There is a board-certified anesthesiologist currently running for Congress to fight for the 700,000 people in California’s 13th District to have control of their own lives
She was born to be a physician. Her grandfather was one of two black students in the 1911 graduating class of Starling Ohio Medical College. He dedicated his life to medicine and helping the low-income folks of Lima, Ohio. Her father became an Army Air Force flight surgeon at Tuskegee. As a general practitioner in San Diego he charged patients what they could afford. Many times he was paid in tamales. That was a time when patients were grateful for their care and physicians derived immense satisfaction from their work.
Then came Medicaid. It prohibited doctors from being able to use charity like this. We had high hopes when The Great Society was born: the end of poverty; the end of racial strife. These poverty programs were good intentions gone awry. What social engineer devised a diabolical program forcing a mother in hardship to eject her children’s father from the house in order to get financial assistance? The road to hell began with this kind of “social justice.”
The results of the disintegration of the family are fully evident. Unwed motherhood has almost tripled since the 1960s War on Poverty. Seventy-two percent of black and 53 percent of Hispanic children are now born to single mothers. Single motherhood quadruples the chance of living in poverty.
Things have gotten worse, not better. Politicians are so arrogant they tell people to “Trust me!” based on faith, not facts. Are we to believe that it works to treat people as helpless victims? The fact is the poverty rate has not changed in 40 years. Are we to believe that a check from a distant rich Uncle (Sam) can erase core problems such as distrust of authority figures, poor education, promiscuity, drug addiction, and violence? The facts show no.
Are we to believe that the federal government is effective at public education? The facts show that the high school dropout rate has remained the same for 40 years, despite the fact that trillions of federal dollars were poured into education. We must support alternatives that offer parental options for educational opportunity. A good education leads to self-reliance and social responsibility. This in turn leads to a good job.
Are we to believe that Medicaid “leveled the playing field” for patients? The fact is that fewer and fewer physicians can take Medicaid due to payments below the cost of providing the services. Where is the “social justice” in a health care system where no one has quality individualized care?
We have to change Washington’s way of thinking from “if a social program fails, expand it” to “if it fails, dismantle it.” Today’s policies lead to unhealthy dependence on the federal government. We need instead to encourage independence and freedom. Everyone – at all income levels – suffers from these government-controlled programs because we have more fatherless and poorly educated children. Safety nets don’t cure poverty. Education and jobs cure poverty. Voting for government bureaucracy is not a surrogate for personally giving our time. Our personal relationships are crucial to maintaining our civil society.
We can’t let politicians use our differences as a wedge to divide. The rhetoric of class warfare fosters resentment and envy. Class warfare does not sow the seeds of success. Our free enterprise system and the free market of ideas have brought more prosperity and a higher standard of living to the greatest number of people, regardless of race or color.
A free market built on integrity should be protected. We cannot let it be destroyed by excessive entanglement of government with business and crony capitalism. We can use existing laws to weed out bad apples. We do not need suffocating regulations and government control for all.
Finally, we must protect one of the most intimate and life-sustaining bonds in our society: the patient-doctor relationship. Patients entrust their secrets to doctors. How comfortable does it make you feel to know that the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology is watching — or using your personal medical records against you?
Under the auspices of the new healthcare law, the expanded Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) is authorized to use “healthcare” as a rationale to attempt to control and regulate every aspect of your life – what you eat, what car you drive, what guns you are allowed – to name a few.
We are at the fork in the road. One road can reclaim individual control over medical care. The other road puts all healthcare decisions in the hands of the federal government and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Your obligation is to decide which you prefer on Nov.6.
Michael Arnold Glueck, Newport Beach, is an ornery curmudgeon and writes locally, nationally and internationally on medical-legal and related issues.