Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Aloha Oy Vey, or, Dalai the Polemical

Image courtesy of http://www.polemicpost.com

When you place yourself in the public eye, even in such a limited fashion as I do with my blog and my Aunt Minnie postings, you invite criticism. When you use this very short soap-box to voice controversial opinions, you really are asking for it. So I have found with the recent post about the Health Care bill. To refresh your memories, my brief message was as follows:

If the government controls your health, it controls your LIFE. Are we sure we want to go there? I don't.

Apparently, I stepped on some toes with this simple statement. David Clunie, whom you certainly know of if you have come to this blog had the following comments:

So you would prefer to have a company whose only motive is maximization of their PROFIT control your health, and hence your life? That's where we ARE NOW and many folks want to LEAVE, and go somewhere else.Not to mention all those who aren't anywhere and have NOWHERE to go right now.

I suggested that profit might be a better motivator, and besides, would you buy a PACS assembled by the government? David responded:

And I dare say that the original MDIS PACS, for its day, was a pretty good thing, specified by the government and built to those specifications by a contractor. Not to say that the military procurement system is necessarily ideal either, of course. And the VA's Vista system is held up as an example of electronic medical records working.

Anyway, I am not arguing for or against any particular approach, just trying to make the point that your jumping on the fear mongering bandwagon with exaggerated assertions is pretty lame.

When asked, David actually came up with a good basis for reform:

I don't claim to have any insight into the complexity of the system, and hence no easy solution to offer, but I believe that mandatory insurance, a proportion of mandatory pro bono care by all providers, prohibition on pre-condition exclusions, decoupling health insurance from employers and employment, tort reform (malpractice liability limitation if not prohibition), no fault compensation, rigorously enforced community outcome driven nationally standard appropriateness criteria, elimination of self-referral, device and drug product and service price control including requirements for economies of scale, elimination of fee-for-service billing, prohibition of balance billing and prohibition of for-profit private payers, would all help.If the risk pool can be spread sufficiently to still allow for multiple payers and still cover the indigent and the chronically ill, then so much the better, but I am not "afraid" of a single payer system.

After all, we do have a "single payer" "non-profit" defense force, do we not ? And frankly, the health care system has a lot more impact on the lives of most folks in this country than the defense department.

Actually now you come to think of it, maybe we should just militarize every single individual in the country (even if not fit for active duty) and have the DOD run health care :) They could control diet and exercise too and help with the prevention side as well. Maybe the different branches of the services could compete with each other for "members" based on quality of care, to keep the CAPITALISTS amongst us content.

Well, he did make a lot of sense until the DOD-run health care stuff, but perhaps that was meant to be sarcastic. Fear-mongering? I'm the one who's afraid!

Most biting was a comment from an anonymous fellow in Honolulu:

You certainly can post whatever you want on your blog. However, you've been gradually eroding your credibility as a balanced observer of PACS-related issues by going off topic and by being polemical.

The "Dalai" title no longer fits. Not even on PACS. You used to have thoughtful posts about user experience and other matters. Now you have thumbs up and thumbs down. The more often you write, the less you seem to have to say.

I appreciate the industry gossip, some of which doesn't show up on any of my other sources. But your signal-to-noise ratio is not what it used to be.

I guess he uses LavaNet for a reason. To be honest, I had to look up "polemical" to be certain I understood what my moloi`eheme (Hawaiian for friend) had in mind. From the Wikipedia:

Polemics is the practice of disputing or controverting significant, broad reaching topics of magnitude such as religious, philosophical, political, or scientific matters. As such, a polemic text on a topic is often written specifically to dispute or refute a position or theory that is widely viewed to be beyond reproach.

I think it's clear that Honolulu (and David) are disturbed by my conservative leanings, and my willingness to publish them. I have stepped on some liberal/leftist feelings, with a simple statement concerning my disdain at the imminent government takeover of our health care system. More on that shortly. But lest I have to remind anyone, it's my blog, and I'll publish anything I please, short of yelling "Theatre!!!" in a crowded fire. The callous answer to all is to say, "if you don't like it, don't read it". But that's really not the feeling I want to impart. I am saddened by this at several levels. Lava-burst, whilst citing no specifics, did his best to demean what I do here. Well, folks, I'm not out to be the CNN of PACS, nor even the Fox News PACS channel. This is just a collection of my personal musings, and stuff that entertains ME. I am gratified if you like what you read, and even more so if you come back for more. If you don't like something, please comment appropriately and specifically, and we can have a discussion. The ad hominem attack serves simply to make trouble, and in the words of fellow blogger Dr. Sanity (when I asked her about this sort of thing), ". . .he just wants to make it appear to others reading the blog that he is superior and that you are found wanting by his superior intellect." Perhaps so. It seems that he only comes here for dirt and gossip on PACS companies. Let me know which PACS you use out there in Hawaii and I'll try to come up with more for you, eh? I guess he wants me to author the National Enquirer of PACS, full of gossip and innuendo, but my non-liberal opinions are to stay out of it.

As for my opinions on PACS in general, I have taken to heart comments about certain vendors as well. I seem to lean towards those who tend to listen when I talk and change their products to make it easier for a radiologist to use so if that is wrong shoot me. And yes, I do bash other vendors who go on talking about their imagination at work when it's obvious they have none except when it comes to buying and subsequently destroying yet another really good small vendor. As hard as they try more often than not they fail to properly integrate the new product into their own ending up with a great big mess on their hands and for those who try to use it. I'm still waiting for my chance at that one. I have to cite Agfa as a company I have bashed, but which on their end takes my comments to heart and actually attempts to fix and improve what they have. I can tell you that IMPAX 7 is going to be a great product, if it ever gets out the door. Thumbs up or thumbs down? Maybe someone isn't reading entire posts. I love to give picayune details.

It seems that there are some in this country who become very upset with those of us who do not like the leftist/socialist direction the United States is taking. We conservatives are selfish, right-wing nut-jobs, or worse. Voicing a dissenting opinion is considered "polemical" (not a nice term).

The health care debate in particular seems to be a lightning rod for ill-will on both sides. Look, I agree with much of what David Clunie said, and I'll be the first to tell you that we need reforms. As we speak, I'm fighting with my insurance company over their desire to practice medicine without a license and sell me a generic drug for my son when his physician wants him to have the brand name stuff that has worked well for him for 7 years.

I will still stubbornly insist that the health care plan is a power-grab by the government. It will help few and hurt many. The basic assertion by those in favor is that we need to trash and rebuilt the system to cover the uninsured. I won't go into it here, but the figures on the uninsured show that the problem is often that people would rather buy an Escalade, expensive clothes and jewelry, and a $100/month iPhone than pay for insurance. Of the numbers bandied about, I think there are probably 10-20 million who are truly uninsured. Still, that is indeed too many. But do we need to destroy what we have to fix this?

No. Many of Mr. Clunie's suggestions are actually spot on, and would go a long way to solve the problem. Insurance companies need to be kept at bay, and tort reform needs to be put into place. Mr. Obama's denial of the need for tort-reform is key to the debate. This tells me he really doesn't want to fix anything, he wants to redistribute wealth, and punish achievement.

Ultimately, what has upset folks (and I step in it regularly on the Off-Topic board on Aunt Minnie) is that I don't want the government taking over our lives in the name of "HEEEEELLLLLPPPPPIIINNNNNNGGGGG" people. (I borrowed that elongation from Michael Savage, for better or worse.) The government doesn't do this well, and the more power it gets, the worse job it will do. High-minded altruistic thoughts are good, but in practice, the government has a very hard time translating such thoughts into something that actually does anyone any good. But let's not let that get in the way of our good intentions. From Dr. Sanity's much-missed blog comes one outlook on this:

The truth is that for all the lip service the Left pays to "fighting poverty" and "achieving social justice"--which makes them feel just oh so good about themselves--that not one single government program they have supported in the endless bureaucratic quagmire they refer to as the "war on poverty" has done more than those evil corporate bastards at WalMart to actually help the poor or anyone who suffers from the left's favorite disease: oppression.

Instead, the programs they support nationally and internationally inevitably reinforce their own latent envy, racism, and sociopathic selflessness.

So, many times in politics, programs that originate with the "best of intentions"--to help the poor; to achieve equality; to end some perceived injustice-- end up doing exactly the opposite of what was intended. This is the ultimate irony of a belief in egalatarianism, which holds that all outcomes must be the same for there to be "social justice". In the old Soviet Union and in Cuba we have a perfect example of the success of the egalatarian model. Everyone is equally poor and miserable. The 'poor' in America have a degree of wealth and opportunity that is unrivaled anywhere else in the world where they embrace egalatarianism.

Yet, the political left is so ideologically committed to the utopian ideal of egalitarianism which, in the real world simply makes everyone equally poor and miserable (except for the lucky elites who control the social system) that they reflexly keep pouring money into programs that can be shown to actively harm the people they are meant to help; and reinforce the stereotypes they are meant to end. That's why the left, who are in complete denial about their own racism, sexism and homophobia end up doing so much to hurt the people they claim to champion. Instead of having a color-blind society, they will create a society where the sanctioned color, race, ethnicity or lifestyle always trump ability, performance, and character.

The takeover of health care will be just another page in the same book of limited success and much more massive failure. There. I just really stepped in it. We are not to mention that the Emperor has no clothes, nor that he has feet of clay. . . but sometimes we must.

I'm going to continue to post what I feel, about PACS, and whatever else comes to mind. I hope you'll read it and think about it, and discuss the merit or lack thereof of specific points. Don't bother calling me a nasty Conservative. Everyone knows that about me already. And if you want to make political causes out of my statements, call Nancy Pelosi. I'm sure she'll listen.

ADDENDUM

I certainly hope Honolulu isn't aware of this. . . FoxNews reports:

The White House is under fire for a blog post asking supporters to send "fishy" information received through rumors, chain e-mails and casual conversations to a White House e-mail address, flag@whitehouse.gov.

Conservatives have pounced on the request, accusing the White House of acting Orwellian.

"If you get an e-mail from your neighbor and it doesn't sound right, send it to the White House?"said Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyo. " People, I think all across America are going to say is this 1984? What is happening here? Is big brother watching?"
Radio host Rush Limbaugh accused the White House of using heavy-handed tactics.

"They're looking for tattletales,"he said. "They're looking for snitches. They're looking for informants."

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, charged the White House with compiling an "enemies list."In a letter to the president, Cornyn urged Obama to provide Congress with more details on what the White House plans to do with anyone reported for "fishy"speech.

"I am not aware of any precedent for a president asking American citizens to report their fellow citizens to the White House for pure political speech that is deemed 'fishy' or otherwise inimical to the White House's political interests,"he wrote.

"You should not be surprised that these actions taken by your White House staff raise the specter of a data collection program. As Congress debates health care reform and other critical policy matters, citizen engagement must not be chilled by fear of government monitoring the exercise of free speech rights,"he wrote.

The controversy is part of a larger debate on health care reform that has led Democrats to portray town hall audiences protesting a Democratic-sponsored bill as angry mobs duped into hostile actions by special interest groups.

The Democratic National Committee released a Web video and e-mail on Wednesday blasting opponents of the 10-year, $1 trillion plan.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said lawmakers will continue to press for reform "in spite of the loud, shrill voices trying to interrupt town hall meetings."

Republicans say counter that lawmakers have a responsibility to listen to constituents and their concerns.

And lest you think that this is some fiction created by Fox, think again. Here is the post from the White House Blog:

There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to flag@whitehouse.gov.

I don't think this needs a lot of commentary. We are being asked to "flag" our neighbors who might be spreading "disinformation". Our government has just stepped over the line, in my humble opinion. Turning citizen against citizen, even in the name of a "good cause" is the road to destruction.

If this blog (or this blogger) suddenly disappears, you'll know why.

2 comments :

Anonymous said...

A good book to read and go back to for a reminder when governments start throwing out statistics to make a case for their bills,plans,taxes etc. is The Numbers Game by Blastland and Dilnot.

Love you blog, it has helped me to learn about the world-o-PACS since my new job dropped me in the middle of it a year+ ago.

John said...

I like your blog and will continue to read it even though I disagree with some of your ideas about healthcare reform (even though we disagree, it doesn’t mean that I should discard a useful and enjoyable forum).

I just wanted to throw it out there that I think you lost a few hours (or however long it took you to write that response) replying to people like ‘Honolulu’. You even said it your self, “When you place yourself in the public eye, even in such a limited fashion as I do with my blog and my Aunt Minnie postings, you invite criticism. When you use this very short soap-box to voice controversial opinions, you really are asking for it.” Why worry about what people like Honolulu say.

My thought is that thoughtful and intellectual disagreement is positive in that it sparks dialogue that can effectively bring about change or at least, let all voices be heard. You handled David Clunie’s postings very well but then I think you needlessly defended yourself against Honolulu.

I think intelligent readers can discern legitimate discourse from dull rhetoric.

Save your time for writing about the things you feel relevant. As far as the evolution of what you write about, having moved from general thoughts about PACS vendors to a wider, more controversial topic base, that just shows that you are keeping your forum alive and not letting it fall into a stale, static state as do many blogs.

Regards,

John Sole
john@jspacs.com
www.jspacs.com