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Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

Deathstyles - Why Wait? Go Now....

James Skinner knows when he wants to go
Euthanasia for all on the NHS:
How about introducing a system of ‘death planning’?

In my diplomatic capacity I am often invited to many local ceremonies and other niceties in this small but enchanting city in the northwest of Spain. On this occasion I was to attend the opening ceremony of a new and private, five-star geriatric home. Falling in line with the local dignitaries and a host of so called onlookers, a handsome forty-something medical director, all spruced up in white overall and stethoscope round his neck greeted us with a Paul Newman smile as we crossed the threshold of the institution.

A low decibel version of Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’ piped through the speaker system as we moved through the entrance hall into the main lounge. Bright coloured furniture and the botanical exuberance of flora adornments blended in magnificently with model-like nurses assisting a couple of old dears who’d probably mortgaged the rest of their life’s savings just to pay the rent for a room in this palatial establishment.
‘Can I come and stay here, now, if I wanted to?’ I asked the director.
‘Of course,’ he answered. ‘You may come for a month, a year or as long as you like. We have several prices that range from a luxury suite to a simple interior bedroom. All amenities from medical attention to sauna facilities are included.’

After being offered the usual Spanish aperitif of a glass of wine and a ‘tapa’, I left the place with a puzzled mind. This was just not for real. The older you get the rustier you become and to stay in a place like this you’ve got to be fit or else you’d be booted out in two seconds flat and sent to the nearest National Health doss house to rot or die!

Does this sound dramatic? Not so in this modern and consumer world we live in. In the developed world old people are increasing in numbers, and, percentage-wise are outpacing the younger generation. Not only are they living longer but are also becoming major benefactors of the health service of each nation. Just take a look into any pharmacist in Spain today, and the majority of people with prescriptions are well over fifty. They are also a creeping drain on the economy. Apart from the health problem, every year the state pension system of a great number of nations creaks and moans in tune with the ‘oldies’ that are seeking their daily bread in retirement handouts.

Having paid towards it all their lives, they are certainly entitled to the monthly income. Trouble is that most systems have been playing the ‘earn as you pay’ Monopoly game. ‘We all know that for decades, most social security payments from workers goes straight out to the unemployed and the pensioners. 'That’s ok if we have a good 2 or 3 to 1 ratio of pay in to pay out. But we’re close to a 1 in to 1 out and soon the whole system is going to collapse,’ said Jose Gomez, a friend of mine in the local government. 'Economists, statisticians, politicians and the odd red-necked trade unionist have written much on the subject regarding this so called ‘generation gap’.

Most have predicted the obvious. Create more jobs, bring in more immigrants to cover low paid jobs, keep people working till they drop dead and get the new generations to throw away the condoms and produce more babies. Ah, and there’s the odd pundit who wants women to go back to the mop and stove and revert to raising a family. Any objections? Of course these suggestions can be considered as the solution, but as they say in Spanish, who’s going to put the bell on the cat and implement them?

Herewith is my own version! Years ago, legal abortion was unheard of. For centuries many unfortunate women around the world carried the burden of unwanted pregnancies. They suffered from humiliation, imprisonment, poverty and many other degraded abuses just because they had succumbed to nature’s most precious offering, that of accepting procreation, with or without their consent. A few decades ago, what started off as a human rights gesture towards certain unwanted pregnancies has today turned into a thriving business for the medical profession: ‘Babies a la carte.’ Women can just as easily get a nose job as they can, thanks to the ‘day after pill’ fornicate to their hearts content without worrying about an unborn child. (As Men have always done -Ed)
In the past, women were faced with the prospect of losing out in the moneymaking modern day lifestyle because of having to bring up ‘Joey’. Along came the law. The pill and the doctor’s scalpel changed the situation whereby women can now compete with their male counterparts for a healthy paycheck. If Joey does come along, it is because he was planned and fitted nicely into the life plan. What’s this all got to do with old age pensioners, social security medical burdens and the like, you may ask? Very simple and we’re back to economics.

Whilst our heroes and heroines are most likely to be in their mid thirties and will stay put with the one and only heir to their throne, they form part of the accepted ‘life planning’ system of modern day consumerism. But what happens when they start to grow old and anti-inflammatory pills take over from the odd tot of Scotch? Who’s going to take care of them? How about introducing a system of ‘death planning’? If life becomes unbearable due to a complete physical breakdown, why do we not have legislation in place for humans to plan their own departure from this planet?

Horror upon horror, I have laid before you the dreadful unthinkable, unmentionable possible future scenario, the legalisation of euthanasia. It’s not as daft as it sounds. As I said before, it’s the pure economics of the future. After all, abortion laws, partially due to feminist movements sprouted like mushrooms and the lid was finally lifted from Pandora’s box and the world accepted the ending of a foetus as a natural part of family planning. So called middle class ‘families’ benefited economically.

Many years ago, I wrote a short piece of nonsense that arrived at the conclusion that human beings were only useful for 50% of their lifespan. My theory was pretty simple; on average the first 20 years were spent at school and further education. From age 20 to 60 humans contributed to the welfare of the state, were it private or public. On reaching 60 with an assumed pension till the age of 80 they became absolutely useless. Is this a cruel fictitious analysis or is it a fact of modern life? If we now introduce today’s percentage of those that are useful and those that are not and put the numbers to work in any of the developed countries, add the cost of the terminally ill but still breathing and deduct the contributors because of negative birth rates and what have you got: an economic bubble that will make Nasdaq look like a gold mine. So what kind of a conclusion can we arrive at to find a solution. I hate so say it, but allow those that feel that they are genuinely not fit to continue on this earth and let them pass away in dignity. In other words revisit the need for decent and honest euthanasia to cut out a great deal of old age suffering. One would be surprised at the number of volunteers.

But alas! This is pure futuristic fiction. Every democratic do-gooder organisation the world over would throw out the plan even before the printer ink was dry. How dare we dispose of our elder citizens who have contributed so much to our development? Very true and prophetic, but the truth is that we also live in a dog eat dog world whereby everyone is out for himself. It wont be long before the oldies will have to wear bullet proof vests because, I hate to say it, when the average modern yuppie money earner realises that he can’t change his BMW every year because of outrageous social benefit payments to the old and sick he’s going to think twice about the laws of euthanasia. (Holland is already there- Ed).

There is one point that is ironic in this comparison of ‘life vs. death planning’. As far as the unborn is concerned, the foetus still has no choice. On the other hand, the oldies, sick or healthy would be, generally speaking in control of their final destiny.
© James Skinner. 2003

How To Start A Novel
James Skinner on Page One


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