Mike Doig gave us his Viewpoint tonight. He said,
'Two things happened last week which have provoked my viewpoint.
'First, the Euthanasia Act came into force, after a long process involving a referendum.
'Second, my mother-in-law passed away. She was nearly 103 and would have gladly gone to her eternal rest at any time in the last ten years.
'My viewpoint is that we should embrace euthanasia, and get ready for it moving from voluntary to compulsory sometime in the future.
'It’s all to do with population trends.
'Two things have changed in recent years.
'The first is falling birth rates.
'The second is the growing number of old people in the population.
'The fertility rate for a country is the ratio of live births to females. The ‘replacement’ rate is 2.1. This is the rate that keeps a population steady.
'The global fertility rate is falling. World population will peak and then fall away during this century. It is because of the education and emancipation of women, and more effective contraception. It is hard to see how the trend could be reversed.
'Fertility rates already vary widely. They are low in mature developed economies and high in poorer countries like Nigeria, where it is currently over 5.
'Every European country is already below the replacement rate of 2.1. including strong Catholic countries like Spain, Ireland, and Italy.
'By 2050, 150 countries will have falling populations. 2050 is not far away.
'By 2100, some, such as Spain, Korea, China, and Japan will see their populations fall by more than half.
'In New Zealand, our fertility rate was over 5 in the 1800s but has fallen to 1.6 today.
'Caring for the elderly: The proportion of older citizens in the population has been rising steadily since 1900, because of better diet, safer jobs, and of course better healthcare, including life-prolonging interventions. We seem determined to keep people alive.
'If a country has a falling, or even static, population and a rising proportion of old folk, it is heading for big trouble.
'The elderly consume more and more of the health and welfare budgets. On average, an older person uses more health resource in the last six months of their life than in all their previous life. Superannuation is the biggest component of the Welfare budget.
'I estimate that my mother-in-law, bless her, was employing the time and skills of about half a full-time equivalent worker, just to keep her going.
'This trend cannot continue. We cannot have a falling number of productive workers supporting a rising number of unproductive old people. The economy would collapse.
'Just by chance, today’s Dominion has a story about palliative care. There is a funding crisis, and the demand for palliative care will double in the next 50 years. It simply isn’t possible. The economy can’t afford it.
'Euthanasia may be your friend
'In his masterwork “Brave New World”, written in 1931, Aldous Huxley imagined that society would find a solution. He describes a world where the old are compulsorily terminated in hospitals, surrounded by their loved ones, and where euthanasia is normalised and acceptable.
'Eskimos have been doing something similar for centuries, gently removing unproductive family members by putting them out in the snow to die. To them, it’s quite normal.
'So, at some time in the future, but certainly in this century, I predict that governments will allow you a fixed term of life, say 75 years, after which you will be removed from this earthly existence, humanely of course.
'In places like Japan, they will have to move quite soon. In New Zealand it will happen later.
'It raises an interesting question - would you live your life differently if you knew it would end on your 75th birthday?'