Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal columnist Patrick McIlheran writes:

If nobody wants a “death panel” fiddling with Grandma’s oxygen tube, then why do people who want health care to be a more collective experience have such a history of saying old people ought to die?

For example, says McIlheran, that Robert Reich “we’re going to let you die” video:

Researchers mean well: Why tube up seniors in their last days if it might not benefit them? But Reich was talking not of benefits but of sacrifice to save public money. And slowing the rise in how much the nation spends on health care is an explicit Obama aim.

If we’re all subsidizing each other (and on every Democratic plan now floating, we will be), then soon the question won’t be whether Grandma’s next year is worth it to her but whether it’s worth it to us.


Utilitarian thinking about what sort of lives we can afford to save – because under Obamacare, it’ll all be one big we – is a special danger. When the government rules that certain diseases in certain kinds of people aren’t worth treating, “that may not be a death panel, but it’s pretty close.”

As McIlheran says, “I’d stop saying ‘death panel’ if Robert Reich would stop talking about them.”