• Two-thirds, or 65%, of doctors say they oppose the proposed government expansion plan. This contradicts the administration's claims that doctors are part of an "unprecedented coalition" supporting a medical overhaul.In Ayn Rand's classic novel Atlas Shrugged, one of the characters is physician Thomas Hendricks who made that choice:
• Four of nine doctors, or 45%, said they "would consider leaving their practice or taking an early retirement" if Congress passes the plan the Democratic majority and White House have in mind.
More than 800,000 doctors were practicing in 2006, the government says. Projecting the poll's finding onto that population, 360,000 doctors would consider quitting...
..."I quit when medicine was placed under State control some years ago," said Dr. Hendricks. "Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go to acquire that skill? That was what I could not place at the disposal of men whose sole qualification to rule me was their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun. I would not let them dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward.Too much of Atlas Shrugged has gone from fiction to fact these past few years.
"I observed that in all the discussions that preceded the enslavement of medicine, men discussed everything -- except the desires of the doctors. Men considered only the 'welfare' of the patients, with no thought for those who were to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter, was regarded as irrelevant selfishness; his is not to choose, they said, but 'to serve.' That a man's willing to work under compulsion is too dangerous a brute to entrust with a job in the stockyards -- never occurred to those who proposed to help the sick by making life impossible for the healthy.
"I have often wondered at the smugness at which people assert their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind -- yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands? Their moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims. Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn.
"Let them discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let them discover, in the operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled. It is not safe, if he is the sort of man who resents it -- and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn't."
Let's hope American health care isn't next...