OP-ED

Coming Short with Thinking

I am mad at congress.

I don’t care if they are Democrats or Republicans, I am sick of healthcare being treated as a political football. How much more of a crisis do we need before we actually start working on a solution? Why does each party have to sit on its side of the aisle shooting spitballs at the other? Each side has its pet issues that are tied to contributors, supporters, and lobbyists. Each side will work to see the other side fail even if the other side is right. Each side seems unable to do anything unless there is political value in it. Power is more important than service, and power is a short-term project.

The real problem is that congress is thinking of short-term political gain while sabotaging the long-term. It’s like the publicly traded company that works to maximize quarterly profits even if it damages the corporation in the long run. Our society thinks in the short not in the long, and our congressmen are doing so in a way that harms all of us.

I thought of this while I was in the shower this morning. I am not sure if it is the shampoo, but I have thoughts about blog posts while I’m in the shower. I was getting filled with righteous rage about the stupidity of congress and how they mimic corporate America in short-sightedness.

Then I realized something: I do the same thing in my personal life. I am trying to eat better and exercise, but that brownie in the break room looks awfully tempting. A little indulgence now won’t hurt in the long-run, will it? I start playing that damned Bejeweled game on Facebook instead of working around the house. It’s only one night, and I am stressed-out about stuff.

Perhaps it’s the soap that gets me thinking this way.

Living my life making decisions based on my immediate feelings is the same stupidity that infects congress. I indulge for personal gain in the short-term and let tomorrow’s crisis build. I have had people younger than me have heart attacks and die; do I really want my last night on earth be spent playing Bejeweled? Worse yet, if I survive and keep acting in this way, do I really want the measure of my life be how many brownies I eat or what my high score is on a game? It’s not that I don’t realize I should spend my days better; it’s just human nature that thinks in the now in ways that harm the future.

Then I thought about my patients: they do the same thing. My patients who are overweight, smokers, alcoholics, non-compliant, in bad relationships, neglecting their children, or hating others because of superficial differences – they are not all that different from me. They are not different from congress. They are living in the now because humans do that. Humans overcharge their credit cards to the point that they can’t even afford the monthly payments. Humans buy cars with money they don’t have just to get the warm feeling of having a new toy, and the joy of making others jealous.

It doesn’t justify stupidity, but it does explain it. I feel righteous anger toward congress because I see the result of their inaction. I see the harm caused to people by a dysfunctional system. My paycheck is affected by it. Congress can’t resist the brownies; they can’t stop playing Bejeweled. Congress can’t stop smoking, or stop spending money on credit cards.

So how do we fight this battle that is all too human? How do we get congress to act in a way that’s best for us, not them? How do we get ourselves to spend time with the kids, not the blog? How do I get my patients with heart disease to stop smoking?

I don’t know. I had to get out of the shower.

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tcoyoteDr. Rick LippinMD as HELLarchon41bev M.D. Recent comment authors
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archon41
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archon41

C’est la lutte finale…

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

Not at all. It is not Corporate America’s job to grant or deny anything, least of all equality of any sort.

archon41
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archon41

Let’s see if I can sugarcoat the Marxist core thought with a little humanitarian “spin”: “A system where Corporate America can not deny to the most vulnerable among us equality of access to health care.” That more pleasing to your ears?

archon41
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archon41

You’re pulling my chain, right? I know I’m simple.

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

Yes, I would.
The statement implies equal guaranties for all. It does not imply that ALL is guaranteed.
From Merriam-Webster:
effective: producing a decided, decisive, or desired effect
The “desired” part is what private money will have to buy.

archon41
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archon41

Ah. Then you would not second the proposal that “everyone would be guaranteed the same effective health care.”

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

I am advocating a system where everybody has basic care and money will, of course, buy as much additional care as the wealthy person desires.
BTW, productivity is not necessarily a good indicator of income and income may not be a good indicator for ability to pay either.

archon41
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archon41

Not to seem insensitive, but I really have no idea what you are trying to say. If you’ve been advocating a system where health care bears some reasonable relationship to income and productivity, it sailed over my head.
As for China and the soviet systems, it has always been my understanding that some are more equal than others.

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

How wonderfully Communist of you archon41.
I believe this is exactly how things work in China and used to work in the USSR….

archon41
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archon41

The obsessional fixation on the notion that the burger flipper and the neurologist are to be rationed the same dose of homogenized health care is not only an “agenda,” but the fruit of ideological dementia.

Margalit Gur-Arie
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Margalit Gur-Arie

No, politics is not inherently evil and Athens’ fate is not bound to be repeated here. If you put current events in a long term perspective, there really isn’t anything too terribly unusual about what is happening today. Housing bubble and an economy going down the drain? Well, remember the real estate bubble at the end of the eighteen century? It ruined many folks and sent a signer of the Constitution to debtor prison. Greed and speculation and credit crisis in the financial industry? Not much different than 1792 and 1819 and many more. Bad foreign policy? Jefferson’s o-grab-me that… Read more »

MD as HELL
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MD as HELL

One day there will be a terrible event, bigger than 9-11, that will galvanize the political will and determine a clear course of action, most likely for our survival as a nation. It is not healthcare. It will be economic and it will lead to the undoing of all the entitlements and all the subsidies and all the earmarks. When people left the safety of the east and struck out for the west, they had no guarantees. They just new they wanted to make a better life for themselves. It wasn’t for everybody. Not everybody left the relative safety of… Read more »

tcoyote
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tcoyote

LOTS of doctors in this thread. Sorry archon41, but I don’t detect an “agenda” among the docs, but rather mounting anger that our elected officials are not minding the public trust. Politics is not inherently evil. The clash both of ideas and interests is about the only way we have of sorting out how to move forward as a society. What seems to have been lost is the ability to say “no” at some point, to sort out the strong from the weak claims on our vast but still limited resources. Congress is a political institution. So let’s not beat… Read more »

Dr. Rick Lippin
Guest

I have learned never to underestimate the self destructiveness of individuals and institutions.
The US is in a self destructive downward spiral big time facilitated by short term thinking inside the beltway and on Wall Street
Main street stands by seemingly helpless,apathetic or both?
When the pain of US vox populi, though, becomes inevitably greater look for more widespread acts of civil disobediance and general civil unrest.
YES- IT CAN HAPPEN HERE
Dr. Rick Lippin
Southampton,Pa

MD as HELL
Guest
MD as HELL

Doctor, It is not your job to get your heart patients to quit smoking. They are adults and only they can reap either the benefit or detriment of a course of action. They are free to live their own lives on their terms. If you have a problem with that, then you do not understand what they want from you. They already know smoking is bad for them. But they also know that quitting never stopped someone from dying. People should live free and you should help them do that. Care for who they are. They are not looking for… Read more »