Nov 13th 2014

A Good Time to Die

by Warren Adler

Warren Adler is an American author who has written forty books, 12 of which have been filmed. He is best known for The War of the Roses, the fictionalization of a macabre divorce. This dark comedy was soon turned into a feature film box office hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito. Adler’s works have been translated into 25 languages. Waren Adler, a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School and New York University, majored in English literature. He then went on to study creative writing.  After graduation, Adler worked at the New York Daily News, before becoming editor of the Queens Post.During the Korean War, Adler was recruited by Armed Forces Press Service to serve in the Pentagon. Warren Adler has owned four radio stations and a TV station, while running his own advertising and public relations agency in Washington, D.C. Adler is one of the founders of the Washington Dossier magazine. He is also the founder of the Jackson Hole Writer’s Conference, WY, and has been Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jackson Hole Public Library. Adler’s themes deal primarily with intimate human relationships—the mysterious nature of love and attraction, the fragile relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, the corrupting power of money, the aging process, and how families cling together when challenged by the outside world.

Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel is director of the Clinical Bioethics Department of the US National Institutes of Health, and heads the Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been acknowledged as the prime mover and advocate for Obamacare. His article in The Atlantic titled, “Why I Hope to Die at 75,” should scare the hell out of most of those still shy of that number. He is not kidding.

In what he believes is a convincing and logical argument, the good doctor cites a tsunami of hard statistics, stating that after 75, the body declines precipitously, with major cost of health care occurring beyond that age. That dying before such decline begins, would not only save the government enormous sums of money, but also spare the afflicted, and their loved ones needless and prolonged pain and anxiety. Dr. Emanuel also adds that his conviction to die at 75 drives his daughters crazy. Frankly, if this is the mindset of the principal advocate of Obamacare, everybody under 75 should be driven crazy, and acknowledge that no matter one’s political stance, Sarah Palin had it right: that one day bureaucratic death panels would be established to decide matters regarding the human lifespan. Considering the guff she took on that assertion, she should now be dancing on an ice floe.

If one looks at Dr. Emanuel’s thesis objectively, his argument is sound. Indeed, he is absolutely correct in citing contemporary statistics about the onset of debilitating illness, and physical and mental impairment after age 75, but there are scary implications that lie beneath the surface of his thesis. The clear implication is that it would be sensible government policy to eliminate people who reach that age. Of course, he does not expatiate on the exact process of elimination. There are two options, one is suicide, self-induced or helped along, the other is… need I cite some examples of this as practiced by certain governments in the middle of the last century?

If such an idea, lurking innocently behind the good doctor’s thinking, gains traction, generations, many not yet born, are all doomed to have the government one day decide what age would be the most cost-effective and propitious period to cut off the life of a human being. Advances in science will, of course, make that number a moving target.

Some day, life-extending discoveries might bring that number to 90 or 120, and 75, Dr. Emanuel’s chosen number, will appear arbitrary. But that’s not the point. It’s the idea itself that fellow humans could one day decide on a figure on which to end the life of others, purported for the common good. Remember the movie Soylent Green about New York, choked with people, and unable to feed the population except by…well, eating each other?

Sooner or later, if such thinking persists, the threshold will become a global “cause célèbre” much like climate change! Imagine the protest signs: The Planet is Choking with People. Make Room for the Young! Out with the Old, They are Strangling the Planet!

Emanuel is 58. I am 86. I am still prolific and productive. I have recently published my 40th novel, Treadmill, The War of the Roses will premiere on Broadway in 2015-2016, a number of my novels are in development as movies, my Fiona Fitzgerald Mystery Collection is being made into a television series, and I am slated to release two more new works in 2015. But from the perspective of 58, Emanuel obviously thinks that 86 is ancient.

Still, I do not believe I am a statistical freak. There are a lot of people my age equally prolific and productive who might look upon him as a whippersnapper still wet behind the ears. I confess to such an opinion myself, despite the logic of his argument, which is, in fact, morally obtuse. I too, am certain, that he will change his mind at the age of 74 and 364 days, if he is still breathing. His assertion doesn’t scare me personally, but it does give me a queasy feeling about my kids and theirs. As they use to say in the ad business, let’s throw the idea on the stoop and see if the cat picks it up.

Being a scientist, I suppose that the good doctor’s faith in statistics underpins his judgment. But the fact is that human beings cannot be categorized the way socks are merchandised today. One size does not fit all. The human genome has proven that beyond a doubt.

Of all people, an official advocate and evangelist of the Obamacare health plan, the very fact that Ezekiel has written this article is the first death knell, the echo of which will continue to reverberate. The very fact that it is he who has written this article gives his idea an eerie significance. I’m not superstitious but it does rattle my cage somewhat knowing that the doctor is named after a biblical prophet who is said to have talked to God.



More about Warren Adler:

Warren Adler is best known for The War of the Roses, his masterpiece fictionalization of a macabre divorce turned into the Golden Globe and BAFTA nominated dark comedy hit starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito. Adler's international hit stage adaptation of the novel will premiere on Broadway in 2015-2016. Adler has also optioned and sold film rights for a number of his works including Random Hearts (starring Harrison Ford and Kristen Scott Thomas) and The Sunset Gang (produced by Linda Lavin for PBS' American Playhouse series starring Jerry Stiller, Uta Hagen, Harold Gould and Doris Roberts). In recent development are the Broadway Production of The War of the Roses, to be produced by Jay and Cindy Gutterman, The War of the Roses - The Children (Grey Eagle Films and Permut Presentations), a feature film adaptation of the sequel to Adler's iconic divorce story, Target Churchill (Grey Eagle Films and Solution Entertainment), Residue (Grey Eagle Films), Mourning Glory, to be adapted by Karen Leigh Hopkins, and Capitol Crimes (Grey Eagle Films and Sennet Entertainment), a television series based on his Fiona Fitzgerald mystery series. Warren Adler's newest thriller, Treadmill, is officially available.

For Warren Adler's web site, please click here.
For Facebook: www.facebook.com/warrenadler
For Twitter : @WarrenAdler




     

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Mar 8th 2024
EXTRACT: "This study suggests that around 10% of people diagnosed with dementia may instead have underlying silent liver disease with HE causing or contributing to the symptoms – an important diagnosis to make as HE is treatable."
Jan 28th 2024
EXTRACT: "Health disparity is a powerful weapon in the savage class warfare otherwise known as neoliberalism. (In 2020, the RAND Corporation did a study of the transfer of wealth over the last several decades from the working-class and the middle-class to the top one percent. Their estimate is a staggering $47 trillion – that is how much the “upward redistribution of income” cost American workers between 1975 and 2018.) Neoliberalism is a brutal form of labor suppression, which uses health as a means of maintaining and reproducing a condition in which wealth is constantly being redistributed upwards, and the middle-class is kept in a constant state of fear of sinking into the ranks of the poor. Medical expenses are the leading cause of bankruptcies in America – and that’s according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. The ballooning costs of healthcare serve to maintain a system marked by morally unacceptable health inequity and injustice."
Jan 28th 2024
EXTRACT. "But living longer has also come at a price. We’re now seeing higher rates of chronic and degenerative diseases – with heart disease consistently topping the list. So while we’re fascinated by what may help us live longer, maybe we should be more interested in being healthier for longer. Improving our “healthy life expectancy” remains a global challenge. Interestingly, certain locations around the world have been discovered where there are a high proportion of centenarians who display remarkable physical and mental health. The AKEA study of Sardinia, Italy, as example, identified a “blue zone” (named because it was marked with blue pen),....."
Jan 4th 2024
EXTRACT: ""Tresors en Noir et Blanc" presents 180 prints from the collection of the Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, also known as the Petit Palais.  The basis of the museum's print collection is 20,000 engravings amassed by a 19th-century collector, Eugene Dutuit, " ----- "This wonderful exhibition, the tip of a great iceberg, serves to emphasize how unfortunate it is that the tens of thousands of prints owned by the Petit Palais are almost never seen by more than a handful of scholars who visit them by appointment.  Nor is the Petit Palais the only offender in this regard,....."
Jan 4th 2024
EXTRACTS: "And that is the clue to Manet’s work. He paints painting, regardless of his subject: he paints the medium itself, it as if he is constantly reminding us that this is a painting," ..........."This is a new conception of painterly truth at play here, a new fidelity to truth. Manet is the Kant of painting because he initiates a similar kind of “Copernican revolution” – we do not see the world as it is but as we are. " -------- " Among the most remarkable but unfamiliar of Manet’s work on display are those depicting the bloody aftermath of the Paris Commune of 1871.There is no question regarding Manet’s condemnation of the Versailles government’s actions following the defeat of the Commune, when some 25,000 Parisians were gunned down, including women and children."
Dec 27th 2023
EXTRACT: "Think of our brain like a map. When we’re young, we explore all corners of this map, sending out connections in every direction to make sense of our environment. Before long, we figure out basic truths – such as how to secure food, or where we live – and the neurological paths that make up these connections strengthen. Over time, a network emerges that reflects our unique experiences. Regions we re-visit often will develop established paths, whereas under-used connections will fade away. ---- Conditions such as addiction, chronic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are characterised by processes such as repetitive negative thinking or rumination, where patients focus on negative thoughts in a counterproductive way. Unfortunately, these strengthen brain connections that perpetuate the unfavourable mental state."
Dec 14th 2023
EXTRACT: "While no one was looking, France has become a melting pot of European peoples. Its neighbors have traditionally been welcomed, and France progressively turned them into French boys and girls in the next generation."
Dec 4th 2023
EXTRACTS: "Being rich is essentially about having more stuff in general, including bigger houses." "..... if SUVs had not become widely adopted largely as a status symbol for the global middle classes, emissions from transport would have fallen by 30% over the past ten years. For the largest class of SUVs, six of the ten areas of the UK registering the most sales were affluent London boroughs like Kensington and Chelsea."
Nov 11th 2023
EXTRACT: "By using these “biomarkers”, researchers have discovered that when a person’s biological age surpasses their chronological age, it often signifies accelerated cell ageing and a higher susceptibility to age-related diseases." ----- "Imagine two 60-year-olds enrolled in our study. One had a biological age of 65, the other 60. The one with the more accelerated biological age had a 20% higher risk of dementia and a 40% higher risk of stroke."
Nov 6th 2023
EXTRACT: "We are working on a completely new approach to 'machine intelligence'. Instead of using ..... software, we have developed .... hardware that operates much more efficiently."
Nov 6th 2023
EXTRACTS: "When people think of foods related to type 2 diabetes, they often think of sugar (even though the evidence for that is still not clear). Now, a new study from the US points the finger at salt." ...... ".... this type of study, called an observational study, cannot prove that one thing causes another, only that one thing is related to another. (There could be other factors at play.) So it is not appropriate to say removing the saltshaker 'can help prevent'." ..... "Normal salt intake in countries like the UK is about 8g or two teaspoons a day. But about three-quarters of this comes from processed foods. Most of the rest is added during cooking with very little added at the table."
Oct 26th 2023

 

In 1904, Emile Bernard visited Paul Cezanne in Aix.  He wrote of a conversation at dinner:

Sep 11th 2023
EXTRACT: "Many people have dipped their toe into the lazy gardener’s life through “no mow May” – a national campaign to encourage people not to mow their lawns until the end of May. But you could opt to extend this practice until much later in the summer for even greater benefits. Allowing your grass to grow longer, and interspersing it with pollen-rich flowers, can benefit many insects – especially bees. Research finds that reducing mowing in urban and suburban environments has a positive effect on the amount and diversity of insects. Your untamed lawn won’t only benefit insects. It will also encourage more birds, such as goldfinches, to use your garden to feed on the seeds of common wildflower species such as dandelions."
Aug 30th 2023
EXTRACT: "Eliot remarked that Shakespeare's greatness not only grew as the writer aged, but that his development became more apparent to the reader as he himself aged: 'No reader of Shakespeare... can fail to recognize, increasingly as he himself grows up, the gradual ripening of Shakespeare's mind.' "
Aug 25th 2023
EXTRACTS: "I moved here 15 years ago from London because it was so safe. Bordeaux was then known as La Belle au Bois Dormant (The Sleeping Beauty). It's the wine capital of France and the site of beautiful 18th century architecture arrayed along the Garonne river." ---- "What’s new is that today lawlessness is spreading into the more comfortable neighborhoods. The favorite technique is to defraud elderly retirees by dressing up as policemen, waterworks inspectors or gas meter readers. False badges including a photo ID are easy to fabricate on a computer printer. Once inside, they scoop up most anything shiny as they tip-toe through the house."
Aug 20th 2023
EXTRACT: "The 1953 coup d'etat in Iran ushered in a period of exploitation and oppression that has continued – despite a subsequent revolution that led to huge changes – for 70 years. Each year on August 19, the anniversary of the coup, millions of Iranians ask themselves what would have happened if the US and UK had not conspired all those years ago to overthrow Iran’s democratically elected leader."
Aug 18th 2023
EXTRACT: "Edmundo Bacci: Energy and Light, curated by Chiara Bertola, and currently on view at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, is the first retrospective of the artist in several decades. Bacci was a native of Venice, a city with a long and illustrious history of painting, going back to Giorgione and Titian, Veronese and Tiepolo. As a painter, he was thoroughly immersed in this great past – as an artist he was determined to transform and remake that tradition in the face of modernity and its vicissitudes, what he called “the expressive crisis of our time.” That he has slipped into obscurity affords us, at the very least, an opportunity to see Bacci’s work essentially for the first time, without the burden of over-determined interpretations or categories."
Aug 12th 2023
EXTRACT: "Is Oppenheimer a movie for our time, reminding us of the tensions, dangers and conflicts of the old Cold War while a new one threatens to break out? The film certainly chimes with today’s big power conflicts (the US and China), renewed concern about nuclear weapons (Russia’s threats over Ukraine), and current ideological tensions between democratic and autocratic systems. But the Cold War did not just rest on the threat of the bomb. Behind the scientists and generals were many other players, among them the economists, who clashed just as vigorously in their views about how to run postwar economies."
Aug 5th 2023
EXTRACT: "I have a modest claim to make: we need Bruno today more than ever. This is because he represents an intellectual antidote to the prevailing ideology of today which tells us that we are doomed to finitude, which comes down politically to the assertion that there is no alternative to the reign of global capitalism. Of course, Bruno did not know about capitalism, globalization or neoliberalism. What he did know however is that humanity is infinite. That we are limited only by our own narrowness of vision."
Jul 26th 2023
EXTRACT: "We studied 55,000 people’s dietary data and linked what they ate or drank to five key measures: greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, water pollution and biodiversity loss. Our results are now published in Nature Food. We found that vegans have just 30% of the dietary environmental impact of high-meat eaters. The dietary data came from a major study into cancer and nutrition that has been tracking the same people (about 57,000 in total across the UK) for more than two decades."