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So many lawyers, so little time...

"The prospect of hanging focuses the mind wonderfully"--Samuel Johnson

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Location: Louisville, KY, United States

Gastroenterologist, cyclist, cellist, Christian, husband, father, grandfather.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


These days I've had so many ideas for blogging topics that I've not been able to focus on any one thought, a sort of analysis paralysis. That, and I've been lazy, preoccupied, and content to follow the easier path of "drive-by" commentary on other folks' blogs.

The toxic atmosphere of American politics probably has something to do with it. On my local mountain biking forum one thread was hijacked by posters spewing the most hateful, crassest forms of Bush-bashing left-wing hyperventalation. I typed out carefully nuanced commentary of the revolutionary pre-emptive doctrine of Bush and cronies, along with thoughts about Wahabism and Sufi Islam, appealing to all sides to put aside petty partisanship and calling for everyone to assume a greater historical perspective on the War on Terror.

My efforts were rewarded with what has sadly become a standard response from the New Left: "You SUCK, you dumbass psychofascist!" If you think my judgment of the New Left is a little harsh, then prove me wrong. I haven't seen any evidence to the contrary.

Well, I don't suck. I aspirate. I'm a doctor.

The irony of it is that I'm a lousy ideologue. I think my favorite political joke is one that was popular in Eastern Europe in the early '80's: "Capitalism is man's exploitation of man. Communism is the other way around."

If there was one aphorism that summed up my political philosophy, such as it is, it would be this: "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely". Free market capitalist, socialist, communist, fascist, it makes no difference what the label is. Put enough power in the hands of a Few and the rest of us will suffer mightily for it.

I think many physicians are more open to the concept of Universal Healthcare than ever before. I'd love to assert that we physicians are becoming more altruist in our maturity, but this would be incorrect. As the health insurance companies are consolidating into economic oligarchic, and as we have less and less ability to influence issues such as reimbursements and expenditures, it's occurring to more and more of us that perhaps the companies should just go to blazes and divert the money being used for enormous bonuses for the CEO's and use it instead to provide at least a modicum of coverage for the nation's poor.

I'm open to it. I'd also like some assurance that if I have the Big One while typing this out, that as a self-employed practitioner I'd be able to afford coverage. If I had the Big One I'd be in a world of economic hurt.

A few years ago I took a trip to Romania where the question of what the local church, as supported by kindly American do-gooders and their money, could do to improve the delivery of healthcare. The quick answer was "I dunno". We met with local healthcare officials to understand the Romanian system better.

On paper it looks good. Anyone who works has 7% of their pay withheld to finance their medical care. They don't make much in Romania, but then again healthcare isn't very expensive, so there should be enough money to take care of basics. There might not be enough in the system for the citizens to get PET scans, but they should be able to obtain ibuprofen and lisinopril without any trouble.

But they can't. No one has enough money to purchase them.

The healthcare officials are all ex-communists, and in the best communist tradition, they siphon off huge amounts of money into Lord knows where, anywhere but into the hands of the people who desperately need it.

We assured the Romanian church folk that in America this kind of thing would never happen. The money wouldn't disappear, it would simply show up as a $100 million yearly bonus for the CEO of National Red Star/Red Sword, and all would be well.


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