Euthanasia's a bestseller in Canada.
Only been on the market a few years and it's already a hit: the sixth leading cause of dying.
This story certainly had my ears prick up:
Roger Foley, who has a degenerative brain disorder and is hospitalized in London, Ontario, was so alarmed by staffers mentioning euthanasia that he began secretly recording some of their conversations.
In one recording obtained by the AP, the hospital’s director of ethics told Foley that for him to remain in the hospital, it would cost “north of $1,500 a day.” Foley replied that mentioning fees felt like coercion and asked what plan there was for his long-term care.
“Roger, this is not my show,” the ethicist responded. “My piece of this was to talk to you, (to see) if you had an interest in assisted dying.”
I must say, as a veteran of industry, I’ve always wanted more elegant ways to tell cheap people to leave my store, and the idea of giving them the literal option to kill themselves is a tempting response.
Welcome to a reality where euthanasia meets capitalism.
Graceful death has always had a noble streak. It's just that the high ground of assisted dying in the face of long suffering, the injustice of cruel disease, a callous god, a universe utterly indifferent to our pain - well, it's crazy just how well aligned that can be with great shareholder outcomes.
Atropos, third sister of the Moirai, the Fate in charge of severing the thread of life, spending a good chunk of every Friday filling out timesheets.
Azrael, angel of death, stealing the soul from your body in all his rapturous horror, simultaneously, awkwardly, producing a chip-and-pin reader.
The point where final breaths meet aha! snap! economic incentives.
The idea that a doctor might suggest as a viable course of treatment for a living adult, not palliative care, but hitting the Esc key... for disability, for depression, soon for teenagers and children too... well, it does remind me of some of my favourite dystopias. I haven't been this dubious about professional intent since I heard about the Japanese delicacy fugu, a chef-prepared meal that might kill you.
Don't get me wrong. Other countries - famously the Swiss - have tried to take a more considered approach that helps those in need, while still having strong safeguards around misuse. Sadly in Canada, well-meaning idiots made dumb choices whereby a nurse can pop the question proactively, mindful of the bill, or an ethics counsellor could say well, y’know, it's your choice not mine but hey think about it throat slit gesture, finger guns - because life is precious, sort of precious, is absolutely still precious, but also, somebody please think of the profit margins.
The discomfiting sensation you might be feeling is the yes/but scenario that often arises when capitalists find a cause.
Doing good but making money is how I've tried to build my professional life, so it's not unusual to be in the grey zone where priorities misalign. Look around: you don't have to look too hard to see where exploitation rises at the edges of helping someone, or society, or the world. Prisons are profitable, so is long-term medication, so's greenwashing, so shut up, drink the sewage, eat the bugs.
When benevolent purpose has a tasty revenue stream: that's ripe for misuse. And the economic incentives around euthanasia are borderline irresistible, so...
...maybe we're just a few short years away from the Quietus popping through your letterbox on same-day delivery. And you're shuffling off the mortal coil, really kinda hoping the devil won't ask for a debit card.
I don't write this for you.
This is for those with no choice, or only poor choices.
Because you know, if you made this choice, if you were to weigh up this terrifying decision, a momentous decision that holds within it your entire existence - that you would wish to do so surrounded by people you love and who love you. You'd want to be released from life while hearing your favourite song and holding your favourite hands and smelling your favourite scents.
You'd do it in a time and manner of your choosing, out of dignity not desperation, with a full belly of your favourite food, a little drunk maybe, doing it because you want to be remembered as the wonderful human you were, not a shell of a person.
You wouldn't do it coerced, but because you believe in endless life after, or a cosmic return, or nothing. You'd do it because you want to be stardust, do it because the pain is too much, or for any reason, just not for their bottom line.
Not the idea that your life isn't price-competitive.
Don't let them sell you on death.