Reader Mail

Cat Fights

Vets these days. Plus: Part Two of the Nemko Letters on that five-to-one ratio of widows to widowers.

11.11.03

Send to Kindle

VETS THESE DAYS
Re: Lawrence Henry's Let's All Go to the Vet:

Mr. Henry is right about the vets and their training. My nephew is about to graduate from vet school which sells a T-shirt that puts the situation as such: "Real Doctors Treat More than One Species." Their training is likely as or more robust than a human doctor.

I think the thoughts Mr. Henry noted around insurance and the hiding of the true costs are valid, but there is another underlying issue involving animal medicine that keeps the costs relative controlled. The vet knows if it costs too much, the owner will simply put the animal down. Having grown up on a Kansas farm, I know the drill very well.

It's currently not an acceptable practice for humans, although the case in Florida has brought it into the public eye.

Despite efforts to skirt the issue with "right to die" laws in various states and in some foreign countries, the issue is touched on very lightly or not at all.

It will be interesting how things shake out when we "boomers" start requiring massive medical services and the costs of care quadruple in the coming years with far fewer young to pay for it. Social Security taxes alone will have to approach 25 to 50% from the current 7.65% just to keep us alive, let alone fix the broken ones.
-- Bill Rickords
Wichita, Kansas

I must concur with Lawrence Henry's article. Our lab needed to have cranial cruciate (human equivalent is anterior cruciate) ligament surgery. Several hours surgery, a rod with three pins, post-operative rehab of four weeks. Total bill was $2,600 -- not cheap by any stretch, but what does the equivalent cost for humans? I'm not sure, but I know the cost to deliver our son was over $10,000 (we passed on the pregnancy rider), and that was with a 30% "discount" for pre-paying. Of course they offer you the "discount" because so many people skate on the bill, but then the price is so high because of the insidious insurance industry that seems to run everyone's lives....
-- Chris Wray

I have the privilege of being married to a wonderful, compassionate (not to mention beautiful) veterinarian. Day in and day out she treats small animals for virtually all of the same maladies that affect us humans, performs many of the same surgeries, and prescribes the identical medications to those we ingest. And, yes, she does it for a fraction -- a very small fraction at that -- of the price. You are exactly correct that insurance and litigation are two of the major reasons for the price disparity (not forgetting, of course, that we place a higher value on ourselves and our children than we do on our pets, as beloved as they may be).

Do not delude yourself into believing that the trial bar is unaware of this disparity, because they are. As with so many "consumer" groups that are wholly owned subsidiaries of the litigators, "animal rights" groups are popping up in the same manner and with the same nefarious and costly ends. Veterinarians are regularly sued in today's litigious culture, but because pets are legally regarded as property, such cases are normally settled for the actual value of the pet. Watch for legislative activity supported by the lawyers and their henchmen to redefine cats and dogs as "family members." This will all be done in warm and fuzzy feel-good tones, but, make no mistake about it, the real purpose for the change is garnering higher awards in veterinary malpractice cases. Should they be so successful, you may then watch as the cost of pet care skyrockets.
-- John Shirvinsky
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania

I recently had a cat spayed. Cost was about $120. As I understand it, this is substantially the same surgery as a hysterectomy only the cat has tinier parts. A hysterectomy these days will cost on the order of $6,000-10,000.
-- Gary Bickford

Mr. Henry, there are several reasons I won't go to the Vet for care:

(5) I would shake just as bad as the other dogs in the waiting room.

(4) The hairstylist insists on using that foul smelling dip on me. Not a bottle of Pro-V Extra Gentle in sight.

(3) The leash is too tight.

(2) I won't fit on the table.

(1) The dog biscuits taste terrible!
-- John McGinnis

Lawrence Henry replies:
As more than one reader pointed out, vets can put down animals, and often do. And doctors often say that the last six months of (human) life are the most expensive medically. But can this alone account for a ten- to forty-fold price differential in the costs actually charged for treatment actually delivered?

DRIVEN TO AN EARLY GRAVE (Part 2)
Re: Marty Nemko's Beasts of Burden:

Marty Nemko tries to make the point that women simply aren't doing their share from an economic point of view. Of course he is correct that when corrected for relevant factors women make as much as men, but his other points are much less sound.

Mr. Nemko's assumption that children reared in daycare and by nannies have only a "small net advantage" is simply not true. I'm not sure what research he claims to have reviewed, but those of use who work with children on a day-to-day basis are well aware that a disproportionate number of our patients come from non-traditional families, regardless of socioeconomic factors. What research is available is, admittedly, equivocal, but this may be due as much to experimenter bias as to anything else (these studies almost always have a major socio-political ax to grind).

Finally, I can't let Mr. Nemko get away with perpetuating the myth of quality time. There's no such thing, in the absence of quantity time. Look at the work of Hart and Risely in the development of language, just as an example. When children are put in babysitting situations they simply are not exposed to the same kind of language experiences that children with a full-time mother are.

So go ahead and complain that women aren't pulling their weight, Mr. Nemko, and feel to have your children (if you have any) reared by a rotating hired hand. But please, don't repeat myths that are harmful to children and adults both.
-- Mack Stephenson
Pediatric Psychologist

Mr. Nemko is not all with it. He claims women need to get off the couch, give up the remote control, and go to work.

Our household is just the opposite. I, the wife, am the breadwinner for our family. My husband stays at home and works for me, and the effects on my husband's ego are disastrous.

But I could only wish that I had such a good helpmate as a wife is to a husband when she stays at home. After working 80 and sometimes more hours a week, I still have to do the laundry, the cooking, and the cleaning. Why? Because it's women's work.

Don't get me wrong. My husband does help out a lot, just not as much as a wife does with a husband, though.
-- D. McGrath

In regards to your article "Beast of Burden", I couldn't disagree more. Where did you get your statistics about children at home verses children from two-income homes? Yes, women were made to stay home and take care of the children. Perhaps the only problem is they want all the "status quo" "American gluttony. The next generation is better off with mama at home.
-- Timmins Family
Maui, Hawaii

Boy have you got it WRONG WRONG WRONG! I found it very interesting that you concentrated your article on Moms with babies -- but oh Marty, those sleeping little babies grow and grow and continue to need more attention not less. I have been a stay-at-home Mom for most of the 24 years of my marriage.

"MOST OF THE MEN I work with haven't even really stopped to think about what their wives have done to them."

How about the things that are done for them? Let me tell you about the responsibilities I carry so that my husband doesn't have to concern himself with them:

I handle all the marketing, cooking, meal planning, laundry (at its peak 20 loads a week -- all done in one day), cleaning and errands such as dry cleaning, banking, post office, and the myriad of others that complicate our lives.

I handle household maintenance: if I don't clean the furnace filter it doesn't get done. I hire the lawn people, wait for the plumbers and interview the contractors. I do the weeding, the planting and make sure the garbage gets out to the curb on the right day. I provide the clean bathrooms and dust free rooms and an organized home. I'm the one that cleans the closets, sorts the toys, organizes the garage and donates and delivers the extraneous to Goodwill.

I handle ALL the household finances -- I pay the bills, balance all the accounts, talk to the investment people, read all the volumes of information before making investment decisions. I get the tax information to the accountant that I hired. I financed and refinanced the mortgage.

I handle all the medical appointments -- I sit on the phone trying to make them, I take the kids to them, I review all the insurance paperwork associated with them and I am the one that follows up on the phone when there are problems. I fetch the prescriptions, make sure they are dispensed properly, sit with the sick children, get up with them in the middle of the night and clean up after them. And that's just the doctors -- lets not forget dentists, orthodontists and optometrists.

I handle all the school responsibilities -- I meet all the teachers, I oversee the homework, I help with the research projects, I find the tutors, run to the library, bake the cookies, go to the PTA meetings and teacher conferences. I am the one that does the required school volunteering -- I work in the classroom, drive carpool, work fundraising events.

I handle the extracurricular activities - I find the teams, interview the coaches, drive all the kids to all the practices on all days. I find the piano teacher, the saxophone tutor, the drum specialist. I sit through karate lessons, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and wrestling practices. I shop for and work the concession stands while Dad watches the event. I sew on the scout badges and lead the Cub Scouts (which involves its own volume of pre-planning). I find the summer camps, get the kids packed, take them to camp and get them back home. Ditto for family vacations.

I discipline the kids, shop for their clothes, books, school supplies, sports equipment and toys. I've taught them to read, to pray, to cook, to iron and to sew.

I'm the party planner and the decorator -- I bake the Christmas cookies, send out the cards, make the costumes and I am Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the Halloween provider. The decorations are put up and taken down , yep by me again. I'm the every-holiday-chef. I'm the gift buyer and gift wrapper for every occasion.

I'm the one that gets my husband to and from the airport so that he can just jump out of the car and catch his flight rather than dealing with parking his car and catching a bus. I support my husband in his career.

And somehow I manage to read, exercise, belong to book clubs and Bible studies and lunch with friends.

Don't get me wrong -- I am not looking for sympathy -- this is the path I freely chose and I am incredibly thankful I have had the opportunity to stay home. I am, however, deeply offended at your glib treatment of my hard work, my chosen profession. You owe me and millions of others like me an apology for dismissing our hard work in our chosen careers. I'll be waiting and I suspect I'll be waiting a very long time.
-- Cheryl Wilton
Seattle, Washington

Marty Nemko's piece left out one trailing tidbit. After the man's work is done and he decides to go there own way, a divorce court will leave the Wife to the life-style she is accustomed and the Husband to make it any way he can (read: trying to start over, but still providing and stressed). Where's the justice?
-- Herb Worden
Rockville, Maryland

While I could appreciate the argument that Mr. Nemko was making, I found that it missed a few obvious points.

(1) Staying at home is a choice for some women and not an option for others. Single moms can't stay at home because they have to bear the full brunt of not having a husband and a second income. Also, many men are choosing to stay at home to raise children because their wives make more money than they do in their professions.

(2) Prime career-building years are also during the years that women are more fertile and able to have children. That's just biology and women know (or should know) that risks on them and potential off-spring increase once they are over 35. On the other hand, men can wait until they are over 40 or 50 to have children.

(3) Furthermore, staying at home with children is a choice that needs to be planned for. Individuals who plan to marry need to be clear about their expectations and intentions and plan for it. For instance, since I am planning to stay at home to care for my future children, my husband and I are working to put the pieces in place so that we can live without my income. Sure, we won't have a $300,000 home and a new car every couple of years, but that's not what we are striving for. I'm not going for a graduate degree because I'd rather have children at this point in my life and don't want the additional debt and a degree I won't use. Incidentally, he's going to school for his certifications and to obtain a college degree because he wants to be employable in the field of his choice. Again, it all comes down to choices and planning.
-- Jo Ann Nielson
Sterling Heights, Michigan

This is a response to Mr. Nemko's article about "housewives." I find it funny first of all, that a man, who has apparently never stayed home with his or anyone else's children for any length of time, can comment on the subject of taking care of the family and home. I myself am a homemaker, with two children. My husband is in the Military and prefers that I stay home until the kids are older. My job is a full-time job!! Taking care of the kids, the house, my husband and everything else takes every piece of my time and energy, and no I haven't stretched it into a job. I don't have time for myself anymore! I'm lucky if I can get a shower every other day!

Mr. Nemko, why don't you try researching from the woman's point of view before you write your garbage. The only people that care about what you have to say, are chauvinistic ignoramuses like you!

Sincerely Offended,
-- Kareen Grothuesmann

After reading the highly-biased editorial about women "forcing" their husbands to be the income earners while the ladies live a life of luxury, it occurred to me that perhaps the clients from whom Mr. Nemko drew his conclusions may not have provided a balanced view of the situation. I would suggest polling individuals who are not in career counseling (which suggests already-existing career problems) or personal counseling (which suggests all kinds of other issues). Such polling might prevent the obviously biased results that Mr. Nemko reports from his years of counseling experience.
-- N. Cergizan

Marty Nemko makes some valid points, but, in some instances, may overstate his case; on the other hand, I can say that in my experience as a divorce lawyer, he fails to sufficiently appreciate that many husbands, in addition to being the primary or sole breadwinner, already are also saddled with a substantial-to-equal share of the domestic chores (shopping, cleaning, laundry, child care). Of course, this is not to say that many wives don't fulfill their equal responsibilities, or contribute more than a fair share, nor to deny that many husbands fail utterly to provide anything to the family but their paychecks (and sometimes those paychecks don't meet earning capacity), but it does seem that, in general, modern society has elevated the woman to master and man to servant. Perhaps this is because, in the biological-sexual context, men want women more than women want men (or, at minimum, men have more acquisition anxiety), but, regardless of the cause(s), it is high time that true equality of the sexes be achieved. Men should not be beasts of burden: men, as well as women, should be entitled to some "time off" and time to express and explore their individuality. Women should be raised to understand that they should expect to be economically productive, not merely marketable commodities. Men and women ought to be both independent and inter-dependent, each self-fulfilled and mutually fulfilling.
-- unsigned

It's amazing to me that a man who has no children, at least none mentioned because of their unimportance, thinks he is qualified to comment on the lives of stay at home moms. I challenge him to spend 24 hours caring for newborn twins (by himself). Then he would know what stress is! You don't know what being tired is when you get maybe three hours of sleep a night for a solid month. Or to stay up all night cleaning up barf when all three kids get the stomach flu. No, I think he's the wimp here.

I want you to come on over to my house and observe my "non-working" life caring for my family of five. I am the first one up in the morning and the last one to bed. I work hard to make my home a sanctuary from the world, so when my husband does come home, he can relax, have a hot meal at an actual table, and have some peace. I don't force him to work two jobs so I can have a brand new house and drive a brand new car. We live on $30,000 a year. I appreciate every thing he does for us!

I could work, I have a degree in Financial Management and an IQ over 140. I grew up in a two-income home. My parents were stressed all the time! There was little "quality time" for the kids. They came home from work and there was dinner to make and all the other household chores that have to be done. Laundry won't wash itself, and very few of even two-income families can afford a maid.

And another thing. Most men over the age of 40 grew up in a home where the dad worked and mom stayed home. So they have this idea the house work is woman's work. Men plop down on the couch and fondle the remote and a beer while women (who also worked an 8 hour day) cook dinner, take care of kids and every thing else!

I am really disgusted at the level of ignorance portrayed by this man. As an educated person he should know better than to claim to be an expert on things he really has no knowledge about! AND he is making the men he counsels sound like totally hen pecked whiny wimps! They have control of their own lives! Saying "my wife makes me" is such a cop-out! Get a spine!

But what do I know? I'm just a leach sucking the life blood out of my husband. Shame on me for not chasing the almighty dollar! For not dumping my kids off at daycare for someone else to raise while I go off on my merry way!

Mr. Nemko has successfully portrayed himself as a pompous idiot, and I'll be sure to pass his article along to all my fellow leach friends.
-- Janelle Campbell

I refer you to the following article.

Marty Nemko thinks that wives should spend all day working whilst leaving the children in the tender care of indifferent strangers. Read this article and see what hell he's putting his children through.

Mr. Nemko, in his laughable defense of day care, quotes surveys of what children said about their care. Not the results, not the long term outcomes (like a high rate of crime, aggression and even mental illness among day care children) but the pabulum that children "feel good" about their working mommies. This is so painful it breaks my heart. Of course children love their moms.

My parents put my younger siblings in Columbine High School, Colorado, when they moved there after I went to college. Several years later Klebold and Harris committed mass murder there. When I called my sister after the shootings and told her about them, she said, sadly: "Yeah. I'm not surprised. Columbine kids have all the money in the world, but nobody at home to love them."

Nemko wants the world to exist as he sees it, not as it really is. He twists facts and uses frothy, useless opinion surveys to bolster his case, then pouts when he is challenged. He is, in fact, a perfect example of Liberal Man. All together, conservative ladies: Ewwww!
-- Bonnie Ramthun
Erie, Colorado

Marty Nemko's article is right on target. Would that men I know described so well by this article had just waited a few years to realize the implications of becoming a "traditional father and husband" before doing so.

There is another way for men to avoid the mess he describes: just don't get married. A man also avoids a great deal of risk in doing so as well. Since half of all new marriages in the US end in divorce, and 70% of divorces are initiated by the wife, with 90% of the time, the wife getting child custody and the entailed child support payments, the average American man has a 1 in 3 chance of having his wife leave him and take the kids (.5 x .7 x .9 = .33). These are facts, hard statistics, not rants or crass generalizations.

The value of marriage itself to men is quite questionable, never mind the value of the "traditional breadwinner" role. Men are well-advised, in my opinion, to remain single and childless. It entails far less risk and stress, and eliminates the sort of "soft bullying" men get from their wives/partners that drive them into early graves --never mind the hard bullying of the sharp-tongues woman, a reality many men also live with.... but not me.

Whooppeee!!!

Happily, blissfully single,
-- Matt Campbell
Alexandria, Virginia

Marty Nemko's reply to readers was published in Monday's Reader Mail. Click here.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article