MCAS =/= anti-death
The 737 MAX is perfectly capable of flying safely without MCAS. All MCAS does is make the plane feel to the pilots like they are flying a 737 NG so that they do not need a new type rating. Major mistakes were made in how the system was implemented and how the system's features were communicated to the people flying and certifying the plane, but to imply that MCAS is somehow necessary to keep the MAX from killing people is just flat-out wrong and grossly oversimplifies the problem here.
The larger issue, aside from poor implementation and communication, is that Boeing felt the need to turn their new plane into a simulator of their old one just to save the airlines the hassle of retraining their pilots.