Sunday, 16 August 2009

Life, inheritance and euthanasia

There is a widespread feeling that parents should hand down their inheritance to their children. Napoleon questioned this because he wanted to break up the French aristocracy and the French to this day can't pass everything to one child. I have previously written that if children need the money they will waste it and if they don't need it then it is a good opportunity to raise taxes. The dead can't complain. I would like to see an increase in inheritance tax.

However most people will still want to leave something to their children. Ideally the children would make good use of it and some would say even if the children take a holiday and relax then this is good use of the money. This is a cause of pressure that people face when they are not well enough to look after themselves at home. Do they receive extra care in their own home? Do they move into a care home? Do they take a visit to Switzerland? All options have financial implications and even though it is expensive, going to Switzerland may be the cheapest option. The pressure regarding inheritance becomes a pressure to take your own life. If the children are unscrupulous the pressure will be significantly increased.

We all want euthanasia - it means good death; but the term has been hijacked to mean "I can take my own life whenever I want". It means I can go off to Switzerland and not come back. There are many people who see this as a good thing. There are two problems with this. We do not know the conscious or subconscious pressure going on to choose death. The second and major problem is that anyone who advocates the right to take their own life uses illness as an excuse. This undermines the value of life. It implies that if someone has MS they should die. If they have breathing problems they can die too. If they get headaches once per week then that is also a good reason to end life. You may know when you feel you should die but you are insulting someone who is more ill. The attitude that "that's their opinion and this is mine" is not good enough. There are forceful arguments that those who use a wheelchair should have access to a building. Those who raise this point may also argue that if they had to use a wheelchair they should be allowed to travel to Switzerland. We need to value life.

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