Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Meet the Parents
By Ben Stiller, Robert De Niro, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner, Nicole DeHuff
There is something that I have been wanting to write about lately, but before I do I need to be honest about a few things about me. Coincidentally, this seems like an appropriate time to come clean because this appears to be a new trend in the blogosphere. Every day, more and more bloggers are coming clean with who they are, what they do, what they are, and who they do. I suppose after four years of blogging, it’s time for me to reveal who I really am.
Most of you know me as Shane Varnet and that I’m a biochemist. Actually, I have no idea what you think my name is or what I do for a living. But anyhow, the truth is that my name is Chris DeGuzman and that I am an optometrist. Here is my Facebook page and my Twitter page. This is information that I know you will not remember, nor care about, because even my closest friends do not think my name is Chris, nor do they remember that I am an eye doctor (they think I’m a dentist). But, in order for me to write the following entry, you will need to know that I am in the health care industry. This is something that I almost never write about, but it’s something that I want to write about right now.
I recently received an email that is currently being forwarded to various physicians throughout the country. The email, which was allegedly written by a Florida ER doctor, was a call to action regarding this November’s midterm elections. The body of the email is as follows:
I live and work in a state overrun with illegals. They make more money having kids than we earn working full-time. Today I had a 25-year old with 8 kids - that's right 8; all illegal anchor babies and she had the nicest nails, cell phone, hand bag, clothing, etc. She makes about $1,500 monthly for each; you do the math. I used to say, "We are the dummest nation on earth." Now I must say and sadly admit: WE are the dummest people on earth (that includes ME) for we elected the idiot idealogues who have passed the bills that allow this. Sorry, but we need a revolution. Vote them all out in 2010.
Now, I’m well aware that no one in the cyber realm can be trusted. It’s very possible that this email is not authentic. There is no hard evidence that this was actually written by a Florida physician, or any physician, or anyone Florida. For all I know, this was written by someone only pretending to be a doctor, like a pre-med student, a chiropractor, or Prince’s former drummer Matt Fink. (This might be true. The subject line of the email was “Bring on the Revolution”.) Furthermore, it’s hard for me to believe that this was actually written by someone with extensive post-graduate education. There are inexcusable spelling errors, he is implausibly self-righteous and self-loathing, and he seems to believe that the current Congress (which is barely in its second year) is responsible for the decades-old health care system. “You do the math.”
For those reasons I didn’t care too much for that email. However, what astonished me was the number of replies it received from my colleagues who supported its sentiment. In summary, the collective replies read something like this:
“I see a lot of illegal immigrants in my practice. They have nice phones, nice handbags, and nice cars, all of which are nicer than anything I have. Also, they have hundreds children. I don’t know how they pay for all those things because I know they don’t have jobs. On second thought, I do know how they’re paying for everything. My taxes are paying for it! But what makes me the most upset is that they are very rude and ungrateful. They always complain to me and my staff about my service and frame selection, even though we are providing everything at no cost to them. Oh yeah, and why can’t they learn English already? I blame Obama.”
(It should be noted that the real transcripts were laced with expletives and derogatory words.)
Reading these responses was both amusing and disheartening. First, I was pleased to see that doctors are current with postmodern slang, curse words, and racial slurs, despite how uptight some of them appear to be (I’m a fan of things that aren’t expected to go together, like Oasis). However, I was disappointed that some of them are completely ambivalent to the ramifications of social politics to proper health care. In this politically-charged era that we live in, it’s not uncommon for people to have strong and polarizing opinions on current events. But these emails were not people simply expressing their ideological perspectives on the health care debate. These were ignorant, racist, and hateful rants fueled by resentment and self-entitlement, which probably isn’t very becoming of professionals who sick people trust to take care of them.
Now, I find it hard to believe that these people are truly upset at the fact that “illegals” are using tax-sponsored health care benefits. I mean, whether the people coming into their offices are illegal or naturalized citizens, these doctors will still get paid either way. (I suppose you can even make the argument that illegal immigrants are increasing revenue to private practices.) To me, it seems that the fundamental gripe that these doctors are obsessed with is the notion that these patients are rude and obnoxious, which, whether they realize it or not, makes them sound racist. Why? Because no one is going to believe that they are implying that illegal immigrants are rude and obnoxious just because they get free stuff.
It might be considered rude and preposterous of me to accuse people of racism because if you talk to any of my friends, they will tell you that no one is more racist than I am. This is not entirely true. I am not a racist. I don’t have any deep-rooted hatred or disrespect for any particular cultures or ethnicities. However, I have been known to laugh at a racist joke on more than one occasion, and I have been known to tell a racist joke on more than one hundred occasions. Seeing two Mexicans playing basketball and calling it “Juan on Juan” is racist, but it’s kind of funny. You have to be at least a little racist to recognize and celebrate our culture’s diversity, and sometimes our culture is funny. Racism is wrong, but sometimes racism is funny. Anyone who disagrees with that is a racist and/or George Lopez.
Speaking as a doctor myself, I know that there are a lot of flaws in the Medicare and Medicaid systems that allow them to be easily abused. Perhaps my experience is different from others’, but I’ve learned that the system is abused by people of ALL nationalities, colors, and creeds. To reduce it to one single population is weak and lazy, even if that one single population appears to be the most commonly seen. That would be like saying all homosexuals like shitty music because everyone at a k.d. lang concert is a Lesbian. The more ominous fact that these doctors fail to address is that for every rude and obnoxious welfare queen that is abusing the system, there is at least one crooked doctor abusing the system as well by ordering unnecessary tests and making fraudulent claims. We all know how much money doctors make, so who’s ripping off taxpayers now? Any discussion about insurance fraud must include doctors and patients. The system fails both ways.
There’s a lot that needs to be fixed with our country and our government, and they can only be fixed with open and intelligent dialogue and discourse. That’s the complicated part. The simple part is to not be racist.