The ethics of eight (babies that is)

All over the blogosphere people are discussing the California woman who gave birth to 8 babies.  The media was quick to call it a miracle, but it seems it only took a few hours before bloggers, journalists, and doctors began to seriously question the mother’s intentions.  It seems crazy enough to want 8 kids at once, but now rumor has it that the mom is single, living with her parents in a 2 bedroom house, and already has six kids (all under the age of 7 nonetheless).

If you want to be entertained (or appalled), I recommend reading the comments section on articles discussing this woman.  You’ll see a variety of viewpoints expressed, from those who think we should just leave this woman alone, to those who think the government should mandate how many kids a person can have and restrict who can receive fertility treatments.

I guess I fall somewhere in the middle.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Specter of Science as a Shield for a Cowardly Court

In the 2004-2005 edition of the Cato Supreme Court Review, James W. Ely Jr. took on the formidable task of evaluating the court’s opinions on some of the key cases involving property rights from the prior term.  In the context of his discussion of Lingle v. Chevron USA he notes Justice O’Connor’s assertion that the courts “‘are not well suited’ to scrutinize economic actions” to which he responds with an excellent question: “Why are courts somehow competent to enforce non-economic rights, which often turn upon value judgments, but not economic rights?”  The question is rhetorical with the obivous (and correct) implication that courts are perfectly competent to preside over questions relating to economic rights.  Still, the question itself got me to thinking, how could a committed Progressive attempt to defend the O’Connor view?  

One possibility that occurred to me is that you might find someone arguing that economic theory and calculation have become so complex that only an expert in the field can speak to economic concerns with any sort of legitimate authority.  Of course, if this were true (and in a sense, which I’ll explain promptly, I think it is), it still begs the question of why legislatures not populated by economists should be permitted to pass economic regulations.  I do think that modern mathematical economics and econometrics involve some very difficult concepts and techniques; however, the economic relations conceived by the founders and enshrined for protection in the Constitution have not changed over the years and remain as scrutable as they have ever been.  Derivatives contracts may require heavy number-crunching to determine the values involved, but they are still contracts and any judiciary worthy of the name ought to be able to speak to contractual obligations and priviledges.  I may be showing my Austrian colors here, but I feel that economists concerned with liberty have done the pursuit of that value a disservice by emphasizing mathematics as the fundamental tool of exploring economic theory as opposed to being an ancillary but invaluable aid to the explanation of insights gleaned primarily from mostly verbal logical deduction.  We all know what it is like to be forced to choose between two competing alternatives, and any position that gives cover to otherwise responsible individuals to deny that they understand that choice ought to be condemned.

~Fox

Immigrants are Great, Foreigners (apparently) Suck

I had an interesting encounter over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I met a man who worked for a non-profit organization dedicated to the advocacy of equal rights for immigrants.  He was also an enthusastic supporter of Barack Obama.  I found the combination strange, so I asked him whether he felt Obama’s suggestions that NAFTA be renogitiated to conform to “fair trade” as opposed to “free trade” were inconsistent with his view that immigrants should receive better treatment.  We didn’t get to carry the conversation very far forward before we were dragged away to the food which is probably just as well, because he didn’t seem to respond to my question very well.  At first he seemed puzzled that anyone could see any relation between the two, and then began to argue that the two positions were entirely consistent since demanding that other countries match the United States’ labor and environmental standards would only improve the lot of everyone invovled. I did not expect to encounter such startling ignorance of economics in a Yale law grad, but there it was.

I don’t know why he worked to promote immigrants’ rights, but I assummed it was because he wished to ensure that everyone, and particularly the least-privileged among us, have the same opportunity to pursue happiness free from unwarranted obstructions.  Immigrants are often at a tremendous disadvantage relative to their native-born peers, so it seems reasonable that someone interested in equality before the law would see a chance to make a meaningful difference by focusing their attention on that group.  However, a genuine sense of compassion should extend equally to all men, both those resident in one’s home country and those residing elsewhere perhaps trying to join your community.  Artificially raising the costs associated with employing workers leads to higher unemployment relative to the status quo ante.  “Fair trade” is protectionism by any other name and ought to be roundly condemned by anyone seeking to improve the conditions of people living in regions without the wealth and resources to be able to afford to meet U.S. government standards (even if they happen to be living in the U.S.).

My encounter reminded me of what a truly incoherent political viewpoint American liberalism has become.

~Fox

Now you see it…

CNN is reporting that President-elect Barack Obama has announced the outline of his plan to create 2.5 million jobs by 2011.  The first question that comes to my mind is how does he intend to measure the number of jobs created?  Is he suggesting that he will increase the total number of employed people relative to today by 2.5 million?  Or is he instead suggesting that he will authorize the creation of 2.5 million more government positions?  My guess is that he intends the latter, but wants people to believe the former.

Question 2: How does Obama intend to pay for the jobs he wants to create?  The government is not a business.  It doesn’t have independent capital reserves that it can call on to fund expansion.  If it grows, it must do so by raising revenues in the form of taxation (with borrowing being the promise of future taxation).  Frederic Bastiat had a few things to say about government job creation schemes.  For every wind-turbine engineer, solar-panel installer, and green car mechanic employeed by the government, there will be a myriad of other private sector jobs like computer programmers, fry cooks, and brokers that either never get created, or are forced to pay less.  Due to the inherent deadweight loss of taxation, this is almost always a negative sum game in which the growth in government fails to offset the decline in living standards of the population at large.

Question 3: What does Obama know about advanced energy technologies that people actively working in the industry do not?  If it was possible to create viable alternatives to the internal combustion engine and coal-fired power plants, why has no one done so already?  I didn’t read anything in Obama’s outline about the specific strategies he has in mind for overcoming the technological hurdles associated with converting solar energy to portable fuel.  Instead what I saw was a desire that we lived in a different kind of world and a willingness to forcibly extract and spend other people’s money in the attempt to move in the desired direction.  Just because you perceive a problem doesn’t mean there is a solution.  If this is what was meant by the “Audacity of Hope” consider me thoroughly offended.  I assume what Barack Obama wanted to convey with that title was simply the idea of courage founded upon the faith in one’s own abilities; at least, that is a message that I could understand wanting to communicate.  Unfortunately, the most sensible reading of the words he chose suggests instead that he is willing to aggressively pursue his dreams regardless of the costs he might impose on others.

~Fox

Obama Aides: No Money, No Problem

What exactly are we to make of this: Economy won’t stop Obama’s priorites, aides say.  Apparently, being broke doesn’t mean you can’t spend like a drunken sailor…except that is exactly what it means.  With China just announcing its own $586 billion stimulus package, the spigot of foreign savings that’s been flooding the leaky government trough is about to dry up at exactly the same time that all those tiny pin-pricks, like social security and medicare, are showing signs of imminent rupture into gaping holes.

What I think this means is that the Obama administration will attempt to accomplish through regulation the goals it might have preferred to pursue via spending.  Bureaucratic rationing will be the order of the day.  I’m sure everyone will be much more satisfied with the results.

I can only hope that Obama will be too busy playing the Dutch boy that he won’t actually be able to spare a finger to hold down the knot of red-tape he’s planning on using to bind up our economy.

~Fox

Ideas Matter

I’ve recently taken up reading The Austrian Economists, and I must say that I’ve been most pleased.  Peter Boettke in particular has a demonstrated knack for perceiving and communicating useful insights.  Following up on that, I would point anyone that stumbles across this, here, as I was so directed by Dr. Boettke.  There is a war of ideas going on here in America that encompasses the one in Iraq and will have far reaching consequences for all of us.  Consider this one more attempt to strengenthen the current volley from the advocates of reason.

~Fox

With Friends Like These…

I usually really enjoy reading Megan McArdle’s blog.  I find her to be one of the most consistently interesting and entertaining writers out there.  I also appreciate her customary libertarian perspective, which is why in recent days I’ve been very disappointed by the manner in which she has endorsed the bevy of government schemes being hurled out of Washington in the hopes of averting a recession.

It’s really not so much that she thinks the government needs to intervene to save the market.  I surely disagree with her, but reasonable have been known to do so from time to time.  What troubles me most is the intensity of her rhetoric, see here and here.  It’s not often that you’ll find me celebrating the wisdom of FDR, but do think he had some sage advice to offer when he counseled the nation that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  He may have overstated the case when he called it the “only thing,” it turned out the Nazis were a pretty dangerous threat after all, but given the calamaties we’ve already precipitated by acting too hastily over the last decade, taking a step back to assess the distance across the gorge one more time before we leap hardly seems like the worst thing we could be doing right now.

I can only hope that in time things will be resolved sensibly and with only modest pain and that Megan can offer a brief apology for her moment of hysteria before returning to more fascinating topics.

~Fox

The Bailout is an Affront to Liberty

Like most people, I have been intensely interested in the developments surrounding the proposal put forward by Treasury Secretary Paulson to spend up to $700 billion of taxpayer money in an effort to prop up elements of the financial industry.  I find the situation very disturbing, so much so that I wish I just ignore it and focus on something else like success of my alma mater’s football team (Mizzou-rah!).  Unfortunately, the stakes are so high and have such terrifying implications that looking the other way, no matter how powerless we may feel, seems almost morally wrong.  Allowing the biggest government intervention in the American economy since the Great Depression to pass without raising a protest would leave me feeling both cowardly and impotent.  I may have to deal with the realization that most of the contours of my life are shaped by forces beyond my control, but acceptance does not necessitate resignation.  To all those in government who would impose their will upon the innocent citizens of the United States, I say “Stop!  You may have the power, but you have neither the right to dispose of our resources according to your whim, nor the competence to improve upon the allocation we would choose ourselves.”

Others have dealt with the economic impracticality of the schemes currently being considered better than I can.  In particular, I would recommend Arnold Kling for illuminating the confusion and foolishness upon which the government’s plans are founded.  For my own part, the most troubling part of this whole debacle has been the blatant disregard for the rule of law demonstrated by the executive branch and condoned by the legislature.  Are there even words strong enough to properly condemn the audacity, arrogance, and autocratic intentions on display in the actual text of the Paulson plan?

“Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency. The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this act without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts”

I do not begrude Bill Gates or Warren Buffet one cent of the $50 billion they have earned, and if they were so productive as to grow their wealth by an order of magnitude I would be far more impressed than concerned; but no one should be put in charge of $700 billion dollars without even the specter of oversight.  No one should dare even request such authority, yet such a request has been made and seems all but certain to be granted.

This does not bode well for the prospects of liberty in America.  I asked Lily this morning if she thought our children would someday live in a world with more or less freedom than the one we have known.  She seemed hopeful that they might, and given the amazing technological advances that we have witnessed over the past few decades, I agree with her that there is still room for such hope.  Yet I feel the horizons have grown more obscure and the air thicker for all of us still “yearning to breathe free.”  We are presently confronted with a deep valley that we can see clearly separating us from our course of future prosperity, but the government of the United States has offered to plunge us into an oppressive fog that they assure us holds a shortcut they can lead us through if only we fasten ourselves securely to the lead of their inspired intuitions.  I for one will have to be dragged into this miasma kicking and screaming.

~Fox

Sweden is Smarter on Schools than U.S.

I came across this article in today’s Washington Post.  Apparently the folks in Stockholm have a better grasp on the power of markets to improve performance than most of us here in the states.  Well, at least some of them do.  Take Barbro Lillkaas who had this to say, “If you run a good operation then you make a profit. But you won’t get any students if you are bad,” she said. “You have to do a good job to get money; that is even more important for a private school.”  My sentiments exactly.  I can only hope that this convinces some of the left-leaning public-school advocates in this country who hold the Scandinavian countries in such high regard to rethink some of their positions.  I’m not holding my breath, but I may be breathing a little bit shallower.

~Fox

(Un)settling Down

Will Wilkinson reminds me of Reverend Merrill in A Prayer for Owen Meany.  Both are preoccupied with emotional concepts that most men accommodate as a matter of course, and both insist on viewing these ideas through the lense of their antitheses.  For the reverend faith and doubt were the two aspects of the inseparable duality.  For Will, its kids and happiness.  Responding to an article that appeared in Newsweek, he writes:

…the profundity of the experience of loving a child I think blinds many people to the very real costs of raising them. To accept that we have been made less happy in a real sense by our children threatens our sense of the profundity and the value of that bond. So people get upset when they hear this. But that’s not counter-evidence. Not all values move in one direction and it is a mark of maturity to be able to admit that some of the things we value most comes at a sometimes steep cost. We yearn to love our choices, and our lives, with whole hearts. But to do so is to lie to ourselves about ourselves, to close our eyes and cover our ears like children to the profundity of what we have given up.

I’m with him all the way to the final sentence which I find hard to interpret.  I think he is trying to express something akin to the socratic dictum that the unexamined life is not worth living.  If that is the case, I can understand and appreciate the sentiment, but I wouldn’t classify the desire to harmoniously integrate our past decisions with our present lives and future prospects as an instance of willful self-deception or woeful ignorance.

Recognizing opportunity costs when presented with a choice is good to the extent that it helps move you to a more efficient allocation of resources, but once the decision has been made (especially with respect to having children) those foregone alternatives become sunk costs–the hole down which they descend may well be deep, but spending time contemplating its profundity strikes me as a rather futile endeavor.  Just as Reverend Merrill eventually found his position advocating the dynamic juxtaposition of faith and doubt untenable, I’m not sure how Will can sustain the view that the essence of appreciation is regret.  Children and parents deserve wholehearted love that does not entail a nagging reminder of how good life would have been without the other.

~Fox

iPhone 3G goodness

I caved to the pressures of society and bought an iphone yesterday. There was no camping out or waiting in line to get one of the first phones, but I’m glad I made an effort to get to the AT&T store relatively early yesterday morning since I got the last iphone in stock at that particular location. I’ve never owned an apple product in my life, but thought since I was going to have to buy a smart phone or PDA to run the highly useful Epocrates program (a drug reference library – particularly handy for medical students, though more and more doctors are also on board these days) I might as well get a cool one.

After about an hour or so of fiddling around with it, downloading the latest version of iTunes, and synching it with my computer, I finally got it to work and started looking for cool applications. Even then I was having some problems getting a few of the apps to load, which I chalked up to the boatload of other people sitting at home trying to do the exact same thing. Fortunately as of late last night they were all up and running, and everything has been smooth sailing ever since.

So what do I have on my phone so far? First and foremost I downloaded Epocrates Rx…I figured since it’s the reason I wanted a smart phone in the first place I should at least make it appear as though I’m using my phone for “educational” purposes. 🙂 Hopefully Epocrates will adapt their entire product line for the iphone in the next few months, so I can start surfing diagnoses and treatment plans from the convenience of my hand-held device. The other more practical apps I added include Zenbe lists (which I used this morning for my grocery shopping) and YPmobile (yellowpages, which I might delete since you can search for businesses through the GPS that comes with the phone). For fun I added Pandora (finds radio stations for you to listen to based on your favorite artists or songs), TapTap (sort of like guitar hero or dance dance revolution for your phone), PhoneSaber (a light saber…while this one doesn’t really do anything, it is fun to swing at my husband as it makes the cool sound effects), and UrbanSpoon (sort of like a magic 8 ball that takes advantage of the accelerometer to randomly pick a restaurant near your GPS location).

So far I’ve enjoyed the apps (including ease of installation), and I’ll definitely be testing out Epocrates this week to see whether it is easier than hunting down a free computer and checking for drug dosages or interactions (plus the iphone version of epocrates includes a pill identifier – pretty cool, though I’m not sure how many times I’ll actually need to use it). I also noticed, while depositing a check this morning at the atm, that my bank has an online banking system set up to access from the iphone, so I’ll probably try and install that in the next few days. Seems like a good investment up to this point. Any suggestions for other cool or useful applications that I should add to my new phone?

~Lily

How Progressives Use False Dichotomies to Expand Government

Some people find Barack Obama inspirational. I do not. Unfortunately, charisma is not a proposition with which you can argue. It is a personal trait that has almost nothing to do with a man’s beliefs or intentions, and yet in democratic politics it seems to carry more weight than either. Therefore, I feel fairly confident that Senator Obama will be President Obama come 2009. Nonetheless, I think Mr. Obama’s commencement address delivered today at Wesleyan University should provide cause for concern to anyone who values privacy and personal autonomy. A transcript of the speech is available here, and you should read it to form your own opinion both as to the strength of Obama’s rhetorical skills and the quality of his vision for the country. If you want to know what’s wrong with both, you can continue below.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s the lifestyle, stupid!

I was reading a NY Times article discussing the top residency choices for this year’s match (which I think is today – the day when graduating medical students find out where they will be going for the next 3-5 years of their training). The article follows a married couple from Harvard hoping to get into a dermatology residency, which, along with plastic surgery and ENT are easily the most competitive spots to snag.

Call me cynical, but the quotes from the med students about why they chose derm sound more like BS spouted within their personal statements and along the interview trail rather than what’s really motivating them. Consider this gem:

Ms. Singh said she initially planned to emulate her mother, a physician who focuses on treating major adult diseases.

A lecture on skin-pigment conditions like vitiligo changed her mind.

“Nobody can see if you have hypertension or asthma, but everybody knows if you have a pigmentary disorder and these changes are a lot more obvious and devastating to patients with skin of color,” Ms. Singh said.

I’ll tell you what changed her mind – she survived medical school and is probably graduating at the top of her class with multiple research publications. This means she can have her choice of specialty…add onto that the fact that she already has 2 young children – why in the world would she go into general surgery or family practice, when she can work 35-40 hours a week (or less!) and make good money? (let’s not forget she has six-figures worth of student loans to pay off) Unless she absolutely loved some other specialty, she would have to be a little crazy not to consider dermatology. I’m not trying to downplay the importance of dermatologists – appearance is obviously very important in our society even if it isn’t life-threatening, and they definitely treat people with more “serious” conditions like skin cancer. But there is no reason for dermatology to need all of our best and brightest, other than the fact that it is the epitome of a lifestyle specialty.

What I also find amusing, which is not discussed within this article, concerns forthcoming physician shortages. You would think that a specialty as lucrative and competitive as dermatology would see no shortage amongst its ranks – after all, they more or less have their choice of any medical student available and should have no problem keeping up with demand. Yet even dermatologists are facing similar shortages as other areas of medicine. It can take weeks or months to get a referral to a dermatologist. This is not the NHS, where such waits would be expected because of the role of the British government to cap spending – this is the US, with a supposed “free-market” healthcare system. And then you begin to realize (if you haven’t already) that we’re not a free-market health care system. The reason for physician shortages are due in large part to licensing restrictions (the MD monopoly, or “medical cartel” as it’s sometimes affectionately called)…medical schools keep their class-sizes low (though many are finally starting to expand), and lucrative residencies keep their available spaces artificially low. Doctors of those “chosen” specialties like derm get to work as much or as little as they want, and make some serious money. Specialists get their big houses, fancy cars, and afternoons free to play golf, while the regular folks get longer waits and higher prices (which means higher insurance premiums, which inevitably results in more uninsured folks because they can no longer afford to pay the high premiums). See how this all starts to fit together? You should start to ask yourself why physician groups oppose or place restrictions on other non-physician health care providers (“Minute Clinics” with nurse practitioners, chiropractors, optometrists, etc)…are they really only looking out for your best interests, or could it be possible that they are also concerned with their own pocketbooks and lifestyle? Just sayin…

~ Lily

Prelude to Poetic Justice

By now, we’ve all read the NYT article describing the seemingly inappropriate relationship between John McCain and a female lobbyist. However, the bigger story in my opinion is the one appearing on the Washington Post’s website this morning: FEC Warns McCain on Campaing Spending. McCain is a belligerent statist who openly denigrates the first amendment. It would only be appropriate if he were to be hoisted by his own petard, so to speak, and had his campaign for the presidency significantly damaged by his own ill-conceived legislation.

For those that don’t wish to read the entire article, the gist of the situation is this, when McCain was struggling to raise cash a few months back he attempted to take out a loan using as collateral his ability to draw on public matching funds. The idea was that if he secured the loan, won a few primaries, and gained additional support, he could pay back the principle and interest without tapping public money and so avoiding the spending restrictions that entails. If he failed to win the primaries and couldn’t raise any more money he would have to use the public money and abide by the restrictions, but it wouldn’t matter because his campaign would have been hopeless by that point anyway. It was a clever but disingenuous strategy, spend now, decide on the rules later, especially coming from someone who claims to be opposing big money interests in Washington. Regardless of how this turns out, keep it in mind when you hear someone talking about John McCain the “maverick.” He is as much establishment as Hillary, and if he is unpredictable, it is only because he is hypocritical, not because he is an independent thinker.

~Fox

Impending doctor shortage?

Courtesy of Reuters comes an article that discusses the coming retirement and career changes of physicians between the ages of 50 and 65. That group represents about 1/3 of all doctors in this country, and according to a survey conducted a fourth are planning on leaving the profession in the next few years:

Specifically, 14 percent said they were planning on retiring, 7 percent said they were looking for a medical job in a non-patient care setting, and 3 percent said they were seeking a job in a non-medical field.

It’s not really news to see that 14% of older physicians are planning to retire – a lot of people in that age range are nearing their retirement. The survey finding I did find interesting was this:

When asked about the work ethic of physicians entering practice today, 68 percent of the respondents said that these younger doctors are not as dedicated or as hard working as physicians who entered practice 20 to 30 years ago.

Ha! Granted I’m only a medical student and not a physician, but it’s quite funny to me that they don’t think I’m as hard-working as they are. Many people don’t know what it’s like to be in medical school, but it pretty much takes up you’re entire life. We study all the time, and when I say all the time I don’t mean a 40-50 hour week. I mean you wake up, go to class, maybe take a break for lunch, study, take a break for dinner, and study more. Weekends are usually filled with some degree of more studying. We don’t study this much because we want to, but because that’s what it takes to pass exams, and more importantly, prepare to pass the licensing exams (USMLE). I’m not as bad as some of my classmates, but I definitely have a few friends who literally study from 8 am to 10 or 11 pm, and then spend almost their entire weekend in the library. Medical students don’t really go out and party (at least at my school), unless it’s the day after an exam when we get a brief break. It’s just funny to me that older docs don’t think we work as hard, especially given that a lot of the material we have to learn now was not taught when they were in medical school because the medications didn’t exist or the disease mechanism wasn’t well understood. Our professors have to update their lectures every year to reflect all of the advances made in medicine. I will say that I doubt this generational view is specific to physicians – I’d bet that if you surveyed any older professionals about their younger peers, they would say the youngsters don’t work as hard. Another finding of the survey, which was a bit sad to me, is this:

Fifty-seven percent of older physicians said they would not recommend medicine as a career to their own children. Similarly, 44 percent said they would not select medicine as career if they were starting out today.

I understand that sentiment – it’s not that they don’t like treating patients, but is likely due to the fact that the medical field has significantly changed from when they started out. Paperwork is a nightmare, and you really don’t get to spend a lot of time with each patient. Patient’s definitely don’t like this, but neither do a lot of doctors! They want to spend more time with each patient, but if you saw all of the paperwork that must be filled out and all of the phone calls that must be made (regardless of whether it is private insurance or through a government system like the VA), you’d see that a huge chunk of their day is taken up in those less-than-desirable activities. Plus reimbursement is always an issue. Obviously they make a good living, but payment incentives tend to lie more with performing procedures rather than talking with the patient to understand all of the factors that are contributing to their illness.

The major concern, with older physicians leaving the profession, is whether the country will face a doctor shortage. The truth is, who knows? A lot of studies now point to both a doctor and nursing shortage in the near future. But, not too long ago a lot of studies predicted a surplus, to which the industry responded by restricting entry into the profession. The problem with the surplus studies is that they were made based on the assumption that our entire country would be under managed-care by now…a prediction that has since proved false. I think there is a good chance that there will be a doctor/nurse shortage – fortunately some actions are being taken to alleviate this, but unfortunately some are contributing further to the problem. First, the good – many medical and nursing schools are adding positions to their classes, and new schools are opening up. This is great, and in the next 5-10 years we should (hopefully) see a noticeable increase in health care providers. The bad news, is that lobbying groups and regulatory agencies continue to put restrictions in place to limit supply. Mostly this is done to ensure that these groups’ constituents continue to earn high wages (supply vs. demand), though they lobby under the pretense that they’re “ensuring quality” or something to that effect. Consider, for instance, that the medical licensing board has continually raised the minimum passing score. An intelligent person would say it’s great if 97-99% of medical students pass their licensing exam – it means that the schools are preparing them and covering all of the important material, and that the students are really working hard. But this group wants to maintain the pass rate at around 94% – so every time it starts to creep up, they raise the minimum pass score or make the exam harder (I don’t pay $40,000 a year and work my ass off to fail an exam). It’s great to increase the overall quality of the profession, but do those measures actually increase quality in the areas patients most desire? Doubtful – the best way to increase quality in areas that are important is to let the patient decide, not a licensing board or lobbying group. All they manage to accomplish is a further increase in their wages, which makes the medical care they provide expensive and unattainable for a significant portion of our population.

If we’re really serious about health-care – and given all of the attention it gets during election time I’m assuming we are – then we should deregulate some of this stuff. Lessen the licensing requirements and let the market pick quality physicians (they’d probably be less socially-inept bookworm and more warm-caring physician). Remove restrictions that physician-lobbying groups place on other health care providers – let nurses, physician-assistants, optometrists, physical therapists, etc occupy their rightful place in our health-care system. They’re capable of a lot more than we’re allowing, and it’s insulting and stupid to waste all of that talent and manpower (seriously…be skeptical every time you hear these lobbying groups tout “quality” as their motivation to place further restrictions on another group). Not only would this lower prices of care, it would open up the system to people who are currently shut-out. These regulations don’t ensure quality as much as they ensure that an increasingly larger share of people cannot afford the most basic care. That’s tragic, and completely unnecessary…it really doesn’t have to be this way, and there are better solutions to increase access that don’t involve a Hillary Clinton-styled single-payer system.

~ Lily

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