards and  Judy Callingham wrote of how Twitter brought us news that our family in Christchurch was safe.

Another which caught my eye was Not PC, who wrote of the tragedy and included descriptions of what happened to the buildings.

Many bloggers in Christchurch didn’t have power or internet connections at first but started posting when they could and their accounts provide a powerful human record of the quake and its aftermath.

It might be just as well they didn’t read the problem with memoirs first. In this column Neil Genzlinger, a staff editor at the New York Times writes disparagingly on memoirs written by people with nothing much to say.

One of those whose memoir he disparages, Sean Manning, responded in the Daily Beast.


Did you see the one about . . .

February 13, 2011

100 years ago - Kiwiblog on the background to Ronald Reagan’s tear down this wall speech.

Democracy is not freedom: an Egyptian case study - Not PC on the lack of options for those seeking a better future.

Commitment and the gym - The Visible Hand in Economics on a gym that has a financial disincentive for sloth.

The sock monster - Physics Stops finds that somethings can’t be explained by science.

Sunday Spinelessness: murdering my darlings - At the Atavism David Winter, self confessed  invertebrate evangelist, wages a reluctant war on wasps.

In memory of A.K. Grant - Quote Unquote marks what would have been Grant’s 70th birthday.

I got nothin’ - Monkey with Typewriter says goodbye.


Promised bang, delivered whimper

December 7, 2010

I could just about feel sorry for Phil Goff.

The morning he’s making his last big speech of the year someone leaks a letter expressing no confidence in him to Kiwiblog.

Then he has a Freudian slip in his speech, confusing the current Finance Spokesman David Cunliffe with  former Finance Minister David Caygill. The irony is, as Keeping Stock, points out just as Goff is trying to paint a vision for the future he reminds us of the past.

Both stories became more newsworthy than the speech  itself, but then when you read the speech you see why.

He promised a bang and delivered a whimper.

When the economy is still in a fragile state there’s no room for big spending promises and he didn’t make any. But nor did he say anything else that’s likely to get anyone talking excitedly about him and his party around their barbeques this summer.

If you haven’t time to read the full speech, Not PC has an abridged version.


Did you see the one about . . .

December 5, 2010

A Thanksgiving Day lesson in political philosophy - Jeff Keren guest posts at Not PC on individual effort vs collectivism.

TVNZ Whizzing through the years - Brian Edwards looks back with the help of YouTube.

Twelve Days of Christmas - Keeping Stock puts a price on the gifts and includes the Irish version of the song.

Movie Economics - Macdoctor and the difference between giving and not taking.

Political crystal ball - the Veteran and No Minister looks ahead to 2011.

And now for something completely different - Food court flashmob does the Hallelujah Chorus at Inquiring Mind.

Welcome to Commissioner Marshall - Stephen Franks on the Police COmmissioner to be.

Uesless information for you - Lindsay Mitcehll on who’s paid for what.

Dulce et decorum est - Monkey with Typewriter on miners.

And a couple I missed from Tuesday’s Poem:

Orphans by Michele Amas - Mary McCallum on losing parents.

Not A Tuesday Poem - Ballad for Molly – Cadence pays a musical tribute to her Scottish grandmother.


Too poor to save?

November 23, 2010

New Zealand’s public debt levels aren’t high by international standards but our private debt levels are and that’s the main reason Standards and Poor’s has put our currency on negative outlook.

Standard and Poor’s decision to put New Zealand’s foreign currency rating on negative outlook highlights the need to reduce our heavy reliance on foreign debt, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“This is a long-standing problem for New Zealand and has left us vulnerable as a country,” he says. “The Government is taking steps to reduce this external vulnerability and to move the economy towards savings and exports.

“They include the tax changes in the Budget this year and work currently underway with the Savings Working Group. From here, it’s important that our economic programme continues.

“Standard and Poor’s praised the New Zealand Government’s commitment to get back to budget surplus by 2016, and it noted that New Zealand had outperformed most other advanced economies in the past two years.

“However, it said the negative outlook on New Zealand’s AA+ foreign currency rating reflected risks stemming from its widening external imbalances and relatively low levels of national savings.

“As Standard and Poor’s notes, New Zealand’s household liabilities – at about 156 per cent of disposable income – are 50 per cent higher than 10 years ago.

“Banks and the Government, which are borrowing in volatile international financial markets, face higher interest costs on their increasing debt. In the past 10 years alone, New Zealand’s net foreign liabilities have jumped from about $90 billion to more than $160 billion.”

Mr English noted that, despite the negative outlook on its AA+ rating with Standard and Poor’s, New Zealand still enjoys the highest possible Aaa (stable) rating with Moody’s.

Standards and Poor’s isn’t the first to be concerned by our high level of foreign debt and their announcement wasn’t all bad – it resulted in a fall in the value of the New Zealand dollar which could be of some help to exporters.

But a high, and growing reliance, on foreign borrowings isn’t anything to be proud of and something which must be addressed.

We can blame the tax and spend policies of the 1999-2008 Labour government for some of the problem. It took too much from us and in doing so increased the burden of government. We’re still paying for it and that means too many of us are too poor to save.

National has made a start on reducing that burden and leaving us with more of our own money. But there’s still a long way to go.

The 2005 election bribes played a big role in the increase in the size of government, its spending and middle income welfare.

Given recent utterances, it’s probably too much to hope that Labour has learned from that, accepts we’re only just coming out of recession and tempers its inclination for growth restricting take and redistribution when developing policy for next year.

But that gives National the opportunity to trust us with the truth – we can’t keep spending more than we earn. If we want first world health, education other services and infrastructure we’re going to have to save more of our own money.

It would be much easier to do that if the burden of the state was reduced.  Not PC shows, the public sector consumes, it’s producers who produce.

If we carry on with too much of the former and too little of the latter we’ll carry on being too poor to save.


Did you see the one about . . .

October 30, 2010

Spending cuts don’t take money out of the economy - Liberty Scott makes economics simple.

Story in two sentences - Will Type for Food has sport with spooner.

It was 20 years ago this way – Not PC on red tape tangles. Also there is Icarus – Gabriel Picart – Not PC on fine art and fine words with a reminder about inspirational posters at Inspirationz.

How fast to shake to get dry – Science Answers – Aimee Whitcroft at Sciblogs on  optimal oscillation needed by a hairy beastie shaking itself dry.

They picked on the wrong people – Credo Quia Absurdum Est on corporate rowing gone wrong.

And (Hat Tip Credo Quia Absurdum Est) – the BBC sums up human achievement in 60 seconds:


We’re okay, we’ll be fine

September 15, 2010

I had to go into the centre of Christchurch on Monday. I was expecting mess and chaos but there was none.

 I saw some gaps where buildings used to be, I had to make a couple of detours round streets blocked by cranes and diggers, but apart from that it was very much business as usual.

Not PC has a letter from Christchurch and photos which back up my impressions of a city largely doing what it normally does .

It won’t be like that for the people whose homes and business places have been wrecked. But miraculously, they are the minority and everyone is doing what they can to help them clean up and rebuild as quickly as possible.

I talked about this with the friend I met for lunch.

She said, “The aftershocks are getting to us. But we’re okay and when the shaking stops we’ll be fine.”


Did you see the one about . . .

July 28, 2010

There’s a certain slant of light – Craft is the New Black’s ode to winter.

I guess that means I also need to take my computer – Laughy Kate shares a gift from her mother.

The worm – Skeptic Lawyer finds a canker at the heart of political society.

Now this is what I call inspirational Not PC -  mixes fine art and fine words. While thereanyone who’s every practised work avoidance will relate to Procrastination.

Nine and a bit months - if Julie’s experience at The Hand Mirror was that of most women there’d be a lot more one-child families.


Right to die gives right to kill

July 23, 2010

When proponents of euthanasia talk about the right to die they omit to explain that it involves other people and would also give the right to kill.

Would health professionals who are bound by the Hippocratic oath to do no harm want to do that?  Is it fair to ask them to? Even if the answers to those questions were affirmative, how could we be sure decisions would always be based on medical and humanitarian grounds?

Macdoctor points out the dangers of a financial incentive to hasten the end of dying patients.

This brings me to the central problem I have with human euthanasia.

It is a cheap cop-out.

Least I be called insensitive in the face of Dr Pollock’s eloquent and  emotional letter, let me say that I say this entirely in the context of medical practice. I do not consider Dr. Pollock’s desire to die rather than suffer a “cop-out”, I consider the legalisation of euthanasia to be a cheap (and nasty) alternative to adequate palliative care. And therein lies the chief dilemma.

Governments being what they are, as soon as euthanasia is legalised, there will immediately be a subtle drive to euthanase dying people.

 Would it be possible to have safe guards that ensure that those who wanted to opt for voluntary euthanasia  could without the danger that others would feel pressured into it?  They may feel they have to opt for an early death, not for their own sakes but that of their family and friends or even because they felt they were using scarce resources and wasting the time of the people caring for them.

Most of us think if we were severely disabled we would opt to forgo treatment, but would we?

Theodore Dalrymple writes of a man whose life support was about to be turned off until he blinked:

Mr Rudd, 43, was injured in a motor accident. He was paralysed and thought to be severely brain damaged. . .

However, taken to the neuro-intensive care unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, he was kept alive by the miracle of modern technology, without which he would undoubtedly have died.

His close relatives and doctors thought that the life he now had was not worth living. They prepared to turn off the machines keeping him alive. They thought this is what he would have wanted. It is also what most of us probably would have thought too.

At the last hour it was noticed he was able to move his eyes and that by doing so he could communicate a little. And what he communicated to everyone’s surprise was that he wanted to continue to live, even the life that he was now living. In other words his relatives and the doctors, with the best intentions in the world, had been mistaken. . .

That would have been a fatal mistake.

Dalrymple goes on to explain about Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) and how that measure could influence treatment.

Health policies are often decided on the basis of QALYs. Interestingly and alarmingly the QALY assumes that the life of a quadriplegic (someone paralysed from the neck down) not only has no value for the person who lives it but has a negative value for him: that is to say such a person would rather be dead and in fact would be better off if he were dead.

Whatever they thought before they were paralysed, however, most quadriplegics think their lives are worth living.

With a few exceptions, such as the young rugby player who was accompanied by his parents to Switzerland to be able to be given assistance in suicide, they don’t want to die. The fact that before they were paralysed most quadriplegics thought (as most people, including health economists think) that life as a quadriplegic would not be worth living but change their minds once they are quadriplegic, has very important implications for the idea of living wills.

In fact it invalidates the very idea. It is impossible to decide in advance what would be intolerable for you until you experience it.

When discussing this situation most of us think we would choose death rather than a life with severe impairments, but how can we know how great the desire for life, or death, would be until we are faced with making a choice?

When euthanasia is spoken of, it’s usually described as providing a merciful end, but would we feel the need to hasten our deaths if we could have a painless and natural one instead?

Dalrymple raises another problem. If we did legalise the right to kill, where would we draw the line and how would we stop it moving?

One of the problems with assisted suicide and euthanasia is what the Americans call mission creep. We live in non-discriminatory times: why should only certain categories of patients have the benefit of what Keats called “easeful death”? Indeed, when euthanasia was legalised in Holland it was not long before a psychiatrist killed a patient with supposedly intractable depression.

Why should only the terminally ill and the quadriplegic have the right to assisted suicide or euthanasia? Do other people not suffer equally, at least in their own estimation?  An old saying goes that hard cases make bad law and it is also true that there are pitiful cases in which a quick death would seem a merciful release.

Unfortunately it is well within the capacity of carers to make suffering unbearable and therefore death seem the preferable, quick and merciful option. And if people have a right to death on demand then someone has a duty to provide it, otherwise the right is worthless, a dead letter.

Who is this person who has such a duty? Will we strike off doctors for refusing to kill their patients? This is something that the indomitable Mr Rudd would not approve of and I think he deserves to be heard.

Euthanasia is not the same as choosing to forgo treatment. It is not passively letting someone die or even giving pain relief which might have the side effect of hastening death. It is actively killing and if we give the right to do that how can we be sure it wouldn’t be misused?

Rather than agitating for the right to die we should be agitating for the right to live with dignity and without pain.

The right to die sounds like control is in the hands of the patient and I struggle to see any difference between that and suicide.  But euthanasia is much more than that. In legalising the right to die we’d also be legalising the right to kill.

UPDATE:

Lucia Maria aat NZ Conservative has similar concerns in  euthanasia raises it’s ugly head again.

Dim Post is cautiously in favour of legalising euthanasie but also sees the dangers in death panels.

goNZo Freakpower supports legalisation in any last requests,

So do Brian Edwards in the doctor and the right to die and Richard McGrath at Not PC in Cancers – personal and parliamentary.

Lindsay Mitchell asks what happend to the death with dignity bill?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,277 other followers

%d bloggers like this: