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November 21, 1974 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1974-11-21

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e anmirian Buie
Eighty-four years of editorial freedom
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan




the Bicentennial

Thursday, November 21, 1974

News Phone: 764-0552

420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Mi. 48104

Your money and your life

DOGMA, LONG A standby of relig-
ion and politics, evidently per-
rheates even further than we may
have expected. It seems that Michi-
gan physicians, tired of being the
victims of malpractice suits, would
like to see such suits eliminated from
the dissatisfied patient's roster of
available paths of recourse.
In her article in the Novemger 11
paper, Free Press Medical Writer Do-
lores Katz reports that a group of
600 Michigan doctors have formed
the Physicians Crisis Committee. The
primary objective of the committee
is to remand dissatisfied or injured
patients to a binding arbitration
board. The patient would be required
to sign an agreement, prior to receiv-
ing any medical treatment, stipulat-
ing that in a case of alleged malprac-
tice he would present his case to an
arbitration board. The board's deci-
sion would be final, no appeal would
be possible.
The doctors on the Crisis Commit-
tee feel that this arbitration process
would be cheaper, faster, and would
reduce the number of cases decided
on a purely emotional basis.
ACCORDING TO Ms. Katz' article,
12,600 malpractice claims were
filed in 1970; a total of $80.3 million
was collected for "physical, economic
and emotional injuries." Fifteen per-
cent of 2800 Michigan doctors ad-
mitted they are presently being sued,
and the American College of Surgeons
estimates that one of every four
surgeons entering practice now will
be sued at least once in his career.
This seemingly monumental mal-.
practice claim rate leads to an in-
crease in physician insurance pre-
miums, some doctors shelling out 3-4
percent of their gross income on mal-
practice insurance. Ms. Katz refers
to Dr. Michael Curtin, chief of anes-
thesiology at Detroit's Providence
Hospital, who spends $24,000 annual-
ly on malpractice insurance: over fif-
teen percent of his income.
At this point, one begins to suspect
that something is rotten in the state
of Michigan. How many people make
even $24,000, let alone the $160,000 Dr.
Curtin must make? Further, if so
many mistakes are made on his job,
admittedly a high risk one, that in-
surance becomes as expensive as it is,
should the patient be the one depriv-
ed of his one effective means of re-
compense so that the physician can
gross $160,000 instead of $136,000?
this malpractice business has its
Editor In Chief
Managing Editors
LAURA BERMAN ................Sunday Editor
HOWARD BRICK........Sunday Editor
MARNIE BEYN.............Editorial Director
CINDY HILL................Executive Editor
JEFNTHDAY........9ssistant Managing Editor
KENNETH FINK ..................Arts Editor
STAFF WRITERS: Susan Ades, Glen Allerhand,
Gordon Atcheson, David Blomquist, Dan
Blugerman, Tony Cecere, Cathy Brown, Clif-
ford Brown, Dave Burhenn, Wendy Chapin,
Barb Cornell, David Crumm, Mark DeBofsky,
Bandy Feldman, Linda Fidel, James Florzak,
Cinthia Fox, Enid Goldman, Laurie Gross,
Mary Harris, Paul Haskins, Stephen Hersh,
Debra Hurwitz, Wayne Johnson, Lois Josi-
mnovich, Mary Kelleher, Barb Kalisewez,
Carol Kiemet, Linda Kloote, Chris Kochman-
ski, Don Korobkin, Claudia Kraus, Ron
Langdon, Sue Leinoff, Jay Levin, Andrea
Lilly, Anne Marie Lipinski, Su Lively,
George Lobsenz, Mary Long, Judy Lopatin,
Josephine Marcotty, Rob Meachum, Diane

Morrison, Jim Nicoll, Beth Nissen, Chryl
Pilate, Tom Preston, Sara Rimer, Jeff Ris-
tine, Steve Ross, Joan Ruhela, Tim Schick,
Bob Seidenstein, Stephen Selbst, Stu She",
Charles Smith, Jeff Sorensen, Kate Spelman,
Jim Stern, Steve Stojic, Brian Sutton, Paul
Terwilliger, Suanne Tiberio, Jim Tobin, Jim
valk, Mark vermilion, David Warren, Bruce
Weber, David Deinberg, David Whiting, Sue
Wilhelm, Myra Willis, Margaret Yao, Doug
Business Staff
Business Manager
Sue DeSmet . ..........Finance Manager
Amy Kanengiser...........Advertising Manager
Jack Mazzara ..................Sales Manager
Linda Ross .... ............ Operations Manager
DEPT. MGRS. Laurie Gross, Ellen Jones, Lisa
Kannengiser, Steve LeMire, Debby Novess,
Cassie St. Clair
ASSOC. MGRS. Rob Cerra, Kathy Keller
ASST. MGRS. Dave Schwartz
STAFF John Ataman, Dan Brinza, Peter Caplan,
Nina Edwards, Debbie Gerridh, Amy Hart-
man, Jayne Higo, Karl Jennings, Carolyn
Kathstein, Jackie Krammor, Sue Lessinio,
Becky Meyers, Dave Piontkowsky, Amy Quirk,
Ann Rizzo, Susan Shultz, Judith Ungar, Au-

worst effect on the public. The in-
crease in insurance premiums leads
to a reflected increase in the cost of
medical treatment directly and in-
directly. Not only are patients pay-
ing more for regular medical care,
they also pay for "defensive medi-
cine:" that is, the unnecessary X-ray
the doctor takes in order to protect
himself against future malpractice
suits. Furthermore, doctors occasion-
ally refuse treatment to cases which
look like potential malpractice haz-
Once again, doctors appear to be
enmeshed in a self-protection con-
cern. Medicine, by its nature, involves
risk: not every patient is going to be
successfully treated since a great deal
of medical knowledge is still specu-
lative. The physician is engaged in
choosing the best course from among
several relatively sound alternatives,
and there is no guarantee that he
will always choose correctly.
But surely that is not the fault of
the patient. The doctor chose his
profession, spent long years training
for it, and is amply (even extrava-
gantly) rewarded. He knew his job
would involve risks before he began:
he is not in the business to avoid
risks, theoretically he is there to treat
people. He took an oath at the be-
ginning of his medical career which,
if I recall properly, is not equipped
with a clause permitting him to deny
medical care on the basis of potential
financial loss.
tion that the doctors who wish
to effectively ban malpractice suits
are interested in little more than
their own financial well-being. Ac-
cording to a 1973 federal study, 80
percent of all jury verdicts are set-
tled for less than $3,000, only 6 per-
cent are for amounts in excess of
$40,000, and a tiny 0.1 percent - 1 in
1,000 cases - involve sums exceeding
Clearly, it is not the doctors who
are suffering from the frequency of
suits filed against them. The patient
absorbs not only the cost of the claim
he files, but also the increased cost
of medical care as a result of his
claim. Yet, 80 percent of the time the
patient does not even win his suit.
If the Physicians Crisis Committee
should manage to legally establish
their arbitration board, there is no
reason to assume the patient will be
recompensed any more than he is
under the present system. So the sit-
uation would be as follows: the phy-
sician would be freed from the bur-
den of being the victim of a law suit,
both psychologically and financially.
He would not pay huge sums of his
huger income for insurance, nor
would he be forced to spend his val-
uable time testifying in the court
room. The patient would be in exact-
ly the same position he was in pre-
viously. Though his medical costs
might conceivably be lowered, his
main method of insuring that he re-
ceives proper medical care would be
closed to him.
found to keep physicians more
strictly accountable to their patients,
who are after all the doctor's raison
d'etre. Doctors need to realize that
they are in the business of serving
their public, not seeing how much
they can put over on a public that

has come to be dependent on them.
If we are to realize equitable, reason-
able, good medical care, attitudes
like the following, expressed by John
Dodge, attorney for the Physicians
Crisis Committee, and quoted by Ms.
Katz in her article, have got to go:
"The doctors who are most
skilled are getting sued. The peo-
ple who the profession itself re-
veres are the ones who are tak-
it in the teeth simply because
they are conducting the most
risky operations. I think it is
monstrous that society is sub-
jecting to the rigors of malprac-
tice our most highly trained and
technically proficient doctors."
Reveres? Monstrous is right.

This is the conclusion of a two-part
interview with Jeremy Rifkin, one of
eight national coordinators of the Peo-
ple's Bicentennial Commission. T h e
question and answer format is inter-
spersed with quotations from his re-
marks at Pendleton Library last Wednes-
day evening.
Let's talk for a minute about patriotism
and nationalism.
Demonstrate it for me.
VERY SIMPLE. The Declaration of In-
dependence was an international docu-
ment. It appealed to all mankind to be
the judges of the actions taken in this
country. It was the first document that
ever appealed to the world community.
The American revolutionaries spread
revolution in their first foreign policy
more than any other country since. Jef-
ferson said that revolution should be
spread throughout the world. Lafayette
went back to France, Jefferson and
Adams toured the Netherlands to create
revolution there, Tom Paine went to
England and wrote the Rights of Man.
We financed, in our State Department
Budget, revolutionary movements in Lat-
in America, the first Russian insurrec-
tion, the first Polish insurrection, be-
cause they believed by toppling mon-
archy (and the empires knew this), by
toppling the British Empire in this coun-
Itry, that signs were ominous that it
could be topled all over the world. The
domino theory really works.
I THINK IF WE go back to our first
foreign policy, to the revolutionary prin-
ciple in the Declaration of appealing to
all mankind to be the judge of our ac-
tions, that we're talking about patriotism
as an international movement.
That's very different from national
chauvinism. Patriotism to me is not
"my country, right or wrong," follow the
leader, we have more nuclear bombs
and can blow up everybody. Patriotism
is allegiance to the principles of the
Declaration of Independence. Subversives
are people who undermine those basic
doctrines, like Rockefeller, and Genecal
But aren't most Americans terribly ig-
norant of their roots? How can you
combat that ignorance in a popular
WE NEED a massive public informa-
tion campaign. Students should demand
that history be relevant, that it be
taught in an ethical framework of prin-
ciples, rather than as little objective
facts. I've seen lots of surveys using
the Declaration or the Bill of Rights as
a petition. We do one using the Declara-
tion of Independnce, and about So per
cent think it's dynamite, that it's just
what we need. I think we have about the
same polarization here that we had on
impeachment. There's no labels on who
those halves are. You'll find Republicans,
Democrats, Wallace backers, McGovern-
ites, civil libertarians on both sides of
that issue. We have to reach the 50
per cent that are already there and rein-
for::e ourselves into a social movement,
and then work to convince as many of
the others as possible.
There'll always be people who will op-
pose a revolution. Sam Adams s a i d
something that I like to keep in mind:
"If you love wealth better than liberty,
servitude better than freedom, go home
from us in peace; crouch down and lick
the hands which feed you; may y)ur
chains set lightly upon you; and may

"Otne of the problems is that people in radical politics have so equated aggressive-
ness and competition with leadership that we have no leaders. What we need are men
and women who can stand up and commit themselves, and let other people identify
with them because they make sense. We've got to get out of these little cubbyholes of
sanonae~is amsaigaaissisiiiaemiipngsg#s~ssyyiiissislsrity."iUssis~ssie#55masMisssas m2mm%%m

posterity forget that you were our coun-
WE'VE ALWAYS been a nation that
didn't look back, we've always been fu-
ture--riented, with unknown frontiers
to conouer. But now we realize we've
reached an inpasse where we have to
stop and reevaluate. People are saying,
we know we're in a trap, we know
that there's something fundamentally
Ironically that reevaluation comes
right on the eve of the greatest mobiliza-
tion of public opinion around w h a t
America stands for in the history of
the nation, the Bicentennial. For the
next two years everybody - schools,
fraternal organizations, neighborhoods,
newspapers - are going to be beaming
in on what it means to be an American,
what our roots are, what our history is.
We're in a massive psychological war-
fare campaign.
To me, it is the most deadly and most
important campaign this country has
faced in the 20th century, because cor-
porations are going to be spending bil-
lions and billions and billions, along with
the right wing, to define what our iden-
tity is for a nation involved in an iden-
tity crisis. They're going to say, "This
is what America stands for: What's good
for GM is good for the country, free
enterprise is America, there was no
revolution 200 years ago - it was just
businessmen taking over, believe in
your country and keep your mouth shut.
THAT IS GOING to influence what
we feel about ourselves and how we
move politically for the next quarter-
century. Our job - and we're in a
better position than the establishment
because they're trying to bring us a
revolution - our job is to give people
the American revolution, remind them
of the tradition we have. I think the
opportunities are tremendous.
"U.S. corporations are on a real fan-

tasy trip in making plans for the Bi-
centennial celebration. For examne, to
reaffirm our American roots, ITT's Con-
tinental Bakeries is phasing out Wonder
Bread - and producing 'Continental 1776
bread for Patriots' which helps build
strong bodies in 12 revolutionary wa.ys
In Vero Beach, Florida, the city council
is going to paint 400 fire hydrants to
look like miniature minute men. The
only problem with that, however, is
that when the dogs piss all over them, it
might raise a question as to the purpose
of the Bicentennial. Another corporate
idea that's so funny it's better than
National Lampoon, is Pepsi Cola's idea
to join 3,168,000 bodies froib coast to
coast on July 4, 1976. The Washington
Star News hailed the idea saying, 'Oh
yes! Let's hold hands from California
to the New York Island!'
newspaper. Right now, you should be
running a column every day on revolu-
tionary history, because we have 18
months. There are people on this carn-
pus who don't know what they're going
to do when they get out of college --
it's worse than that, they don't know
what to believe in. They're going to tran-
scendentalism, they're going to gurus,
but what are their roots? Instead of ar-
ticle after article, muckraking and in-
teresting cynical little tidbits, why not
devote one column a day or two a week
to some fantastic stories about the prin-
ciples, the ideals, the spiritual and poli-
tical beliefs that people put forth 200
years ago? Our times now, as then, call
for great people and great actions.
Our biggest problem now is that
we don't believe we can win. It's all up
here. Radicals feel burned out; they're
overwhelmed because subconsciously
they know that it is all coming to a
head, all the things we talked about and
read in history books about the final con-
tradictions, in the next five or ten years
in America. What we need are leaders.
ONE OF THE problems is that peo-
ple in radical politics have so equated
aggressiveness and competition with
leadership that we have no leaders. What
we need are men and women who can
stand up and commit themselves, and let
other people identify with them because
they make sense. We've got to get out of
these little cubbyholes of anonymity. -
It really is snivelly for radicals to re-
fuse to take leadership positions. We've
got to get rid of this confusion abot'
what we stand for, and get rid of code
words like "imperialism."
In terms of standing up to corpora-
tions, I feel great. I'm going on 30, and
I know I'm living at the best time -
I'd hate to be a radical in the 60's
now, because conditions were right -_
and now during the next five years when
I'm in iy prime, so to speak, it's all
going to happen. I like nothing better
than to get out and organize against
GM and Rockefeller, because they're so
vulnerable - aside from being fun, it's
deadly serious. It's a blast seeing those
gys squirm.
THE UNIVERSITY, inside of three or
four months, could be a hotbed of activ-
ity, just like it was during the o0's, not
around the same stuff because that's
nostalgia, but around a fresh dramatic
sense of recapturing control over peo-
ple's lives.

GEORGE WALLACE is like a deck
of cards. Joe Christian from the Massa-
chusetts PBC ran against Wallace as a
favorite son in the New Hampshire, and
in debate, he buried him. Wallace is so
It's the same thing with economic is-
sues. A lot of people are so overwhelm-
ed by thinking they don't know enough
to talk about them. There is a group of
basic myths that people carry around
about the corporate system; if you can
explode each of those myths - and it's
easy - then people are willing to listen
to the alternative.
The first: people who risk capital are
entitled to profit as a just reward. Se-
cond: profit is plowed back into the
economy to create new jobs. Third: we
have a democratic economy because con-
sumers make decisions, i.e., if you
don't buy burgers from McDonald's they
go out of business. The fourth one is:
anybody can buy stock and make decis-
ions on how the company operates, so
don't bitch. Fifth: we all got labor un-
ions and they're just as powerful as
corporations and represent working peo-
ple. Number seven: corporations give to
charity, so they're good guys. Eight:
anyody can be a business person. If
you can demolish those arguments, peo-
ple are ready to listen.
PEOPLE'S FEARS are just as easy
to answer. One example: "I think demo-
cracy's fine in principle, but it won't
work economically because a) everyone
loses their incentive, b) people are too
inefficient, and c) people are too in-
competent." None of those things are
true; they've been exploded over and
over again in projects in employe demo-
cracy in our major corporations right
here in the U.S. of A.
"The best-kept secret in the U.S. to-
day is the results of the experimental
programs Colgate Palmolive, Monsanto,
Pittsburgh Paint and other corporations
instituted. They tried giving total con-
trol of their plants to the workers for
a period of time to see what effect it
would have on production. When they
saw what happened they became scared
shitless and abandoned the experiments
immediately. Production went up. Incen-
tive went up. Efficiency increased.
Everything improved. But the manage-
ment freaked out and dropped the whole
program. It became obvious to them that
a corporate system can't possibly com-
pete with a democratic economy. As soon
as everyone else realizes this, it's just a
hop, skip and a jump away from work-
ers getting together and taking serious
THE REAL THING that bugs me is
radical economists who are doing teach-
ins don't even touch on these things.
They deal in abstrations like trade bal-
ances, just like regular economists, mys-
tery-mongering about imperialist forces.
Nobody talks to central issues.
Let's talk about average people. How
do we make them feel like they have the
wherewithall to make an impact, out-
side of the voting booth?
WE TELL PEOPLE to quit bitching,
that it's time to stand up for them-
selves. Either they're going to believe
that they're the masters of their fates
and captains of their souls, or they're
not. It's simply a matter of whether
they want to be sheep or not. People


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