Socializing the Costs of Longevity

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With state control of medicine, everyone used to believe that euthanasia was the big threat. But Gary North’s article suggest another possibility: the state subsidizes longevity. The barely alive are kept that way as long as possible, in order that they can operate as convenient channels for funneling cash via the welfare state from taxpayers to the state and its friends.

In the Soviet economy, where the state was short on cash, hard currency was tough to come by, and everyone was scrambling for every last morsel of wealth, the aged were shoved out of the hospitals to die prematurely. In the United States, where the government is rich and the printing presses are also available and the costs of the welfare state are easily masked and otherwise diffuse, one can easily imagine how new technologies are employed to keep the aged around as long as possible until the family finally says no.

It just goes to show you that while you can’t entirely predict the results of government intervention, you can know that it will lead to a distortion of some sort. What precise form those will take can be a surprise.

3:02 pm on March 28, 2005
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