NOT WHAT WE WANT TO HEAR


Years ago, soon after I began practicing, a colleague brought his wife to see me.  After a workup, I diagnosed her with probable MS.  About a month later, the colleague somewhat gleefully called, telling me he had his wife seen at University Hospital by an expert, who felt she did not have MS.  I don’t remember my reply.  I probably was quiet, concerned I had erred.

At a medical meeting dinner, years later, this same colleague was seated at the same table as I, and he told someone aloud about his wife’s treatment at UCLA for “MS.”  I stayed quiet; he didn’t show any sign of having made a faux pas. I was wise enough not to remind him. Being right doesn’t require one to say it.  My mistake that first day?  I told both of them what I thought was wrong, not what they wanted to hear.

Ted Cruz said the President was acting outside the law on immigration, when in fact Mr. Obama’s actions are in accordance with a 2008 law, signed by Mr. Bush, requiring deportations from countries other than Canada and Mexico to be processed here.  The Central American refugees came through not only a hole in the border but a hole in a law Mr. Cruz and his colleagues are in charge of making.  Mr. Boehner won’t move any law on immigration through this year.  He has the power to do something great, but he won’t.

DML News tells listeners what they want to hear: “we’re screwed,” bad immigration stories, things wrong in Washington, nuclear material missing, how Obama is destroying the country and wasn’t born here (which has become really tiresome), Benghazi an impeachable offense, and we should take action in Iraq.  The big problem in Iraq didn’t happen this year; it happened when we invaded it.  Remember Colin Powell’s “Pottery Barn” comment?  Remember the horrible year, 2006?  No, that is ancient history, and people don’t like to hear about inconvenient history.

Mr. Obama inherited two wars, an economy in shambles, a banking system almost shut down, an incipient depression, a horrible deficit (the war funding was kept off budget) and a divided Congress.  If one doesn’t want to hear that, I’m telling it anyway, because I tell people what I think, if it is truthful.  Surprise:  Obama hasn’t fixed everything yet.   Surprise:  He has had nearly zero Republican support.  If Ted Cruz or Rick Perry becomes President, by golly, we will have everything fixed and right with America in 100 days, max.

To those who believe that, please comment in detail exactly what needs to be done, and send to me, because I‘m curious.  Please address the following: how we will balance the budget, give every American health insurance, deal with immigration, the EU, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, North Korea, Russia, China, fix infrastructure, schools, and climate. I want details.  Please, tell me how we should deal with California’s water crisis using knowledge of what an acre foot is.  In this blog, I have addressed the budget, Iraq, schools, climate, and California’s water crisis.  It isn’t what a lot of people want to hear.  I may be wrong, but I used facts and offered detailed suggestions.  An acre foot is about 325 K gallons of water, by the way.

People don’t want to hear about climate change, because it bothers them.  People want politicians to tell the truth, until they do, and then vote for the opponent, because the truth is so unappealing.  The world is not simply a matter of US troops fixing what is wrong.  Superheroes don’t exist.  We cut FEMA to save money but then complained when government wasn’t immediately present after Katrina.  Remember Katrina?   Remember Sandy?  Who was president during each, how was the response and in what year did each occur?  If you are an American and can’t answer at least 7 of those 8 questions, shame.

Tell me how we fix unfairness that gives the Deep South more government money than they send, yet has taken a trillion dollars from New York State in the last 20 years.  Yes.  Look it up.  Incredibly, the South gets money from big government, hates same, and many of its states rank 45th or below in major health care indicators compared to the rest of the country.  What gives?

We live in a complex world, unable to be simplified in 30 seconds.  Immigration is no exception. I think overpopulation is the most significant issue we face, along with consequential environmental degradation and climate change.  In my lifetime, not likely to be more than a decade or two, I will survive. People, like Ted Cruz, in their 40s, are going to reap the wind they have helped sow.

I am a strong believer in public education, not only because people with education get good jobs, they have fewer children.  Complex problems are not addressed with simple answers: it is easy for Mssrs. Flake and Cruz, who don’t have to run the country, tell people what they want to hear.  Like my doctor colleague, they blast guys like me who conclude something else.  You are wrong, they say, and yes, I might be, words not one of them has used.  I have been right on evolution, climate change, the stock market bubble and Iraq, not because I am particularly brilliant, but because my education taught me to think about issues, open my mind, look at all sides, and draw conclusions, which subsequently I may change.  

We need good ideas about immigration; we need skilled workers who are legally here.  The 2008 law needs to be changed, and Mr. Cruz should be leading, not using his charisma and debating ability to tell people what they want to hear.  We must deal with illegal immigration, not win a debate, and there is no perfect solution.  Nobody wants to hear that.  Nobody is even saying it.

Nobody can balance the budget or pay for everything we want without raising taxes.  This is a mathematical truism.  Instead, politicians tell us what we want to hear:  “I will protect America’s elderly and borders, we will have a strong military, and I will do it without raising taxes.”  If we believe that, we are either downright stupid or believe in magical thinking.

I was sorry the woman had MS.  I was sorry for all the families to whom I told a loved one was either brain dead or irreversibly brain injured.  I am sorry for the people whom I told had metastatic cancer to the brain or carcinomatous meningitis.  I told the truth.  Many of my colleagues disliked me, for I said things that people didn’t want to hear.  Many referred patients elsewhere, not to me.

What interested me was that a dozen of these physicians—I counted— brought themselves or their family members to me, even though they sent neurological consults to the other guy.

 

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