Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Idiots In The News

The March Of Time! Dateline, editorial pages of our local catbox liner.

Item 1. A local physician, incensed -- incensed, I say, or maybe just burning a lot of sandalwood sticks -- about the (Congressionally-averted) scheduled reduction in Medicare payments to doctors as a result of cost goals not having been met, huffs, "...No other business would put up with this!"

Oh, never evar, doc. Why, when the flood of Gummit money that comes to the TV station is throttled back, we-- Oh, wait: there isn't any. Never was. When our clients have to skip meals, we starve. And it's that way for most businesses. Having that nice, shiny "M.D." after your name means you'll starve with a nicer-looking degree on the wall than most folks have got. Shaddup and eat your porridge.

Item 2. In a more recent edition, fluffy-headed primate guest editorialist and doctor Richard Feldman bemoans that "...a strict single-payer system is politically unfeasible," chides us that, "A sustainable system cannot tolerate lavish hospitals that look more like palaces or resort spas," then leaves us with A) "...when our present system collapses we will be compelled to ration care..." and B) "...we will eventually create a blended public/private tiered system...where those who can afford additional insurance will receive more services and go to the head of the line. " Funny, isn't that what we already have -- and isn't the part of it that runs in "strict single-payer" mode the one plagued by inefficiency, cost overruns, and rationed care?

Credit where credit is due; he does point out the built-in problem of a system that makes more money treating disease than in preventing it, though coming right on the heels of a sneer at "competition, consumerism and market forces" as unproven means of cost reduction (never heard of Wal-Mart?), it shines less than it might and leaves me wondering if perhaps he'd be happier were us proles awakened every morning by Physical Jerks on the telescreen and sent off to the impersonal, impartial, egalitarian arms for State Hospital #437 when we fall ill, with euthanasia awaiting those whose course of treatment would overburden the State. But that's just my wild speculation.

Item 3. The award-winner for sheer gall and foolishness leaves the first two in the dust: writing to defend making English the official national language, a local woman points out that "300 hours of free education" would be just the ticket for those dadgum gibbering furriners. Free to whom, madam? Either the immigrants themselves will have to fund your dream, or you and I will be taxed to pay for it; and while you might be happy to ante up, I'm not. Howzabout the Feds stop pandering to those who will not learn the customary language hereabouts, instead? It'd be plenty of incentive to learn.

"Free." Land of effing Nod, does she believe teachers fall from the sky fully-formed, skilled in whatever will be needed next and live on rainwater and sunlight? That school buildings spring from the dust as-needed?

* * * * * *

You get what you pay for. When I get the paper, I'm paying for catbox liner. And I get it. The other entertainment that comes with it, I consider lagniappe.


Alan said...

The TV station is heavily subsidized by the government in the form of an FCC license for extremely valuable spectrum that the station didn't have to pay for.

I wonder how the business model of TV would change if they had to actually pay for their spectrum space like the cell phone guys do.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather have a healthcare system designed by Milton Friedman.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed to find a person under 30 who knows what 'Lagniappe" is.

Anonymous said...

"You get what you pay for. When I get the paper, I'm paying for catbox liner."
Yeah, and they're gonna raise the price!

Considering that the whole idea of "selling" spectrum was dreamed up long after the broadcast frequency allocations, I'm not sure you can call it a "subsidy." (If anything, nowadays it's a subsidy to rural viewers and others who can't get/can't afford cable. Discussion here.)

While I have plenty of bones to pick with commercial broadcating (been there, done that, wasn't paid enough to afford the T-shirt), I wouldn't even begin to consider replacing it with a state-run European-style system. Ewww.

BobG said...

"When I get the paper, I'm paying for catbox liner."

Pity the cats...

LabRat said...

Og: Three persons, then, counting Stingray and I.

Then again, I lived in New Orleans for four years, so I could hardly have missed it.

Anonymous said...

Minor clarification on point 1: The average general practitioner (M.D.) performs anywhere from 35% to 70% of their daily work for those government folks. It is hard to call that a subsidy.

In my corner or health care, we perform over 50% of our work for Medicare, Medicaid or charitable patients. When the feds cut back reimbursement, we can't go talk face to face with our customer and ask for a rate increase, nor can we simply refuse to work for them. We can't buy extra inventory from a liquidator and hold a sale, nor can we ramp up our efficiency dramatically. Of our limited options for managing the revenue side of our business, seeking redress from the feds through lobbying and editorializing are some of the only effective tools we have.

Just my $.02 worth. Love your blog, and the Snark has increased and improved for both you and Tam since the cohabitation. I hope you two keep twinning and feeding back anger and frustration for years to come, 'cause the rest of us love to read all about it.


Roberta X said...

Anon, it's charity work, is what it is. Are physicians required to service Medicare/Medicaid patients? If they are, that's a pity; if not and they're not getting paid enough to cover their costs (and are unwilling to eat the difference and call it Good Works), the obvious answer is to drop 'em.
--Which is one reason why I get called "heartless." Somehow it's okay if those who can't afford to pay a plumber go without water or a functioning WC but heavens forfend they should develop a boil and be unable to have it lance for free by a professional.
I'm especially irked by M.D.s wailing they have school loans to repay. Look, so does the guy who fixes your car.

It's a nasty thing, doing business with the Feds; a lot of my employer's "Spectrum Cost" is in the form of a high-paid consulting firm in DC, engineers with law degrees and lawyers who grok tech. We still got hosed along with every other station when Digital TV came along: to play that game, you've got to duplicate your transmitter plant ($1 x 10^6 and up) at the very minimum. Don't want to play? Fine, come Feb of '09, the music stops. Period.

Roberta X said...

PS: Og, you're a shameless flatterer! Ask Ogwife for an accurate estimate of my age.

Anonymous said...

Roberta: All ladies I know over 13 are 29. And remain so in my eyes, forever.

Anonymous said...

Well said Og

Chuck Pergiel said...

Lagniappe? Lanyap? Geez, that's two new terms in one session. I don't know if I can take much more. My head might explode.