Takin’ Care of Business

July 23, 2010

Happy birthday Blair Thornton, 60 today.


Oh What A Circus

July 23, 2010

Happy birthday David Essex, 63 today.


Questions which might be better left unanswered

July 23, 2010

1. Do hotel cleaners wash cups and glasses in the bathroom basin you just used to wash your underwear?

2. What/who were the people who went silent as you entered the room talking about?

3. How long has the zip on your trousers been undone?


Exchange rate like the weather

July 23, 2010

The New Zealand dollar went up last night and is in sight of 2010 highs.

Every time this happens we get discussions on the exchange rate, the Reserve Bank Act and whether the latter should be changed to allow regulation of the former.

In spite of Labour’s mutterings on this – which is evidence more of an acknowledgement it’s unlikely to return to government soon than a real desire to meddle – there is very unlikely to be any change to the policy of a floating dollar.

Just like the weather the exchange rate is beyond our control. We can’t change it, we have to learn to manage its affects.


Competitive advantage quality not price

July 23, 2010

New Zealand can’t compete with producers from countries like Brazil and Uruguay on price, our competitive advantage must be quality.

This was Agriculture Minister David Carter’s message to last weekend’s National Party conference and he’s right.

Our competitive advantage isn’t price but quality.

Food safety, environmental sustainability and animal welfare are what we have to safeguard and use as selling points.

If you’re poor and hungry price is the most important thing; you don’t worry about where your food comes from and how it’s produced. But people with discretionary income do care and make decisions based on quality as well as price.

Domestic producers in our overseas markets know this and will use non-tariff barriers  to keep our produce out if they can.

We can’t afford to give them any excuses to do so.


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?


July 23 in history

July 23, 2010

On July 23:

1632  Three hundred colonists bound for New France departed from Dieppe, France.

1793 Prussia re-conquered Mainz from France.

1829 William Austin Burt patented the Typographer, a precursor to the typewriter.

1833 Cornerstones are laid for the construction of the Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio.

 
KirtlandTemple Ohio USA.jpg

1840  The Province of Canada was created by the Act of Union.

1851 Twenty-six lives were lost when the barque Maria was wrecked near Cape Terawhiti, on Wellington’s rugged south-western coast.

The <em>Maria</em> wrecked near Cape Terawhiti

1862 American Civil War: Henry W. Halleck took command of the Union Army.

Henry Wager Halleck - Brady-Handy.jpg

1874  Aires de Ornelas e Vasconcelos was appointed the Archbishop of the Portuguese colonial enclave of Goa.

1881  The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique, the world’s oldest international sport federation, was founded.

1881  The Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina was signed in Buenos Aires.

 

1888 Raymond Chandler, American-born author, was born (d. 1959).

First edition cover

1892  Haile Selassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, was born (d. 1975).

1903  The Ford Motor Company sold its first car.

1914  Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia demanding Serbia to allow the Austrians to determine who assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

1926 Fox Film bought the patents of the Movietone sound system for recording sound onto film.

1929  The Fascist government in Italy bannedthe use of foreign words.

1936  The Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia was founded through the merger of socialist and communist parties.

 

1940 United States’ Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles‘s declaration on the U.S. non-recognition policy of the Soviet annexation and incorporation of three Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

 

1942 The Holocaust: The Treblinka extermination camp  opened.

 

1942  World War II: Operation Edelweiss began.

 

1945  The post-war legal processes against Philippe Pétain began.

 

1947 David Essex, English singer, was born.

1950 Blair Thornton, Canadian guitarist (Bachman-Turner Overdrive), was born.

1952  New Zealand’s first female Olympic medallist, Yvette Williams (now Corlett) won gold in the long jump with an Olympic-record leap of 6.24 metres (20 feet 5 and 3/4 inches).

Yvette Williams leaps for gold at Helsinki

1952 Establishment of the European Coal and Steel community.

1952 General Muhammad Naguib led the Free Officers Movement (formed by Gamal Abdel Nasser– the real power behind the coup) in the overthrow of King Farouk of Egypt.

 

Profile portrait of a young man facing left. He is wearing a tarboosh over his head and is dressed in military uniform. He is holding a sword and gloves in his left hand.

1956 The Loi Cadre was passed by the French Republic in order to order French overseas territory affairs.

1961 Martin Lee Gore, English musician and songwriter (Depeche Mode), was born.

1961 The Sandinista National Liberation Front was founded in Nicaragua.

FSLN.png

1962 Telstar relays the first publicly transmitted, live trans-Atlantic television program, featuring Walter Cronkite.

1962  The International Agreement on the Neutrality of Laos was signed.

1965 Slash, American guitarist (Guns N’ Roses), was born.

1967  12th Street Riot in Detroit, Michigan  began in the predominantly African American inner city (43 killed, 342 injured and 1,400 buildings burned).

1968 Glenville Shootout: In Cleveland, Ohio, a violent shootout between a Black Militant organization led by Ahmed Evans and the Cleveland Police Department occurs. During the shootout, a riot begins that lasted for five days.

 

196  The only successful hijacking of an El Al aircraft  when a 707 carrying 10 crew and 38 passengers was taken over by three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

1970 Qaboos ibn Sa’id became Sultan of Oman after overthrowing his father, Sa’id ibn Taimur.

 
Qabus bin Said.jpg

1972 The United States launched Landsat 1, the first Earth-resources satellite.

Artist's rendering of Landsat 1

1973 Himesh Reshammiya, Indian Bollywood composer, singer and actor, was born.

1980 Michelle Williams, American singer (Destiny’s Child), was born.

1982  The International Whaling Commission decided to end commercial whaling by 1985-86.

 

1983 The Sri Lankan Civil War began with the killing of 13 Sri Lanka Army soldiers by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam .

Sri Lanka-CIA WFB Map.png

1983  Gimli Glider: Air Canada Flight 143 ran out of fuel and made a deadstick landing at Gimli, Manitoba.

 

1986  Prince Andrew, Duke of York married Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey.

1988 General Ne Win, effective ruler of Burma since 1962, resigned after pro-democracy protests.

 

1992 A Vatican commission, led by Joseph Ratzinger, (now Pope Benedict XVI) established that it was necessary to limit rights of homosexual people and non-married couples.

Benedykt xvi.jpg

1992 Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia.

1995 Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered and becomes visible to the naked eye nearly a year later.

Comet Hale-Bopp, shortly after passing perihelion in April 1997.

1997 Digital Equipment Company filed antitrust charges against chipmaker Intel.

1999 Crown Prince Mohammed Ben Al-Hassan was crowned King Mohammed VI of Morocco on the death of his father.

1999  ANA Flight 61 was hijacked in Tokyo.

2005 Three bombs exploded in the Naama Bay area of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, killing 88 people.

 

2008 Cape Verde  joined the World Trade Organization, becoming its 153rd member.

 

2009 Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox  became the 18th pitcher to throw a perfect game in Major League Baseball history, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 5-0.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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