A Culture Problem

Neal Boortz posts this letter to the editor from Mississippi, which has gone viral. 

“During my last night’s shift in the ER, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient with an expensive shiny gold tooth, multiple elaborate expensive tattoos, a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and a new cellular telephone equipped with her favorite R&B tune for a ringtone.. Glancing over the chart, one could not help noticing her payer status: Medicaid. She smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and, somehow, still has money to buy beer.

And our Congress expects me to pay for this woman’s healthcare? Our nation’s healthcare crisis is not a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. It is a crisis of culture Ëœ a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. A culture that thinks “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”. Life is really not that hard. Most of us reap what we sow. Don’t you agree?

STARNER JONES, MD
Jackson, MS

You don’t need a medical degree to encounter this.  Substitute Medicaid for food stamps, and this is my exact experience when I was working as a grocery store cashier.  I dont think that people had “grills” back then (this was the mid- to late 90’s), but big, gold jewelry (we’d call it “bling” now) was very popular, as were very expensive hairdos and wigs. 

Also, almost every food stamp user purchased one of the following: beer, cigarettes, or tabloid magazines.  Nicer cars than my family drove were also very common. 

By the way, Snopes, those confirmers of the authenticity of viral emails, also supplies a letter written in response:

I’ve been stewing about an Aug. 23 letter to the editor . . . in which Dr. Starner Jones questioned the worth of a patient to receive Medicaid because of her gold tooth, tattoos, R&B ring tone on a new cell phone, cigarette-smoking and beer-drinking. 

This kind of personal attack is nothing new with the hateful rhetoric of late.  But it’s a real slippery slope when one questions whether another human merits support for health care because of appearances and choices.  There are a lot of folks in this state who make less-than-perfect choices about finances and health.  We are the poorest, fattest state, after all. 

We need to turn off our TVs and radios and do our own research on health care reform.  All the Fox-fed and MSNBC-led masses are out spewing the same language the pundits are using. 

Look at entities who, bottom line, want to raise their ratings and celebrity, not facilitate a meaningful or productive discourse. 

This country deserves more.  Read the health care reform bill.  And learn the real issues of our entire community.  We’re all Americans. 

 It’s like a textbook study on the typical liberal response.  Note the:

1) entirely emotional reaction (“I’ve been stewing”),

2) the mischaracterization of the argument (“questioned the worth of a patient” when he questioned why we should pay for it, not her worth as a human; “appearances” when the complaint was on her actions, which affected her appearance, not the actual appearance),

3) stock phrases (“personal attack” “hateful rhetoric” (why is it hateful to describe another person’s actions?  Doesn’t this writer do the same thing?), “slippery slope”),

4) false moral equivalency (less-than-perfect choices are the same as completely terrible),

5) misdirection to an easier to attack subject (Fox News, MSNBC, “entities who . . . want to raise their ratings and celebrity”),

6) change to an unrelated subject to make it sound like the original writer was the one missing the point (“read the health care reform bill” when there is no discussion of the health care bill (she was already on Medicaid), and no argument that it would change anything), and

7) failure to accept that actions have consequences (no recognition at all for the fact that the problem is that the woman could be paying for her own healthcare, rather than having the government force her costs on the rest of us, with all this fancy stuff that she’s been buying.)

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2 Responses

  1. I could have abbreviated the response letter – “we’re entitled to your money. ” That says it all.

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