AMA too focused on government over patient care
The Jan, 24 column, "Tell Congress to stablize pay to doctors for Medicare patients," by Drs. Ardis D. Hoven and Steven J. Stack reinforces the perception that the primary focus of the American Medical Association is the doctor-government relationship, which is why its membership has steadily declined since Medicare was passed in 1965.
More doctors quit when it endorsed health care reform. Not to worry, its federally guaranteed, monopoly billing code system generates more money than dues, and it will have a lot more customers soon.
To see what the AMA once stood for, go to You Tube and watch the two-part debate in 1962 between John F. Kennedy and Dr. Edward Annis, former AMA president.
You love your patients by being honest with them, not by threatening them with loss of access if they do not lobby Congress on your behalf. In an era of government price controls, cuts in reimbursement will cause lack of access, just as it is already causing shortages of basic drugs such as penicillin. But you cannot cure the disease by treating its symptoms and hiding it from your patients.
Medicare cannot be saved by pumping more money into it, or by more price controls. It cannot be saved by government rationing, or by bankrupting the next generation. It can only be saved by escorting the government out of our exam rooms and our operating rooms, by reaffirming the doctor-patient relationship, and by restoring normal price mechanisms in medicine.
Cameron S. Schaeffer, MD
Venture capitalists only look after themselves
Anti-intellectuals often accuse academics of using credentials to mislead others in service of a political agenda. Professor Bob Martin's Jan. 18 column, " 'Vulture capitalists' have key role in economy," lends credence to such indictments.
In his apparent zeal to apologize for capitalist vultures, Martin engages in intellectual distortion and self-contradiction.
Martin claims the economic system functions according to principles of self-organization, just like evolution; but a basic idea of economics is intentionality. Individuals are assumed to act with will guided by reason. Evolution operates through mindless feedback. Even if the false analogy were true, Martin neglects a profound implication: death, suffering and extinction are basic features of evolutionary process.
Are we to be content with a self-organized economy that exposes us to similar events?
Martin speaks of Adam Smith's "invisible hand," which describes the collective effect of individuals acting out of sheer self-interest. But he also speaks of vulture capitalists as if they were altruistic angels maximizing aggregate wealth.
This is absurd. They do not act to maximize overall value, but to put some value into their own pockets. Vultures are perfectly willing to devastate local economies, leaving behind locked factories and unemployed citizens as long as they can capture wealth from the destruction: more carpetbagger than angel.
One is led to wonder whether the Boles Professorship at Centre College might, like an unfit corporation, render greater value under new ownership.
Lawmaker should turn outrage into action
State Rep. Kelly Flood, in her Jan. 20 column, "Senate redistricting 'a display of arrogance, bullying'" is like a gang member who had been in the habit of wearing steel-toed boots to rumbles, so she could kick her enemies in the head, until the day came when one of them showed up carrying a gun.
Although still fond of her boots, she's currently willing to forgo them if that will help get rid of the firearms. I'd suggest that Flood not think so narrowly and try to end the rumbles altogether.
She might consider demonstrating her professed new understanding by introducing or sponsoring legislation that might require redistricting plans to pass in each house with a supermajority sufficient to force the parties to come to an agreement, or that might take redistricting completely out of the legislature's hands.
Column ignored the plight of Israel
Some points Centre College professor Brian Cooney failed to consider in his Jan. 9 column, "Prospects for Palestinians dwindling; Israel blocks ways to coexistence:"
Why were the Arabs not happy with the borders in 1967 when they possessed the West Bank and Gaza? Could it be that they have never, and might never, recognize the right of Israel to live as a Jewish state?
Why does he talk about the possible "ethnic cleansing" by Israel and fail to mention the actual ethnic cleansing by many Arab states who forced Jews out of their countries when the state of Israel was established in 1948?
Finally, why does he not see as an impediment to peace the constant incitement to hatred and violence toward Jews and Israel perpetrated by the Arabs in their schools, newspapers, television and other media?