A number of biotechnology companies (which cannot be named here) are trying to allow rich people to extend their lifespans to over 100 years using pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, this could take money from the poor and give it to the rich (in their long pensions) by increasing everyone else's pension contributions, and housing and healthcare costs. All health research directed towards extending longevity beyond 70 years should be banned to save our pension system and NHS from collapse and to give room for the wonders of the next generation.
So, that's it, senior citizens. Never mind that novel you were writing, that dollhouse you were building for the grandkids, or that new computer you were in the process of putting together. Your existence is threatening the "wonders of the next generation", so it's high time the world stopped wasting resources trying to keep you alive and healthy.
I'm hoping that the writer of this petition wasn't actually serious, but I'm guessing he probably was. And sadly, his attitude is only the tip of a very large iceberg. As far as we've come in our ethical evolution, even over the past few decades, there are still plenty of unfortunate memes making the rounds. It has always amazed me how close the ties are between resource-based arguments and discrimination. Feel free to call Godwin's Law on me here, but I think most semi-educated people in the world probably know what happened last time the idea that some people were "unworthy of life" due to the supposed "drain" they were on society took hold.
And now, in reaction to certain kinds of nascent and emerging technologies, I'm noticing something of a disturbing reappearance of these kinds of attitudes. For instance, I've come across suggestions that medical technology is being inappropriately applied so that certain kinds of people to survive -- at the "expense" of families and society at large.
This is one reason I frequently try to emphasize the convergence between progressive principles and disability rights. It's a matter of ethical consistency. A person's life is valuable regardless of how old they are. The petition quoted above is every bit as offensive as if, rather than signling out "people over 70" as threats to The System, they'd singled out blind people, or autistic people, or members of a disenfranchised ethnic group, or homosexuals. Remember that there are still people going around hinting that AIDS is a punishment for homosexuality and that deaths due to this disease have something to do with "maintaining the natural order".
So, the above-noted petition isn't just a grim misunderstanding of how resource distribution can work, but a terrible example of age-related bigotry. "The greatest good for the greatest number" sounds like a decent idea in the abstract, but that "number" is made up of individuals. And individuals vary in their health needs. Restricting lifesaving medicine and research to the young alone is as inhumane as restricting it to only white people, or to only one gender. And how can the maintenance of a pension system possibly be held in higher regard than a person's very life?