Thinking About Context Again

We often overlook contextual things that do not affect us directly.

How often have you heard that smokers have more health problems than non-smokers and so should pay the price for that? It could be fees or taxes. Is the assessment rational

What happens if you add more context?

  1. Life insurers charge much higher premiums for smokers. Why? Because they expect to pay the insured amount sooner. If you are 50, it is about 6 years sooner.
  2. The healthcare cost of the last year of someone’s life is very high.
  3. Is the last year of a smoker’s life more costly than the last year of a non-smoking marathon runner’s, life?

If the cost of the last year is about the same, should we give the smoker credit for the six years they had no healthcare costs at all? Not to mention six years less of their government pensions. That is a minimum of $100,000.

Where could that lead?

Is it possible governments would decide they could reduce their medicare costs by shortening the high use time? Maybe they are doing it already. I’ll bet you hadn’t given that much thought. Why is assisted suicide a promotable idea? Abortion, maybe? Babies are expensive. I hope we have not gotten to intentional bad care, but is it something to consider?

I think rationed care is a certainty. Need a knee replaced at 85. I doubt it. Who will decide when pain medication is required or what kind? A bureaucrat or a doctor?

The bit to take away.

If something is possible, it will eventually happen. We must think in open-ended ways to create prohibitions on those things that may become fiscally important yet immoral. Better yet, we should have the government stop making promises they cannot keep.


I build strategic, fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways to achieve spending and estate distribution goals. In the past, I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning. I have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, and Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email at don.shaughnessy@gmail.com.

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