Mitt Romney's Planet

Am I the only one who noticed this? I couldn't believe it when I heard it. I was sure I must have mis-understood what he was saying. And when I didn't see the spin doctors and the bloggers and pundits pick-up on the point, then I had to assume that I was wrong. Surely, a statement like the one I thought I heard would have produced headlines. So I must be wrong.

Hence, I waited for the transcripts to come out. And according to the transcripts, I did hear him right. I heard him right, but what I heard was so astonishingly wrong that I still am having difficulty understanding one, how anybody could say such a thing, and two, how he could get away with it without it causing a storm of protest. But here is the transcript from the New Hampshire Republican Debate of an exchange between Mitt Romney and John McCain on health care:

MCCAIN: Both the attorney general of South Carolina -- I don't know why I mention South Carolina...
GIBSON: Because there's a primary there.
... and the attorney general of Iowa -- and I don't -- well, anyway...
GIBSON: That's too late.
MCCAIN: ... have sued the pharmaceutical companies because of overcharging of millions of dollars of Medicaid costs to their patients. How could that happen? How could pharmaceutical companies be able to cover up the cost to the point where nobody knows? Why shouldn't we be able to reimport drugs from Canada?
It's because of the power of the pharmaceutical companies. We should have pharmaceutical companies competing to take care of our Medicare and Medicaid patients.
ROMNEY: OK, don't leave me. Don't send the pharmaceutical companies into the big bad guys.
MCCAIN: Well, they are.
ROMNEY: No, actually they're trying to create products to make us well and make us better, and they're doing the work of the free market.
And are there excesses? I'm sure there are, and we should go after excesses. But they're an important industry to this country.
But let me note something else, and that is the market will work. And the reason health care isn't working like a market right now is you have 47 million people that are saying, "I'm not going to play. I'm just going to get free care paid for by everybody else." That doesn't work.
Number two, the buyer doesn't have information about what the cost or quality is, or different choices they could have. If you take the government out of it to a much greater extent, you'd get it to work like a market and it will rein in cost.

Okay, here's what I find astounding, and I would like to know if anybody agrees with me. Apparently, Mitt Romney believes that 47 million Americans go uninsured because they are “freeloaders,” that they willfully game the system. The idea that health care (and consequently, health insurance) is priced out of the reach of far too many people has not occurred to the governor. Romney reveals himself to be so disconnected from the reality of most Americans lives, that you wonder where he has spent his adult life. Well, I know where he has spent most of his life; more of this in a moment. But first, his statement also reveals an incredible ignorance both about the “free market” and about the nature of insurance.

Concerning the “free market,” a market that depends on licenses and patents cannot be a free market. A patent allows one to charge monopoly prices, not free market prices. Now, Romney would be right in asserting that if we took the government out of it, there could be no patents, and hence no monopoly pricing, but that is not what he means. In fact, he means the opposite, namely that what few restrictions there are on the monopolists ought to be removed. In other words, he means exactly the opposite of a free market. Nor is this system necessary to fund research and development, which could be done at a far lower cost (see Sicko-phancy).

Further, Romney does not seem to understand insurance. Insurance can only be cost-averaging; some must pay too much so that others can pay too little. We take the risk that we are paying too much because we balance that against the risk of not being able to pay if we have a major loss. And since it is just cost-averaging, we seek the lowest risk-pool we can. If you are a bad driver with lots of tickets and accidents, you will be placed in a high-risk pool and your costs will be averaged with other high-risk drivers. If you are a safe driver with few accidents and no tickets, you will be placed in a lower risk-pool and will pay a lower average cost. When you go for health insurance, the same thing happens; if you have a bum ticker, you will get a bum price on the insurance, perhaps more than you can afford. Now, if we mandate insurance, we will force people to buy what they cannot afford. If we put everybody in the same risk-pool and mandate the insurance, it will be exactly like a tax. And if we mandate that people buy insurance, and put them in the same risk-pool, and subsidize those who can't afford it, what we will have is the most inefficient possible system of socialized medicine, one where care is delivered by government subsidy and tax (mandated insurance) but with the proviso that a tribute has to be paid to private insurance companies, for no particular reason. The insurance companies will have no incentive to manage costs, will be free of most marketing expenses, and no matter what the cost, they can rely on the government to make up the difference. Of all possible health care worlds, Romney has designed the worst, the most inefficient. He has combined the worst features of a predatory market and outright socialism. Quite a trick, when you think about it.

How could Mitt Romney, a very rich man, be so wrong about basic economics, the free market, and health care? Romney made his fortune as a hedge-fund manager, and his company Bain Capital, made its money by closing American factories and moving the jobs overseas. On Romney's planet, this is called “the free market.” Well, free for some, less free for others. On Romney's planet, freedom is maintained because the people thrown out of work could simply have moved to Bangladesh and taken the jobs he offered. But Romney's planet is not our planet, is not Mother Earth, our temporary home in this vale of tears, and now one should be allowed to make it more tear-full than it already is.

Mitt is free to live on any planet he likes, and he is certainly rich enough to buy his own planet. But he should not be allowed to buy his own country, particularly not my country.

29 comments:

Brad C,  Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 8:07:00 PM CST  

And if we mandate that people buy insurance, and put them in the same risk-pool, and subsidize those who can't afford it, what we will have is the most inefficient possible system of socialized medicine, one where care is delivered by government subsidy and tax (mandated insurance) but with the proviso that a tribute has to be paid to private insurance companies, for no particular reason.

Great post.

But based on your comments, I would guess that you are not aware Romney has already done this here in Massachusetts when he was governor. Some "free-market conservative", eh?

Anonymous,  Sunday, January 6, 2008 at 10:43:00 PM CST  

okay, lets just do it your way. Let's give the 47 million people "FREE" medical care, and let everyone else pay for it. What the heck, raise my taxes some more. In fact, I think I will just quit my job, too, so I can get "free" med care. I mean really. Doesn't there come a point where people need to stop relying on the government for everything and start steping up to the plate? I think Romney is right on and I am "ON HIS PLANET" you should be too.

B. Y. Clark Monday, January 7, 2008 at 7:43:00 AM CST  

Sure some of the 47 million are without insurance because they want to be without it... but I seriously doubt that is the majority.

There is no free market for insurance. I have no choice who my insurance provider is beyond quitting my job and go to work for an employer that might use the insurance provide I'd prefer. It is our employers who chose our insurance provider, not the vast majority of US citizen.

It is well established that private insurance is inefficient at providing health coverage and that our government system is far more efficient. Private insurance is more costly, and it rations care too. That is not to say that government programs do not ration, but critics often say that if we have a gov't run system you'll have gov't bureaucrats telling you what care you can or cannot have... well folks wake up and smell the coffee because your private health care provider does the exact same thing.

Ultimately it is a fundamental misunderstanding of economics that I see in Romney (and others relying solely on the so called free market). If they understood moral hazards and risk pools, they might, just might come around to the idea that having everyone insured is far better fiscally for our nation than having 47 million uninsured.

M.Z. Forrest Monday, January 7, 2008 at 8:26:00 AM CST  

Very much in agreement. The other branch of present Republican theory is that people are receiving frivolous care. This is blamed on lack of sufficient deductibles and lawsuits. The latter claim is empirically false. Deductibles for all their value reduce people receiving necessary and unnecessary care. I'll give Romney a break for not understanding insurance. Very few of us outside the industry do.

Kate,  Monday, January 7, 2008 at 8:49:00 AM CST  

"There is no free market for insurance. I have no choice who my insurance provider is beyond quitting my job and go to work for an employer that might use the insurance provide I'd prefer."

Amen. And emphasis on the "might," since employers (in my experience) change insurance plans pretty often, in an effort to chase down deals. Free market? Informed consumer choice? Definitely a different planet.

John Médaille Monday, January 7, 2008 at 9:59:00 AM CST  

Anonymous says, okay, lets just do it your way. Let's give the 47 million people "FREE" medical care, and let everyone else pay for it.

But you have missed the point. The question is WHY 47 million don't have insurance. For Romney, they are just a bunch of willful freeloaders. That's an interesting description of 47 million people, but okay, its one possible explanation.

It doesn't seem to have occurred to Mitt that 47 million people have been priced out of the market. And, for a guy who claims to be a "free market" expert, this is an amazing lapse, because all markets work precisely by pricing somebody out of the market. That's the meaning of a supply/demand curve, the most basic structure in all of economic science. A person who doesn't understand this basic curve does not--and cannot--understand economics.

Now, if we are speaking of the market for Ipods, pricing people out of the market has very little meaning. If we are speaking of basic health care, excluding people has another meaning.

I just wish that people who talk about a free-market solution to this problem would take the trouble to learn what a free market is.

nmsnow,  Monday, January 7, 2008 at 5:04:00 PM CST  

You can see for yourself how socialized medicine is working right now in our country. Go anywhere in the Navajo Reservation and talk to any of the Native Americans about their health care. The have the Indian Services Health Care. (I live in the 4 corners and my husband is a DR) He has helped countless Native Americans (all for free) who have been "helped" in their health care system and been misdiagnosed, or not helped and sick for years, because of this ineffective system. They all have insurance, everyone of them. All payed for by the government. Socialized medicine does not work.

Private insurance has problems, too. There are many companies who constantly fail to pay their bills to the Dr's, and overcharge for the insurance to the patients. Something does need to be done!

I was under the impression Romney's plan was leaning more towards "comercializing" the insurance companies, therefore making it more of a consumer market.

It is my view the insurance companies are the bad guy in the whole health care problem. I wish we could just cut them out altogether.

What makes people think that they should be entitled to free anything?

Weaver,  Monday, January 7, 2008 at 6:45:00 PM CST  

Talk to a doctor; self pays often are no pays...

Romney's proposal is probably better than the other candidates. I haven't kept up, but don't the others all want more direct socialism? Romney at least wants slightly less direct socialism, requiring all to be insured either privately or by their employer.

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I'm not saying his position is right, but if you talk to doctors they'll tell you self pays often don't pay, or don't pay fully.

I don't know what the solution is; I like Ron Paul overall, so I'm just hoping he's got the right solution.

Weaver,  Monday, January 7, 2008 at 6:47:00 PM CST  

I've heard Romney's system that he used in his state is similar to the Swiss system. Again, it is socialism; I'm not defending it. We've got problems with our current system, but I doubt Romney's is the best solution.

Anonymous,  Monday, January 7, 2008 at 7:29:00 PM CST  

I don't hear any other candidates with a health care plan that is anything other than Socialized medicine. I have to hope the House & Senate will work out the bugs. Romney is still the best choice. I am voting for MITT.

John Médaille Monday, January 7, 2008 at 7:36:00 PM CST  

NMSNOW said, Go anywhere in the Navajo Reservation and talk to any of the Native Americans about their health care. That the gov't screws the Indians is hardly news.

I was under the impression Romney's plan was leaning more towards "comercializing" the insurance companies, therefore making it more of a consumer market. You can't use "mandate" and "market" in the same sentence; the one excludes the other. A "mandate" that forces you to buy a product is equivalent to a tax. In this case, it is a tax collected by private insurance companies, but still no less than a tax.

What makes people think that they should be entitled to free anything? So what did you pay for your last breath of air? In fact, a lot of the services we consume are socialized. Police, fire, roads, national defense, food inspection, libraries, schools, etc. The question is never whether we pay for these things, but how we pay for them: either in a market system or a socialized one.

The problem with a "market system" is that it works by excluding some group that would like to participate; in no free market case does the supply price cross the demand curve at 100% of demand. Some must be excluded. So if you want a pure free market system for health care, that's fine, but you have to state how many you are willing to see excluded from the system. 10%? 20%? 30?

Hence, for things that we deem to be "common goods," that is, goods that ought to be available to all, we cannot use a market system to provide them.

John Kindley Monday, January 7, 2008 at 8:30:00 PM CST  

Of course, one of the reasons that health care is so expensive is that the AMA has a vested interest (just like the ABA with respect to lawyers) in continuing to make it especially difficult to become a doctor, and to ensure that health care services that could adequately be provided by someone with less than 10+ years of medical training can only be provided by someone with 10+ years of medical training. As you said, a market that depends on licenses cannot be a free market. That's a good reason to get rid of licensing laws.

papabear Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 2:39:00 AM CST  

I don't hear any other candidates with a health care plan that is anything other than Socialized medicine.

Look up Ron Paul.

That's a good reason to get rid of licensing laws.

Or modify them so that there can be alternate providers of health care, not just people with a M.D.--that is one of Ron Paul's suggestions.

B. Y. Clark Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 7:53:00 AM CST  

It is my view the insurance companies are the bad guy in the whole health care problem. I wish we could just cut them out altogether.
So you are against socialized medicine and you are against the insurance companies... how do you propose health care is paid for? Out of pocket???

Weaver,  Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 12:26:00 PM CST  

Is Romney vying for Middle America? He says he wants to lower the tax rate for Middle Americans (people earning under 200K a year.) 2. investment program for alternative energy 3. promote fair trade 4. invest in manufacturing technology.

Bay Buchanan (newly arrived as a Senior Campaign advisor) must have explained what to say on amnesty because now he truly opposes it.

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He's also calling for federalism, sort of, in his health care plan.

Weaver,  Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 12:31:00 PM CST  

The video link didn't work...

The video can be found here if interested.

nmsnow,  Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 7:35:00 PM CST  

Weaver says: talk to a doctor; self pays are often no pay

My husband is a Doctor.. he disagrees with you...and so do I

The dentists have mostly a self-pay system. People go to a dentist expecting to pay for their care. What the insurance doesn't cover, they pay. In the medical system people EXPECT to have free care. If insurance doesn't pay for it all, tough beans... that's all the Dr. gets. What's worse is that the insurance companies mandate to the Doctors what they can and can not charge for their procedures.
The insurance companies have cut the amount of money that they will pay for visits, procedures, surgeries yearly. Some as much as 10 percent a year. I know you don't feel sorry for me, and don't. But self payers get a discount. And even with a discount for paying up front and cash, half the time my husband ends up collecting more money than if he had turned it into the insurance for pay. I'm just so convinced that the insurance companies are the bad guy in this whole problem.

John, what in the world are you saying? You'd like your Neuroseurgeon to have 5 years of training instead of 10? It must have been a joke...

John Médaille Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 8:29:00 PM CST  

NMSNOW said, John, what in the world are you saying? You'd like your Neuroseurgeon to have 5 years of training instead of 10?

No, but then I wouldn't go to a neurosurgeon to have a broken arm set. There are different levels of medical care, but only one license.

John Kindley Tuesday, January 8, 2008 at 8:35:00 PM CST  

nmsnow said "John, what in the world are you saying? You'd like your Neuroseurgeon to have 5 years of training instead of 10? It must have been a joke..."

Note that I didn't say that neurosurgery is one those health care services that could adequately be provided by someone with less than 10 years of medical training. But what do I know? Maybe it could. My impression is that a lot of time in medical school is spent on things not related to technical proficiency in neurosurgery. But again, what do I know? Not having been to medical school, I can only surmise based upon the inefficiencies of the generalist approach taken in law school. On a related point, my understanding is that Israeli fighter pilots are every bit as good as American fighter pilots, even though a college degree is a prerequisite for the latter but not for the former.

I don't know whether Milton Friedman carries any weight around here, but he made the point I'm trying to make thusly:

The medical profession is one in which practice of the profession has for a long time been restricted to people with licenses. Offhand, the question, "Ought we to let incompetent physicians practice?" seems to admit of only a negative answer. But I want to urge that second thought may give pause.

In the first place, licensure is the key to the control that the medical profession can exercise over the number of physicians. To understand why this is so requires some discussion of the structure of the medical profession. The American Medical Association is perhaps the strongest trade union in the United States. The essence of the power of a trade union is its power to restrict the number who may engage in a particular occupation. This restriction may be exercised indirectly by being able to enforce a wage rate higher than would otherwise prevail. If such a wage rate can be enforced, it will reduce the number of people who can get jobs and thus indirectly the number of people pursuing the occupation. This technique of restriction has disadvantages. There is always a dissatisfied fringe of people who are trying to get into the occupation. A trade union is much better off it can limit directly the number of people who enter the occupation-who ever try to get jobs in it. The disgruntled and dissatisfied are excluded at the outset, and the union does not have to worry about them.

The American Medical Association is in this position. It is a trade union that can limit the number of people who can enter. How can it do this? The essential control is at the stage of admission to medical school. The Council on Medical Education and Hospitals of the American Medical Association approves medical schools. In order for a medical school to get and stay on its list of approved schools it has to meet the standards of the Council. The power of the Council has been demonstrated at various times when there has been pressure to reduce numbers. For example, in the 1930's during the depression, the Council on Medical Education and Hospitals wrote a letter to the various medical schools saying the medical schools were admitting more students than could be given the proper kind of training. In the next year or two, every school reduced the number it was admitting, giving very strong presumptive evidence that the recommendation had some effect. . . .

Control over admission to medical school and later licensure enables the profession to limit entry in two ways. The obvious one is simply by turning down many applicants. The less obvious, but probably far more important one, is by establishing standards for admission and licensure that make entry so difficult as to discourage young people from ever trying to get admission. . . .

In the first place, does [licensure] really raise standards of competence? It is by no means clear that it does raise the standards of competence in the actual practice of the profession for several reasons. In the first place, whenever you establish a block to entry into any field, you establish an incentive to find ways of getting around it, and of course medicine is no exception. The rise of the professions of osteopathy and of chiropractic is not unrelated to the restriction of entry into medicine. On the contrary, each of these represented, to some extent, an attempt to find a way around restriction of entry. Each of these, in turn, is proceeding to get itself licensed, and to impose restrictions. The effect is to create different levels and kinds of practice, to distinguish between what is called medical practice and substitutes such as osteopathy, chiropractic, faith healing and so on. These alternatives may well be of lower quality than medical practice would have been without the restrictions on entry into medicine.

More generally, if the number of physicians is less than it otherwise would be, and if they are fully occupied, as they generally are, this means that there is a smaller total of medical practice by trained physicians-fewer medical man-hours of practice, as it were. The alternative is untrained practice by somebody; it may and in part must be by people who have no professional qualifications at all. Moreover, the situation is much more extreme. If "medical practice" is to be limited to licensed practitioners, it is necessary to define what medical practice is, and featherbedding is not something that is restricted to the railroads. Under the interpretation of the statutes forbidding unauthorized practice of medicine, many things are restricted to licensed physicians that could perfectly well be done by technicians, and other skilled people who do not have a Cadillac medical training. I am not enough of a technician to list the examples at all fully. I only know that those who have looked into the question say that the tendency is to include in "medical practice" a wider and wider range of activities that might well be done by others. The result is to reduce drastically the amount of medical care. The relevant average quality of medical care, if one can at all conceive of the concept, cannot be obtained by simply averaging the quality of care that is given; that would be like judging the effectiveness of a medical treatment by considering only the survivors; one must also allow for the fact that the restrictions reduce the amount of care. The result may well be that the average level of competence in a meaningful sense has been reduced by the restrictions.

Even these comments do not go far enough, because they consider the situation at a point in time and do not allow for changes over time. Advances in any science or field often result from the work of one out of a large number of crackpots and quacks and people who have no standing in the profession. In the medical profession, under present circumstances, it is very difficult to engage in research or experimentation unless you are a member of the profession. If you are a member of the profession and want to stay in good standing in the profession, you are seriously limited in the kind of experimentation you can do. A "faith healer" may be just a quack who is imposing himself on credulous patients, but maybe one in a thousand or in many thousands will produce an important improvement in medicine. There are many different routes to knowledge and learning and the effect to restricting the practice of what is called medicine and defining it as we tend to do to a particular group, who in the main have to conform to the prevailing orthodoxy, is certain to reduce the amount of experimentation that goes on and hence to reduce the rate of growth of knowledge in the area. What is true for the content of medicine is true also for its organization, as has already been suggested. I shall expand further on this point below.

There is still another way in which licensure, and the associated monopoly in the practice of medicine, tend to render standards of practice low. I have already suggested that it renders the average quality of practice low by reducing the number of physicians, by reducing the aggregate number of hours available from trained physicians for more rather than less important tasks, and by reducing the incentive for research and development. It renders it low also by making it much more difficult for private individuals to collect from physicians for malpractice. One of the protections of the individual citizen against incompetence is protection against fraud and the ability to bring suit in the court against malpractice. Some suits are brought, and physicians complain a great deal about how much they have to pay for malpractice insurance. Yet suits for malpractice are fewer and less successful than they would be were it not for the watchful eye of the medical association. It is not easy to get a physician to testify against a fellow physician when he faces the sanction of being denied the right to practice in an "approved" hospital. The testimony generally has to come from members of panels set up by medical associations themselves, always, of course, in the alleged interest of the patients.

When these effects are taken into account, I am myself persuaded that licensure has reduced both the quantity and quality of medical practice; that is has reduced the opportunities available to people who would like to be physicians, forcing them to pursue occupations they regard as less attractive; that it has forced the public to pay more for less satisfactory medical service, and that it has retarded technological development both in medicine itself and in the organization of medical practice. I conclude that licensure should be eliminated as a requirement for the practice of medicine.

When all this is said, many a reader, I suspect, like many a person with whom I have discussed these issues, will say, "But still, how else would I get any evidence on the quality of a physician. Granted all that you say about costs, is not licensure the only way of providing the public with some assurance of at least minimum quality?" The answer is partly that people do not now choose physicians by picking names at random from a list of licensed physicians; partly, that a man's ability to pass an examination twenty or thirty years earlier is hardly assurance of quality now; hence, licensure is not now the main or even a major source of assurance of at least minimum quality. But the major answer is very different. It is that the question itself reveals the tyranny of the status quo and the poverty of our imagination in fields in which we are laymen, and even in those in which we have some competence, by comparison with the fertility of the market. . . .

The impossibility of any individual or small group conceiving of all the possibilities, let alone evaluating their merits, is the great argument against central governmental planning and against arrangements such as professional monopolies that limit the possibilities of experimentation. On the other side, the great argument for the market is its tolerance of diversity; its ability to utilize a wide range of special knowledge and capacity. It renders special groups impotent to prevent experimentation and permits the customers and not the producers to decide what will serve the customers best.

nmsnow,  Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 9:49:00 AM CST  

John,
All I can do it laugh at your comments. Go back to Never-never land with the author of the book (and Ron Paul). It'll never-never happen and there are just too many reasons why it shouldn't, either. (Accountability for one)
My husband has to re-apply for his medical license every 5 YEARS. To be able to keep his license, he has to have kept up to date on what's going on in his field of expertise- go to an assigned amount of meetings, classes, read so many articles and books, take a written test and have his surgical skills examined.
Licensing helps to keep Doctors in check. It is for the safety of the patient. Medicine takes a little more brains than you think. It is NOT like flying a plane. I think you should go fly a plane to outer space, by the way.

John Kindley Thursday, January 10, 2008 at 3:35:00 PM CST  

The level of vitriol and lack of intelligence in your comment suggests to me that you are unworthy of a response. I have to ask myself why my comment provoked such an insultingly over-the-top emotional response from you. I guess that it's because doctors and their families like to think of themselves as both little gods and servants of the public welfare, and the suggestion that they (like other professions) conspire together to serve first their own financial interests, and that such self-interested combinations seriously harm rather than help patients, drives the less honest among them ballistic (Ron Paul, who I do not wholeheartedly support, is apparently one of the more honest physicians). It deflates their self-image and the public image they rely on for their privileged status. Doctors, after all, are supposed to "first, do no harm."

In short, your emotional over-the-top reaction is revealing, and what it reveals is the desire to protect your husband's income, at the expense of his patients who in a better and fairer world could have access to the same health care services for a fairer price.

You can go fly a kite for all I care.

Richard Aleman Friday, January 11, 2008 at 12:27:00 PM CST  

"We thought long and hard about what to propose. We proposed a bold initiative, an initiative that takes equities out of the system, so people are treated fairly."

-President Bush (Jan. 2007)

nmsnow,  Friday, January 11, 2008 at 1:36:00 PM CST  

I made a mistake, my husband gets recertified every 10 years.

Also, the AMA has nothing to do with the Licensing for M.D.'s. They receive their licenses through the states.

My husband does not belong to the AMA(mostly because it is a liberal organization)

nmsnow,  Friday, January 11, 2008 at 2:37:00 PM CST  

Oh, and though you've probably heard enough of me..

John,
My husband's income is mandated by the insurance companies, and as I have said in an earlier post, it is my opinion they are the bad guys in the whole health care mess.
I wish the patients did not have to go broke going to the Dr.

I am sorry I must admit I did not read your entire post (the first one) What I did read just sounded a little out there, so I skipped ahead. Guess everyone has a right to there opinion.

I also feel I must defend your insult us regarding the low class remark on "protecting our income". You do not know my husband, nor are familiar with his practice. You are unaware of his love of medicine and how devoted he has been in serving this community for years. He has given free care on a daily basis. The world needs more Doctors like him. Your remark was uncalled for.

John Kindley Friday, January 11, 2008 at 3:00:00 PM CST  

As an attorney, I participate in Continuing Legal Education. I'm able to choose seminars related to my actual areas of practice. These seminars are taught by practicing attorneys, and I find them very helpful and useful. I would attend them whether or not they were mandated to keep my license in good standing. In fact, I recently traveled a couple hours to attend one even though I have already satisfied my CLE requirements for this year.

Law school was a different matter. I actually did find quite a bit of it intellectually stimulating (some not so much), especially researching and writing my law review article (which was published as "The Fit Between the Elements for an Informed Consent Cause of Action and the Scientific Evidence Linking Induced Abortion with Increased Breast Cancer Risk"), but in retrospect, from the perspective of the actual practice of law, I see that law school for the most part was a big waste of time and money. The law review experience no doubt helped me to write a few appellate briefs that I was involved with, but law review was a small part of law school and appellate brief writing is a very small part of the practice of law.

I'm now able to charge the hourly fees that lawyers are infamous for, but the downside for me is the law school debt and the time down the drain. Obviously, the debt and the three years of missed work opportunities contributes, for both me and other attorneys, to the price we charge for legal services.

I now think that it would have been better for both me and my clients if instead of law school I, and everyone else who wants to practice law, had had the option to learn our professions on the job (e.g. in a paid apprenticeship, like in the olden days). It's not that hard to draft a simple will, power of attorney, etc. It's very important to get it right, but you can learn it from a book and reading the relevant statutes. Just as you have to watch out for shysters even in today's licensed legal market, an intelligent consumer could figure out who was competent to draft his will in an unlicensed market. Hell, I think an intelligent high school graduate could figure out how to draft simple wills for people, then gradually add to his repertoire as time went on. It's also very conceivable to me that an intelligent and personable high school graduate, who has familiarized himself with the relevant statutes and hopefully attended CLE training, could successfully represent a client in settling misdemeanor criminal charges, and then work his way up to trials and felonies. The bottom line is that the consumer of legal services should have the option to hire whoever he wants, including the high school graduate. Think what that would do to the cost of legal services and access to justice.

Unfortunately, you won't often hear the above thoughts expressed by licensed attorneys. Once you yourself have gone through the spanking machine, your financial interests motivate you to insist that everyone else go through the spanking machine as well before they can become your business competitors.

John Kindley Friday, January 11, 2008 at 3:18:00 PM CST  

snow,

You basically told me my comment was laughably stupid and that I should get lost. I thought that was uncalled for, and was a little perplexed and offended. I questioned what could be the source of the insult, and an obvious answer was the personal financial ramifications. Perhaps my comment in response to what I perceived as your over-reaction was itself an over-reaction, a disproportionate escalation of a fight it seemed you'd started. If so, sorry. I don't have anything against doctors themselves. I've worked extensively with a couple of them where they acted as expert witnesses in a case I was litigating. I appreciate the intelligence and hard work it takes to practice medicine competently. But I do think that there are plenty of health care services that are now exclusively the purview of M.D.'s that could be just as competently and more cheaply provided by folks with less than Cadillac medical training. And I think the AMA enlists the power of the government to ensure that that doesn't happen.

nmsnow,  Friday, January 11, 2008 at 3:54:00 PM CST  

John,
I am out of my league to argue/debate with a lawyer. My expertise is only that I am married to a Dr. Not much of a leg to stand on against a lawyer who sounds like has experience with litigation and Dr.s. (for or against?)
Anyway, you've encouraged me to take up a debate class to improve my skills.
Fun talking to you, non the less.

Weaver,  Sunday, January 13, 2008 at 8:49:00 PM CST  

nmsnow,

My apologies for the late reply:

My father's a general surgeon, and my mother had to work in his office after suffering a corrupt office manager.

My uncle as well as grandfather are also general surgeons, and I've got some other nongeneral surgeon doctors in my family too...

Anyway, I guess I've only heard the general surgeon version, but they all claim self pays don't pay.

I'm unfamiliar with the system dentists generally use, and only vaguely familiar if that with the gen surgeon system...

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