When We Run Out of Doctors by Steven Vaughn MD, PhD


In the American Coliseum, the synthetic “public opinion” is our new and hi-tech circus for entertaining the masses. Fascinating and empty arguments are built on a few scattered facts, and the contest of the day becomes all the rage for the crowd – until it fades from the news, and a new synthetic argument is tossed out like a fresh Christian for the lions.

The argument is always something that has the pretense of relevance and meaning, although usually only the most threadbare one.

I see that the Problem in Baltimore still has legs in the Public Media. Like the lions, the meat need not be fresh to attract attention. It succeeds the Problem in Ferguson, and the question of the season – are Police Good or Bad?

The question draws attention, and excites the masses to adopt and propound an opinion. We like to be strident and righteous as a people, no matter how little we know what we are talking about – that is the secret of control of American politics. The few times in a generation genuinely important questions arise, the populace stares through them as though they are invisible. Whether our lack of interest is from individual dullness or media avoidance is really a moot point. In areas where we can make a difference, we frequently take a pass.

On the sports pages, the controversy is laughable. Did boxer Manny Pacquiao lie on his form to the Nevada Boxing Commission about his injured shoulder? Had he told the truth, he would have forfeited the chance to enter the ring, and fight for a guaranteed $80 million dollars. We trumpet in rage – how could he do so? Such an action tarnishes our opinion that boxing is an honest sport. Shame!

In Baltimore, the pretense swirls around the question of whether the knife found in the decedent’s possession was lawful or unlawful under Maryland law. This is the nugget of the day that we draw our water-cooler controversy from.

Nobody seems interested in the greater question. We constitute governments that train and deploy police for the incontrovertible need for social protection. We are concerned by the level of violence displayed by the police in enforcement, and worry that it may be biased. We completely duck the fact that from Ferguson to South Carolina to Baltimore to the Edmund Pettis Bridge, the police are creatures of government, and thus ultimately agents of us.

We have followed for generations the agreement that the Police may do what they want if they do not get caught – but once caught, they are unprotected from our righteous wrath. That is the game; we are the players.

If we keep this up, we will run out of officers. We seem to live in the pretense that there is a limitless supply of officer candidates to run through, as though they were illegal immigrants trying to work at the car wash. We make the job requirements nearly untenable, and thus create positions that no sane persons would wish to occupy. The older officers are leaving in droves; the younger recruits are sparse.

It is not an argument about whether we should be lighter in enforcing civil rights violation or not. It is a fundamental argument on why we the people cannot construct a police force that is made up to be fair and just to all, and why we cannot staff it.

We do not care. We like our circus approach to policing, the way that we like our circus approach to every other vulgar sport that thrills us. Entertain us, for we shall punish the losers who do not.

Now, about doctors. Once we run out of officers for the police department, what happens when we run out of doctors? The pretense is the same – impeach, brutalize or drive off one, and there are hordes of other pediatric neurosurgeons waiting in the wings clamoring for the job.

When we run out of police, we will simply take the thugs that we can get to do the job. What do we do when we run out of doctors?

68390cookie-checkWhen We Run Out of Doctors by Steven Vaughn MD, PhD