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The “Austere” Future: Death instead of Taxes?

COMMENT: With social safety nets facing deep cuts throughout the developed world (“austerity”), the vulnerable are going to be dying in ever greater numbers. Aged, sick, disabled and poor people will be pushed over the edge to an increasing extent as the modest sums they command are slashed.

In Miscellaneous Archive Show M12, we examined the Nazi T4 euthanasia program and how it grew out of the international eugenics movement and, in turn, led directly to the death camps and Third Reich’s  extermination policies.

In FTR #’s 117, 124, 141, we visited with Wesley J. Smith, the author of Forced Exit: the Slippery Slope from Assisted Suicide to Legalized Murder. In that vitally important book, Mr. Smith notes how the physician-assisted suicide of “terminally ill patients” can lead very quickly to legalized murder of the infirm.

The looming question is this: will budgetary “austerity” lead to the elimination of the vulnerable instead of spending public revenues on them? Will we see legalized murder instituted in lieu of the higher taxes that the world’s economic elite so dearly wish to avoid?

Listen to the interviews with Smith and read the book.

And be afraid. Be very afraid.

“Dutch Mobile Euthanasia Units to Make House Calls” by Kate Connolly; The Guardian [UK]; 3/1/2012.

EXCERPT: A controversial system of mobile euthanasia units that will travel around the country to respond to the wishes of sick people who wish to end their lives has been launched in the Netherlands.

The scheme, which started on Thursday , will send teams of specially trained doctors and nurses to the homes of people whose own doctors have refused to carry out patients’ requests to end their lives.

The launch of the so-called Levenseinde, or “Life End”, house-call units – whose services are being offered to Dutch citizens free of charge – coincides with the opening of a clinic of the same name in The Hague, which will take patients with incurable illnesses as well as others who do not want to die at home. . . .


20 comments for “The “Austere” Future: Death instead of Taxes?”

  1. I do worry about the possible misuse of such and I am concerned that perhaps this abuse could be far-reaching in some areas, particularly countries that may come under the control of far-right authoritarians as seems to have happened in Egypt(and what happened in Iran 32 years ago) and may soon be happening in Greece and a few other European countries.

    Posted by Steven L. | March 3, 2012, 2:34 am
  2. A Stratfor position paper is jubilant that the youth and education levels of illegal Hispanic immigrants are above the American and Mexican norm and will profit the US in productivity and tax remittance for years to come, ushering in China level wages. Kicking the can down the road, as far as an aging workforce, is now practical and profitable if we can just get those useless old folks to take the shot.

    Posted by Dwight | March 3, 2012, 6:44 pm
  3. Maybe, if we’re good little plebs, it will just be prison instead of taxes.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 5, 2012, 9:39 am
  4. There is no doubt that “austerity measures” are implicitly genocidal in being targeted at the most vulnerable members of society.

    The capitalist economic crisis provides the perfect pretext for the ruling classes to eliminate social benefits won by the working class over the past century and impose “collateral damage” targeted at “useless bread eater” population groups.

    Posted by stu | March 6, 2012, 10:20 am
  5. @Stu: I think I have a good idea at just who might be targeted here in America………

    Posted by Steven L. | March 6, 2012, 7:56 pm
  6. Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 9, 2012, 7:42 am
  7. Well, on the plus, now Greece can lay off all those PE teachers. Just think of the savings!

    Greece on the breadline: the children of Athens too hungry to do PE

    Jon Henley is in Athens finding out how ordinary Greeks are pulling together to cope amid the financial meltdown

    Posted by
    Jon Henley in Athens
    Tuesday 13 March 2012 11.35 EDT The Guardian

    Dozens of readers have sent me suggestions about places to go and people to meet in my search for stories behind the headlines in Athens, and I’m following up as many as I can. Others have sent me their own contributions.

    Tales of solidarity come from Victoria Prekate, an Athens secondary school teacher and psychologist, who relates how her colleagues in schools in the capital have been responding:

    It has been a common secret among PE teachers for some time now that they don’t expect pupils to do PE any more, because many of them are underfed and get dizzy.

    They need to be discreet, as these underprivileged children don’t wish to be exposed to their peers. In my previous school, the teachers arranged among themselves to give the school canteen some money, so that the canteen could give the child a snack, without embarrassing the child.

    However, this was not enough. In many schools today, it is the parents’ associations who come together, gather food and discreetly arrange to allocate it to those families of the school who are suffering. In co-operation with the teachers, they know which children in the school are hungry and in need of help. Again, they try to do it as discreetly as possible.

    “Many families, suddenly left without work, are in shock and there is nowhere to turn. Social services are collapsing. They are not professional beggars. They are ordinary people like you and me, suddenly left with nothing. I know one area, where schools have specialised in what they gather: 1st primary school gather rice and legumes, 2nd vegetables, 3rd meat and chicken etc.

    So is this all seen as the sort of fruitful sacrifice that creates a productive future because there are some serious long-term implications to your nation’s economy when you starve your children.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 13, 2012, 6:49 pm
  8. @Pterrafractyl–Indeed there are long term implications for not feeding children. There are short term and long term results from not feeding adults either.

    No calories=no productivity, i.e. no work.

    This falls directly inline with my post about List, von Clausewitz etc.

    When the Nazis occupied a country, they raised the price of food significantly, while keeping the price of beer and alcohol stable.

    It thus became cheaper to get your calories from liquor, thus rendering a portion of the occupied population incapacitated.

    The Nazis were also very aware that the forced labor programs (which separated men and women), the looting of the wealth of the occupied nations and reduction in food rations for the occupied population all had long term implications for the countries they conquered.

    Long after the occupation ended, the beaten nations lagged in productivity, population growth, longevity and liquid assets.

    This was done with a von Clausewitz-style postwar in mind.

    Posted by Dave Emory | March 13, 2012, 10:35 pm
  9. @Dave: Sad thing is, everything you have said here in that comment is true and completely verifiable.

    Truth is, many nations in Africa also had some similar problems under Western colonialism as well, most notably, their lack of real economic growth after their former overlords had left. Might there one day be an initiative to perhaps re-colonize Africa, even if perhaps just economically so? (I hope not, of course, but one must wonder sometimes).

    Posted by Steven L. | March 14, 2012, 3:28 am
  10. And the global onslaught on the notion that a society that can take care of its own continues…:

    LA Times
    Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, with Medicare changes, is back
    A backlash from seniors buried the Republican proposal last year, but the Wisconsin congressman insists his deficit-slashing ideas are on the right track.

    By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau

    March 16, 2012, 5:37 p.m.
    Reporting from Washington-
    For a moment last year, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s star shone brightly as he unveiled his party’s bold deficit-whacking budget proposal -that is, until seniors rebelled over his plan to dramatically change Medicare.

    The backlash was swift and decisive. Democrats attacked the GOP, saying the plan would destroy the Medicare safety net, and the earnest Wisconsin wunderkind slid from the spotlight. When he walked the halls of the Capitol, he popped in his iPod earbuds, tuning out the noise.

    Now Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, is returning to center stage as the GOP doubles down on his conservative budget priorities – including tax cuts for the wealthy and a new version of his plan for major changes in Medicare

    With an edgy new campaign-style video and a flurry of Ryan appearances timed with his upcoming budget release, Republicans believe theirs is a winning strategy: one that will showcase the GOP as willing to make tough choices to reduce federal deficits and present voters with a contrast to President Obama. Democrats believe just as strongly that the Ryan strategy will be a winner for them.

    A Medicare overhaul, in particular, is a risky move in an election year when the GOP is trying to topple Obama, defend its House majority and win the Senate. Ryan won plaudits from some budget hawks and think tanks for being willing to tackle the difficult politics of Medicare cuts. But average voters overwhelmingly support keeping Medicare as is. They also favor Obama’s approach of taxing wealthy Americans more heavily to bring budgets into balance, rather than offer more tax cuts, polls show.

    Ryan’s new budget is expected to include a revised provision backed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) that addresses some of the criticisms. It would still give future seniors a fixed amount, but it would allow them to use the money to stay in the traditional Medicare program. They would have to pay out of pocket if the costs of the program were higher than the government subsidy – or buy an alternative plan. Wyden is likely to oppose the Ryan budget’s other provisions, limiting the patina of bipartisanship the GOP hoped for.

    Less partisan budget experts say Ryan deserves credit for being willing to talk about Medicare spending, but that most seniors under his plan would face considerably higher costs for healthcare, in some cases many thousands of dollars a year. Some also call his proposals unrealistic for refusing to consider any increase in tax revenue to rein in the nation’s debt. Of concern to some, the budget is expected to avoid agreed-upon Pentagon cuts in favor of deeper reductions to other domestic programs.

    Ryan dismisses such challenges. To him, losses such as the one the GOP suffered in last year’s special election are merely bumps along a career path trying to avert a national debt crisis. A protégé of Republican Jack Kemp, Ryan calls himself a next-generation supply-sider who matches the earlier conservatives’ zest for lower taxes with a new emphasis on deficit reduction.

    “To me it’s sort of a moral issue. There is right and there is wrong. There are absolutes in life, and it is wrong to knowingly do nothing to prevent a catastrophe from happening,” said Ryan, a Roman Catholic who says he prays daily for the country to be on better fiscal footing.

    Paul Ryan, Supply Side Jesus`s prayer warrior in chief.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 17, 2012, 6:50 pm
  11. The offer is still on the table? Uh oh

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 19, 2012, 10:13 am
  12. FYI, Robert Mundell, the economist known as the “God-father” of the euro, a major figure in the development of supply-side economics, and an advocate of a global currency (so we can all become Greece, yay!) wants you to know that there’s just no way we can afford things like like a fiscal stimulus anymore. Sorry plebs:

    Free Lunches Pushing U.S. to Insolvency, Columbia’s Mundell Says
    By Allison Bennett and Tom Keene – Mar 20, 2012 11:39 AM CT

    Political competition for votes and lack of fiscal discipline are pushing the world’s largest economy toward solvency issues, according to the Nobel Prize- winning economist Robert Mundell.

    “The public is looking for free lunches, and the political competition for votes makes the politicians offer them free lunches,” Mundell, a professor of economics at Columbia University, said on Bloomberg Radio interview with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt. “That’s what gets us in to the difficulties of insolvency.”

    The U.S. plans to finance a budget deficit forecast to exceed $1 trillion for a fourth year, and outstanding U.S. marketable debt expanded to $10 trillion in February.

    Even as the jobless rate has fallen from a high of 10 percent in October 2009 to 8.3 percent in February, it remains almost 2 percent above the average of the past decade and the central bank has called unemployment “persistent.”

    You could have fiscal stimulus back in the day of Keynes, when the government was a small proportion of gross domestic product and there was no insolvency problem,” he said, referring to British economist John Maynard Keynes. “You can’t just issue more bonds to pay for deficits and expect it to solve the employment problem.

    The euro area is forecast to have fiscal spending of 3.3 percent of GDP in 2012, compared to 7.1 percent in the U.S. this year.

    “The United States is not in as bad a situation as Europe,” he said, “but it’s getting that way.”
    ‘Political Glue’

    As the International Monetary Fund said Greece may require additional funding or a third debt restructuring, the odds of the fiscal union breaking up by the end of 2013 have reached 36.5 percent, based on bets made at Intrade.com. Mundell, often referred to as the father of the common currency, sees a different outcome.

    “It’s political glue inside Europe to keep it together — the euro is the best thing going for it since the creation of the common market,” he said. “The end game is going to be deeper integration in Europe and more centralization of the fiscal authority.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 20, 2012, 1:35 pm
  13. Scalia, in his own words:

    1) Scalia challenges the “right” to healthcare

    Approximately 20 minutes into the arguments (pages 19-20 in the transcript), Justice Scalia asked Solicitor General Verrilli why, if the government could force people to enter the market for health insurance, the government couldn’t also force people to enter the car market in order to bring down the cost of cars for everyone. Verrilli responded that forcing people to buy cars would be different:

    GENERAL VERRILLI: In the healthcare market, you’re going into the market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the healthcare service anyway as a result of the social norms that allow — that — to which we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get healthcare.

    JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, don’t obligate yourself to that. Why — you know?

    GENERAL VERRILLI: Well, I can’t imagine that that — that the Commerce Clause would — would forbid Congress from taking into account this deeply embedded social norm.

    JUSTICE SCALIA: You could do it.

    Yes, you could indeed reject the social norm that we take care of eachother. It’s easier than you might think!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 30, 2012, 1:15 pm
  14. Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 5, 2012, 2:33 pm
  15. If I didn’t think the creation of a permanent underclass, low-end wage suppression, and the normalization of dehumanizing attitudes weren’t three of the unspoken objectives of its champions, I’d call the “end welfare as we know it” reforms to be a demonstrable failure. But since we’ve been locked in a multi-decade long struggle to break government and ‘starve the beast’, I have to acknowledge another Mission Accomplished!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 7, 2012, 6:46 pm
  16. Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 8, 2012, 6:43 pm
  17. AIG’s CEO would like you to know that the eurozone financial crisis is a signal to the rest of the world that retirement ages need to be raised to 80. Everywhere. I’d be curious to hear his views about executive compensation. Well isn’t that special.

    Don’t you just love neo-liberal globalization? Apparently retirement is no longer affordable….our technologically advanced economies are ‘too competitive’ now to allow for retirement because all that technology allows one worker to do so much more than ever before. So the only way to get even more ‘productive’ workers in a technologically advanced economy is to pay the workers less and get rid of retirement, I guess. Remember, profit=productivity, for some unexplained reason…it’s a mystery of the cosmos. Stop asking questions. Just accept the wisdom of your elders. It’s supposed to be for the kiddies, because nothing helps record youth unemployment like ensuring their grandparents can’t retire. It’s about building ‘confidence’. Finally, no more lazy 79 yr olds wasting their lives on the couch. Especally the retired construction workers. Get a job you bums! Boy, that felt good to get off my chest. I’m feeling more confident already.

    Thanks for the tip asshole:

    AIG Chief Sees Retirement Age as High as 80 After Crisis
    By Boris Cerni and Zachary Tracer – Jun 4, 2012 6:54 AM CT

    AIG Will Continue to Expand Globally, CEO Says

    American International Group Inc. (AIG) Chief Executive Officer Robert Benmosche said Europe’s debt crisis shows governments worldwide must accept that people will have to work more years as life expectancies increase.

    “Retirement ages will have to move to 70, 80 years old,” Benmosche, who turned 68 last week, said during a weekend interview at his seaside villa in Dubrovnik, Croatia. “That would make pensions, medical services more affordable. They will keep people working longer and will take that burden off of the youth.”

    The crisis, now in its third year, threatens to destroy Europe’s 17-nation currency union as Greece contemplates exiting the euro and Spain sees its bond yields rise and banking industry falter. German Chancellor Angela Merkel hardened her opposition to joint debt sharing in the euro region as U.S. President Barack Obama singled out Europe’s leaders for not doing enough to arrest the crisis.

    Greece abandoning the euro could be a disaster for the country and Europe must work to keep that from happening, said Benmosche, whose company was the world’s biggest insurer before it took a U.S. bailout.

    “People in Greece have to see there is no easy way out of this” and the government must get them to work longer, he said in the June 2 interview on the Adriatic coast. “If not, and if they go to their own currency, I think they will see huge inflation and it will be devastating for people on fixed incomes.”
    Life Expectancy

    Greece, where the average life expectancy is 81.3 years, has an effective retirement age of 59.6, among the lowest in Europe, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. French President Francois Hollande, the Socialist who was sworn in last month, has pledged to cut the retirement age to 60 from 62 while increasing corporate and bank taxes and introducing a 75 percent levy on earnings of more than 1 million euros ($1.2 million).

    Peter Hancock, CEO of AIG’s Chartis property-casualty unit, said last week the insurer has assigned staff from Argentina to advise their counterparts in Athens as the company prepares for a possible Greek exit from the euro, with the common currency at its lowest against the U.S. dollar since June 2010. Argentina defaulted on a record $95 billion of debt in 2001 and later abandoned a decade-long 1-to-1 peso peg to the greenback.

    “We have gone through the crisis in Argentina and other countries over time, so we have experience,” Benmosche said.

    Benmosche has sold non-U.S. life insurers, a consumer lender and other businesses to pay back its taxpayer rescue, which swelled to $182.3 billion as the U.S. extended more credit and lowered the interest charged. The Treasury Department has cut its stake to 61 percent from 92 percent through three share sales totaling about $17.6 billion. In the most recent two, AIG bought back a total of $5 billion in stock.

    Benmosche said people and businesses in the U.S. lack confidence and are hesitant to invest as financial regulation and tax policies remain unsettled.

    “I am optimistic that we’ll continue to grow, and if we get past this period of uncertainty and gain confidence again in the U.S. economic system, that will help lead the world out of the situation we are in today,” he said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 4, 2012, 10:36 am
  18. Krugman has a theory on the madness gripping the eurozone and the fixation of Berlin’s policymakers on austerity regardless of the ever growing opposition and evidence that the policy just doesn’t work: What we’re seeing at play is a deep sense that suffering is a necessary component of reform. Rule by Calvinism. Without pain, no knowledge on how to be a better person can be gained. So if you thought the crisis was all about balancing financial ledgers you were wrong. There’s an existential pain/pleasure ledger and it wants to be balanced too.

    So, with that insight in mind, I hope you’re learning your lesson, Alonso:

    Children Lose to Bailed-Out Bankers as Crisis Forces Cuts
    By Ben Sills and Rodney Jefferson – Jun 6, 2012 3:24 AM CT

    Twelve-year-old Alonso Arroyo is worried about his friend Dario.

    Doctors in Spain (IBEX), where the government is cutting health spending while paying 23.5 billion euros ($29 billion) to bail out its third-largest bank, stopped Dario’s prescription of the 2,000-euro a month growth hormone both boys need to stop their bodies degenerating because of a genetic condition. Alonso doesn’t know his treatment was pulled too.

    “We’ve developed capitalism to the point where it’s eating us,” said his father, Jose Andres Arroyo, who’s been unemployed since his trucking firm in Madrid folded three years ago. “How did we do this? We’ve trashed the European welfare state.”

    The two Spanish boys, who also have learning disabilities because their illness slowed down brain development, have never heard of government bonds. They don’t know that their country’s banks plowed 300 billion euros into property developments, many of which are empty, or that Greek politicians lied about their debt. With the European financial crisis now in its third year, spending considered sacred in the good times is becoming expendable as governments weigh the needs of their most vulnerable against the threat of losing access to debt markets.

    European Struggle

    Spain is struggling to avoid following Ireland, Portugal and Greece in requiring a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. Greece is fighting to stay in the euro. The U.K., whose four biggest banks paid 32 senior executives a combined 103 million pounds ($161 million) last year, is in its second recession in three years. In all the countries, people who know little of the debt crisis are being caught up in it as medical aid and day care is scaled back.

    “The welfare system was put in place when things were easier and cheaper,” said Gerard Lane, an investment strategist at Shore Capital stockbrokers in Liverpool, northwest England. “It’s difficult for a state to target those who need to get off welfare, but keep it for all those who need it. The definition of ‘need’ may change as living standards fall.”

    That’s right Alonso, your petty “needs” are looking more and more like “wants”. That money wasted on growth hormones could be better spent elsewhere. A bank’s gotta grow too you know!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 6, 2012, 12:24 pm
  19. It’s not a substantive observation regarding a possible conflict of interest. It’s just a pesky meme:

    U.S. News & World Report
    Meme Alleges Clarence Thomas’s Wife Got $1.5M From Healthcare Act Foes

    By Elizabeth Flock

    June 22, 2012

    A new meme is making its way around the Internet, showing a photo of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with the caption: “This [man’s] family received $1.5 million from health care opponents… And is about to rule on health care reform.”

    The meme by Frank Chi, a digital strategist who advises Democratic campaigns and progressive organizations, has reintroduced the allegation just as anticipation is peaking over the Supreme Court’s coming decision on the fate of the Affordable Care Act of 2010.

    But while there have been a number of questions about Thomas’s possible conflict of interest, the $1.5 million number may be a conflation of several different figures.

    The number seems to have first been circulated by Democratic lawmaker Andrei Cherny, a candidate for Arizona’s 9th Congressional District and former aide and adviser to presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

    Cherny told an Arizona television station in April 2012 that Thomas ought be impeached for receiving $1.5 million from healthcare opponents and then not recusing himself from the Affordable Care Act case. The statement was reported on by progressive site Think Progress.

    Cherny was echoing concerns voiced by 74 members of Congress earlier that year, who signed a letter to Justice Thomas warning of a conflict of interest if he ruled on healthcare reform. (You can read the letter at Kaiser Health News.)

    But all of these questions revolve less around Thomas than they do his wife: Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a conservative lobbyist and attorney in Washington.

    Ginni Thomas has been a vocal critic of the Affordable Care Act, and she has certainly made money off of that criticism. In 2009, she founded the Tea Party nonprofit lobbying group Liberty Central, which lobbied against the law. There, she made a salary of $120,000, according to the group’s 2010 tax filing.

    A startup donation to Liberty Central to the tune of $500,000 came from Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate investor, Republican donor, and friend of Justice Thomas, Politico reported in 2011. Crow declined to comment to the New York Times about whether he was the source of the money.

    Ginni Thomas later stepped down as CEO and president of Liberty Central, but started Liberty Consulting in 2010, which also did anti-healthcare reform lobbying, according to the liberal site Mother Jones.

    And in January 2011, it came to light that Justice Thomas had “inadvertently” left out information about his wife’s employment over the last 13 years—where her earnings added up to as much as $1.6 million, the Huffington Post reported.

    One of her former employers: the Heritage Foundation, where Ginni Thomas made hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2003 and 2007, according to a letter from Thomas to the Committee on Financial Disclosure. The foundation has also been a vocal opponent of the healthcare reform law.

    Thomas has repeatedly denied any conflict of interest.

    Damn interwebs!!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 22, 2012, 10:02 pm
  20. Wow, the right to die slope appears to be well greased in Belgium too. I didn’t think it was so bad.

    Russel Goldman/ABC News 1/14/13 “Belgium Euthanizes Deaf Twins Going Blind”

    Excerpt “Two deaf twin brothers in Belgium were euthanized by their doctor after realizing they were going blind and would be unable to see each other ever again, their physician says…..Belgian lawmakers are considering a law that would extend euthanasia to dementia patients and children, whose families and doctors consented.”


    Posted by GK | January 18, 2013, 7:27 pm

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