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Staying young

Why I want to die at 75

Ten years to go: Ezekiel Emanuel. American Philosophical Society

Ezekiel Emanuel is a powerful figure in American healthcare, says Helen Rumbelow in The Times: he was an architect of Obamacare and has worked for two presidents, Obama and Biden. But he is best known for an essay entitled: “Why I want to die at 75.” When the oncologist reaches that age – he is 65 now – he will seek no cure for ailments he develops. No chemotherapy, no surgery, no statins or stents. No antibiotics, even. Rather than endure a “decade of medically extended multiple illnesses”, he wants to be “carried off the old-fashioned way, by nature’s mercifully swift brutality”.

Zeke, as he is known, thinks this is perfectly rational. Not only will he avoid what is statistically likely to be years of suffering, society won’t have the hassle of looking after him. He scorns the Silicon Valley types trying to develop ways of living forever – “these people think the world will collapse if they’re not here” – and opposes euthanasia. When people cite the example of “super-agers” such as 80-year-old Joe Biden, he retorts that they are outliers – and “we can’t all be outliers”. The biggest obstacle to his approach may be his partner, who somewhat understandably “disagrees with his plan”. Will he bow to her request to at least consider preventative medicine, such as vaccines? “We are in discussions.”

☎️💀 Emanuel belongs to “what must be one of the most successful sibling groups this side of the Bee Gees”. One brother, Rahm, was Barack Obama’s chief of staff and later the mayor of Chicago; the other, Ari, runs one of the most powerful Hollywood agencies. On Zeke’s birthday, he says, they ring him up and ask: “How many more years is it again that I have to put up with you?”