I recently received an email from a friend who forwarded the following rant from a doctor:
“Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ring tone. While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.
“And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care? I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture”, a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based on the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health care difficulties will disappear.
STARNER JONES, MD”
I felt compelled to respond, as follows:
“I honor the medical profession, as I do firefighters and police officers, as well as the military, but not our political leaders who send them into battle to risk their lives on false pretenses. But this diatribe by Dr. Jones is reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s rant against “welfare queens” when no such person as he described was ever identified in real life. Even so, if there was such a person in the ER as Jones describes, methinks his anger is directed in the wrong direction. If there is a “culture crisis” it is at the top, not at the bottom. While this woman may have been gaming the system, her cost to taxpayers was minuscule compared to the price we all pay for the sins of those at the top, the zillionaires and billionaires. That’s where the anger belongs, and that’s where the culture crisis has its genesis. This woman, if indeed she does exist, is only doing what our leaders are doing. Who can blame her? If the political and business leaders of this country are walking away with most of the spoils while producing nothing of value, what’s the lesson? If you are born into a society that rewards the greedy and the fraudulent, if you are a quick learner, then you are inclined to adapt to the culture. How do you describe a culture in which the wealthiest refuse to pay their share? Corrupt. As I walk the streets of New York City, every block has someone with a cup, in the shadow of restaurants where the wealthy are buying a dish of spaghetti with truffles for $275, paid for by their ill-gotten gains. I befriended one such guy who can’t find a job to save his soul. And who does he berate? Like Dr. Jones, he rants against the other poor bastard in the next block. As I said to him, and I say to you and Dr. Jones, focus on the real cause of our culture crisis.”
And here’s an interesting footnote to the story: The following day the New York Times published a detailed analysis of the professions represented in the 1%. You may or may not be surprised to learn that the profession with the greatest number of one-percenters is physicians! That’s right. Physicians. There are 192,268 doctors among the 1%, more than any other profession. And these are the ones who are howling about the possibility that their Medicare payments may be reduced. Enough said.
Robert Palmer pleads, “Doctor, Doctor, give me the news.“