A Young Doctor Writes to President Obama

by Steve Ray on June 2, 2012

 Dear Mr. President:

During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.

While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.

And, you and our Congress expect  me to pay for this woman’s health care?  I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is  not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture”,  a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance.  It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me”.

Once you fix this  “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health care difficulties will disappear.

Respectfully, STARNER JONES, MD

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Nikki June 2, 2012 at 12:23 PM

you are right on that… but you need to add that what led to this culture crisis is the word “freedom” which is so overrated… to borrow your phrase this is also very popular “I can do whatever I want because I have the freedom and the right to do so” but we must not forget 1 Peter 2:16 “Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God”

Stephen M. Collins June 2, 2012 at 12:34 PM

He has it right except for one word in the third paragraph: the patient should have been responsible for the purchase of health CARE. This is TOTALLY different from health INSURANCE. It has recently been demonstrated that one can own health insurance and not be satisfied with the health care that is supplied through it. I contend that health care CAN and SHOULD be available even without insurance.

Let us remember that the Holy Roman Catholic Church invented – I say INVENTED – both hospitals and higher education! Both of these spread into institutions run by Protestant Christians before the government say any need to be involved. It was government who first brought in insurance as a benefit to union employees by giving their employers a total tax right-off for insurance as opposed to paying taxes for paying their employees more cash money. They also decided that certain citizens should be given health care for almost nothing. Then they saw fit to regulate the whole thing.

IOW we are in the predicament because WE gave up our responsibilities, and happily turned them over to our nanny-state government. This includes Catholic Bishops who have systematically sold off hospitals the Church had founded and funded – and now they complain because health insurance is too high!

Let’s put the blame where it belongs – on individuals, the government, AND the Church!

Steve Ray June 3, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Update from e-mail I received:
I checked these letters out at this “urban legends” website, but these letters are real, genuine documents and not legends; they are real, valid documents. 

http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/government/a/Dr-Roger-Starner-Jones-MD.htm
 
 
Analysis: The texts above are slightly altered versions of an actual letter to the editor published in the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion Ledger on August 23, 2009. It was signed “Starner Jones, M.D.”
The original letter is no longer accessible in the Clarion Ledger archives, but based on the earliest online repostings I’ve been able to find, this is what it actually said:

Why Pay for the Care of the Careless?
During my last shift in the ER, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient with a shiny new gold tooth, multiple elaborate tattoos and a new cellular telephone equipped with her favorite R&B tune for a ringtone.
Glancing over the chart, one could not help noticing her payer status: Medicaid.
She smokes a costly pack of cigarettes every day and, somehow, still has money to buy beer.
And our president expects me to pay for this woman’s health care?
Our nation’s health care crisis is not a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. It is a crisis of culture – culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance.
Life is really not that hard. Most of us reap what we sow.
Starner Jones, MD
Jackson, MS

As some critics were quick to point out, Dr. Jones took the liberty of drawing some rather sweeping conclusions based on a single incident.{Compare the critics’ “sweeping conclusions” with the colossal vacuuming conclusions of the ”hopey-changey” mob} He defended his statements in a follow-up letter to the same newspaper five months later:

America is Still the Land of Opportunity – For Everyone
Starner Jones, M.D.
Jackson, MS
January 11, 2010
I continue to receive numerous phone calls, letters, emails and face-to-face comments about my letter (“Why Pay For the Care of the Careless”) which appeared in your newspaper a few months ago.
Most people express highest approval for the opinion set forth. Indeed, the truth has an illuminating quality all its own.
However, a few have disagreed and all of them falsely assume that a person who holds the views which I espouse must have been raised in a privileged home. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I grew up in a lower middle class, single parent home in the rural hill country of Pontotoc, Mississippi. While attending public schools, I paid attention in class and did my homework. I ran with the right crowd and stayed out of trouble. My dedication in school resulted in a full-paid scholarship to the prestigious University of the South in Sewanee, TN. After college, I left to go to medical school with everything I owned in three bags. The rest is history.
Motivation, not entitlement, is the key to personal success and happiness in life.

As best I can tell, Dr. Jones has made no further public statements on the matter.

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Sources and further reading:
Why Pay for the Care of the Careless?
Letters to the Editor, Clarion Ledger, 23 August 2009
America Is Still the Land of Opportunity – For Everyone
Letters to the Editor, Clarion Ledger, 11 January 2010

Bob June 5, 2012 at 7:07 AM

To me the problem is yea people are paying but nobody is getting well because this country has lost sight of its original foundation of a godly heritage as well as lost site of who the greatest physician is. Check out this story:

Mt 9:12, Mk 5:25–43
12 Jesus heard them and answered, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do.
25 A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years 26 had endured much under many doctors. She had spent everything she had and was not helped at all. On the contrary, she became worse. 27 Having heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His robe. 28 For she said, “If I can just touch His robes, I’ll be made well!” 29 Instantly her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was cured of her affliction. 30 At once Jesus realized in Himself that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My robes?” 31 His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing against You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ ” 32 So He was looking around to see who had done this. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came with fear and trembling, fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth. 34 “Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well. h Go in peace and be free j from your affliction.” 35 While He was still speaking, people came from the synagogue leader’s house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?” 36 But when Jesus overheard what was said, He told the synagogue leader, “Don’t be afraid. Only believe.” 37 He did not let anyone accompany Him except Peter, James, and John, James’s brother. 38 They came to the leader’s house, and He saw a commotion—people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 He went in and said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” 40 They started laughing at Him, but He put them all outside. He took the child’s father, mother, and those who were with Him, and entered the place where the child was. 41 Then He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which is translated, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” ). 42 Immediately the girl got up and began to walk. (She was 12 years old.) At this they were utterly astounded. 43 Then He gave them strict orders that no one should know about this and said that she should be given something to eat.

Donna LeRoy June 5, 2012 at 9:18 AM

I work with patients that have no health care, sometimes I am a little resentful when I get patient’s described above, but they are 1 in 100s. My patients are from poverty, undereducated deplorable conditions, sometime covered in scurvy sores and even bed bugs. I cannot resent them and they do not hate me for their “free healthcare” which is usually minimal, they leave the hospitals earlier, they do not get rehabilitation etc. Please do not forget Lk 16;19-31

Ray Dell June 7, 2012 at 1:04 PM

SO Dr Jones, I guess this means that you AGREE with President Obama’s health care plan??
After all your judgment reeking of racial overtones you said “heaven forbid (they) purchase health insurance”. Well thats what President Obama’s plan does! It “makes” people pay for health insurance- just like we make people pay for car insurance.

Or maybe you prefer that we continue to treat people WITHOUT health insurance in hospital emergency rooms instead? No. That can’t be true. You have made your opinions clear on that…

So what DO you want? Oh wait, I see- you said it right here : you want President Obama to “(fix) a culture crisis that rewards irresponsibility and dependency” !!

Pretty vague pipe dream you got there Doc!

Bill912 June 7, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Yeah! Anybody who disagrees with President Obama about ANYTHING is a RAAAAAACISSSSSTTT!

Another example of great intellect on parade.

Frank Riely June 13, 2012 at 12:11 PM

This is a Catholic website?!

I have my obligations under my faith, others have theirs. Regarding the poor, my obligation to serve the poor isn’t contingent on whether or not they deserve help. There are no caveats in the teachings of Christ on this. Others have an obligation to take responsibility for themselves as best they can. But their failure to do so doesn’t relieve me of my obligations. It’s not a “preferential obligation to the deserving poor.” To imply otherwise, to me, is a cop out.

I have a personal obligation, but does that mean I need to shift that responsibility onto government? Yes, to the extent that my actions as an individual, or in a local community, can’t solve the problem. The doctrine of subsidiarity, the idea of addressing problems at the appropriate level of obligation, is again not an excuse for failing to solve the problem of poverty and injustice. Subsidiarity has to be balanced with the imperative of Human Rights. Those rights must be met, at the local level if possible, but with the intervention of the federal government if necessary.

In the course of human history, the basic needs of the poor have only ever been addressed effectively (if not adequately) by the combination of a dynamic private sector that creates wealth and government action that redistributes that wealth. Does that redistribution create disincentive effects on private sect wealth creation? Yes, but it’s obviously not a crippling effect. Arguments against re-distribution on this basis are simply greedy. Does the government have an obligation to encourage personal responsibility and use resources as efficiently as possible? Yes, and it’s clearly not there yet.

But that is not the debate we’re having here. We are arguing against the role of government here, not the best means to address our obligation to the poor. This is counter-productive.

As Catholics, we need to accept our responsibilities, recognize that good intentions of individual and local action are presently not enough to solve the basic problems our faith requires, and demand effective and efficient action from our government to both solve those problems and encourage personal responsibility. We don’t get to blame the poor or create other myths that excuse us from getting the job done however it needs to get done.

As Catholics, we also need to recognize that any vote in the current political environment represents an UNACCEPTABLE COMPROMISE. Neither Democrats nor Republicans live up to our requirements for a just society that recognizes the dignity of life from conception to natural death, with basic human rights secured throughout. Any attempt to create an apology for the un-Catholic things that politicians do on both sides of the aisle is itself un-Catholic and unacceptable. If you are Catholic and Democrat, push your party to recognize (and more importantly, realize) the right to life. If you are Republican, push your party to press for social justice in the fullest form of what that implies.

Just don’t compromise your beliefs or come up with excuses why you shouldn’t have to live up to them. Certainly, the doctrine of justice shouldn’t be divisible merely at the convenience of politicians. We should pursue it whole cloth and make the politicians on both sides feel inconvenienced until they comply.

Henderson Jones July 31, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Starner Jones has written a novel, Purple Church (Texas Review Press). Visit: http://www.starnerjones.com

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