The Alex and Ronni Show

Letting Elders Die to Save the Economy?

When I asked my palliative care provider on Monday what it would be like with my COPD lungs to die of COVID-19, he spoke directly. Drugs can help with pain, but it would not be fun.

He also mentioned that like everywhere, ventilators are in short supply here. I told him that if it comes to that, give any ventilator I might use to a younger person. I have lived almost eight decades; it's the right thing to do. For me.

Most definitely I did not mean that old people should do all the dying in this pandemic or that old people should be specifically targeted to die or that the economy should take precedence over whether anyone lives or dies.

But some people – well-known ones - do. Huffpost reports on one of them,

”TV and radio personality Glenn Beck is urging older Americans to return to work to keep the economy going despite the coronavirus infection risks.

“Younger people, he said, could stay home to protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 while older people ― who the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says are more prone to the most serious cases ― should keep working.”

Beck seemed to be following the lead of Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick who, earlier that day,

”...went on Fox News to argue that he would rather die than see public health measures damage the US economy, and that he believed 'lots of grandparents' across the country would agree with him”, reports The Guardian.

“My message: let’s get back to work, let’s get back to living, let’s be smart about it, and those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves,” Lt Gov Dan Patrick, a 69-year-old Republican, told Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Monday night.”

Trump has been with these guys all week. You've undoubtedly heard that he wants to re-open the U.S. economy by Easter Sunday:

”Following his National Economic Council chairman’s [Larry Kudlow] declaration that 'we’re gonna have to make some difficult trade-offs,' i.e. we’re going to have to let some people die so the stock market can live, Trump told reporters during an evening press conference that while the death toll is 'bad,' and 'the numbers are going to increase with time, we’re 'going to be opening our country up for business, because our country was meant to be open.'”

I'm pretty sure there is not a scientist among us who believes we should return to the previous status quo anytime soon. Here's something else Trump said on Fox News:

”...more people could die by suicide because of stress and anxiety about the economy than would die from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

"'You're going to lose more people by putting a country into a massive recession or depression,' Trump said. 'You're going to lose people. You're going to have suicides by the thousands. You're going to have all sorts of things happen.'”

As several people noted around the web, the president has limited power to stop the lockdown and reopen the economy. Those decisions mostly occur at the state level, made by governors. But little seems to be working as it has in the past since Trump became president so as he too often likes to say, we'll see.

It is a frightening precedent to hear well-known people such as Beck, Kudlow, Patrick, Trump and others (people who, whatever you think of them, are admired and believed by tens of millions) declaring who among us should live and who should die.

Hardly anyone has raised a voice against them for this.


How well known can Beck be if I haven't heard of him? (Nor has he heard of me, I wager.) Need I state the fact that the same applies to Kudlow and Patrick? If the Death Squad comprises those three, I'm in big trouble.

Let's hope that everyone is careful enough that you never find out how difficult COVID-19 would be in your case. You are coping with quite enough.

Keep on keeping on. We love you.

I was concerned when I heard that contributing to the shortage of ventilators was that instead of the usual 3-4 days, some patients were up to 20 days on a ventilator. Many older people have a living will that states that they ”don’t want artificial ventilation”. Being short of breath is frightening for patients and caregivers, I have seen it hundreds of time as an ER nurse. However, there are medications, morphine for one, that can control the symptoms. These medications may contribute to a person’s death but the priority is compassionate comfort measures. In the chaos. without family or friends present, do the staff have the time to check on living wills, etc., or to discuss whether continuing ventilator support is best when there is no hope of recovery? Sometimes ventilators prolong someone’s death. Please, I am NOT saying to take ventilators off older patients or anyone who chooses to continue this treatment.

How about a moronic, inhumane, ignorant, arrogant 73-year old who had the power to control this pandemic and failed miserably? If he is struck by COVID 19, should he be allowed to die?

COVID-19: A message to elders from your VCU Gerontology family
In the midst of a global pandemic, most aspects of daily life have plunged into uncertainty. In that void, elders are being targeted for discrimination. Each day, ageism is becoming more common on the news, on social media, and even from our government.
Uncertainty on a global scale can bring out the worst in people. As a result of these attacks on your dignity, you might be feeling afraid, or alone. So,
We are here to tell you: You are valuable. You are needed. You are worthy.
We are here to tell you that ageism is never okay.
We are here to tell you that you matter, and we love you.
We also believe most people feel this way. These kinds of struggles also bring out the best in people. Most people are loving and kind and want to do their best for others...Spread this message far and wide.

Department of Gerontology
College of Health Professions | Virginia Commonwealth University

I wonder if Trump himself would choose to die so that a younger person could receive treatment. After all, he's old. Of course he'd see himself as an exception to this, as he is an exception in everything else--e.g., being above the law.

What I think this crisis has made glaringly obvious is that Trump only cares about two things in life--himself and money. He is more pained by the economic losses in this pandemic than he is about the loss of human life. No one should be surprised by this; he has demonstrated that these are his values from the very beginning.

Nancy Pelosi's remarks at her press conference yesterday (3/26). This says a lot:

"On Sunday morning ...McConnell, Mnuchin, McCarthy, Chuck and I were there and I said, 'Since it’s Sunday morning, why don’t we begin with a prayer?' My part of it, not their part, my part and I’ll begin with a prayer.
His Holy Pope Francis called for a world prayer. I won’t do it justice, but what he did was to pray that those who have the responsibility to care for others would be enlightened to take that responsibility and act upon it. When I finished my prayer, the secretary (Mnuchin) said, 'Well, you’ve quoted Pope Francis, I’ll quote the markets.'"

And here in Canada a retired respiratory therapist has offered a design for a makeshift ventilator on open source for free.

Who are the hero’s again in this crisis. ?

I did hear lt. Governor Dan Patrick a couple days ago, shook my head in disgust and presumed everyone else felt the same revulsion I did. Well, at the risk of sounding as awful as these characters, If the millions who rally around gruesome blobs like Donald Trump & Glenn Beck want to prove their loyalty and risk their own lives to save the wealthy—I mean the economy, who am I to try and stop them?

Food for thought for everyone, Ronni, Thank you.
I must  paraphrase Will Rogers' remark about the front page of his daily newspaper being "The Comics", for now we have the internet for a morning laugh. A brief video yesterday is a case in point.

"Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response coordinator, shared a 'devastating' personal story to emphasize the importance of social distancing during a pandemic. (Source:CNN)  "  In the video V.P. Pence is cuddled up behind her *DISTANCING"* himself at least  8 inches.... well to be generous, maybe 10 inches. 

And we can only laugh now while a myriad of old sayings dance through my aging brain..."Physician, heal thyself!", Throwing stones from glass houses,  Old Goose and Gander lines, etc etc.

It is easy to find the video just Google Dr. Deborah Birx and what was called a "Harrowing"? story. See what you think.

This information reminds me of a movie from the sixties (I don't remember the name and
I'm sure it was relegated to the dust bin years ago) about eliminating elders to let the young free. The "eliminate elders" theme is common in Science Fiction. What we seem to have now is a classic young vs. elders theme. I'll just leave the decision to the doctors. They know the limitations and boundaries. Life and death decisions, after all, is the business they have always been in. The latest news, however, sounds like the virus is not discriminatory. Everybody (including the young) have the potential to participate. My wife and I only worked about 60 years to have some time off. We got one year among the living. Oh, by the way, last I heard the human race is not endangered. Another reason I don't feel so bad about never having children (personal decision). B

As Mr. Rogers says, "Look for the helpers." I've never heard of Beck either. There are mean spirited jerks everywhere, and they get a lot of press , one of them got so much press he got into the White House. They get a lot of press because they have appeal, with their low humour and vicious ideas. They rev people up, and people like to be revved up, even if it makes them miserable. Two competing car companies are working together to stamp out ventilators in great numbers, drinking alcohol companies are working to crank out hand disinfectant.
I don't know. I used to think the Eskimos so heinous for putting their elders out on ice floes to die, now I think it was just species preservation. Herd preservation. I've always known I was an outsider, have never, don't now especially, look for the herd to invest in my well being.

Isn't now, during the course of an epic crisis, the point at which religious leaders, (Well, some of them. Let's not forget Savanarola!) exhort the masses to follow the teachings of the original Christ in helping their neighbors, caring for the sick, etc? So I just read that a Texas mega church pastor is holding services anyway because it's the government saying they should stay home! Let's see. You could almost certainly broadcast your service over the internet or even local tv - but oh wait, no collection plate!

Put me on the list to go if this is what the world well be like!

If you want a humane world that looks our for all of its citizens, regardless of age, religion nor non religion and ethnicity, you simply cannot have a republican president nor republican control in congress.
To them money, profit, greed have always been their gods and they just pander to the other god and manipulate the faithful.

Even the idiots had or have parents and grandparents. Do they really want their own elders to die? Or are they just wishing other people's elders would die?

These are trump shills. And not to be considered.

This is a very personal choice. I, too, would not take up a ventilator that a younger person might need. But I’ve been doing my death/dying homework for a long time (no serious illnesses at this point), and when my time comes I have decided, and done my paper work, to let nature take its course.

The fear and denial of death in this country has been a huge burden, and now becoming politicized. The great American tragedy.

Reading this, all I can think of is the well-known aphorism attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt's: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

Triage has always been part of the emergency and tertiary care protocols. Age figures into it whether we like it or not, but a more significant factor is ability to withstand the intervention. That factor assumes more weight when there are scarce resources.

Senicide among the Inuit was extremely rare by 100 years ago, and they were far from the only culture who practiced it.

Sorry, that should be "to Eleanor Roosevelt".

These are the very same people who were against the Death with Dignity laws and remain against abortion. They are ruthless and cocky bold and the only thing they care about is making more money.

That being said, I also do not want to be on a ventilator and would happily pass it on to someone else knowing that someone might actually be older than me. The thing is an 80 year old may have much more to offer than a youngster. We don’t know and that’s why our society has tried to never privilege one group of people over another.
Oh well. The times are certainly different now with Trump and the “global” economy.

Carol above: SPOT ON! His only concern is his re-election. He could care less about anyone. His failures are beyond my comprehension. As a RN, he is negligent in his responsibility to the people in our country.

I won't drivel on. Educated people with eyes wide open, know the rest of my litany.

Well, Beck is only 56 or so, but Patrick, Trump, and Kudlow fall under the definition of elderly. Perhaps they would like to volunteer to be the first to go to set an example.

Aren't Beck, etc. the "pro-lifers"? Or does only apply to infants?

Standing in line two days ago at Whole Foods, with all the other seniors who were allowed to go into the store an hour before the general public, I wondered if families with children should have been the ones allowed in first. The responsibility of keeping your children fed seems a huge one, maybe more important than making sure I have my veggies.

I am seeing the children of my contemporaries and my own children insisting we oldies stay in, calling or texting us daily and doing shopping for us. Those idiots are so out touch, especially the presidential idiot. I'm sure tRump eat his own kids if it came down to it.

My "end of life" papers already say "comfort measures only." Has for years.

And while all the grandparents are clogging up the hospitals and dying for the economy, any younger people who have accidents, sudden illnesses, or a worsening of an already established illness will die too. Is that going to be good for the economy too?

An added plus for the government in allowing elders to die. Just think of all those social security checks that won't have to be written.

Trump's hotels are closed. He wants to reopen them.

What about all of the grandparents taking care of their grandkids? They're suppose to die? Whose going to care for their grandkids?

50% of the people who tested positive in NY and San Francisco are below the age of 49. New Orleans and San Francisco recently had persons below 19 die due to the virus. The reason for the high death rate in Italy is because they are not using ventilators for anyone age 60+. I say to Patrick, Beck and Trump, "you go first".

I prefer the press conferences of Gov. Cuomo. I've watched 3. He is blunt but personable. He is real. My state's governor and city mayor both have been strong and decisive in dealing with this crisis. I tell people I have more faith in my city and state than I do in my country.

My county does not have high number of the coronavirus yet, but the numbers of those who tested positive are surprising. Of something like 133 cases, there are twice as many positive cases in the age 25-49 group than in the over 65 group. I realize that it is too small a sample size to draw any real conclusions, but I think that the younger people who are out hitting the bars as if they don't have a care in the world may have misjudged this virus.

This talk about how it is good to let all the elderly die is disgusting. And people are being 'scared to death' by all the constant discussion that older people and people with pre-existing conditions are most likely to not do well and die. I agree with Debra Burke that it is cruel to have doctors and others on the media talking about rationing ventilators and making decisions to let people die, implying it will be older people. It doesn't help to constantly advertise the lack the ventilators to everyone even if it is in the hope of prompting government officials to get going and get more ventilators.

Well, I have to say, if gasp comes to choke, Mia is absolutely right that morphine makes breathing significantly easier during the dying process. I watched it help my mother, who had congestive heart failure, and who was helped to stay comfortable by morphine. I am not one of the folks who say they're going to wave off heavy pain meds while dying because they want to be there for it all. That's something I really would just as soon not be there for. This may be my only example of something I share with Woody Allen, but: "I'm not afraid of dying; I just don't want to be there when it happens."

That said, these unspeakable jerks who think all the people over 65 or whatever, should go back to work and keep the younger people well to carry on after they (the oldsters) have croaked in harness, are my first choice for people who should go back to work. Soon. Now. They are ignoring the fact that younger people are FAR less likely to have a life-threatening form of the disease. So, if the younger people do the work while the older people self-isolate to survive (Boris Johnson's original idea), both groups are likely to survive, but if the old people do the work while the younger ones self-isolate, they're the ONLY ones who are likely to survive. And more rational and humane than either of those plans is the one where we *all* shelter in place and the government lets go of some small fraction of the piles of gold they prefer to spend on lethal weapons, and keep the economy breathing along with the people.

In primitive societies they let their older people die because then they don't have to take care of them. Also, they get rid of the weak ones. COVID-19 has made us reflect. A more humane society is a good one. Why should we lose older people (respect for the wise older people) and the weak ones (they teach us compassion).
Cold hearts that are like stones...need to catch the virus. Let's see how these politicians react when they or their loved ones become ill.

Remember when the republicans complained of the so called Death Panels of the democrats?

So now we have Death Priorities

Look up Covid 19 and medical ethics. The reality is when hospital rooms and medical equipment is scarce decisions will be made about who will get treatment. The directives will come from the ethicists who will guide those decisions. There is an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that explains the reasoning behind the recommendations. People who will live the longest are the most likely to get treatment when there aren’t enough beds.
I can understand the decisions intellectually but it feels very personal when I’ll be 80 this year. No matter what language is used some people are going to refused care unless we can stop the spread of this disease.
STAY HOME as much as you are able.

My earlier post disappeared. I haven't been around TGB for a while and probably did something wrong. This is Try #2. Since I don't recall exactly what I wrote, I'll just say I agree with Nancy W., Salinda D., Susan L., Kate G. and Rubye J., among quite a few others. Especially relevant perhaps is Gail K.'s cogent observation about the Social Security checks that may not have to be written!

I loved Colbert King's response to a commenter who wrote he hoped King died of the virus:

He's gong to do the best he can to avoid getting the virus so he won't be a burden, and he's going to continue pounding the keyboard writing his columns.

We’ve always known the conservatives don’t really give a crap about people (just look at the new CARE package just passed as an example) so why is this suggestion such a surprise?

I’m 72, retired and I say fine let’s crank up the economy by telling people to go back to work. Open the bars and restaurants, crank it all back up. Not going to bother me. I’ll just stay home like I’m doing now and let all the younger folks infect each other. We will weed out folks with preexisting medical conditions if nothing else. The government is not going to give people enough money to live on anyway so we’ll all be better off if they’re back to work.

I say the elders have already 'earned' the right to live.

"Hardly anyone has raised a voice against them for this." Not at all surprising. I've been a gerontologist for nearly 40 years. Over my long career, including teaching and publishing broadly on issues affecting elders, rampant ageism has only gotten worse in our culture. It's so bad that even the federal government recognizes the significant jobs, legal, financial, and health care ageism. Yet another branch of the same government, SCOTUS several years ago made it even harder to show age discrimination, emboldening ageism perpetrators.

Few, if anyone, have spoken up against the painful ageism infecting many coronavirus comments and proposals for the same reason few have addressed prominently the hard evidence of increased mortality risks many poor Covid-19 patients experience even in the same health care settings due to their group-based, instead of specific medical, characteristics. Despite the feel-good public rhetoric, our culture just doesn't care about these groups. We ought, at least, to stop feigning shock when we confront this evidence.

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