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PoliticalGround >> FRAT bailout analogy

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10/7/08 10:29 AM
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Member Since: 7/28/08
Posts: 328
A mother brings her son to the doctor. It seems that the boy has been acting strangely, and although he says he feels fine, the mother is concerned.

The doctor, who is a very busy man, briefly looks over the boy. The boy is acting somewhat agitated and hyperactive, but otherwise seems healthy. The doctor concludes there is nothing wrong with him, and sends them home.

A few weeks later, the boy's condition has worsened, and the mother brings him back to the doctor. While in the doctor's office, the boy can't sit still and talks incessantly. The doctor asks the mother if he is having trouble in school, and she tells him he's not; his grades are fine. The doctor concludes that if the boy functions fine in school, there is no reason to do anything. He sends them home again.

Several more weeks pass, and the mother once again brings the child to the doctor. By now the boy is literally bouncing off the walls, yelling and screaming. The doctor tries to subdue the boy, but the child is like a wild animal. He hisses and snarls, and his arms and legs flail crazily.

"It's probably just a phase he's going through," says the doctor. "Kids do this sometimes, and usually the best thing to do is to just let them..."

Suddenly the boy freezes in mid-flail, a terrified look on his face. His eyes roll up into his head and he falls over backwards onto the floor, unconscious.

"Oh my," says the doctor.

"What? What is it?" says the mother, rushing to her son's side.

"Can't you see?" says the doctor. "Clearly there is something very wrong with this boy." The doctor steps toward the door of the examination room.

"Where are you going?" demands the mother.

"In a case this severe, I need to consult with my colleagues." The doctor leaves, closing the door behind him. After several agonizing minutes, the doctor returns.

"Good news!" says the doctor.

"What is it?" says the mother.

"My colleagues and I are fairly certain that your son's condition can be cured with a ridiculously expensive, and very risky surgery, the likes of which has never before been attempted in this country!"

"Surgery?" exclaims the mother. "For what? You haven't even taken the time to examine my son. How can you even know what's wrong with him? Ten minutes ago, you were convinced he was fine!"

"With respect, ma'am, this isn't the time to dwell on the failings of the past. Do you want your son to get better or not?"

"What kind of question is that? Of course I want him to get better. But given the fact that you've done absolutely nothing to help him in the past, and that you have, in my opinion, been criminally negligent in your oversight of my son's condition -- not to mention the fact that you haven't taken the time to conduct even a rudimentary examination...."

"Ma'am, when your neighbor's house is on fire, it's not the right time to say, "Old Joe, he was always smoking in bed.'"

"What? What the f--- are you talking about? That's a terrible analogy. But while we're on the subject, what would be the time to smack old Joe for smoking in bed?"

"After you've bought him a new house."

"Gee, that works out pretty well for old Joe, doesn't it?"

"The fact is, my colleagues and I have, based on a quick and admittedly panicky assessment of your son's condition, concluded that his best chance for recovery lies in a dangerous, insanely expensive, and unprecedented surgery. So that's what we're going to do."

"What? How can you already have decided on this, without even taking the time to fully explain it to me?"

"Well, in all honesty we aren't all in agreement yet about the surgery."

"Aha! So there are other options being discussed."

"What? No. This is the only option we've considered. The reason we haven't been able to get a consensus yet is that, well, a few of our doctors...."


"Well, let me put it to you this way. Have you thought about getting your son a bow and arrow set?"

"A what?"

"You know, for target practicing and whatnot."

"What on earth does this have to do with my son's condition?"

"Oh, nothing. Absolutely nothing. But one of our doctors is worried about his job, and he was thinking that if he was able to give your son, you know, a really cool bow and arrow set, it would look good on his next review."

"You must be joking! First you tell me that my son's only chance is this radical surgery, and now you're trying to sell me on a bow and arrow set?"

"It's very important to Dr. Wyden. He won't go along with the surgery unless we throw in the bow and arrows. Also..." the doctor pulls a handwritten list out of his pocket. "Let's see... Dr. Watson wants to get your son some DVDs... and, oh, this is nice: Dr. Bean wants to get your son a wool sweater!"

"A sweater? What does that even have to do with medicine? Are you people all insane?"

"Look, this is just the way our office operates. We need a majority of doctors to agree on any procedure, and sometimes you can't get a doctor to go along unless you let them do something that lets them show what a good doctor they are."

"I would think that saving my son's life would be evidence that you're good doctors."

"That's one way to look at it. A bow and arrows is more concrete, though."

"So... you're basically bribing these doctors to go along with you. Do these doctors even think this surgery is the right thing to do?"

"Who can say? The thing is, none of us want your son to die. That would look really bad. On the other hand, if your son lives... well, maybe it was because of the risky, expensive surgery we're pushing, or maybe it was because there was nothing really wrong with him in the first place. So, you see, there's no guarantee that we'll get any credit for it. On the other hand, if your son walks out of here with a bow and arrows and a really sharp sweater, well, everybody wins."

"I think I need to find a new doctor."

"Good luck with that. So, do you want your son to live and get a nice sweater or not?"

10/7/08 7:46 PM
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