Investor’s Business Daily posted an article relating Obama’s Healthcare Bill to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the technocrats responsible for the U.K.’s health care. The article states:
This administration, pledging to cut medical costs and for which “cost-effectiveness” is a new mantra, knows that a quarter of Medicare spending is made in a patient’s final year of life. Certainly the British were aware when they nationalized their medical system.
The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof are legendary. The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror movie script.
The U.K.’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) basically figures out who deserves treatment by using a cost-utility analysis based on the “quality adjusted life year.”
One year in perfect health gets you one point. Deductions are taken for blindness, for being in a wheelchair and so on.
The more points you have, the more your life is considered worth saving, and the likelier you are to get care.
The British are praised for spending half as much per capita on medical care. How they do it is another matter. The NICE people say that Britain cannot afford to spend $20,000 to extend a life by six months. So if care will cost $1 more, you get to curl up in a corner and die.
These NICE people bring to mind another technocratic group I’ve read about called the “National Institute of Coordinated Experiments (NICE)” in C. S. Lewis’s 1945 novel That Hideous Strength: a Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-Ups. Those NICE folks in Lewis’s novel were an institution which would decide who lived and who died in accordance to their agenda of control and advancement of the remaining people into a Utopian, omni-competent and global scientific technocracy. That Hideous Strength was the fictional representation of the governmental materialism and scientism philosophy of social control Lewis described in The Abolition of Man, in which Lewis explains:
It is the magician’s bargain: give up our soul, get power in return. But once our souls, that is, ourselves, have been given up, the power thus conferred will not belong to us. We shall in fact be the slaves and puppets of that to which we have given our souls. It is in Man’s power to treat himself as a mere `natural object’ and his own judgements of value as raw material for scientific manipulation to alter at will. The objection to his doing so does not lie in the fact that this point of view (like one’s first day in a dissecting room) is painful and shocking till we grow used to it. The pain and the shock are at most a warning and a symptom. The real objection is that if man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be: not raw material to be manipulated, as he fondly imagined, by himself, but by mere appetite, that is, mere Nature, in the person of his de-humanized Conditioners.
The Investor’s Business Daily article continues:
The British [NICE] have succeeded in putting a price tag on human life, as we are about to.
Can’t happen here, you say? “One troubling provision of the House bill,” writes Betsy McCaughey in the New York Post, “compels seniors to submit to a counseling session every five years (and more often if they become sick or go into a nursing home) about alternatives for end-of-life care (House bill, Pages 425-430).”
One of the Obama administration’s top medical care advisers is Oxford- and Harvard-educated bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel. Yes, he’s the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and has the ear of his brother and the president.
“Calls for changing physician training and culture are perennial and usually ignored,” he wrote last June in the Journal of the American Medical Association. “However, the progression in end-of-life care mentality from ‘do everything’ to more palliative care shows that change in physician norms and practices is possible.”
Emanuel sees a problem in the Hippocratic Oath doctors take to first do no harm, compelling them “as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of cost or effect on others,” thereby avoiding the inevitable move toward “socially sustainable, cost-effective care.”
C. S. Lewis, in his essay “Is Progress Possible? Willing Slaves of the Welfare State“, articulates the danger of this mentality,
Again, the new oligarchy must more and more base its claim to plan us on its claim to knowledge. If we are to be mothered, mother must know best. This means they must increasingly rely on the advice of scientists, till in the end the politicians proper become merely the scientists’ puppets. Technocracy is the form to which a planned society must tend. Now I dread specialists in power because they are specialists speaking outside their special subjects. Let scientists tell us about sciences. But government involves questions about the good for man, and justice, and what things are worth having at what price; and on these a scientific training gives a man’s opinion no added value. Let the doctor tell me I shall die unless I do so-and-so; but whether life is worth having on those terms is no more a question for him than for any other man…
On just the same ground I dread government in the name of science. That is how tyrannies come in. In every age the men who want us under their thumb, if they have any sense, will put forward the particular pretension which the hopes and fears of that age render most potent. They ‘cash in’. It has been magic, it has been Christianity. Now it will certainly be science…We must give full weight to the claim that nothing but science, and science globally applied, and therefore unprecedented Government controls, can produce full bellies and medical care for the whole human race: nothing, in short, but a world Welfare State. It is a full admission of these truths which impresses upon me the extreme peril of humanity at present.
We have on the one hand a desperate need; hunger, sickness, and the dread of war. We have, on the other, the conception of something that might meet it: omnicompetent global technocracy. Are not these the ideal opportunity for enslavement? This is how it has entered before; a desperate need (real or apparent) in the one party, a power (real or apparent) to relieve it, in the other. In the ancient world individuals have sold themselves as slaves, in order to eat. So in society. Here is a witch-doctor who can save us from the sorcerers — a war-lord who can save us from the barbarians — a Church that can save us from Hell. Give them what they ask, give ourselves to them bound and blindfold, if only they will! Perhaps the terrible bargain will be made again. We cannot blame men for making it. We can hardly wish them not to. Yet we can hardly bear that they should.
The question about progress has become the question whether we can discover any way of submitting to the worldwide paternalism of a technocracy without losing all personal privacy and independence. Is there any possibility of getting the super Welfare State’s honey and avoiding the sting?