I wasn’t impressed with Ezekial Emanual’s article, Why I Hope to Die at 75.
Arnold Kling calls it “excellent and important” and asks commenters to spare him the “snark about Emanuel, Obamacare, and death panels.”
I’m not sure what annoyed me more, Emanual’s article or Kling asking to be spared the blindingly obvious, and in my opinion, wholly deserving snark.
I’m assuming the snark Kling doesn’t want is something like:
Since, Emanual is an architect of Obamacare, you see, and now he’s writing that he doesn’t want to live past 75 because life just isn’t worth living past that point (according to him), you see, and there was this whole (we were politically-correctly brainwashed to believe) stupid political meme about Obamacare leading to government “death panels” deciding who is worthy of being allocated precious medical resources and who is not and should just die so as to not be a burden on “society”, you see, it kind of seems like…uh…there may have been something that stupid meme, but we are still too brainwashed want to admit that?
The resistance to snark reminds me of the resistance people like Elie Wiesel’s family and friends had to the warning signs that their lives were changing in early 1940s in Transylvania as German troops approached and occupied their enclave.
The secondary title of Kling’s blog is “taking the most charitable view of those who disagree.” Wiesel’s enclave took a too charitable view with those approaching troops and Hitler’s intentions and they suffered mightily for it.
David Henderson is less charitable on Emanual’s article. He found the article and Emanual “troubling”. Thank you! He describes Emanuel’s attitude as:
“Sometimes wrong; never in doubt.” The man (Emanuel) really does seem to think he knows how everyone should live.
In his article, Emanual tries to convince the reader that this whole dying at 75 thing is just his personal opinion and he’s not suggesting anything by it. Henderson says to that, “Basically, I just don’t believe him.”
My opinion on Emanual’s article: It’s dumb.
I think it’s a good example of personal preference bias. At age 57, Emanual holds a personal preference for his life to end at 75 because of some stats that says he has a 50/50 shot have reduced faculties after 80.
While he assures us he’s properly taken his current age and state of mind into account and will not change his mind as he approaches 75 (though he doesn’t plan suicide), talk is cheap.
The rationale he provides in the article affirms for me that he is a dangerous idiot. His view on what constitutes a life worth living at a different age is unimaginative and narrow, and reminiscent of all of us proclaiming at 18 that if life can’t be like it is when we’re 18, it ain’t worth living.
Tyler Cowen is more imaginative in thinking about how life could be worth living at an old age with reduced faculties:
And to sound petty for a moment, I don’t want to pass away during the opening moments of a Carlsen-Caruana match, or before an NBA season has finished (well, it depends on the season), or before the final volumes of Knausgaard are translated into English. And this is a never-ending supply. The world is a fascinating place and I fully expect to appreciate it at the age of eighty, albeit with some faculties less sharp. What if the Fermi Paradox is resolved, or a good theory of quantum gravity developed? What else might be worth waiting for?
For those who make it another 23 years, look forward to Emanual’s follow-up: Life after 75: I was wrong! Why I was still thinking like a teenager when I was 57.