Post #35 - Here Come the Death Panels

The email arrived while I was in bed last night, reading a few pages of Mark Kram, Jr.'s terrific biography of Joe Frazier, "Smokin' Joe" (It turns out Frazier puts me to sleep as he did with his opponents back in the 1960s). Sleep. I used to get six, seven hours a night. Then came the 2016 election, and five was a good number. Now, with the virus, I'm fortunate if I get four uninterrupted hours. Last night was decidedly fewer.

The email came from a friend down in Florida who is in his 80s. On the subject line it said, "not for reading tonight." Being me, if I see something that says don't read, I read, so I opened up the email and saw this message, "It's the criteria that some hospitals have (and more hospitals likely will) adopt for triage decisions about who gets the ventilators, not completely great news for either of us I don't think."

So against his advice, I started to read the report (here's a link) and it was clear that the death panels that the GOP objected to so vociferously ten years ago were being adapted as a matter of necessity, why? Because Trump and his administration completely fucked up the response, almost certainly in the end, causing at least 1.5 million Americans to die.

When — not if — the hospitals can't handle the overflow that they aren't built to handle because they lack the beds, the staff and the equipment, they are going to be forced to make decisions as to who lives and who dies.

According to the guidelines, my friend and I will be among the dead.

The doctors at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School have come up with a rating system that determines this, part of it includes who comes in sicker and might not make it, and who has a better chance, but it includes a rating for who is going to have the longer life upon recovery. Having just gone on Medicare and Social Security, have five coronary stents, they might as well put a no ventilator sign on me as soon as I arrive, if I arrive. These guidelines are bound to be hewed to nationwide-

It is of course infuriating and horrifying and sad. None of this would have happened if Trump had lost in 2016 or if the GOP had any sense of right and wrong. But neither happened, so my death warrant will be signed? But there's something else that gets me. I live a productive life. I try to make a contribution to society, still. I write. A few people appreciate my work. I don't take advantage of others to better myself. I have a wife and daughter who say they love me, anyway. I just finished writing a book that should make a real contribution to understand our history. Yet there I will be, suffering on a gurney, and some thirty something who works for an ambulance chasing lawfirm or a kid stockbroker who voted for Trump because the runaway economy meant he could sell more cheap stocks to support his coke habit and his mortgage on the three-bedroom co-op on the Upper West Side that was only converted by tossing out the working class residents, will get the ventilator because he is younger and has another fifty years ahead of him to continue to fuck over society while they send me to a room to die by myself.

What a great system. Those with dementia, Alzheimers' and other mental infirmaties are also on the first list to go, and I'm guessing if you asked Trump about this, he'd think it was a pretty good plan. Last night, there was a video of him sitting in a meeting with a dozen oil executives (all suitably distanced from each other. Trump joked that they all should be tested, and  you know what, they were, while medical professionals and those with early symptoms are begging for tests and can't get them.

None of them tested positive, and I gather, neither did Trump but it raised the idea in my mind this morning that when it does come down to having to make choices, it is totally wrong that age plays a prominent factor. On a one to ten scale for different categories, and those with the highest number total number don't get a ventilator,  here are the guidelines that seem fairest to me:

10 — members of the Trump administration and  GOP members of Congress, GOP governors and state legislators, corporation heads who make millions more than their workers and don't pay their taxes, Fox News commentators and right-wing radio hosts, Nazis, cops with records for brutality, my junior high and high school gym teachers.

9 - domestic violence convicts, Me Too predators and rapists, known racists, homophobes, and anyone caught in the college cheating scandal

7 - anyone walking into a hospital with a MAGA hat, anyone whose professions are based on lying to customers or pushing products that are harmful or wasteful

6 - neighbors and kids who aren't following social distancing.

5 - Big NYC landlords

4 - robocallers and spammers

3 - delivery people who deliver the goods,

2 - cranky journalists, writers who fight the inequities of the system not just in crises but every day they report to work;

1 - those in the helping professions, front-line responders who are risking their lives every day to save us and who I need to butter up if/when I'm brought in.

0 - working stiffs and the poor who never get a break, undocumented immigrants who risked their lives to get here


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