Democratic Underground

My Living Will (An Alternative)

March 25, 2005
By James Boyne

I have my dog, a small cocker spaniel named Scout, trained to be the final decision maker in case I fall into a persistent vegetative state like Terri Schiavo.

Scout will give one bark if he decides that I should be kept alive with tube feeding. He will bark twice if he wants me to be given ventilator assistance to keep my lungs working. Scout will bark three times if he wants me to be given permanent electrical defibrillation to my heart. And finally, Scout is trained to bark four times if he wants me to be disconnected altogether and left to die on my own.

I have spent three years training Scout to do this and I think him and me have it all pretty much worked out. Scout is also in the habit of wagging his tail if you do something correctly that he approves of it so if he, for example, barked four times and they disconnected me from the tubes and everything and let me die then Scout would wag his tail as a sign that it was okay to let me pass on to the next world, so to speak. Whenever you do something right Scout always wags his tail. It basically means "A-Okay."

I am planning on leaving my entire estate to Scout but I trust that Scout will make his decision based on the best ethical judgment that he can make. Dogs are basically honest and they don't have any axes to grind. They just want to be fed, walked, loved, and to play fetch the stick. If lawyers, doctors and politicians only wanted to be fed, walked, loved, and to play fetch the stick you could trust them. But their needs are much more complicated and sinister so you can't really trust their judgment. This is why I have chosen my dog, Scout, to make the final decision for me.

Scout also barks twice if he wants to go out to poop but those are usually short barks; not the long barks when he wants me to be on the ventilator. He barks three times when he wants to eat but those too are a higher pitched bark than the bark I have him trained to do when he wants me to advance to the permanent electrical defibrillator.

If Scout barks six times in rapid succession it usually means he is going to bite you.

Also, I really don't want to be kept in a permanent vegetative state for more than 200 years. If Pfizer hasn't found a cure for it by then than I am willing to throw in the towel. Besides, if God is calling you to Heaven why wait that long? 200 years is plenty especially if the state and Federal Government is paying for it.

I've never cared for tube feeding food too much. Denny's and Shoney's sometimes has that kind of food at their buffet line on Sunday's. If I were in a persistent vegetative state I would like a nice hamburger shoved in the tube now and then and they can forget the vegetables, since it would only remind me of the vegetative predicament I was in.

I don't want my mother and father making any decisions about me. It just always leads to an argument anyway. Besides my parents can never make up their mind. One day they would want me alive and the next day they would say "let him go, its getting way to expensive." I don't think my father would want me moving back in with him in a persistent vegetative state. My father is kind of set in his ways. He likes to watch Larry King Live every night and that would drive me crazy especially if I was in a persistent vegetative state and I couldn't even change the channel or get to the remote real fast. Besides, we only have a one-car garage and it just wouldn't work out.

Besides, my wife has said, "Let Scout make the decision".

Maybe in a hundred years there will be thousands of nursing homes all filled with people in persistent vegetative states. We'll have the Red States, the Blue States, and the Persistent Vegetative States.

Hey, remember when they had those things called the Papal States (when there were three Popes all claiming to be the one true Pope). I wonder if the Pope wants to be hooked up to tubes if he lapses into a persistent vegetative state. He could be Pope for a long, long time if that happens. He could still wave. They could still put him on the Popemobile for a little ride in the fresh air. I saw Terri Schiavo wave on TV the other night. I think. It looked like a wave, kind of. Oh well.

Hey, here's a thought. On the back of my driving license I have it written that I will not give any of my organs to anybody unless the doctors and the hospitals guarantee that they will do the transplant of my organs for free. That's right. I don't want anyone making any money off my organs. No doctor is going to charge $200,000 to take my heart out and put it in someone else when it only takes a few hours of work. And if the hospital is going to stick a $300,000 bill to someone who needs a heart: well, I am just going to keep my organs, and they can go screw. I'll donate every last organ in my body to someone, as long, as all the greedy, moneygrubbers, don't make a dime off it.

Hey, if I'm kind enough to donate my organs when I am on deaths door, than they should be kind enough to donate their time, their facilities, and their expertise, since they are gaining valuable research experience. Why should the recipient get stuck with a half million dollar medical bill, and then have to declare bankruptcy (which Bush has now closed off for many people with huge medical bills), and then the recipient would get depressed, desperate, disillusioned, reach the end of their rope, and jump off a bridge - with my organs inside them.

Poor Terri. I bet if you could read her mind she is saying "Will everyone get the hell out of my room and keep my damn mother and father away from me? What the hell do you think I got married for? To get away from them. And the food sucks here. And if no one is going to answer my 'call light' what the hell is the sense of staying here?"

To tell you the truth I think that the House, the Senate, and President Bush are all in a persistent vegetative state themselves. And we shouldn't keep tube feeding them with our votes. There may be something called the sanctity of life but there is also something called the solemn sanctity of death. The Republican Party, especially Senator Bill Frist, Congressman Tom DeLay, that big guy Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, President Bush and his brother Jeb, are all sticking their noses in other people's private affairs - all so they can make the Nightly News and pick up a few votes and increase their "name recognition index"; and to keep our minds off other things like:

55 million Americans with no health insurance.

18,000 deaths a year due to Americans with no health insurance.

9 million unemployed.

11 million long term unemployed.

1.6 million personal bankruptcies every year.

1500 Americans killed in Iraq; 12,000 wounded, many disabled for life.

Veterans Administration budget chopped and slashed year after year.

Massive military base closings in the USA as we build massive bases in Iraq.

100,000 Iraqis killed in Iraq.

$500 billion annual deficit and growing.

3 million American jobs outsourced to China, India, Central American, etc.

$1500 monthly health care premiums for those over 50 years old.

$25,000 a year for an out of state college education.

$2.25 for a gallon of gas.

154 Federal Programs and projects slashed.

A $350 billion tax giveback that that didn't create a single job.

$300 billion spent on Iraq and Afghanistan.

$1.2 billion a week spent every week in sunny, beautiful Iraq.

3 million illegal immigrants sneaking over our borders with Bush's blessing.

An $8 trillion national debt.

Social Security reform that will cost $2 trillion to fix (who the hell broke it?)

No energy policy; not environmental policy; and a world that hates us.

A $220 billion drug industry that spends most of its profits on TV commercials.

A Government that can send a man to the Moon but won't fund a cure for cancer.

Most of the 50 states are each running huge billion dollar budget deficits.

A Homeland Security Department that has become a huge money-sucking machine.

And a President, the entire Congress and the Senate who fly into Washington, DC to vote on whether to subpoena Terri Schiavo to appear before Congress as a witness thereby preventing her from dying in peace after suffering for 15 years in a persistent vegetative state. I must be missing the logic of this.

Whoops. Here comes Scout. He just barked twice, followed by two short barks. I wonder what that means.

James Boyne is a regular contributor to many progressive web sites including,, and, as well as many others.

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