[T]he October issue of the Southern Medical Journal included a study examining the correlation between legalizing physician-assisted suicide and the overall suicide rate. The study, “How Does Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide Affect Rates of Suicide?”, contradicts the notion that legalizing assisted suicide would reduce the total number of suicides by helping people cope with their declining condition.
The study… showed that suicides increase when physician-assisted suicide is legalized: “Controlling for various socioeconomic factors, unobservable state and year effects, and state-specific linear trends, we found that legalizing PAS [physician-assisted suicide] was associated with a 6.3 percent increase in total suicides.” Later, the researchers commented that “the introduction of [physician-assisted suicide] seemingly induces more self-inflicted deaths than it inhibits.”
The study was intended to determine whether or not the legalization of physician-assisted suicide provides an effective form of suicide prevention for those considering non-assisted suicide. Such is the claim of the Swiss group EXIT, which advocates for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide on the basis that “the option of physician-assisted suicide is actually an effective form of suicide prevention.”
To test this claim, researchers took suicide rates from states that have already legalized physician-assisted suicide—including Oregon, Washington, and Vermont—and compared them both to the suicide rates in the same states before physician-assisted suicide was legalized, and to suicide rates in states where physician-assisted suicide is not yet legal.
According to the researchers, “There is no evidence that [physician-assisted suicide] is associated with significant reductions in nonassisted suicide for either older or younger people.” Furthermore, the data “do not suggest that on average PAS leads to delays in non-assisted suicide.”
As one might suspect, the researchers found that instead of reducing suicides, legalizing physician-assisted suicide increases them. This uptick in suicides following the legalization of physician-assisted adds another reason to the already long list of reasons that physician-assisted suicide is bad policy.
I love this study, because this is the exact same methodology that economists like John Lott and Gary Beck use to analyze the effects of concealed carry laws on violent crime. This is the right way to explore how changes in the law change human behavior. You don’t want to just say what you think will happen, because it feels good to you. You want to look in other places and times where these laws have been tried, and then see the results. That’s the conservative approach to decision-making.
Before we find out what Hillary Clinton thinks of the Department of Veterans Affairs health care scandal, let’s find out what the problem is, using this article from Breitbart News.
The Department of Veterans Affairs office Inspector General has released a report revealing that about 307,000 sick veterans have died while waiting for care on the VA’s eligibility waiting list. In fact, the report finds that many have been dead for more than four years.
The report confirms the worst-case scenarios about the long VA wait times that have made news reports and sparked questions in Congress since last year.
On Wednesday, the OIG revealed that of the 800,000-some records stalled in the VA’s health care enrollment system, 307,000 veterans have already died anywhere from months ago to more than four years ago.
“As of September 2014, more than 307,000 pending [enrollment system] records, or about 35 percent of all pending records, were for individuals reported as deceased by the Social Security Administration,” the report discovered.
But even that number was disputable because the VA’s databases are in such disarray.
“[D]ue to data limitations, we could not determine specifically how many pending [enrollment system] records represent veterans who applied for health care benefits,” the report continued. “These conditions occurred because the enrollment program did not effectively define, collect, and manage enrollment data.”
The study resulted after whistleblowers warned of the utter mismanagement at the Veteran Affairs offices that included incorrectly making unprocessed applications and the deletion of thousands of records over at least the last five years.
The OIG found one veteran who had been on a waiting list for 14 years and another veteran who died in 1988 but still had unprocessed applications in the VA system.
Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA Health Eligibility Center, told CNN that millions of veterans are still at risk because of these failures.
“People who fought, and who earned the right to VA health care were never given VA health care,” Davis said. “They literally died while waiting for VA to process their health care application.”
Now let’s see what Hillary Clinton said about the VA scandal.
Here she is, in her own words, before a friendly audience:
She says this about the VA problems: “It’s not been as widespread as it has been made out to be”.
Single-payer health care
This is health care policy expert Sally Pipes, writing in Investors Business Daily, about the VA single-payer health care system.
A new report from the Government Accountability Office has confirmed that the Department of Veterans Affairs can’t take care of those it’s supposed to serve.
The GAO has placed the VA’s health system on the “high risk” list of federal programs that are vulnerable to “fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.” The agency is still struggling to recover from an 8-month-old internal audit that revealed that returning soldiers had to wait more than 90 days for care. Some patients died while waiting.
The GAO’s findings apply far beyond the VA. The agency’s problems — which include long wait-times and out-of-control costs — demonstrate what happens in any government-run, single-payer health care system.
[…]Defenders of government-run health care claim that it will control costs by cutting out middlemen such as insurance companies. The evidence shows otherwise. According to the GAO, the VA budget more than doubled between 2002 and 2013 even as enrollment increased by less than a third.Single-payer’s “guarantee” of access to high-quality care is a myth, too.
“Despite these substantial budget increases,” the GAO report says, “for more than a decade there have been numerous reports … of VA facilities failing to provide timely health care.”
[..]Last summer, lawmakers allocated $10 billion to a program intended to reduce wait times by permitting veterans to see private doctors outside the VA system. So far, the agency has only authorized 31,000 vets to seek private care — out of a possible 8.5 million.That has to change — 88% of veterans say that they want the ability to choose where they receive their care.
The VA health care system is the purest single-payer health care system in the United States. Every claim billed and processed by the government. Customers have ZERO CHOICES if they want to go to a competitor for better service, or less cost. They pay their money to the government in mandatory taxes, and then take their places in line to wait for bureaucrats to act. Bureaucrats face no pressure from competitors to perform for their customers. They have already been paid, and their customers cannot go anywhere else.
In single-payer system, health care is doled out to those customers whose votes are desired by the government. And if you get to the point where you need more health care than you are paying for in your mandatory in taxes… well, that’s what euthanasia is for. It’s very popular in countries that have single-payer, as a way of cutting costs. Canada has a single-payer system, and they just legalized euthanasia.
Christian apologists should care about this Weekly Standard story, and I’ll explain why at the end of this post.
The story begins by profiling the king of overpopulation hysteria, a man named Paul Ehrlich. Ehrlich’s hysterical predictions were at least partly responsible for rise in public support for secular causes such as abortion, euthanasia, global warming alarmism, eugenics, and so on. But, as the article notes, Ehrlich’s predictions were wrong. Basically, you can think of overpopulation as a the “Left Behind” doomsday story of the left.
One quick example of Ehrlich’s failure at predictions:
Of course, it’s been obvious that Ehrlich was not just misguided, but an actual charlatan, since the 1970s. The late economist Julian Simon spent most of his career exposing Ehrlich’s errors. You may remember the Ehrlich-Simon wager. In 1980, Simon bet Ehrlich $1,000 that over the course of the following decade the price of a basket of commodities—any resources Ehrlich chose—would drop, as proof that Ehrlich’s ravings about the relationship of population to scarcity was wrong.
Simon was correct. Ten years later Ehrlich sent him a check, with no note. Never prone to either civility or introspection—he frequently called people he disagreed with “fools,” “idiots,” “clowns,” and worse—Ehrlich later told the Wall Street Journal, “If Simon disappeared from the face of the Earth, that would be great for humanity.” Hell of a guy.
The part of the article I want to look at it is how this disproved charlatan was supported by the secular left:
In 1990—the same year he lost his bet with Julian Simon—Ehrlich was awarded a million dollar MacArthur “genius” grant and was simultaneously feted across the Atlantic with Sweden’s Crafoord Prize, which was worth just about half a million. In 1993 the Heinz Family Foundation bestowed on him its first Heinz Award. This little trinket came with $100,000 in cash and the most delusional praise possible, claiming that Ehrlich’s “perspective, uncommon among scientists, has made [him and his wife] the target of often harsh criticism—criticism they accept with grace as the price of their forthrightness.” Which is a peculiar way of explaining that Ehrlich was completely wrong and that he responded to all such evidence with ad hominem attacks. Five years later, in 1998, he was awarded the Tyler Prize,which comes with $200,000. The money train kept on rolling.
And it wasn’t just dumb philanthropists. “Serious” organizations continued to honor him. In 2001, the American Institute of Biological Sciences gave Ehrlich its “Distinguished Scientist” award. In 2009, the World Wildlife Fund featured him as a guest lecturer in their flagship speaker series. In 2012, he was inducted into London’s Royal Society, which is Britain’s nearly 400-year-old national academy of science. There is more. So much more.
Paul Ehrlich’s entire career stands as a monument to the ideological imperatives of the world’s elites and the extent to which they exist not just independent from, but in actual opposition to, both science, evidence, reason, and good faith.
So basically, we are dealing with a cult leader who makes false predictions and then is celebrated even as they are falsified. It reminds me of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For just one recent story on the demographic crisis, check out this one about Germany, which has the lowest birth rate in the industrialized world, and is set for long-term decline because of it.
I basically have two issues where I diverge from the consensus view: global warming and fully naturalistic molecules-to-man evolution. Of course, I have scientific reasons to doubt them. But I also have observed for people who support these myths behave – defending their heroes and painting the opposition as crazy. It’s an important lesson to learn. How far will people go to believe what they want to believe and try to convince others to believe it, too?
How is this relevant to Christian apologetics? Well, in Christian apologetics, you don’t just talk about the resurrection. You have to establish your credibility as a truth-seeker, and it’s better if you can do it in some non-religious area. For example, I have a secular Jewish guy who I talk to who is a strong supporter of abortion. He believes in global warming, Darwinism and this overpopulation nonsense, too. If you can show him the evidence that disproves any one of these, it exposes how he has deliberately chosen to believe things that he didn’t have evidence for because he wanted to believe it so badly.
Demonstrating mastery at disproving the secular left’s myths in one area clears the way for getting them to rethink what they believe and why in every area. It’s important for Christians not to appear desperate. We cannot just fixate on the gospel and salvation and try to rush people to a conversion in 5 minutes by threatening them with Hell. We have to show them that Christianity should be adopted because it’s true, because it’s the end result of a process of thinking clearly. Thinking clearly in one area is evidence to our audience that we can at least in principle be thinking clearly about religious issues, too.
And this is another reason to be responsible and wise with your life decisions. Don’t study junk in school. Don’t work easy jobs. Don’t waste all your money on fun and thrills. Don’t lack self-control. People judge your ideas by how successful you have been in your education and profession. So make decisions that show them that you are competent, not crazy. If you present yourself as a an irresponsible, out-of-control thrill seeker who has not succeeded in your education, career and finances, then you’ll have no credibility with a secular audience before you even open your mouth. Be a person who gathers respect because you know what you are doing. If you want to succeed at evangelism, you have to heed this warning and avoid doing the easy thing just because it feels good.
It was the late ’80s, and young Martin Pistorius, growing up in South Africa, was mostly thinking about electronics. Resistors and transistors and you name it.
But at age 12, his life took an unexpected turn. He came down with a strange illness. The doctors weren’t sure what it was, but their best guess was cryptococcal meningitis.
He got progressively worse. Eventually he lost his ability to move by himself, his ability to make eye contact, and then, finally, his ability to speak.
His parents, Rodney and Joan Pistorius, were told that he was as good as not there, a vegetable. The hospital told them to take him home and keep him comfortable until he died.
But he didn’t die. “Martin just kept going, just kept going,” his mother says.
His father would get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, get him dressed, load him in the car, take him to the special care center where he’d leave him.
“Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores,” Rodney says.
That was their lives, for 12 years.
This part was the most interesting to me:
Joan vividly remembers looking at Martin one day and saying: ” ‘I hope you die.’ I know that’s a horrible thing to say,” she says now. “I just wanted some sort of relief.”
And she didn’t think her son was there to hear it.
But he was.
“Yes, I was there, not from the very beginning, but about two years into my vegetative state, I began to wake up,” says Martin, now age 39 and living in Harlow, England.
He thinks he began to wake up when he was 14 or 15 years old. “I was aware of everything, just like any normal person,” Martin says.
But although he could see and understand everything, he couldn’t move his body.
“Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again,” he says. “The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that — totally alone.”
He was trapped, with only his thoughts for company. And they weren’t particularly nice thoughts.
“No one will ever show me tenderness. No one will ever love me.”
And of course there was no way to escape. He thought, “You are doomed.”
[…]“You don’t really think about anything,” Martin says. “You simply exist. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish.”
[…]“The rest of the world felt so far away when she said those words,” Martin says.
Eventually, Martin was able to come out of his persistent vegetative state by mental effort, over a long period of time. The NPR story has a nice picture of Martin and his wife, where he is holding her hand. So his story had a happy ending.
Patients are 45% more likely to die in NHS hospitals than in US ones, according to figures revealing how badly England’s health service compares with those of other countries.
Previously unpublished data collated by Professor Sir Brian Jarman over more than 10 years found NHS mortality rates were among the worst of those in seven developed countries.
A patient in England was five times as likely to die of pneumonia and twice as likely to die of septicaemia compared to similar patients in the US, the leading country in the study, the data suggested.
The elderly were found to be particularly at risk in English hospitals compared with those in the other countries.
The figures showed that the situation had improved since 2004, when the death rate in English hospitals was 58% higher than that in the best performing country.
But NHS institutions still lagged behind in the most recent data, from 2012, despite reforms of the health service and increased funding.
Of the other six countries studied, only the US was named because of the sensitivity of the data.
Prof Sir Brian, who adjusted the data to take account of differences in the countries’ health services, did not initially release his figures because he was so shocked by them he at first assumed there must be a flaw in his methodology.
There was, however, “no means of denying the results,” he said.
“I expected us to do well and was very surprised when we didn’t,” the Imperial College London medic told Channel 4 News.
“If you go to the States, doctors can talk about problems, nurses can raise problems and listen to patient complaints.
“We have a system whereby for written hospital complaints only one in 375 is actually formally investigated. That is absolutely appalling.”
Previously, I had posted a summary of a book by Scott Atlas, a medical doctor at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. In that article, he laid out the reasons why the U.S. healthcare system was the best in the world.