ly, the costs for such cheating rise astronoiiiicallyrnwith each increment inrnlongevity. A few simple public healthrnmeasures, an improved diet, and regularrnvaccinations can have a major impactrnon tliose under 50. Keeping a singlernseriouslv ill 90-vear-okl alive can cost arnfortune. And this fortune squeezes outrnonly a few more vcars at best.rnIt is the attempt to add a few morernyears of life to people vvlio are seriouslv illrnthat escalates the cost of medicine. Arnsickly person, espccialK one of advancedrnage, not only requires more and morernexpensive health care, but for severalrnreasons, he or she is also more likely tornburden the government with this cost.rnMoreoer, thanks to the onward marchrnof high tcehnologv this situation will getrnworse. In the past there was relatively littlernthat could be done for a person withrna serious heart condition—some medication,rna new diet, and advice to avoidrnstrain constituted the treatment. Today,rnthe same person might be given a newrnnatural or artificial heart. What futurerntreatments for heart ailments will be likernwe cannot say. It is likely, however, thatrnthey will be even more technically complexrnand thus more costK than presentrncures. And since onh the governmentrncould afford such cures, it will be therntaxpayer who pas for cheating death b’rna fewmore years.rnThough it might make good financialrnsense for the government to recognizernthat higher expenditures for serioush illrnpeople are likely to ield smaller healthrngains, such a recognition is politicallyrnunacceptable. Any administration thatrnrefused to help the seriouslv ill, even ifrnthis help was of limited alue and high-rn1′ expensive, would soon be labeled asrncoldhearted, inhuman, obsessed onh’rnwith money, etc. The mass media wouldrnhave a field day with cute ten-year-oldsrnwho were denied one last chance at lifernmercK because the odds of a cure werernlow and the operation cost a small fortune.rnTogether with all the moralizingrnthere would be cries of pain from thernscientific community about the government’srnfailure to encourage medicalrnbreakthroughs and research.rnThe high-tcclmolog) approach to increasingrnthe life expectancy of the serioushrnill person is clcady going to driernthe government to a financial crisis. Yetrnwc cannot simply abandon our commitmentrnto pro iding for the sick. How canrnwe help the sick, even the very sick,rncheaply and in a way consistent with highrnmoral values? Preventive medicine is nornsolution since one still has to deal withrnthose who eventually become seriously illrnand therefore become candidates for expensiverngovernment-subsidized healthrncare.rnThe solution is renaming the causes ofrnillness and death. The fact that peoplernget sick and die is not the problem; thernproblem is the reason for sickness andrndeath. In the old days, before the developmentrnof good diagnostic techniques,rnwhat could not be accounted for was attributedrnto “natural causes.” And sincernnot much was known about disease orrnhow the body operated, “natural causes”rnloomed large as explanations of illnessrnand death. As medical knowledge grew;rn”natural causes” declined in importance.rnToday, they represent a mmiscule causernof human misery and will probably ceasernto exist as medicine continues to becomernmore sophisticated.rnA biological eent is yievved quiterndiffercnth’ when it is labeled “naturalrncauses” as opposed to, say, arteriosclerosis,rncirrhosis, or cholelithiasis. The lastrnthree terms cause concern, alarm, andrnthe feeling that something ought to berndone, regardless of the cost. Whenrngrandpa dies of nephrites this is arntragedy. Had he died of “natural causes”rnor its close relative, “old age,” peoplernwould not be bothered all that much. Inrnfact, there is something vagucK’ pleasantrnor commendable about being a victim ofrnnatural causes.rnThe path to a solution of the healthrncare crisis should now be clear. Insteadrnof spending millions on diseases such asrncancer, research on natural causes shouldrnbe encouraged. Such research will inevitabhrnlead to the diseoer that “naturalrncauses” are more common thanrnpreviously believed. Indeed, thanks tornimproved diagnostic techniques andrnheightened awareness among ph sicians,rnillnesses once mistakenly classifiedrnas, sa, Ireart attacks will now correctkrnbe attributed to natural causes. In tinre,rnthe proportion of troublesome, alarming,rnand horrible diseases will decline.rnA few million dollars spent each yearrnon the Natural Cause Institute andrngrants to other research facilities w ill pa’rnhandsome dividends. As already mentioned,rnthe incidence of “disease” willrndecline as more and more people die arnnatural death. And because “death byrnnatural causes” is not something that inspiresrna financially unrestricted holy war,rnthe government can avoid financial invoKcmcntrnin the name of keeping thernhopeless alive for a little longer. Nor willrnanybody suggest a crash program to findrna cure for natural causes. An emphasisrnon “natural” causes also fits nicely withrncurrent infatuations with natural foodsrnand holistic approaches to health care. Arncall for a natural solution to illness ratherrnthan a reliance on drugs, radiation, andrncutting people open will be a serviceablerncampaign promise for many politicians.rnNatural causes is also consistent withrnhigh moral principle. Hardly anyonernwould fault a doctor who refused to performrna risky and expensix’e surgery oncernit had been discovered that the personrnsuffered from natural causes. There isrnsomething vaguely diine and predeterminedrnabout natural causes that makesrnhuman intervention not only unnecessary,rnbut slightly undesirable as well.rnThe “should wc pull the plug” debate isrnalso ncatl soK’cd b- a greater reliance onrnnatural causes—there is no expensivernlife-su|3port system to disconnect whenrnthe diagnosis is natural causes.rnAll in all, by focusing on naturalrncauses as the root of sickness we wouldrnhave a healthier citizenry, lower taxes,rnfewer people worried about the growingrnnumber of dreaded diseases and a solutionrnto some of the ethical problems nowrnfacing doctors. What could be morernnatural?rnRobert Weissherg is a professor ofrnpolitical science and a common-coldrnactivist at the University of Illinois atrnVrbana-Champaign.rnWhen SexrnConquers Lovernb) B.K. EaknianrnMuch as I hate to adnrit it, AIDSrnczarina Kristine Gebbie got itrnright. The message to youngsters theserndays does indeed giv’C the impressionrnthat sex is ugly, dirtv, and a more perversernthan pleasurable experience. Ms.rnGebbie bungled onlv when she tookrnon the role of anti-Victorian-moralityrncrusader.rnIn the space of a few months, I readrnabout public school teachers who “havernsex with” (not merch “seduce”) theirrn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn