Progressives & the Mayor’s Race; Doctor Salaries & Health Care Costs …

by on September 21, 2011

To the Editor:

You article hit the nail on the head. Progressives just do not understand or accept the concept of the political candidate or his or her ideology as a product to be sold to the American voter. Progressives for the most part still believe that electing a candidate is an intellectual exercise that requires nothing more than a reasonable, intelligent argument. Watching progressives compete in the political marketplace is like watching our local high school basketball team compete against the Los Angeles Lakers.

I am not sure what “progressive\” means anymore. “Progressive” sounds so forward thinking, new and modern. So positive. (And I do not mean the 1912 Progressive Party of Teddy Roosevelt.) Is “progressive” just another word for far-left liberalism or socialism or just the opposite of conservative or reactionary? Or are progressives just far-left Democrats like the late Ted Kennedy, Dennis Kucinich, Barney Frank, Alan Grayson, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, John Conyers, John Lewis, and Maxine Waters?

The average voter probably cannot name five progressive politicians or the top five goals of the progressive movement. Yet, they can name Conservative Republicans like Perry, Bachmann, Bush, Cheney, and Palin. According to a January 2011 Rasmussen survey, being described as a progressive is a positive for only 22% of voters and a negative for 34%, with 41% seeing it in between. But in a previous survey, voters were evenly divided, with 29% saying progressive was a positive description and 28% describing it as a negative. This marks a continuing downward trend for progressive which little over three years ago was slightly more popular than conservative.

Perhaps, it is time for the progressive movement to re-brand itself so American voters can better understand what “progressive” means.

Ralph E. Stone
San Francisco

To the Editor:

Did an editor even look at this story? In addition to the glaring typos and outright missing words in several places, the author’s reasoning runs counter to logic. Take this passage: “The average physician leaves medical school with $100,000 in debt. So does anyone with a graduate degree. And people like myself who studied French Literature or Social Work or Nursing don’t have a prayer of earning the kind of money a physician earns when they enter into practice.”

Of course a French Lit grad isn’t going to make as much, and why should they? The demand for people who know French literature is very small, and the training that a French Lit grad goes through isn’t nearly as rigorous, comprehensive or evidence-based as that of a physician’s. And if we simply stop paying physicians-in-training during their residencies, how will they live, pay rent, buy homes, buy gas for their cars, eat? Most residents are from different parts of the country from where they work at their teaching hospitals.

You can’t just simply stop paying residents unless you change the entire system to a command economy, which the American public clearly does not favor. And even if you did, where would the money come from? The country is on the brink of default/bankruptcy, and this author is recommending that government pay for doctors’ training?!?!

The argument is the same for all these medical school graduates who claim they can’t get a residency in their sub sub sub sub sub-specialty. The market clearly selects the best of what’s available, and if more people are available than the services that are needed, then well, guess what: those people don’t get selected.

Instead of studying French literature, the author should have studied economics or medicine before she weighs in with such uninformed opinions.

Doug Wood
Columbia, SC

To the Editor:

When sounding off about health care costs, you are mistaken in not further addressing the shortage of primary care physicians, who work long hours for pay at the bottom or below of the scale you mentioned. This is why there is a growing shortage of primary care docs which will cause ongoing problems with cost and accessibility to appropriate medical care.

Why sign up for slavery? We primary care phyisican are in the same position as the patients in our current dysfunctional system: we spend long hours so the insurance companies and the specialists and subspecialists get paid, more and more of it on computer and paper “games” to justify intricate rules about billing. A sensible primary care physician who knows their patient well can advocate for the kind of medical care we all should be getting: individually tailored, timely and based on the your real needs, and can protect you from from inappropriate, invasive, or overly specialized care which too often “medicalizes” the end of life.

High functioning “single payer” or “medicare for all” systems are based on a system of primary care docs who are comfortably paid, stable in their communities, and easily accessible to their patients.

Pay for primary care physicians in San Francisco, especially those who work in public, University, or non profit clinics for a salary, is at or below the bottom of the scale that you cited for “physicians.” Your physician yearly salary scale is skewed by the salaries of specialists and subspecialists who make large fees for very limited engagement in one aspect of patient care.

The unpaid overtime for primary care docs is ridiculous, and pay we get does not justify it. It is an ongoing subject of conversation between me and my colleagues as we work on our paperwork and return phone calls while the rest of the world is at dinner with their families, or when we run into each other at a nursing home on Sunday.

Teresa Palmer
San Francisco

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