I feel guilty about it, if you want to know the truth.
Maybe I better explain.
One of the provisions slipped into the pork-packed "stimulus" package
authorizes billions for digitizing medical records. It also establishes a National
Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
According to Betsy McCaughey, the former lieutenant governor of New York,
that's not a good idea. She explains, at Bloomberg.com, that the national
coordinator will monitor everyone's medical treatment to make sure doctors are
"doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective."
In other words, the government will be able to begin "guiding" doctors'
decisions it will be able to dissuade costly treatments, say, for older folks
who the government figures may croak soon anyhow.
That's why I feel guilty.
I write for a living, you see. Writing is hard. Because I am unable to
concentrate at home, I go to a coffee shop or diner every morning. One of my
favorite spots is Panera Bread.
But most mornings, I encounter a problem: retirees.
There are dozens of them at Panera Bread. They are in their 60s, 70s and 80s
one woman is 93. They are healthy and cheerful. They talk loudly and
Who can blame them for being so upbeat? They are a reflection of an
incredibly successful civilization that, our current recession aside, produced
unimaginable wealth and unimaginable advances in health care.
Some of the retirees have new hips and knees, no doubt. Their tickers,
successfully bypassed and rerouted, are beating as good as new. They've likely
outlived a number of maladies that might have been their end if not for the
amazing drugs and medical innovations that America has produced.
But I am unable to write when the retirees are socializing at Panera Bread.
One fellow has a powerful, booming voice and loves to use it. One lady has a
cackle that sounds like fingernails scraping a chalkboard. Another fellow
breaks out whistling for no reason at all a loud, screeching whistle that
makes concentrating impossible.
It is a touch ironic that as they enjoy their coffee and camaraderie on one
side of the room, I sit on the other side working in order to fund some of
their good fortune to fund Medicare and Social Security.
It isn't their fault that Social Security is a giant Ponzi scheme that
they are drawing out way more than they paid in and that I'm surely paying in
way more than I'll ever draw out.
It also struck me as ironic that the more they talk and cackle and whistle,
the less work I am able to get done. The less I produce, the less I am able
to bill. The less I am able to bill, the less taxes I am able to pay to fund
the Medicare and Social Security that contributes to their cheerfulness.
But nothing is more ironic than this: Some of my retiree friends likely
voted for the politicians the Democrats who have promised to give them the
Surely, the retirees had no idea that Democrats would slip a provision by
them through which the government would begin monitoring and eventually
denying costly medical treatments to older folks just like them.
After all, says liberal Democrat Tom Daschle, who authored the idea,
America's elderly need to become more like Europeans more willing to accept their
fates and "forgo experimental treatments."
In other words, it's just a matter of time before some nameless, faceless
bureaucrat not an elderly patient's doctor decides which treatment is
"cost-effective" based on the patient's age.
It pains me to bring up the most ironic point of all, but there is no
escaping it: This could be the only time in my life that the decisions made by a
heartless government bureaucrat might unwittingly benefit me.
It has occurred to me that as there are fewer retirees talking, cackling and
whistling at Panera Bread as the government denies them treatment I'll
finally be able to get some work done.
Such are the callous, thoughtless, perverse musings that only the government
At least I feel guilty about it.