Liberals looking for your money

Just as I once told my wife that socialist goons would come for our retirement accounts, I also informed her that they would demonize the pay doctors make. And since my wife is nearing the light at the end of the medical-school tunnel, I will take this moment to say one thing: vindicated!

While scrolling through Twitter the other day, Iowa Hawk’s feed caught my attention. Slate’s Matthew Yglesias wrote a new piece titled: ‘America’s Overpaid Doctors’. It turns out, in all that Obamacare talk we forgot to hold those “greedy” doctors accountable for “profiting” off your immune system’s bad fortune.

It’s easy to see why a health care provider is almost uniquely well-positioned to bilk you. If you don’t get treatment, you or someone you love might die. It’s a high-pressure emotional situation that makes it extremely difficult to bargain, comparison shop, or just decide to cut back. …

America has the highest-paid general practitioners in the world. And our specialists make more than specialists in every other country except the Netherlands. What’s even more striking, as the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff observed last week, these highly paid doctors don’t buy us more doctors’ visits. Canada has about 25 percent more doctors’ consultations per capita than we do, and the average rich country has 50 percent more. This doctor compensation gap is hardly the only issue in overpriced American health care—overpriced medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, prescription drugs, and administrative overhead are all problems—but it’s a huge deal.

Doctors aren’t as politically attractive a target as insurance companies, hospital administrators, or big pharma, but there’s no rational basis for leaving their interests unscathed when tackling unduly expensive medicine.

If only we were more like some of the specialists in Beijing, who make $400 bucks a month, we’d all be able to sleep better at night. (Lei Jun’s father in the documentary Beijing Punk makes less per month than struggling bands.)  We’d be sleeping with dirt blankets, but it would be the deepest sleep we ever experienced…

Regardless, as much as the timing of Slate’s piece interests me (i.e., shortly after CPAC, in which Dr. Ben Carson hinted at a political future), that’s not what I’d like to focus on.

Instead, I’d like to know why Mr. Yglesias decided to look at the men and women who save us from the brink of death — and sometimes bring us back from clinical death — before writing his piece. He sets the stage to turn doctors into the next group of evil bastards who need to be taken down a notch. Why is he making the case that medical professionals are consciously holding your life hostage for big bucks, or that they are in essence glorified nurses who instead choose to ‘bilk’ you because they can?

Why don’t authors for Slate ever look at Hollywood movie stars and write pieces titled ‘America’s Overpaid Actors’?

The text would read:

“You know, I’m not sure why Will Ferrell got paid millions of dollars for ‘Land of the Lost’ or any number of crappy movies he’s made, when the sound guys and extras and all those other hired hands were struggling to make ends meet. Some of them didn’t even have health care, and yet thousands of dollars were probably spent filling his luxury trailer with only red M&Ms, Oreo cookies with the filling removed and fresh roses every Friday.

Actors aren’t as politically attractive a target as studio heads, distributors, or producers, but there’s no rational basis for leaving their interests unscathed when tackling unduly expensive ticket prices. Since poor people spend the bulk of their cash on the bare necessities, it doesn’t make sense to charge them for the one thing that will allow them a few hours of escapism each week.”

No one at Slate ever says that Ben Affleck or Matt Damon are greedy. In fact, when these guys do an art house film for say, $2 million — well below their going rate — entertainment magazines swoon over the decision.

How much do you pay the woman who performs coronary artery bypass graft to keep your heart from drowning in its own cholesterol? How much do you pay the woman who performs laparoscopic surgery to remove your appendix (in the middle of the night after working all day from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.) before an explosion of bacteria and feces detonates in your body? Answer: Whatever the heck she wants, because she’s not primarily motivated by money and it’s a tough complex job.

Having seen first hand what these people go through to become doctors, very few people would do it if they were solely motivated by money. The hours of studying, the days and weeks and months and years of lost family time — and the sheer grind of certain specialties — would quickly weed out individuals with a weird lust for wealth.

I would even argue that if you look at the vast majority of successful wealthy people in any field, they are not motivated to do what they do out of an addiction to money. They do what they do because its who they are. In fact, in most of the conversations I’ve had with successful people, the overriding feeling was that they became successful because they worked in a way where it was obvious to those around them that they’d do it for free if they had to.

In short, think of liberals like Sentinels from The Matrix trilogy. They’re in search of groups with money, and once they identify one they will find a way to bring it into line or destroy it if necessary. It’s just sad that we’ve reached the point where we question the motives of the best and brightest in the medical field before the actors who pretend to be them on the big screen.

Iowa Hawk


  1. I found Yglesias’ article frustrating, because he doesn’t (1) say how much is too much for doctors to make and (2) say how he arrived at that number. All he says is that American doctors are a paid a lot. He’s a business and economics correspondent, so I would expect him to specify those things, especially given, as you point out, that actors are paid a lot as well.

    1. And that’s the thing: Doctors make a wage range of salaries depending on their specialty because (Duh, Mr. Yglesias) there are different skill sets and challeges involved with each. So I have to assume he’s talking about all doctors, starting with the lowest paid bracket. The more I think about it, the more annoyed I get.

      Is $50k a year across the board right for him? $75? As usual, we have a liberal who has some idea in his mind what is “fair” (at this given moment), who will now work on devising ways to make it happen, basic economics be damned.

  2. There’s nothing more infuriating to me than a dolt like Yglesias complaining about the salaries of someone who heals human bodies. I mean, aside from someone who willingly puts his life on the line (military person, cop, fireman, etc.), is there a more noble profession? And after the amount of study and training required?

    If anything, they should make more than what they make now. Great point about Hollywood, Doug. I’d add in professional athletes, too.

    1. Personally, I don’t care if Matt Damon makes $20 million a film. Bravo, Matt. It says something about our culture that we find the product he’s giving us worthy enough to justify that sort of salary, but in general I don’t mind. Even NFL football players have a skill set that most people do not. Very, very few people have the goods to play at that level. If I walked onto the field tomorrow I’d be in a hospital by lunchtime. And even if my genes were good enough to get me on the field, would I be willing to risk the long term problems those guys face? Probably not. Enjoy your millions, Peyton Manning. And enjoy the way your neck feels when you’re 70 years old. I hope it was worth it.

      It’s just irritating how guys like Yglesias pick and choose who is “greedy” and who isn’t based on political calculus.

  3. we all know where the real greed is: teachers and other overpaid government workers (Fox News):

    The financial crisis we are in, as a country, is because government is full of fools who only know how to negotiate upward — WITH YOUR TAX MONEY!

    How broke is America, while we’re giving out raises to teachers? Well in Cook County (Chicago) the Treasurer recently reported that the debt is $108 billion dollars. Most of that is for pensions for overpaid government employees. $108 billion dollars in one county, in one city. In particular, the Chicago school district faces a $700 million deficit.

    Yet the debate was over how much of a raise to give Chicago teachers? This teacher strike is Exhibit A for everything wrong with government. Especially Chicago government- the place where Obama learned everything he knows about how to bankrupt a country.

    Remember this strike was about failing employees who are paid an average of $71,000 per year. Plus gold-plated health care packages. Plus $2.4 million per teacher in taxpayer-funded retirement packages.

    1. No link to Detroit? Today you want the conversation to devolve into some sort of commentary on Fox News, I guess. Maybe someone will scream about MSNBC?

      No thanks. Maybe someone else will bite.

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