Friday, January 25, 2008

I guess I’m just a Sicko…

The following is the Doctor's Oath. I SWEAR by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this stipulation to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none others.

I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art. I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves. Whatever, in connection with my professional practice or not, in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. While I continue to keep this Oath inviolate, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the art, respected by all men, in all times! But should I trespass and violate this oath, may the reverse be my lot! Today, only 24 percent of doctors take the oath versus 100 percent in 1928. I watched Michael Moore's documentary Sicko. I have to tell you that my life has been forever changed. I used to say that our country was the best thing going. It's not perfect, but better than most. Not even close. If the idea of humanity is an antiquated, tired way of thinking, then I guess I'm antiquated. What happened to helping mankind for the sake of bettering us all? Our healthcare system is completely broken. It is first a capitalist's wet dream, and second a complete travesty of the Doctor's Oath. How is it that a third-world country like Cuba can have Socialized medicine? A country that is completely economically depressed. A woman that worked as a rescue volunteer at the 9/11 site was diagnosed with several respiratory illnesses. Her insurance companied denied her claims and she has to live on disability. The government pays her approximately $1,000 per month. Her inhalers cost $120 each. She averages two a month. So she has a total of $760 a month to live on! Michael Moore took her and several others to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where terrorists receive free health care. They were turned away. So, they took a fishing boat and went to mainland Cuba. They asked someone where the closest hospital was, and they were told that there were 3 hospitals within walking distance. There are pharmacies on nearly every block. They went to a pharmacy to get the meds that this group of people needed. The woman previously mentioned was charged $3.56 pesos for her inhaler. It equaled .50¢! She bought two and stated that would get her through the next month.

They then went to the local hospital to see if they would be treated. The admitting nurses asked them for two things: their names and their birth dates. That was it! They were then admitted, diagnosed and treated. Free of charge! They aren't even Cuban citizens. There were several depictions of American citizens that were denied healthcare and treatment which caused them or their loved ones to continue to be ill and some of them even died! An interview with a doctor in England revealed that they are paid by the English government. Michael asked him how he lived. The doctor lives in a 3 story house. He drives a new Audi. Michael asked how "managed" to live on such a paltry salary. The doctor laughed and said that he lived in one of the nicest neighborhoods in London. He was not suffering in the least. He also stated that the more he helped people the more he got paid. If he helped someone stop smoking or helped a person manage their diabetes, he got paid more! There needs to be a serious re-thinking of our medical system.

So my friends, once again, we need to think about the future. What does the future hold for us and our medical needs? I have medical insurance. I pay $443 dollars a month for medical, dental and vision. I can't afford to take my kids to the dentist! If I want glasses I can only afford to go to the Wal-Mart optometrist. If I need a root-canal, I have to pay $720 on top of what my insurance pays! I am an educator. I should have the best medical insurance available because I am paid to help people better their lives. I help them get off of welfare. I help them build self-esteem. I help students become a contributing member of society. Things that they have never been before. But instead, I get the lowest salary of any private educator in Fresno. I do my job because I hear the calling: the calling of educators. Is this not one of the highest callings? To contribute to society? I guess I'm just a sicko…

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let's be be clear about one thing...

I’ve often espoused my views on war and the devastation that goes with it. I don’t think that anyone would mistake my passion for a no-war policy as ambivalent. Let me make it absolutely clear: War equals death…our war in Iraq is about greed, but it still ultimately equals death.
Thursday night, I watched a documentary titled White Light/Black Rain about the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. I felt that I understood the total destruction an atomic bomb creates. I was miserably wrong. The film contains interviews of some of those that survived. The picture these poor people paint is one of complete annihilation. Anything within a one-hundred mile radius of either of these bombs was completely destroyed. Closer in; completely vaporized. Videos and pictures showed actual government involvement studying victims of the blast; those who suffered burns, loss of limbs and radiation poisoning. These injuries were absolutely horrific on an order of magnitude.
There were also interviews of the men who piloted the Enola Gay, the plane that delivered the deadly cargo to Hiroshima. I felt that I couldn’t judge them because they lived in a time when the Japanese started the war. These pilots were the ones who, in fact, ended it. Nine days after the first atomic bomb was detonated, the Japanese surrendered. As a result of the atomic blasts, 260,000 people died immediately or a few days after. Within a year, another 110,000 had died from radiation poisoning and burn related complications. 370,000 dead. The American and Japanese governments had no idea how to treat radiation poisoning because these were the first incidences in history.
The Japanese victims that were interviewed stated that they didn’t hold a grudge. It was their government that started the war with the U.S.A. Some of the survivors started an organization to ask for health care and benefits for the victims. Only until recently, they were denied government aid. They talked of the loss of family members, homes, jobs, lives that they formerly lived. Today, they are societal outcasts that are shunned by a modern society. They carry the specter of radiation poisoning: miscarriages, birth defects, Leukemia, tumors, hair loss, and premature death, among other myriad diseases.
When someone says we should just “nuke” Iraq, they have absolutely no clue about what they are saying. Little Boy, the atomic bomb and Fat Man, the hydrogen bomb yielded approximately20 kilotons. Today, the nuclear weapons that many governments possess yield 20 megatons, equaling 2,000 times more energy. There are enough nuclear weapons to equal 400,000 Hiroshima’s. 400,000! I multiplied 370,000 dead by 400,000. The number is 1,480,000,000 dead. That doesn’t take into consideration those that would die due to nuclear winter and loss of food supplies, water supplies and shelter. It is literally incalculable. I also multiplied the square-mile radius of ground-zero, approximately 50 square miles, by 400,000. It is 20 million square miles. It is a gross understatement to say that life as we know it, would cease to exist. Our planet would become like the rest of the planets in our solar system; incapable of supporting life due to a nonexistent atmosphere, hostile weather and miniscule amounts of water.
So, as John Lennon said, let’s give peace a chance. Impotent posturing by our governments is not enough. We have a chance to make a change in the upcoming election. Do your part. Don’t let our complacency continue to mire our country in endless skirmishes and threats. It has been said that if we forget the past we are doomed to repeat it. It has also been said that the future is not set. We can change the future in the present. Please don’t be idle and watch the world go by.