Guilty Thoughts on Socialized Medicine
By: Tom Purcell
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I feel guilty about it, if you want to know the truth.
Maybe I better explain.
of the provisions slipped into the pork-packed "stimulus" package
authorizes billions for digitizing medical records. It also establishes
a National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
to Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York, that's
not a good idea. She explains, at Bloomberg.com, that the national
coordinator will monitor everyone's medical treatment to make sure
doctors are "doing what the federal government deems appropriate and
In other words, the government will be able
to begin "guiding" doctors' decisions -- it will be able to dissuade
costly treatments, say, for older folks who the government figures may
croak soon anyhow.
That's why I feel guilty.
I write for
a living, you see. Writing is hard. Because I am unable to concentrate
at home, I go to a coffee shop or diner every morning. One of my
favorite spots is Panera Bread.
But most mornings, I encounter a problem: retirees.
are dozens of them at Panera Bread. They are in their 60s, 70s and 80s
-- one woman is 93. They are healthy and cheerful. They talk loudly and
Who can blame them for being so upbeat? They
are a reflection of an incredibly successful civilization that, our
current recession aside, produced unimaginable wealth -- and
unimaginable advances in health care.
Some of the retirees have
new hips and knees, no doubt. Their tickers, successfully bypassed and
rerouted, are beating as good as new. They've likely outlived a number
of maladies that might have been their end if not for the amazing drugs
and medical innovations that America has produced.
But I am unable to write when the retirees are socializing at Panera Bread.
fellow has a powerful, booming voice and loves to use it. One lady has
a cackle that sounds like fingernails scraping a chalkboard. Another
fellow breaks out whistling for no reason at all -- a loud, screeching
whistle that makes concentrating impossible.
It is a touch
ironic that as they enjoy their coffee and camaraderie on one side of
the room, I sit on the other side working in order to fund some of
their good fortune -- to fund Medicare and Social Security.
isn't their fault that Social Security is a giant Ponzi scheme -- that
they are drawing out way more than they paid in and that I'm surely
paying in way more than I'll ever draw out.
It also struck me as
ironic that the more they talk and cackle and whistle, the less work I
am able to get done. The less I produce, the less I am able to bill.
The less I am able to bill, the less taxes I am able to pay to fund the
Medicare and Social Security that contributes to their cheerfulness.
nothing is more ironic than this: Some of my retiree friends likely
voted for the politicians -- the Democrats -- who have promised to give
them the most stuff.
Surely, the retirees had no idea that
Democrats would slip a provision by them through which the government
would begin monitoring -- and eventually denying -- costly medical
treatments to older folks just like them.
After all, says
liberal Democrat Tom Daschle, who authored the idea, America's elderly
need to become more like Europeans -- more willing to accept their
fates and "forgo experimental treatments."
In other words, it's
just a matter of time before some nameless, faceless bureaucrat -- not
an elderly patient's doctor -- decides which treatment is
"cost-effective" based on the patient's age.
It pains me to
bring up the most ironic point of all, but there is no escaping it:
This could be the only time in my life that the decisions made by a
heartless government bureaucrat might unwittingly benefit me.
has occurred to me that as there are fewer retirees talking, cackling
and whistling at Panera Bread -- as the government denies them
treatment -- I'll finally be able to get some work done.
Such are the callous, thoughtless, perverse musings that only the government can encourage.
At least I feel guilty about it.
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