week I had a choice: watch another few hours of the Senate health
insurance debate or have a root canal.
So there I
was, at Endodontics Inc. on Winter Street in Salem, having a
consultation with Arnold Maloff, DMD, about a tooth that had been
bothering me that my dentist suggested could be more painful by
choice had come before my first root canal eight years ago, I probably
would have made a different decision and put off something that I knew
about only from phrases like "I'd rather have a root canal than ... name
some other obvious horror." But my actual experience back then was so
positive that I didn't hesitate to choose the dentistry — especially
since I knew it would come with novocaine, which the debate would not.
being reassured in 2001 by first the homey antique Salem building, and
second the scrapbook in the waiting room with letters of appreciation
from former patients, who emphasized the absence of pain and the
friendliness of the staff. Later, after a positive experience, I sent a
note myself about choosing a root canal over a tax increase anytime;
found it in the scrapbook last week.
and his two associates take pride in their patient-friendly practice,
which is limited to endodontics and takes referrals from dentists like
Kip Sandfield, who takes excellent general care of my teeth, but prefers
to outsource root canals and extractions, sending his patients to
specialists who do many of these procedures.
So while I
was lying in the chair, feeling no pain, I was thinking: why can't we do
government like this? Elect general practitioner legislators and
Congressmen, who determine that there is a problem that requires
specialists in that issue, who will be paid when the problem is solved.
work better than hoping that politicians, who are elected because of
name recognition, personal popularity and/or ability to raise funds for
campaign advertising, can acquire enough information to make a solid
decision. Instead, have them set priorities for action then let experts
compete for the business of writing reforms.
is too expensive, and some people aren't covered by insurance? Doctors,
hospitals and clinics, insurance and drug companies, academics and
business market specialists could draft proposals and submit them:
Congress would then vote on the best overall plan, name it after the
winner (remember my OhBarbaraCare column?) and pay the going rate for
government could put some of the proposals on television, call the show
"Medical Survivor" or "American Health Care Idol," let viewers call in
to vote for their choice. I have a very strong feeling that they could
do as good a job as Congress is doing on the issue right now.
William F. Buckley Jr. saying "I'd rather entrust the government of the
United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone
directory than to the faculty of Harvard University." Of course, he
graduated from Yale, so I'm not sure he is making the same populist
point with which he's often credited.
September 2009 Rasmussen poll found that "42 percent of American voters
believe that a group of individuals randomly selected from the phone
book would do a better job than the politicians currently in Congress
... This number has changed by 9 percent from last fall, when 33 percent
believed the same thing ... The same number, 42 percent, disagree with
that point of view, and 16 percent are undecided."
undecided myself; the phone book may be a tad too random. Local
lobsterman Paul Crowell suggested to me that legislators could be picked
from the jury pool. If jurists can be trusted with our essential justice
system, they could, he thinks, be trusted with the legislative system as
well. Each group would serve for a month or so, dealing with whatever
comes up, and then be replaced by the next group.
Or maybe one
group could serve to solve one specific problem. Jurors, dress
appropriately for a winter trip to Copenhagen.
from the random legislators idea: Considering the woeful state of our
education system, especially in the teaching of history, can we trust
the average citizen to make important decisions? However, if the answer
is no, then we must also ask: Can we trust the average citizen to choose
his representatives or even his president? Might voters choose someone
because of gender, race, or simply overuse of the word "hope"?
the random legislators idea: no more politicians who are beholden to
campaign contributors, dependent on special interest groups, lying or
over-promising in order to curry favor with voters. They would all have
term limits and be citizen- legislators, knowing they will be returning
to the jobs they could risk with economy-killing legislative decisions.
I can't imagine they'd vote this week to raise the national debt ceiling
to $12.4 trillion.
from my root canals: Sometimes the things we fear aren't as bad as we
from history: Sometimes they are worse.