Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Culture of (freezing to) Death

We've been legally aborting the very, very young for a third of a century now. More recently, we started aborting the profoundly disabled and the terminally ill.

Now, we've moved on to the elderly. Namely, Marvin E. Schur, 93, of Bay City, Mich. Aborted for not paying his electric bill on time.

TECHNICALLY, the coroner listed the cause of death as hypothermia, meaning Marvin Schur froze to death. In his house.

Call it cryoabortion. This is a new technique, developed because of the cost-prohibitive nature of sending giant vacuum trucks to the homes of America's elderly to suck them out of their homes and into a tank full of saline solution.

In the new cryoabortion technique -- usually performed when a utility customer's debt to municipal power and light becomes greater than the value of his or her life -- the abortionist . . . well, why don't I let The Bay City Times explain
how the procedure worked in the Schur case:
A pathologist said a 93-year-old Bay City man froze to death inside his home - his body found days after city workers said they limited electricity flowing to the house.

Marvin E. Schur suffered "a slow, painful death" inside his home at 1600 S. Chilson St. on Bay City's southwest side, said Dr. Kanu Virani, who performed an autopsy on the body.

"Hypothermia shuts the whole system down, slowly," Virani said. "It's not easy to die from hypothermia without first realizing your fingers and toes feel like they're burning."

Funeral services for Schur, a retired pattern-maker who lived alone, are at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Gephart Funeral Home, 201 W. Midland St. Schur's wife, retired elementary-school teacher Marian I. (Meisel) Schur, died several years ago, and the couple had no children.

Virani, Oakland County's deputy chief medical examiner, performs autopsies for Bay County and numerous other Michigan counties. Of about 15,000 autopsies Virani has conducted, he said Marvin Schur's autopsy "is the first one I can remember doing on someone who froze to death indoors."

Virani said the temperature inside Schur's home was less than 32 degrees when neighbors George A. Pauwels Jr. and his wife, Shannon, found Schur's body Jan. 17.

George Pauwels Jr. said Schur owed almost $1,100 in electricity bills to the city of Bay City, though Pauwels said he noticed money clipped to those bills on Schur's kitchen table the day he found Schur's body.

Bay City Manager Robert V. Belleman said a worker with Bay City Electric Light & Power placed a "limiter" device outside Schur's home, between Schur's electricity meter and electrical service, on Jan. 13.

The device restricts the amount of electricity reaching the home and if a homeowner tries to draw more electricity than the limiter allows, "it blows the limiter, just like blowing a fuse, and then you go outside and reset it," Belleman said.

Belleman said he doesn't know if a city worker made one-on-one contact with Schur to explain the limiter's operation. Virani said he doesn't know if Schur suffered from dementia, which could have interfered with his ability to know how to reset a limiter.

Pauwels said Schur couldn't hear well, and said he believed Schur "had a little bit" of dementia.
THE CITY MANAGER, by the way, doesn't think the city did anything wrong. No, in most societies, it's perfectly acceptable to turn off the electricity of 93-year-old World War II veterans in the dead of a Michigan winter.

Dead of winter. Get it? It's a joke only municipal murderers could love.

If only poor Mr. Schur had been an investment banker. It's OK for investment bankers to leave the government -- and their investors -- holding the bag. In fact, if you're a Wall Street swell, you can spend all your money on million-dollar accessorizing, $50 million corporate jets and big bonuses for your homeboys even after Uncle Sam has pulled your cojones out of the toaster oven.

If you're a poor Michigan widower, on the other hand, the government will pull the plug on your toaster oven. And your furnace. And your stove.

THERE ARE people out there who get a bad case of the trots at the very thought of Darwinism in the science classroom but never get the slightest tummy rumble when Darwinism -- natural selection . . . survival of the fittest . . . the big evolutionary cull of "life unworthy of life" -- sets up housekeeping at the heart of civic society.

Either all human life is worth a damn, or none of it is. You can learn that now, or someday end up like poor Marvin E. Schur, killed by the city fathers for not being young, useful . . . or able to pay his light bill.

By the way, the Bay City Commission
raised electric rates by 3 percent Monday. Good thing Mr. Schur died when he did.


James H said...

Sad Sad story

I will I guess plays Devil Advocate if you will. Was it the city that killed Marvin E. Schur?

Perhaps in a city of 36,000 they should have been more alert

But there is a think I see in that picture you provide that is houses and neighbors. Though I have not researched his neighborhood I suspect there were business where this good man shopped. Who knows on the same street and perhaps within a few blocks how many Churches are there?

Who excactly killed Mr Schur? Was it the city or perhaps the person I look at in the mirror. I realize today after reading this article that I really don't know my neighbors that live just down the street. Perhaps you know them all and are working to make sure the weak are protected. I cannot say that though.

So while it is perhaps easy for the world to look and blame faceless Govt workers for this problem again who killed and who was not responsible for Mr Schur. While sharing your outrage and extreme digust at this I am not sure I can point the finger at the "City Fathers".

THe reason is he is on your blog or the newspapers is because he is dead. Society it appears did not pay much attention to this Veteran before.

Perhaps like Pilate we should not be washing our hands so easily

The Mighty Favog said...

Did you notice all the snow on the ground? We're talking the Upper Midwest.

This is not a complicated moral dilemma. You DO NOT cut off people's utilities in the dead of winter. For many up here, that is tantamount to a death sentence.

You. Don't. Do. It.

The whole thing about the neighbors is a straw man. Yeah, maybe they should have checked more often. Then again, it was his neighbor who found him . . . and who had checked on him previously.

Maybe what the neighbors ought to have done is kept watch 24/7, noticed the utility guy over there . . . and run him off at gunpoint.

Really. Defending the indefensible is not a winning proposition.

Shannon said...

How is this the fault of the electric company? It is definitely a tragedy, and so I get the need to place blame somewhere, but the electric company is a business and $1000+ is quite a bit to be delinquent by, no matter what time of year it happens to be. The article doesn't mention how many months delinquent the bills were. It also says clearly that the electric company did NOT shut off his electricity, but put a limiter on it.

Where's this guy's family? That's the real tragedy, that his family wasn't all pitching in to help him, or that his pride prevented him from allowing them to help or reaching out and asking for help. My husband's 93 year old great aunt lives across the street from us taking care of her 72 year old son with severe cerebal palsy. The whole family pitches in to provide in home care, to balance her checkbook and ensure that bills get paid, to go grocery shopping for them, to check in with them daily. And it's not that she is helpless, not my any means. She is a force of nature and an amazing woman, but the reality is that a 93 year old, no matter how strong and independent, needs some help on a regular basis.

Even if his family doesn't live locally, they could help out financially to provide a regular support person for him. Is it the job of the city government to know the situation of every senior citizen? Did this man call the electric company and set up payment plans or explain his situation? Is there a way for them to even know his age?? My age doesn't appear on my electric bill, does yours?

The Mighty Favog said...


Did you actually READ the story? Did you follow the links?

Widower. No children. Probably a little bit senile.

Furthermore, if the service record for the same customer at the same address goes back for decades, you can assume said customer is elderly. And a lawyer contacted by WNEM-TV thinks the city just might be liable legally.

But why are you so quick to take up for a utility company that would cut off -- or put a "limiter" on -- ANYBODY'S electricity during a cold spell for the ages?

Is money really everything? Has capitalism really gotten THAT out of control?

Don't answer that. I think the answer is pretty clear.