Capitalism and Medical Science: The Dynamic Duo

Capitalism stinks, right? Until you need it…..

I’m in an out-of-the-ordinary place today. I’m sitting in a hospital room as my father awaits surgery. Last night as the nurses and doctors were finally successful in relieving his pain and making him comfortable for the night, we all commented on how wonderful it is to live in the age of modern technology and modern medicine. How thankful we are that we live in 2011- not 1911. As I sit here with my family while my father rests and the O.R. is prepped for his surgery, the thought just dawned on me: “How thankful should we be that this is not only 2011, but that we live in the year 2011 in the United States of America.” Maybe I should take this is a step further and say that we are so thankful that it’s not 2014, because by that time (it is, after all, the year Obamacare goes into effect unless otherwise repealed) we might not be waiting in a single occupancy room in a large, well furnished, well-staffed hospital waiting for this minor surgery today; we’d be waiting at home while we pray that the Health Services Advisory Board doesn’t determine that it’s really not “worth it,” but that’s a whole different blog post. Back to the point- I sit in thankfulness in an American hospital with all the modern technology in the world available to us at a moment’s notice. At the same time, my mind goes back to the images I saw on the news this morning and last night of the ongoing “Occupy Wall Street” protests. While varied, unorganized, and often unintelligible, (I’ll get into more detail at a later date) the main focus of the protestors has indeed been the capitalist system. Quite frankly, they’re ticked that others have made it big and yet choose to be so “selfish” as to shy away from the idea of having all their money taken away. I’d love to pose the following question to those who feel the aforementioned description aptly explains their reason for protesting on the streets:  How, pray tell, do such individuals suppose I’m able to sit here in total confidence that my father is in excellent hands here with every scientific advancement ready at each doctor’s fingertips? Do these people assume that all of this fabulous science simply appeared out of thin air? I don’t suppose it has anything to do with the massive capital invested in the staff’s education, tools, on-going education, investment into pharmaceutical research, etc. etc., right? I’ll tell you why my father, lying on a bed in an American hospital, is going to get the best medical care in the world: Up until now, our nation has been one that fosters and rewards innovation, creativity, and ingenuity. Medical training and medical advancements are not cheap; they require deep investments of both time and capital. Capitalism and a private health care system foster such advancements. Take away the incentive to do well (in any field) and see what happens. Better yet, open up a history book and take a gander at the countries that have done it. Oh wait, I’ve seen that first hand. My mother-in-law, a citizen of Mexico, once broke her ankle so badly that her foot actually detached from her leg. Imagine those horrible soccer injuries where the foot is literally twisted around to the other side. YES, that bad. She sat in a waiting room at IMSS (the government-run hospital) for 24 hours before she even got a bed. The surgery to repair her ankle, which would have been done almost immediately had she been here in the U.S., took place a week later. She had a friend who broke her arm so badly that surgery was required, and she waited a month for that procedure. Why the difference? You see, my mother-in-law happened to know a “higher up” in the IMSS system who was able to expedite the process. Lucky her.

Still not convinced? Go live there and try it for yourself.  In the meantime, get off the streets, let the police get back to “real” concerns, and enjoy the blessings we have here in this land of plenty. Oh wait- you’re already taking advantage of that aren’t you? Call me crazy, but can any of you protesters honestly claim that any of the supplies (including medical needs) you’ve been sent are generated apart from our capitalist system? I didn’t think so.

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