Any of you who managed through gritted teeth and slit eyes over the past decade to read my stuff have seen me repeatedly, and more often of late, criticize all of medicine for becoming a vehicle for politics. This was begun by FDR, and then supercharged by LBJ. When Sen. John Heinz was killed in mid-air crash in 1991, the special election of Harris Wofford on a plank of bringing more health care access to the masses laid the foundation for making political all things health care, the state in which we now sadly exist.
Say for instance last November you voted for…I don’t give a damn who you voted for. Physicians first and foremost should have always been about the business of caring for the individual patient apart from politics to the maximum extent possible, and recognizing public health, when absolutely necessary, to be necessarily in the service of the individual and not the other way around. Now the legions of public health doctors, nurse-doctors, and bureaucrats already a mealy-mouthed army of nagging nannies, have used the past year to accelerate their concerns, inserting themselves via health care into every last crevice and interstitial space. With respect to the body politic, health care has now become a retro-virus to introduce whatever doctrine those who control health care opinion seem fit to engineer.
And this is bad news for medicine, and for patients. The U.K journal The Lancet has published a purely political piece criticizing the last U.S. administration. A right-leaning source relates quotes that “appeals to racism, nativism, and religious bigotry have emboldened white nationalists and vigilantes, and encouraged police violence and, at the end of his term in office, insurrection.” Then the bold claim that “hostility to environmental regulations has already worsened pollution — resulting in more than 22,000 extra deaths in 2019 alone — hastened global warming, and despoiled national monuments and lands sacred to Native people.”
A leftist source quotes from the very same Lancet piece, “’An emboldened plutocracy, under the guise of deregulation and austerity, has augmented its wealth and power by re-regulating markets to their advantage and adjusting government budgets for their own gain. Under this type of governance, wealthy firms and families receive generous government transfers’ while ‘job opportunities have disappeared.’” Impervious to all irony, this piece cheered, “The Commission applauds [the present administration] for rejoining WHO and the Paris Climate Agreement, and for other steps they have taken to rescind some of [the previous administration’s] health-harming executive actions.”
What in the name of Thomas Wakley does any of this have to do with medicine?
A recurring compassionate resurfaces, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, of Harvard (whom I considered in 2014, and King Doug in 2012), who states in Lancet: “Americans’ health was deteriorating even as our economy was booming. This unprecedented decoupling of health from national wealth signals that our society is sick. While the wealthy have thrived, most Americans have lost ground, both economically and medically.” While this may or may not be factual, it is being used in an ostensibly medical journal, naked ideological points dressed up in literary white lab coats which only confer the sort of credibility due a know-nothing first year med student in similar costume.
In fact, public health officials and bent journals operating as propaganda have all the credibility of Arianna Grande when she speaks about combatting terror, Thomas Friedman discussing climate change, or The Fauci discussing economic policy. They don’t know what they are talking about any more than the average person-in-the-street.
The Lancet, JAMA, and even the CDC have increasingly become political animals, using their titles and legacy, to push political agendas and calling it “health care,” in exactly the same way COVID-fevered politicians are running around bleating “science” to similar ends. The Lancet idiots claim “40% of the nation’s coronavirus deaths could have been prevented if the United States’ average death rate matched other industrialized nations,” never mind that we have NEVER known the actual infection rate; that our numbers for “COVID death” are questionable; that we had more widespread testing earlier on than a lot of other countries.
Here, we have seen the AMA wade into gun control, immigration policy, and the homeless problems with equal sanctimony, and results. If a group or journal meant to improve health care sees that the way to do so is by pushing a political agenda, how can clinicians or patients trust that any of its other work will be free of these biases? These are bad people, and should not be trusted.