The Super-Nanny of New York

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opening ...

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg opening the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At is an article focusing on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to restrict the number of painkillers in emergency rooms. He argued that the increasing abuse of pain pills required mitigation, and that restricting pain pill supply would be an effective method to reduce such abuse.

Mayor Bloomberg, like many liberals, sees himself as a nanny–in his case, a super-nanny–who is there to protect the people from their own foolish decision-making. He apparently believes he is Plato’s philosopher-king who knows what is good for the ignorant masses. This behavior was seen in his restricting the size of cola drinks in order to reduce sugar consumption and thereby reduce obesity. Even at a practical level, that will do little good–someone can buy several two liter colas at the local grocery or convenience store and drink away.

Bloomberg’s actions may not only hurt the poor who use the ER as a primary care facility; it may also harm other patients who require painkillers when the allotted supply runs out. The fact that some addicts take advantage of a ready supply of painkillers does not entail that the supply should be limited. There are always going to be people who take advantage of the medical system to feed their own addiction or to meet their psychological desire for attention. Does Mr. Bloomberg have the medical expertise to tell hospitals what to do? The answer is self-evident. Such a decision smacks of totalitarianism of the kind found in Huxley’s Brave New World.

If anyone wishes to see the future of the United States under President Obama, take a look at Michael Bloomberg’s actions. Mr. Obama has put forth federal regulations at a record level. They supposedly meet a particular need–for example, as a university professor I have to turn in my textbook list for the following semester by a particular date or the school could theoretically be fined. The idea is to give prospective students the price of an education, including book costs, at a particular college or university. When colleges and universities take federal funds, they are subject to federal regulations–but other than the required statement on the syllabus for students with disabilities, this is a rare time that a regulation has directly affected me as a professor. In addition, I must use the university’s e-mail address due to abuse by degree mills. I do not mind doing that, though I like my account through a major search engine provider and use it more often–the point is the depth to which the federal government is getting involved in what a professor puts in his syllabus. How many more regulations will come from this administration? The New Deal of FDR and the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson created the modern nanny state in the United States, Mr. Obama seems intent on outdoing both of them. To the mammoth state, citizens are like children–and people treated like children tend to behave like children. Aid means control–that is one principle the recipients of benefits from the welfare state forget. Given the decline in character resulting in the childification of people in the United States, I doubt they will protest–most people, like a frog in slowly heated water, will accept their enslavement without a whimper.

Your Tax Dollars Used to Take Organs

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Ambulance Interior

Imagine you have chest pains. Someone near you calls 911. At dispatch, two ambulances are sent for you. One has paramedics who will do their best to keep you alive, especially if you go into cardiac arrest; the medical workers in the other ambulance have a different purpose in mind–and that ambulance remains hidden. Before the ambulance arrives, your heart stops. A bystander begins CPR, and the ambulance arrives five minutes after that. Paramedics work on you for a half hour, then “call the code,” in effect, pronounce you dead. The paramedics working on you do not know about the other ambulance until their supervisor tells them to call the code. You are then transported to the other ambulance, and CPR is resumed. The other ambulance is marked, “Organ Preservation Unit.” CPR will be continued, not to save your  life, but to preserve your kidneys–and perhaps other organs–which will be removed after you arrive at the hospital. Those organs will be transplanted into others.

$1.5 million dollars of your federal taxpayer’s money is going to such a program in New York City. This practice is fraught with ethical problems. First, even if paramedics on a specific case do not know for sure whether the other ambulance is present, this program is public knowledge (there is a story in the December 1, 2010 New York Times about it). Any paramedic who receives a cardiac arrest or heart attack call will know that the other ambulance may be waiting. This could bring psychological pressure on the paramedics to stop CPR earlier than they would like. In addition, there are cases, especially early in the history of CPR, in which individuals with normal body temperature were successfully resuscitated after more than 30 minutes of CPR. It is clear that just because a patient has 30 minutes of CPR, this does not mean that the patient is dead; the brain can still be living and the heart resuscitatible. What would happen if the person’s heart restarted after the delay between stopping and resuming CPR? And even if the heart does not restart, the patient is only “dead” in a clinical, not a biological sense. It is removing the patient’s organs that kills the patient. This is medicine not to benefit the patient but to preserve organs, and it violates the fundamental end of medicine to “do no harm” (nonmaleficence). How much permission or informed consent can be given by families in such situations? Are the organ transplanters so desperate for organs that they will violate any principle of decency and medical ethics in order to obtain more organs? No utilitarian justification can make up for the distortion of moral medicine in this “trial” policy. It should be stopped immediately.