Euthanasia for children? The whole idea sounds forbidding to say the least, and probably criminal to some. But let us put aside any initial reaction. Is it forbidding because it is for children, because it is euthanasia, or perhaps because one compounds the other? We live in a country where euthanasia is not only generally illegal, in many circles it is also a big no-no. It is illegal in most of Europe too, but the Netherlands and Belgium have been trailblazers. Euthanasia has been legal there since 2002. In the Netherlands, children over 12 can request euthanasia with their parents’ consent. And parents of children under one can request it. That left children from one to 12. It’s been a contentious debate and a long one, but now the Netherlands has approved euthanasia for children one to 12. They estimate that it will affect 5 to 10 children a year. These are children who have a terminal illness, and whose suffering is unendurable. To be honest, I would be among those who would want to spare my child. I would hate it, would agonize about the decision, but ultimately would realize that is the best of bad alternatives. I realize that euthanasia for children adds to a core idea behind the right to die with dignity which gave rise to euthanasia and that is that children do not have the same voice about their fate—an idea which adds to the gravitas of it all. But parents who would make a request for their child, would rarely if ever do so without much soul searching. If one accepts the premise of dying with dignity, of having a say in one’s own end, and in the fact (which to me personally is at the heart of it) that life is more than biology, then euthanasia for children seems a logical follow up for a country who has already accepted it.
The world’s billionaires’ fortunes has now reached $10.2 trillion. That comes from a report by UBS, a Swiss bank which found that their wealth has increased by 27.5% during the height of the pandemic crisis from April to July 2020. This growth occurred while millions were losing jobs, income, health coverage, and were struggling to get by. I had previously written about the increase in the number of billionaires, this is far more revealing, the growth of their wealth as a result of the pandemic—not only because they were able to ride the storm created by the virus but also because they were able to gain from its downside. Jeff Bezos as most already know is a prime example. Why this is so important is so well expressed by Luke Hilyard, executive director of the High Pay Center a think tank that like its name focuses on undue and disproportionate pay: “…extreme wealth is an ugly phenomenon from a moral perspective, but it’s also economically and socially destructive.”
“Billionaire wealth equals to a fortune almost impossible to spend over multiple lifetimes of absolute luxury. Anyone accumulating riches on this scale could easily afford to raise the pay of the employees who generate their wealth, or contribute a great deal more in taxes to support vital public services, while remaining very well rewarded for whatever successes they’ve achieved.”
“The findings from the UBS report showing that the super-rich are getting even richer are a sign that capitalism isn’t working as it should.”
This is not without consequences. Josef Stradler the head of the UBS office which deals with the world’s richest people, admits that these facts could lead to public and political anger. He further admits that the wealthy themselves are aware of it and in the past had warned that the inequality between rich and poor could lead to what he called a “strike-back”. He further explains that “We are at an inflection point. Wealth concentration is as high as in 1905, this is something billionaires are concerned about. The problem is the power of interest on interest- that makes big money bigger and, the question is to what extent is that sustainable and at what point will society intervene and strike back?” It’s a question many are already asking.
Civvl is a startup for evictions. As a result of Covid many are behind on their rent and despite eviction moratoriums, some landlords are opting to evict their tenants, or may in future when the moratoriums are lifted. Violating these moratoriums can result in jail time and fines. When asked how they kept these evictions legal, Civvl did not answer. Meanwhile some property owners avail themselves of the option to call on a team of gig workers as process servers and eviction agents to evict their tenants, including people who will move out furniture. They’re called the Uber of evictions. And Civvl is not the only one, OnQuall does something similar. They say that at a time of high unemployment they provide jobs, even if it’s a gig. One such worker who needed the money to pay his own rent was seen crying as he moved out furniture of someone being thus evicted. Legally people are free to engage in such businesses, and should be. But if you believe as I do that a society needs to provide a moral compass, needs to provide a framework for more harmlessness, then like me you will have difficulty with these kind of businesses, and even more when these businesses look to be skirting the law. Making money out of someone’s suffering is wrong. Enabling someone to hurt another is wrong. Yes, landlords have the right to their rents, but they are not without remedies. They can, for example, through their property owners groups lobby local state and federal government for subsidies or other kinds of aids. In all cases, less rent will mean less income and will therefore be reflected in the amount of income tax they will have to pay. Few are the landlords who will be homeless as a result, which is not the case for some of those evicted. Of course landlords do have the option in some instances to simply do a good deed.
We’re staying home more so it would make sense that we would create more trash, 25% more according to an estimate by the trade group, Solid Waste Association of North America. In Alpharetta, Georgia, for example, one worker there said he used to pick up about 17 or 18 tons of trash a day, now it is 22. In fact some of the bins overflow and despite robotic arms can be hard to pick up upsetting some trash workers who may need to pick up what falls and because of the virus are particularly concerned. The virus also is behind the fact that offices tend to be emptier than they normally are and those bins are not very full. Somehow the way trash removal is set up it is not usually possible to reshuffle routes and workers. One problem is that some routes may be done by subcontractors which city sanitation departments cannot reschedule in the same way. Another is that in many localities particularly in the East, alleys behind buildings are too narrow for many trucks and specially designed trucks are used to remove trash there. If these new patterns continue, then changes will have to be made. They will entail shorter days, shorter routes and will then all be more manageable. Trash workers say that the upside for them is that people are now beginning to realize that what they do is a hard and dirty job. They suspect that being home more means they are more likely to see the trash trucks, be more aware of trash removal. As a sanitation worker in Georgia put it, “the world would stop if we stopped picking up.” Indeed sanitation workers are like first responders, nurses and doctors and the army of delivery people, those who make our adjustments to the virus that much easier. They ought to be on our list of those we are grateful for.