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Moore Medicine

Will killing profit save the patient? Also: Salman Rushdie as knight errant -- heated reactions. Passing sentence on Feinstein. Libby's pardon past. Plus much more.

6.25.07

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WE'RE NUMBER 37
Re: David Hogberg's Sicko of the Week:

Where to begin? Talk about your target-rich environment. Kudos to Mr. Hogberg for limiting his comments to anything less than 10,000 words. Now that's willpower!

Mr. Moore should be pleased with healthcare in the U.S. if he wants profit taken out of the equation. Over 80% of hospitals in the U.S. are not-for-profit and with an average patient care margin of -2.8% are clearly losing money by caring for sick people. Mission accomplished for Mr. Moore. And maybe a brilliant mind such as his should begin looking for cures for things such as obesity. After all, we spend billions of dollars and thousands of our best and brightest scientists are working hard to find cures. Or so they say. Bunch of slackers really need Mr. Moore's astute leadership to get cracking on that cure for cancer. Come on, Mike! Help us out. We're dyin' here! Maybe the government could spend more money on healthcare research. Oh, wait, didn't some president double the research money his first year in office? Hmm, his name escapes me....it wasn't Bruno...oh, it was Bushy McChimphitler. Or maybe I could just whip out my tricorder and zap all the Lyme disease in the world. What a maroon.

And lastly, insurance companies do not keep you from getting medical care. They may not pay for it, but they don't deny your doctor from doing anything. Plus, Mr. Moore may want to check out "60 Minutes" and their report within the last 2 years on insurance companies saving their patients thousands and thousands of dollars in doctors and hospital fees. Don't worry, TAS readers, 60 Minutes presented the story as hospitals trying to take advantage of poor people. On the other hand, the government can deny you from getting medical care. But I'm surprised that Mr. Moore would be for that since he's probably in the target group that would be second in line for rationing, the first being smokers. Eh, he probably didn't think that through. Wouldn't be the first time.
-- Andrew Macfadyen, M.D.
Omaha, Nebraska

In response to your blog: The only reason anyone should get healthcare in our wealthy country is if they are sick. No one should be denied healthcare who needs it. That is the way it works in the 36 industrialized and advanced nations of the world. Unfortunately, our country is not among those countries highly rated for their healthcare practices. We are number 37, just ahead of Slovenia in the World Health Organization ranking of healthcare systems. We are also far behind these countries in the "best countries in which to do business" rated by the World Trade Organization.

But I'm so excited by your blog. I've been waiting to see who would come to the rescue of the insurance companies. Yours is the first defense of the private insurance companies and their hundreds of billions of dollars in profits that I have seen in all of the press. I think it is interesting for all of us since the private health insurance companies provide no healthcare. They just take our money, use almost a third of it for wasteful bureaucracy and profits, marketing and lobbying -- and deny or delay payment to patients, the easiest way to increase their mammoth profits.

You say, "Profit is what drives producers to provide goods and services at a lower price while also improving quality." Not in the United States! Here the profit motive drives the health industry to spend more money for less goods and services. We spend about twice as much and we get less than people do in the countries that have healthcare systems that are not controlled by the profit-driven companies.

You say, "Profit also acts as a "signal" to producers, letting them know where to invest their resources." Yes, I guess that is true since they have had a feeding frenzy on Viagra and many other high-profit drugs while millions go without the less-expensive drugs they really need. Profits are soaring while hundreds of ads for the healthcare industry clutter our nightly television programming and healthcare is lagging nationwide.

You say, "Products and services that people find more useful tend to yield higher profits, incentivizing producers to put more resources into them." This is true, and it is patently unhelpful in the provision of healthcare to the American people. It also eliminates most preventive and primary care, an increase in highly trained nurses and doctors in our communities and in our hospitals, neighborhood clinics, and doctor/patient choice of care, but it probably includes higher priced private rooms in hospitals, more expensive equipment and more expensive drugs.

You say, "Without profits, doctors and other providers won't know which services patients find most useful, pharmaceutical companies won't know which drugs are most effective, and insurance companies won't know which insurance products are most desired." PLEASE! Give us credit. We know what we want -- healthcare for everybody, no denials, no premiums, no co-pays and no deductibles. We want to make healthcare decisions with our doctors -- our choice of doctors, not have them driven by profit-making companies. Almost 50 million of us have no healthcare coverage at all and another 50 million people are denied care, denied prescription drugs, are precariously covered, don't know how much co-pays, deductibles and denials they are facing if they do get sick, and are losing their homes, their lives and their dignity through ever-increasing bankruptcies.

Sorry you didn't see the film, SiCKO. Try again.
-- Marilyn Clement
National Coordinator
Healthcare-NOW

Michael Moore wants the government to run health insurance? Clearly, he's never had experience with government-run programs. Nor has he had much interaction with bureaucracies. Nor has he much grasp on excesses in existing government-run healthcare systems.

He appears ignorant about the state of pharmas today, especially vaccine makers. Through leftist Hillary R. Clinton's incompetence when she was co-president, Vaccines for Children was born. Noble in idea, it drove vaccines manufacturers out of the marketplace because through forced discounted prices. it took the capitalist incentive away from making competitive drugs. Even the National Academy of Science's Institute of Medicine pointed its finger at HRC for vaccine shortages because of the program.

Doesn't this guy have anything better to do than give even more support to politicians, especially those of the leftist and liberal and progressive ilk, that seem to be all-too-willing to give us all a yet another near-lethal injection of some new government program?
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Yes, you may dismiss this letter, because I'm an independent who has never voted Republican (actually I voted for Dole, so that Clinton wouldn't win in a landslide).

But seriously, David Hogberg's piece on Moore's Sicko is just plain propaganda. Ironic, really, since some are inclined to see Moore's work as propaganda, as well. But David's piece does what many folks often do when they talk about the other side: Take the most vapid and distorted interpretation of the opposing camp's viewpoint, and then derail if for being vapid. It's not serious.

You folks on the right would do well to engage in a serious and productive way in the discussion on healthcare. Most American's are not happy with the way things are. The system is broken and they want it fixed. Now, there is certainly a way that healthcare can be made effective for the masses and profitable for corporations. And I would think that you'd like to be part of that discussion. But comparisons of Soviet government healthcare systems are just plain silly -- no matter how vitriolic attacks get. It's just a lot of vitriol, nothing more.

Moore is a polemicist, everyone knows that: you don't need to tell us that. But he makes a powerful point: That there are systems that maintain a better balance between enterprise and service, and they are not Soviet-like at all. We Americans deserve better than what we have right now. So what are you folks going to do about it?
-- Curtiss Calleo
Brooklyn, New York

KNIGHT GAMES
Re: Hal G.P. Colebatch's A Mad Knighthood:

I believe that the trepidations expressed in Mr. Colebatch's TAS offering today are a bit thin-skinned and credit Moslems with more critical thought capacity than they are capable. Salman Rushdie's recent knighthood is a symbolic thumb to the eye of those who have perverted their religion, kill and abuse women and children and wear masks while butchering Westerners and each other. They probably don't approve of Sir Elton John either. So what? Just for spite, they should add Sir Paris Hilton, Sir Larry the Cable Guy and Sir Peewee Herman to the roster.

Any resistance (particularly European) to these fascists is a good thing. Anyone who thinks that they will fight harder or be more adverse to Western culture than they already are is engaging in unnecessary hand-wringing. Rushdie's knighthood was an act of some mild defiance as well as refreshing, classic British humour. Good show.
-- Deane Fish
Proud American Infidel
Altamont, New York

Regarding Hal C.P. Colebatch's "The Mad Knighthood," while I do think that Salman Rushdie is highly overrated as an author, Mr. Colebatch is off base in claiming that his knighthood was a "needless provocation." In fact, it is not a provocation at all, since the UK honors list is of no concern to anyone other than subjects of the United Kingdom. That Muslims see it as provocative says much more about the state of Muslim intolerance than it does about the British government. And as a demonstration of Muslim intolerance, the knighthood of Rushdie serves the useful purpose of illuminating precisely the kind of mindset the Western world is fighting. We need more, not fewer, such provocations, lest we fall into the trap of censoring ourselves, constantly looking over our shoulders and wondering, "What will the Muslims think?" Frankly, who cares what they think? If Muslims living in Britain object, they can express themselves through acceptable modes of political discourse. If they choose to resort to violence, then they stand outside of the law of the land that took them in and provided them with a home. If Muslims outside of the UK choose to react violently, it shows the gross immaturity of the Muslim political mind and the real need of the Western world to force a transformation upon Islamic culture.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

Hal G.P. Colebatch replies: In normal circumstances I would agree with the thrust of this letter completely. However, my concern in this particular case is that the knighting of Rushdie will harm the British, U.S. and coalition military and political efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan where the support of the local people is of the greatest importance.

I disagree with the author. I believe the knighting of Rushdie was for the purpose of deliberately provoking a response from the Muslim world. British culture is under attack by Muslims living in Great Britain, and Liberals there are in full appeasement mode. Knighting Rushdie shines a spotlight on Freedom of Speech (just as important to the British as it is to us) in the context of the cultural conflict in Britain. I think Blair's government is simply trying to help the British see what they are facing, existentially, by turning up the heat.
-- Dennis Moore
Plano, Texas

On Hal G. P. Colebatch's article: The merits of giving Salman Rushdie a knighthood could be debated endlessly. But as for provoking problems with the Muslims, it's good to make note that the radical end of Islam hit the streets over Danish cartoons, imaginary Koran-flushings, and other trivial things that have slipped my mind for the moment. Really, they're offended because we are, not because of anything we do.

Any burden of guilt rests with them, not with whoever decided to knight Rushdie.
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

You can describe Rushdie's knighting as pointless, or you can describe it as exactly the point. It represents very well Britain's condition of mental health and politics since the Second World War. This should be different how? More likely they will now be competing with the Nobel "Peace" Prize for the ridiculous.

It will be a small step in removing the twitting of Islamists in response for their fatwa of a man within the borders of another civilization. Next time they'll be right in line with Jimmy Carter.
-- James Wilson

Knighting Salman Rushdie was a great idea if only to expose Islam for the primitive ideology that it is ... again. We certainly cannot fight an enemy effectively if we are afraid to insult him.
-- Joe Wood

Leaving aside the merits of conferring a knighthood on Rushdie, anytime someone sharpens a stick and pokes it into the eye of Islamists I am a happy camper.

Next step, the throat.
-- Wolf Terner
Fair Lawn, New Jersey

Hal G.P. Colebatch replies:
Following a number of letters on my recent article about the knighting of Salman Rushdie, may I quote this from Mark Steyn, which probably makes my point better than I did:

It's slightly depressing to read that Her Majesty's Government were entirely taken aback by the hostile Muslim reaction to their decision to knight Salman Rushdie. One assumed they had factored into their calculations at least a bit of pro forma Death-to-the-Great-Satan prancing in the livelier quartiers of Pakistan -- or even, with classic Brit cynicism, figured that enraging hundreds of millions of Muslims over an imperial bauble was a cheap way to look courageous and tough and determined after the recent humiliations inflicted on the Royal Navy. But no: the whole burning-effigies-of-the-Queen routine took them completely by surprise. It really is impossible to exaggerate the depths of self-delusion within which the multiculti bien pensants exist.

WITHIN DRIVING RANGE
Re: Lawrence Henry's The Golfer's Big Test:

...I have not seen a better recommendation for a book than your last sentence. As an avid and terrible golfer, but one that has seen some successes in tournaments and other "not really" sanctioned events, your description of this story, or stories has me sold. I have felt this way many times with books "I can't wait to leave it alone long enough to read it again," but never put it so concisely and accurately. I'm not really sure why that struck me the way it did...but it did. Have a great weekend.
-- Adam L. Wagner

This guy [Feinstein] has been despicable in his comments about the Duke lacrosse case. The comparison with the erudite Paul Johnson is risible. Guess you needed filler for Friday, but one fewer article would have been far superior to praising this creep. Where's the editor?
-- Stu

A RICH LIBBY CONNECTION
Re: Michael Tomlinson's letter (under "Beg Your Pardon?" in Reader Mail's Scooter's Liberty:

Upon reading today's correspondence regarding the question of a pardon for Scooter Libby, I was struck by the letter from Mr. Michael Tomlinson, who favors a pardon for Mr. Libby, but vilifies President Clinton for pardoning Marc Rich. I wonder if Mr. Tomlinson is aware that Mr. Libby was Mr. Rich's lawyer? In 2001, Mr. Libby defended the pardon of his client, Marc Rich, during a Congressional hearing on the Clinton pardons. Here I quote from a CNN story on the hearing:

Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff testified Thursday he believes prosecutors of billionaire financier Marc Rich "misconstrued the facts and the law" when they went after Rich on tax evasion charges. The testimony from Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who represented Rich dating back to 1985 but stopped working for him in the spring of 2000, came during a contentious, hours-long House committee hearing into former President Bill Clinton's eleventh-hour pardons.

Pardon me (ha!) for being so reality-based, but I thought someone should note this connection between the two cases.
-- Catherine Windels
Scarsdale, New York

THE REAL THING
Re: Doug Bandow's New Cruelties From an Old Despot:

"New Cruelties From an Old Despot," describing what happens in North Korean prisons, makes for truly sickening reading.

I now wait for the "world community'' to hiss and spit with rage about this, perhaps even more than they do over the terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. I especially wait for a reaction from our morally superior friends in Europe.

It will be a long wait.
-- John Lockwood
Washington, D.C.

SOLAR, SUCKERS
Re: William Tucker's Rewable Energy?:

Just one other well-intentioned, big-time boondoggle to mention: Solar One in California. Intended to be the first demonstration of a viable source of solar/thermal energy initiated by the Carter Administration, it was a net user of energy when accurate accounting was applied. The "upgrade," Solar Two, commissioned by the Clinton Administration, is no less a disaster and requires even more maintenance and operation costs. Having been on the original systems integration team, I soon realized that the government had no interest in evaluating cost/benefit. I suspect from Mr. Tucker's comments that mindset is still in effect.
-- Steve Peglow
Alexandria, Virginia

NO SEX PLEASE, WE'RE PBS
Re: Jeffrey Lord's The Senator and the Anchor, Jeffrey Lord:

It is true that the multiplication of news sources (including talk radio and cable news) has educated news consumers to the bias found, for instance, in mainstream news. Nonetheless, it was sad to see the Lehrer Newshour cover on June 18 the question of viewpoint in the news in the exact week when BBC criticized itself for being biased towards a liberal viewpoint and for having too many gay staff. Sad, because this story was neither covered by the Newshour, nor included in the story on viewpoint in the news. Ironically, this lends support to the charge that the Newshour itself is biased. It reminds me of another omission: after President Clinton lied to Jim Lehrer about his sexual exploits, Lehrer did not ask Clinton about it the next time he interviewed him. Indeed, he later cited a question he eventually did apparently ask him on another occasion as a defense. What theNewshour leaves out is very revealing, including the news about BBC.

There is a parallel to the subject of news sources in a good and bad general approach to campaign financing: rather than limit the number of sources or regulate them by the monstrous Fairness Doctrine, let a thousand flowers bloom, and let us know what are the basic viewpoints of the sources--parallel to avoiding setting up unenforceable, if not unconstitutional campaign finance laws, but instead basically simply revealing all sources of campaign finances, as the Des Moines Register once proposed.

I think it was an article in the Atlantic Monthly several decades ago in which the author traced the history of newspapers. He noted that at one time newspapers took stands and also let the reader know their viewpoint. That's why there were multiple newspapers in cities and towns. When monopolies of newspapers led to one-newspaper cities and towns, it was accompanied by the claim and goal of having the newspaper be objective and supposedly not reveal its own viewpoint. The author called for a return to the old approach, including newspapers (since multiple sources have since arisen in other media). Support for his approach was later provided by a comparative study of Time and Newsweek. At the time, Time was known for a philosophy that had a viewpoint, indeed, on every page. To contrast itself, Newsweek sold itself as being objective and neutral. The study concluded that Time was much more objective, and Newsweek was much more of a biased advocate. The Lady Newsweek protested too much about its virtue.

Some explanation for how this could be true is found in Jesuit Fr. Bernard J.F. Lonergan's analysis of knowledge and the Catholic Church. He criticized some conservative Church thinkers for acting as if the conclusions of 13th century were in every way timeless knowledge that existed without knowers or a process of knowing. Philosopher Michael Novak praised this insight; and then later criticized the thinkers of the 1960s for acting as if the insights of the 1960s were timeless and without need of growth or correction. The pretense to timelessness is timeless.
-- Richard L.A. Schaefer
Dubuque, Iowa

PEW FOUNDATIONS
Re: James Parker's letter (under "Open Minds, Empty Pews") in Reader Mail's Scooter's Liberty:

I wish I could rebut James Parker's letter concerning the Evangelical Lutheran Church; but I can't. For a church which has a long tradition of the rigorous theology of Law and Gospel, the push to have homosexuality take a positive makeover in the hearts and minds of all Christians is depressing. While quite comfortable to proclaim the freedom of the Gospel and the "freeing of the captives" (guess who that is), far too many in the clergy forget that the Law is God's Word as well.

There are plenty of congregations within the Lutheran Church where one can find where the entire Word of God is preached and the sacraments are properly kept. But the problem is the new Pastors coming out of our seminaries have been fully immersed in the dogma which removes the stigma of sinfulness from homosexual acts. As far as the seminaries are concerned the question of gay liberation is affirmatively settled and closed -- no debate is allowed any longer. All that is left is for the average Lutheran in the pew is to get his/her mind right.

Of course, conservatives know at whose doorstep the blame for this breakdown in theology is placed. A large number of the clergy and seminary professors are liberals and whatever enthusiasms sprout within the left are quickly found in the classroom and the pulpit as truth. "Hey, everybody knows Jesus was countercultural!"

We pray that the present assault will pass; there are certainly signs that it will. But once again, liberalism and its penchant for radical egalitarianism have proved to be an acid which dissolves any truth that gets in its way.
-- Michael Wm. Dooley
Indianapolis, Indiana

WARNING TRACK POWER
Re: Paul DeSisto and Karl Auerbach's letters (under "Way Pastime") in Reader Mail's Scooter's Liberty:

Discussing baseball is in many ways is similar to a heated discussion of religion (or politics!) except that at some point a real world result is obvious. Still I am reminded of the old and never truer saying, "Baseball is ten minutes of action jam packed into 6 and a half hours." Discussions of quantum cryptography make my eyes glaze over after the first several pages but not for lack of interest, just understanding. I have resolved to work harder to research my understanding of these examples of "spooky" but fundamental and most enlightening (and hopeful, considering our state of knowledge in human terms) phenomena. Baseball however, not so much. Even in Seattle behind enemy lines with the Mariners.
-- Craig Sarver
Seattle, Washington

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