Monday, November 30, 2015

In ‘Honor’ of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, Grab a Burger

With the much-hyped 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference set to begin today in Paris, it might be a good time to decide how we, the everyday citizen, can respond to it.

For its part, the New Jersey Star-Ledger has suggested, For the sake of UN climate talks, put down that burger:

Consider this: Producing one half-pound meat patty for your lunch releases as much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere as driving a 3,000-pound car nearly 10 miles. The meat in our diets actually causes more greenhouse gas pollution than either transportation or industry.

The Star-Ledger supports the carbon emission-reducing—meaning energy privation—goals of the conference, buys into to the climate catastrophe scenario, advocates carbon taxes, and supports the Environmental Defense Funds draconian mandatory conservation proposals. Yet Nancy Hedinger, president of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, still wasn’t completely happy with the Star-Ledger. Why? Because the news outlet had the temerity to promote less CO2 emitting natural gas and non-CO2 emitting nuclear power as necessary tools in the “effort to fight climate change.” In a letter published in the Star-Ledger, Time to reinforce commitment to renewable energy, Hedinger wrote, in part:

We do contribute to climate change by the lifestyle choices we make, from driving SUVs to eating red meat. However, the proposed solution, reliance on natural gas and nuclear energy missed the mark.

Natural gas is not carbon neutral. Extracting it from the earth is a devastating process that causes incalculable environmental damage. And nuclear energy brings with it a host of problems. . .

The editorial failed to mention an obvious alternative: renewable energy. Rather than blind reliance on gas or nuclear energy, we need to intensify research into the alternatives of solar and wind power, geothermal energy and other renewables.
Every dollar spent now on developing these energy sources will result in future savings, not just in monetary terms but also in terms of the health and well-being of our planet and every person on it.

I left these comments, responding to each significant point raised by Hedinger:

“We do contribute to climate change by the lifestyle choices we make, from driving SUVs to eating red meat.”

So?!? We’re part of nature, aren't we? So we have an effect on something, climate change, that happens naturally anyway. Why is that bad? Why should we give up small pleasures in life, like hamburgers, or necessities, like personal vehicles? I see no reason to forgo that hamburger or that SUV, because I see nothing inherently bad about humans contributing to climate change. There is absolutely no evidence for catastrophic, human-caused climate change. There is plenty of evidence that life without plentiful, reliable, economical energy is catastrophic. Life for people around the globe, in fact, has been made better and safer than ever, thanks to fossil fuels, which contribute 86% of our energy needs. The only place that climate catastrophe exists is in the increasingly hysterical, increasingly unbelievable climate model predictions that have been wrong for decades. (This is not to say it’s good to pig out on red meats. That’s not healthy for our bodies. But you need to enjoy eating, too.)

“Extracting [natural gas] from the earth is a devastating process that causes incalculable environmental damage.”

Devastating to whom? What about the monumental, calculable benefits energy provides for humans? What about an environment conducive to human flourishing? Human beings’ can’t survive like animals in the wild, which must conform to the natural environment or perish. Human beings survive and thrive by altering the natural environment to meet human needs and desires. The natural environment, including climate, is full of dangers, and always has been. By extracting concentrated energy such as natural gas stored in the ground, innovative, entrepreneurial people like the frackers have enabled us to run the machines that have given us longer, healthier, safer, more enjoyable lives than ever before. The transformation of the natural world demonstrates the prowess of man the hero. Natural gas producers should be lauded as benefactors, not demonized as destroyers, of the environment.

“[W] e need to intensify research into the alternatives of solar and wind power, geothermal energy and other renewables.”

Paid for, by whom? Every one of us has a moral right to invest how we want, and should be legally free to do so without obstruction from government or being forced to “invest” in solar or wind through taxes, artificially inflated utility bills, or other ways. What’s stopping Ms. Hedinger from investing in “renewables?” Why the necessity to call for “investments” at someone else’s expense? Why doesn’t the League of Women Voters put their own money into “renewables,” where their mouths are, and leave the rest of us to put our money where we see fit, such as into the purchase of natural gas provided by frackers and pipelines? “We”—the state—shouldn’t be seizing our money and handing it to “renewable” energy cronies. Nor should the state be a tool of anti-energy ideologues who want to stop natural gas producers from delivering to us the reliable, clean, affordable energy we rely on. Just do the investments you cherish. Just don’t force me to.

“Every dollar spent now on developing [renewable] energy sources will result in future savings . . . in terms of the health and well-being of our planet and every person on it.”

The “health and well-being of our planet” is not conducive to the health and well-being of “every person on it.” It is not even conducive to “renewable” energy sources. The closer we live to nature in its unimproved state, the worse off we are. If we give up hamburgers and SUVs, will environmentalists be satisfied? No. Virtually every value we humans use contributes to climate change. So after red meat and SUVs, the logic of the premise that lifestyle choices that contribute to climate change should be cut out will lead to environmentalists demanding of us more and more sacrifices, until our lifestyles are gone. It’s hyperbole about climate disaster aside—which completely ignores humans ability to adapt to gradually changing natural forces through technology—at least the Star-Ledger’s proposed solution, increased reliance on natural gas and nuclear energy, shows concern for human well-being.

Ms. Hedinger’s organization should be renamed The League of Anti-Humanist Women Voters. Their standard of value, if you could hold Ms. Hedinger’s views as representative of the whole League in whose name she speaks, is unaltered nature, which forbids man from improving his life by impacting on nature. And on that standard, it is hypocritical to promote even “solar and wind power, geothermal energy and other renewables,” all of which require the extraction of massive amounts of raw materials from the Earth. What about the “incalculable environmental damage” from those operations, which far exceeds the disturbance to the Earth required of natural gas?

We face a choice: Our moral standard of value can be either non-impact on nature, or human life and flourishing. I choose human life. On that standard, frackers are heroes, and we need more fracking and more natural gas. I think I’ll have an extra hamburger or two during the United Nations' Paris conference on climate change.

Related Reading:

Now, the World's Looters Target America for "Climate Injustice"

Saturday, November 28, 2015

If ‘Renewable Energy’ Technology Has Truly ‘Proven Itself,’ Why Does the Renewable Industry Need NJ’s 80% 'Renewable' Mandate?

The New Jersey legislature is considering a major energy bill, S2444, which imposes on Jerseyans “one of the nation's most ambitious goals for renewable energy sources like solar and wind power,” reports Matt Friedman for The bill would mandate that 80% of electricity generation must come from so-called “renewables” by 2050. The mandate will be accompanied by billions of dollars in subsidies for the solar and other “renewable” energy companies, which will be funded by extra charges imposed on the bills of electricity ratepayers.

In a letter urging support for the bill to “confront what is considered humankind's greatest crisis”—an apparent reference to climate change—a New Jersey Star-Ledger correspondent wrote:

As this bill moves through the legislature, I urge New Jerseyans to please contact their district's elected officials, urge them to vote for the bill, and stand solidly behind it. . . . The technology of renewables has proven itself and has become competitive in the market. Whether or not we are determined and courageous enough to address the challenge is a matter of will, not economics.

I left these comments, slightly edited for clarity:

“The technology of renewables has proven itself and has become competitive in the market.”

If this were true, why does the solar and wind industry need laws and subsidies—i.e., government force—to survive and grow? If so-called “renewables” are capable of ever becoming a primary source of the energy our lives can depend upon—meaning energy that is reliable, plentiful, on-demand, scalable, and affordable—let the industry prove itself in a free market. If it can’t prove itself in a free market, the whims of a bunch of politicians won’t make it happen simply by voting for an arbitrary mandate. There is nothing courageous about government aggression. Courage is the province of free energy markets, where consumers make voluntary choices on a level legal playing field. The fact that the “clean” energy companies are turning to government is proof that solar and wind, as a primary source of energy, are crap.

This so-called “humankind’s greatest crisis” is a dangerous fantasy concocted by zealots harboring an irrational prejudice against fossil fuels and a fundamental bias against human well-being. The truth is the exact opposite. For most of human history, man faced a real climate crisis. Earth’s climate has always been full of dangers—droughts, storms, heat waves, cold waves, floods. Today, thanks to plentiful energy, of which 87% comes from fossil fuels, the climate crisis for man is over. Everywhere fossil fuel use is plentiful, life keeps getting better, cleaner, and safer. This is backed up by every measure of human well-being, from rising life expectancies, to steadily expanding access to clean water, to rising per-capita income, to transportation safety, to shelter from heat and cold, to a better fed world, to advanced sanitary waste disposal, to the conquering of infectious diseases like Polio and Smallpox. Weather extremes have by and large been reduced from regular life-threatening occurrences to nuisances. Tellingly, climate-related deaths have plunged 98% in the last century, the very era of fossil fuel use and global warming that’s supposed to be bad. Regardless of climate change or global warming or whatever—and so far, all of the computer model predictions of climate catastrophe have been dead wrong—one thing is certain: Without reliable energy on demand, life in any climate is miserable and deadly to man.  Everywhere in the world where fossil fuel use is on the rise, life is getting better for people. To maintain that virtuous trend, we need more, not less, fossil fuel use.

Unlike the “renewable” dogmatists, I’m not against any energy source. I simply want to stop being stuck with Solar’s corporate welfare bill. Let me and all consumers decide on a level market playing field which energy source is best. It’s time to end the crony socialism. If “renewables” really are that good, they will have no problem doing to fossil fuels what digital photography did to film photography king Eastman Kodak; what innovative communications technology did to the AT&T monopoly; what the personal computer did to mainframe computer king IBM; and what electrification did to John D. Rockefeller’s near-total dominance of kerosene-based nighttime illumination more than a century ago. Until that day comes, if it comes, stop demonizing and hampering the fossil fuel industry and its customers.

Related Reading:

“Forcing” Investment Away from Fossil Fuels Will Only Cripple Life-Giving Energy Production

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Thanksgiving Message

[This year, I'm thankful for the heroic men and women of the fossil fuel industry. Reliable, economical, industrial scale energy is vital to our incredible, by historic standards, standard of living. Fossil fuels are the workhorse of our energy infrastructure, yet the industry has to work under the moral weight of demonization by energy enemies who claim that fossils are “dirty” and ruining the planet. So, a double thank you—for providing 87% of the world’s energy, and for continuing to do so despite the cruel demonization! Once again, THANK YOU!]

Reprinted below are two thanksgiving messages that I think captures the true essence of Thanksgiving, a holiday practiced only in America. Regardless of how one believes he came into existence (God or nature), the reality is that man is a being of self-generated wealth based on reason who requires certain social conditions for his survival. America was the first country founded explicitly on those conditions; i.e., a country where every individual owns his own life and possesses inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and to the pursuit of his own happiness, coupled inextricably with the obligation to accept the reality that all people are equally endowed with these rights and to treat them accordingly.

It is thus that America, born of the enlightenment ideas of individualism, reason, and republican government, achieved in the span of a mere two hundred-plus years (following centuries of stagnation) its spectacular standard of living. The ensuing excerpts are from two essays that I believe correctly recognize where the credit for America's material plenty belongs: to any man or woman, on whatever level of ability or accomplishment, who contributed in a great or small way to American greatness by doing an honest and productive day's work in pursuit of his or her own well-being.

Ah, Thanksgiving. To most of us, the word conjures up images of turkey dinner, pumpkin pie and watching football with family and friends. It kicks off the holiday season and is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. We're taught that Thanksgiving came about when pilgrims gave thanks to God for a bountiful harvest. We vaguely mumble thanks for the food on our table, the roof over our head and the loved ones around us. We casually think about how lucky we are and how much better our lives are than, say, those in Bangladesh. But surely there is something more to celebrate, something more sacred about this holiday.

What should we really be celebrating on Thanksgiving?

Ayn Rand described Thanksgiving as "a typically American holiday . . . its essential, secular meaning is a celebration of successful production. It is a producers' holiday. The lavish meal is a symbol of the fact that abundant consumption is the result and reward of production." She was right.

What is today's version of the "bountiful harvest"? It's the affluence and success we've gained. It's the cars, houses and vacations we enjoy. It's the life-saving medicines we rely on, the stock portfolios we build, the beautiful clothes we buy and the safe, clean streets we live on. It's the good life.

How did we get this "bountiful harvest"? Ask any hard-working American; it sure wasn't by the "grace of God." It didn't grow on a fabled "money tree." We created it by working hard, by desiring the best money can buy and by wanting excellence for ourselves and our loved ones. What we don't create ourselves, we trade value for value with those who have the goods and services we need, such as our stockbrokers, hairdressers and doctors. We alone are responsible for our wealth. We are the producers and Thanksgiving is our holiday.

So, on Thanksgiving, why don't we thank ourselves and those producers who make the good life possible?

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to recognize what we are truly grateful for, to appreciate and celebrate the fruits of our labor: our wealth, health, relationships and material things--all the values we most selfishly cherish. We should thank researchers who have made certain cancers beatable, gourmet chefs at our favorite restaurants, authors whose books made us rethink our lives, financiers who developed revolutionary investment strategies and entrepreneurs who created fabulous online stores. We should thank ourselves and those individuals who make our lives more comfortable and enjoyable--those who help us live the much-coveted American dream.

As you sit down to your decadent Thanksgiving dinner served on your best china, think of all the talented individuals whose innovation and inventiveness made possible the products you are enjoying. As you look around at who you've chosen to spend your day with--those you've chosen to love--thank yourself for everything you have done to make this moment possible. It's a time to selfishly and proudly say: "I earned this."

Debi Ghate is associated with the Ayn Rand Institute.

The religious tradition of saying grace before meals becomes especially popular around the holidays, when we all are reminded of how fortunate we are to have an abundance of life-sustaining goods and services at our disposal. But there is a grave injustice involved in this tradition.

Where do the ideas, principles, constitutions, governments, and laws that protect our rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness come from? What is the source of the meals, medicines, homes, automobiles, and fighter jets that keep us alive and enable us to flourish? Who is responsible for our freedom, prosperity, and well-being?

Since God is responsible for none of the goods on which human life and happiness depend, why thank him for any such goods? More to the point: Why not thank those who actually are responsible for them? What would a just man do?

Justice is the virtue of judging people rationally--according to what they say, do, and produce--and treating them accordingly, granting to each man that which he deserves.

To say grace is to give credit where none is due--and, worse, it is to withhold credit where it is due. To say grace is to commit an act of injustice.

Rational, productive people--whether philosophers, scientists, inventors, artists, businessmen, military strategists, friends, family, or yourself--are who deserve to be thanked for the goods on which your life, liberty, and happiness depend. ... Thank or acknowledge the people who actually provide the goods. Some of them may be sitting right there at the table with you. And if you find yourself at a table where people insist on saying grace, politely insist on saying justice when they're through. It's the right thing to do.

I couldn't have said it better myself. These truths are obvious. A simple rudimentary knowledge of history, coupled with basic observation and logic, are all that's required to realize it. Thank you Debi Ghate and Craig Biddle!

Have a joyous, and well earned, Thanksgiving.

Related Reading:

The Star-Ledger's Thanksgiving Tantrum

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

New Jersey Conservation Foundation vs. Our Life-Enhancing Energy Needs

The New Jersey Conservation Foundation (NJCF) has published “An Open Letter to Residents of New Jersey” on its website under the heading Pipeline proposals threaten land across NJ. Take action! The letter occupies a full page ad in the October 1, 2015 edition of the Hunterdon County Democrat, a bi-weekly county newspaper covering an area affected by the PennEast company’s proposed natural gas pipeline.*

An Open Letter to Residents of New Jersey:
Privately-owned PennEast – a consortium including PSEG, South Jersey Industries, New Jersey Resources and UGI - is planning to tear up 4,000 acres of central New Jersey’s preserved and historic lands and farmlands, private property, and some of the state’s cleanest, most ecologically significant waterways.
Every New Jersey town and county along PennEast's path has officially objected to the proposed pipeline. It would damage and scar our land, contaminate our air and water, and put communities at risk of a potential explosion.
Pipelines like PennEast set us behind in our drive for a clean energy future. Let’s move towards an energy future that's clean, green and renewed by nature every day. Let's build a legacy to be proud of. Say "No" to PennEast!

This letter speaks volumes about environmentalists’ moral standards and their confidence in their “clean energy” cause.

The first paragraph establishes the environmentalist premise that land must be “preserved” from industrial development. What about preserving humans’ access to the reliable energy vital to their lives and well-being? That’s not the concern of environmentalists.

Nor are private property rights a concern of environmentalists, as the first paragraph seems to indicate.**

The inclusion of private property in the list of lands it doesn’t want “torn up” is a hollow concern. Environmentalists routinely fight tooth and nail against developmental projects on private land when the purpose is something they disapprove of. Consider their fight to stop hydraulic fracturing, which is mostly done on private property. Defending private property just happens, in the pipeline case, to dovetail with the aim to stop the PennEast pipeline. But you don’t see the NJCF coming to the defense of Solberg Airport in Readington Township, which has been waging an expensive legal fight against the municipal government’s effort there to seize Solberg land through eminent domain for the purposes of “preserving” the land from potential future development. (See my posts on the Solberg taking.)

If someone proposed to build a string of windmills along the proposed path of the PennEast pipeline, with the interconnecting access roads and powerlines, would the Conservation Foundation be there railing against the taking of preserved lands or defending the rights of private property owners. One doubts it, if one can take at face value the Foundation’s seriousness about advancing “clean energy.” (That’s a big “if”)*** The NJCF’s primary goal is to stop the delivery of fossil fuel energy to consumers, not to prevent protect private property owners’ rights.

Now consider the second paragraph. The NJCF claims that pipelines will “contaminate our air and water, and put communities at risk of a potential explosion.” But prior to fossil fueled industrialization, our air was dirtier and clean water was much harder to come by. And yes, there are risks, including the risk of explosion. But what about the risks of not having pipelines? If zero risk is the standard, then man should never have harnessed fire. Zero risk means zero human progress—and lives that are short, brutish, and danger-filled. (I addressed the issues of water and risk, among other issues, in a submittal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding the PennEast project. As to air, the Environmental Protection Agency’s own data show our air getting progressively cleaner even as fossil fuel use increases. See below:

Screen Shot 2015-09-29 at 11.52.07 AMAs this chart shows, air pollution is a very manageable side effect of fossil fuel use. This chart courtesy of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein)

The last paragraph says volumes about environmentalists’ confidence in “clean energy.” If solar and wind are so good as a competitive alternative to reliable, economical fossil fuels, why is it necessary to use government coercion to stop PennEast and other companies from building pipelines? Wouldn’t the market for the energy such pipelines deliver dry up in the face of consumers’ switching to “clean” energy sources, thus destroying any incentive to invest in pipelines?

Government coercion wasn’t needed for consumers to switch from film photography to digital photography; from rotary dial phones to cell phones; from mainframe computers to minicomputers and then to personal computers; from carbon paper to copying machines; from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles. Across the economy and over time, in thousands of examples, better products and technologies replaced older, inferior ones. Why, then, the need for a movement to use stop the adoption of “clean energy?” Won’t consumers voluntarily switch from conventional energy sources to “clean” energy as enthusiastically as they made myriad other technological switches? Environmentalists know the answer. That’s why they turn to government coercion.

Today, we’re told that so-called “renewable” energy—mainly solar and wind—is far superior to “dirty” fossil fuels. So, why doesn’t the environmental movement leave the energy market free, so that renewables can supplant the older, inferior energy technologies on the merits? Why do they push for coercive government policies to hamper and destroy fossil fuel energy? Because they know that, left free to choose, consumers will opt for reliable, economic energy; namely, for today and for the foreseeable future, that means fossil fuels. Fossil’s enemies know that renewables, as a source of reliable economical energy, are crap. Yet, environmentalists’ don’t care, because their standard of value is not human life and well-being. They care about unaltered nature. They care about avoiding environmental alteration. Their philosophy toward their fellow human beings is captured in the John Denver hit song “Rocky Mountain High,” which laments, “more people, more scars upon the land.” That’s how they view human life-advancing industrial development.

And if renewables fail to live up to the environmentalists’ quasi-religious faith that solar and wind can supplant fossils, what will the environmentalists reaction to the resultant monumental human suffering from the energy deprivation? They don’t consider that very real potentiality. Human well-being is not their concern.

To concretize the moral alternative involved more dramatically, consider this picture of a pipeline project under construction posted on the New Jersey Conservation Foundation page linked to above (Pipeline proposals threaten land across NJ. Take action!)

What feelings or thoughts come to mind when you see this photo?

I get feelings of happiness and appreciation for those who construct such energy projects. I think of the motive power that runs the machines that feed us when we are hungry, medicate us when we are sick, warm us in winter, cool us in the heat of summer, enable safe and convenient transportation, enable instant communication to virtually anywhere on Earth, bring clean water to our faucets, dispose of harmful wastes, protect us as never before from extreme weather and other climate-related dangers, cleanly illuminate us at night, and myriad other benefits we take for granted. I think of the energy of human life, available affordably whenever we need it, without interruption. I don’t see a scar. Rather, I see in that pipeline project—in its own way—a thing of beauty, because of how immensely better our lives are made by the energy that will flow through the pipeline that will lie beneath what environmentalists see as a scar.

But that picture is not intended by the Conservation Foundation to elicit such positive feelings and thoughts. It is intended to elicit disgust and revulsion. It is intended to inspire thoughts of “damage and scars to our lands,” along with resentment and hostility toward the builders. It is intended to appeal to nihilists.

When I look at that picture, I see man the hero. The publication of that picture by the NJCF is intended to elicit a difference response—a vision of man the villain. My reaction to seeing that picture is rooted in my respect for human life and well-being. What, then, is the motivation behind the posting of that picture?

Many people, of course, may simply not have too many thoughts one way or another, simply seeing part of the norm; another construction project. That is a mistake, because the battle over that pipeline is a battle over energy, which is a battle involving average people's’ health and well-being. But we all should think about the energy issue, because it’s a matter of flourishing vs. destitution, life vs. death.

Of course, we should always keep the full context—the “big picture”—in mind. We may not like the disturbance to the land, so we may like to see it restored as much as possible to its natural state once the pipeline is complete and buried. Impacts on the natural environment need not be wanton. But environmentalists enemies of fossil fuels don’t see the big picture. They brush aside the vital energy positives of fossil fuels, and focus only on the negative side effects; side effects that are dwarfed by the positives and which are within our technological ability to minimize and alleviate. From the perspective of human life as the moral standard, building this energy infrastructure takes precedence over preserving—meaning non-development—of the land. From the perspective of the environmentalists’ standards, stopping pipelines is a must, regardless of the consequences to human life.

Environmentalists’ standards forbid concern for the human benefits of the pipeline, because human life is not their standard. Non-impact is their standard. They don’t just oppose negative impacts. They oppose impact as such, on principle. Such a standard compels environmentalists to oppose the pipeline. At least for the intellectual leaders of the environmentalist movement, worries about waterways and climate change—and the love affair with “clean” energy—are window dressing. The name of the institution circulating the “Open Letter to Residents of New Jersey” has “conservation” in its name for a reason: It wants to conserve land. Conserve from what, for what? Conserve from industrial development, for nature.

The Conservation Foundation’s open letter complains that “Pipelines like PennEast set us behind in our drive for a clean energy future.” But no one has ever proposed stopping research, development, and installation of solar, wind, other other so-called “renewable” energy. It is renewables champions who are trying to set us behind, by using government legal coercion to stop pipelines.


* In September, 2015, PennEast formally submitted its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval to build the pipeline.

** One conundrum pro-liberty supporters of energy infrastructures face with regard to pipelines is that pipeline approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency charged with the responsibility of approving or disapproving energy projects, carries with it the power of eminent domain, under which pipeline builders can force private property owners to sell them the rights-of-way they need to build and maintain the pipeline. That is a subject for another day. See my post Untangling the PennEast Pipeline Rights Conundrum

*** That’s a big “if.” As the wind energy industry grows, so does environmentalist opposition to massive wind farms. The reasons; threats to birds, views, and even—get this—climate. Click here and here. If your an anti-industrial revolutionary, you will oppose any form of energy that becomes economical, semi-reliable, and an important source of power.

Related Reading:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Update on NJ's 2015 'Right to Die' Debate -- 2

In response to the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial on California’s recently enacted assisted suicide bill, Coming soon to Gov. Christie's desk: The right-to-die debate, a correspondent named Kevin Foley rebutted:

Just more Culture of Death. . . We gotta "off" grandma... just can't stand to see her suffer.

Grandma is going to die. We're all going to die. Some will die slowly. Some will die with pain. Our responsibility is to treat the dying as they are valuable. Not treat them as if they are disposable.

I left this reply:

This is the argument from collectivism. Collectivism holds that the focus of moral concern is the group. The individual has no moral validity. What if the suffering individual herself no longer considers her life a value? On the collectivist view, the suffering individual’s value judgements are irrelevant. It’s “our” responsibility to decide whether Grandma’s life is a value. Therefor, “we” forbid Grandma to make her own end-of-life decisions.

But the whole point of right to die legislation is to place the responsibility of end-of-life choice where it belongs—with the individual. Right to die liberates “Grandma” from the tyranny of others—the collective—that seeks to impose their values. Protection from the collective is what individual rights, the foundation of the American republic, are all about.

Our individual responsibility is to treat the dying, and everyone else, with dignity and respect—and that means respecting each individual’s moral right to make his own value judgements. The right to life and liberty necessarily encompasses the personal right to decide the means and conditions, to the extent possible, of our inevitable end.

Related Reading:

The Strong vs. the 'Weak' in the Assisted Suicide Debate