Thursday, April 10, 2008

Today in History

In 2001, the Netherlands passed the world's first national law allowing euthanasia. 

Oregon passed the only such law in the U.S., the Death with Dignity Act, in 1994.

I am a staunch supporter of euthanasia. 

For many people, especially the elderly, life persists long after quality of life is gone; the problem is exacerbated by the advances of modern medicine, which focus on prolonging life without consideration for the kind of life the patient will live.

I watched my father over the last three years of his life. He suffered from emphysema and Parkinson's disease, was confined to bed in a nursing home, where his life comprised meals and starting all day at a blaring television screen. I see my mother with an advancing case of Alzheimer's; what kind of life will she have when she can no longer remember where she is, who her friends and children are?

I understand that permitting euthanasia can put us on a slippery ethical slope. However, the Oregon experience demonstrates that euthanasia laws can be written in such a way as to prevent abuse.

Let us evolve as a society to where we take a humane view of terminal illness and debilitated old age. Let our view of morality evolve past the notion that life must be preserved at any cost, and allow us to show mercy and compassion to those who no longer live but merely exist, or who experience pain and suffering with no hope of any outcome but a terminal one.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Legacy of George W Bust: Part 1

This two-part post is not written in frustration or anger, although the actions and inactions of the Bush administration are certainly inspiring of both. It is a collection of thoughts which have developed over the last 8 years and which came into focus as I reflected on the state of the US economy and the underlying causes. More on that in the second post.
Here I want to address and clarify a charge that is often leveled at the Bush administration: that of fascism.
There is no question in my mind that the current administration is fascist. What follows is a 14-point description of fascism developed by political scientist Laurence Britt. There is such strong correspondence between the positions and actions of the Bush administration and each of the 14 points that the association of the term "fascist" with this administration can only be disputed if one disagrees with the 14 points.
While fascist regimes are usually totalitarian, it should be noted that totalitarianism is not among the 14 points, although one can argue that the continued expansion of the power of the presidency by executive fiat represents a trend towards totalitarianism as well.
  1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism
  2. Disdain for the importance of human rights
  3. Identification of enemies/scapegoats as a unifying cause
  4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism
  5. Rampant sexism
  6. A controlled mass media
  7. Obsession with national security
  8. Religion and ruling elite tied together
  9. Power of corporations protected
  10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated
  11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts
  12. Obsession with crime and punishment
  13. Rampant cronyism and corruption
  14. Fraudulent elections