Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Stuff to Think About Dept.

1. Chris Selley is back from, uh, one of the -arias [Hungaria, I think - ed.]. Yes, Hungaria, thank you, and his return has been blazing. First, read his piece about teenage pregnancy (Coles Notes: it's a symptom of the root problem, not the root problem). Notwithstanding the issue at hand, I appreciated this widely applicable observation:
This sort of statistics-based fatalism denies the importance of personal choices and personal responsibility, and can only result in bad policy. You hear it all the time: "you have a one in X chance of being struck by lightning" is the classic example. But do I? Really? What if I never go out in the rain?

2. Selley repeats a protest (a slightly different version is noted here):
Why, why, why must these outrageously partisan organizations and their representatives constantly be edified in the press?

The context here underlines his point perfectly. Quoting the Elizabeth Fry Society that Karla Homolka doesn't belong in prison is insane, unless they're going to follow it up with a sentence like, "The Elizabeth Fry Society has never once said that any specific woman does belong in prison, so you can take their opinion for what it's worth."

[Note: I think the Elizabeth Fry Society, and the John Howard Society, perform a worthwhile service in advocating what is basically a contrary-to-public-opinion view about just how harsh prison should be. But per the above, I think their moral authority is compromised by their "nobody belongs in a cage" rhetoric.]

3. Colby Cosh's column in the National Post today should be required reading for all doctors and medical students. I had a discussion a few months ago with The Monger, and touched on the fact that a consequence of doctors becoming advocates for the government health care system (e.g. more funding) is that patients are increasingly coming to view doctors as agents of the state, and the doctor-patient relationship is being devalued.

Cosh comes at a similar argument from a different angle today, in the context of state-funded Viagra for sex offenders. What he gets at essentially (just buy a copy, OK?) is this: if doctors seek to have medical advice be valued as more than that (i.e. as something that ought to supersede all political aims, including public safety), then they can expect to have this advice challenged on political grounds, and again, the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship will be devalued.

Ahhh, concepts. What a delightful topic.

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