Friday, May 13, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: Thursday on NPR's Morning Edition, a "commentary" was provided. Now when NPR brings on someone to do a commentary, you might think they'd need to be knowledgable in the area they are speaking of? You would be incorrect. NPR has their own version of George Will but, instead of a bow tie, he wears a cowboy hat.

Cowboy Poet
By Baxter Black
Nationalizing Professions
Morning Edition, May 12, 2005 · Commentator Baxter Black says some people would like to have nationalized health care. He says if that's the case, other professions should be nationalized as well.

Are times tough in the large animal vet practice? That would explain Black's anger but can anything explain his ongepotchket commentaries?

My granddaughter Tracey loves the TV show Jack and Bobby. She thinks the oldest brother is a "hottie." (I believe Jack is the older brother's name.) And every now and then, she'll come over on Wednesday nights to get me to watch with her. Christine Lati plays the mother and the program actually deals with issues so it's no bother to watch it with her. Gore Vidal had a guest spot this week. My biggest surprise was that my teenage granddaughter not only knew who Gore Vidal was but also knew his writing. Surprised in a good way, mind you. I enjoy Gore Vidal's writing and would rank 1876 as my favorite novel by Mr. Vidal. Tracey and her friends read his essay collections, like Dreaming War, and it's good to know that good writers are being read by our young people.

The reason I bring up Jack and Bobby in the first place is that Baxter Black seems to have a case of the Jack and Bobbys. Addressing the issue of universal health care, terminology he never utters, Black seeks out the "wisdom" of his brother who's right up there with "Solomon" in Baxter's eyes.

While it's good for families to be close, perhaps next time Mr. Black could seek out someone who is actually versed in the topic? Mr. Black clearly lacks knowledge on the issue of health care.

As he intones "socialized medicine" repeatedly, you grasp that he's against it. Myself, I'm for it. I think we need it and that it would benefit both employees and employers as well as the vast number of unemployed adults and children everywhere.

So Mr. Black and I disagree. Fortunately for him, I neither own a large animal or buy the verse of Cowboy Poets, so he doesn't have to worry that he lost a customer.

But Morning Edition should have worried about putting him on air. They should worry not because of his opinion, he can be opposed to universal health care, but because he either doesn't know the facts or doesn't care about them.

"Doctors say socialized medicine reduces the quality of health care available to most, does not pay doctors adequately or reward them for the responsibilty they bear."

That's the view of some doctors and he sums it fine; however, he's far from even handed.

"Those promoting socialized medicine believe good health care is a right for all regardless of income, citizenship, or personal responsibility."

I'm bothered by the "or personal responsibility." I wonder exactly how would be Judge Black rules on that issue? Is someone with cancer, resulting from environmental pollution, personally responsible? What of those who become sick due to lead paint that a landlord doesn't deal with?

But before I can get a grip as to where he stands and whether or not he's just being snide, Mr. Black is back to telling us about his brother and his brother's suggestion to "nationalize the legal profession" if we create universal health care.


"Skyrocketing malpractice insurance is a direct result of doctors being sued by lawyers for the pawn in the middle: us."

But malpractice insurance is not a result of law suits. That is the myth that Bully Boy puts out and certainly GE owned NBC's Nightly News never misses a chance to spin the story in that direction but most educated people are aware that the rising insurance rates have more to do with poor return on stock market investments which created losses that the insurance companies have passed on to their customers.

When GE's companies spin the truth, it's not that surprising. When National Public Radio, which is supposed to be for the public, does, it is very sad.

Mr. Black continues and advises that "the litigous atmosphere has tarnished the image of everyone, it's made the doctors become aloof from their patients, the patients seem greedy and the lawyers look like opportunists." Mr. Black lives in the state of Arizona and, I'm guessing, the state of Denial as well. Doctors looking aloof from the patients due to the "litigious atmosphere?" As the mother of two doctors, I wonder what "research" Mr. Black has to back that up? If he asked my sons, they'd tell him that it had more to do with the medical programs and the grinding schedules. But large animal vets and their brothers apparently know better than doctors themselves.

As someone old enough to remember a time before Republicans had so demonized class action suits, I can tell you that my own experiences with doctors, including one uncle, have almost always been best described as their being "aloof." My mother, God rest her soul, could speak of a time when doctors gave individual care and actually spent time with you. I doubt Mr. Black is old enough to remember those days; however, if he is old enough, then he's old enough to realize that appearing "aloof" has little to do with rising malpractice insurance and that it predates that talking point.

Mr. Black wants so badly to scream "Commie!" that he almost can't get through his uninformed commentary. Quickly he, and his brother, propose that if health care is nationalized, we do the same with the legal profession. But we don't stop their, according to NPR's Jack and Bobby, we go on to set up "tribunals" to hear medical malpractice suits.

And according to Mr. Black, this would force us to "face reality" at which point he returns to "personal responbility" as he castigates the overweight (as though the food being served at most fast food places is anything like the actual food he or I grew up on), smokers, and those "who engage in risky pursuits" which he leaves undefined but I'm sure most listeners could fill in the blanks.

Like a mentally cracked, conservative Supereme Court Justice, Mr. Black is all about the slippery slope and sees it everywhere. When he was eight, my son David once had a nasty accident on a Slip 'n Slide. He lept onto it and slid off it across the half lawn stopping only when he went head on into my rose bushes. Did Mr. Black have a similar experience?

Is that what leads his mind to jump to the idea that universal health care would lead to people being "appointed to office" and "voting" being "abolished?"

He never gets to scream the word he so dearly wants to, "Commie." But he does get a little red-bating in with his concluding statements:

Wait a minute you say, "Who would be in charge? I guess we'd have to ask FEE-Dell how that works."

Yes, he means Castro and that's truly how he mispronounces Fidel. How this kochleffl's uninformed commentary made it to air is a question that might only be answered by the current ideology struggle going on at NPR and PBS. Bringing him on to speak against universal health care wasn't the problem because all voices should be welcomed on NPR. Allowing him to distort reality with no clarification on the part of Steve [Inskeep], who seemd quite amused, was a problem. If NPR is going to abandon the facts, there's little point in fighting to keep it around.
That's something the producers of Morning Edition might want to seriously consider.