11.30.2009 0

Take Two Aspirin and Call the Undertaker

  • On: 12/22/2009 09:29:17
  • In: Health Care
  • By Roger Thorndike

    I received a very disturbing letter from a dear friend the other day. It’s someone I’ve known since my early childhood. Actually, he’s always been more like a brother than a buddy. Which is why his letter cut me to the quick.

    “I’ve been given a death sentence,” my friend wrote. “In fact, I’ve been given three death sentences. And it is only the third that appears to be irrevocable – unless the politicians in Washington decide I deserve a reprieve.

    “Late last summer, the doctors told me that I had less than three years to live – and that I’d better plan on it being one. At just over 60, happily married, still working, with a myriad of close friends and an active life, this wasn’t something I wanted to hear. But, I had been afflicted with a rare kidney ailment for which there is no present cure. And now, it was time to get my affairs in order before I saw my life to an end.

    “Then, just a few weeks ago, I received a reprieve – of sorts. I was told that instead of one to three years, I may have as many as ten. And that there was even a good chance that if current medical research continued apace, the medical community might just conquer the disease before it conquered me.

    “So, I’m sure you’re wondering, with good news like that, where does the “of sorts” come from? Well, frankly, it comes from the political elites in Washington, D.C. There, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and their hardened cadre of social engineers have decided that, henceforth, my life will depend on the callous dictates of government bureaucrats.

    “And that means I’m a dead man – unless, God knows how, the government takeover of health care becomes a dead issue.

    “Let me put this in perspective for those whose lives aren’t hanging precariously in the balance. Just since I was born, here are a few of the medical breakthroughs the private medical industry has given us: open heart surgery (1949), the cure for polio (1955), the implantable pacemaker (1960), the first heart transplant (1967), the first ambulatory cataract surgery (1967), the first total knee transplant (1987), the blood test for colon cancer (2009).

    “I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It is one of massive medical triumphs – all spawned by a vibrant private health care industry. Make no mistake about it: the men and women who pioneered those breakthroughs were capitalists. They knew that the better they performed, the more rewards and recognition they would receive. And so, they performed modern medical miracles.

    “Now, think about the reverse side of that. Think for just a moment about the modern miracles of Big Government. In 1935, FDR introduced Social Security as the cure-all for getting old. It has since become the largest runaway welfare program in recorded history. The truth be known, it is already bankrupt – and continues losing an estimated $10 billion a year.

    “In 1971, the U.S. Postal Service was created – and it has since lost tens of billions of dollars (along with countless millions of cards and letters), including $7 billion last year alone. AMTRAK was also founded in 1971 – and while it currently runs at an annual operating deficit of $500 million, it rarely ever runs on time.

    “And then there is the department of motor vehicles. Any department of motor vehicles. As everyone knows who has ever stood interminably in line waiting for a stone-faced DMV bureaucrat to move his or her derriere, if Dante were writing his Inferno today, the DMV would occupy the Tenth Circle of Hell. So, how would you like your medical care in their hands?

    “Sure, I can joke – but not for long. If the Obama government health care takeover is allowed to pass into law, incentive-based medical research will grind to a halt. Rationing will replace readily available care. Government bureaucrats will be handed the power of life and death. And, the greatest medical health care industry in the history of the world will become nothing more than a distant memory.

    “Of course, my ten years of life will pass quickly into oblivion without the slightest hope of medical breakthroughs, or even quality care. Let’s face it, the government bureaucrats who have given us Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the War on Poverty, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Education aren’t big on innovation or quality results.

    “So, barring a miracle – not on the medical front, but in Washington – I guess my days are now numbered. And, not to be unkind, but I just wish I could give the political elite a kidney transplant.”

    So, there you have it: the stark, unfettered truth about what is likely to befall tens of millions of largely unsuspecting Americans if the Obama-Reid-Pelosi regime has its way with health care. As one pundit recently wrote, “If that bill actually becomes law, take two aspirin and call your undertaker, because the greatest medical care industry in history is about to become part of it.”

    And so, unfortunately, is the man I have loved like a brother.

    Roger Thorndike is the pen name of an award-winning film and TV writer. The letter is entirely authentic, though several details have been changed to protect the identity of the sender.

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