LITTLE ROCK It would be great if one could get all the truth, both good and bad, in one source on any subject. Unfortunately that is not the way society works and every article on a reformed national health care plan contains a lot of information, primarily skewed toward the writer's point of view. Combine the questions about affordability with the known need for greater availability and there exists a bundle of unanswered questions. The poor have one set of problems and the wealthy a different kind of need.
Many years ago I read a story, true or fiction I do not know, about a man who had repeated health problems. The man was a very successful businessman, with assets in multiple millions of dollars.
The doctor was a personal friend who treated the businessman for health problem after health problem and ran tests on every kind of disease that seemed to contribute to any of his symptoms. After eliminating every possible physical ailment and having a patient still suffering from undefined causes, the doctor sat the businessman down for a review of his case. After reviewing all the symptoms, the results of the tests and assuring the patient that he was not in fear of death, the doctor asked how much the businessman would pay to be healed, reminding him of his wealth. The businessmen assured the doctor money was no object if he could be well again.
The doctor asked the wealthy businessman if he would donate one million dollars to the research clinic of the doctor's choosing if the doctor would make him well. The businessman quickly agreed and the doctor asked one question - "when in your life were you happiest?" The man thought for a minute, and replied when he lived back on the farm, in a rural area and they spent hours cutting wood for his mother's cook stove and for heating their home in winter. The doctor prescribed a simple solution - every week the businessman was to go out into the woods, leaving his business concerns behind, and spend half a day cutting wood.
You can guess the rest of the story. At the end of six months, the patient returned to the doctor with the check for one million dollars.
Few of us would have to worry about the pressures of business creating health issues of that magnitude. However, I have witnessed similar, but certainly less serious situations in high pressure positions held by corporate leaders. And, the pressures of sports today mustbe very similar in nature. As I read about the salaries being paid to coaches in the Southeast (Football) Conference, it must be equally as pressurepacked as anything in the way of a profession.
A recent newspaper article reported that the coach for the University of Florida football team (Urban Meyer) signed a contract for $24 million over six years. It is interesting that this made him, temporarily at least, the highest paid football coach in the SEC. The new contract pushes this year's salary up by $750,000 per year - not a bad salary in itself.
Another SEC coach, Nick Saban of Alabama, is reported to earn $3.9 million this year but contract negotiations are underway to extend his contract and that will probably exceed $4 million with even a "small" increase. Supposedly the coach of LSU (Louisiana State University for non-football fans) has a contract that guarantees he will be the highest paid coach in the SEC under certain conditions. With these salaries come enormous pressures and the demand for a "successful season" must be tremendous when you have an athletic director and a powerful alumni association looking over your shoulder.
No doubt these coaches handle the pressure easily and will never find themselves in the situation described in the story previously in this article.
However, I could not help wondering how many of us find ourselves in positions in life where we have lost sight of the things we really enjoyed. And, we find ourselves like the businessman, unable to isolate the cause of our problem on our own.
This is definitely a situation than many people could find themselves in today. A far too large percentage of Americans are facing pressure from too little income to cope with our current economic dilemma. As I read about the college football coaches' salaries the question of tuition for low income, but very talented, young people came to mind. With the cost of admission to the football games established at higher and higher rates each year, the sporting events will one day be priced beyond the means of many students - do they go to the events or pay tuition and buy books? At what point does the cost of producing a winning team exceed its benefit to society?
And, none of this answers any questions about a national health care plan. A lot of factors affect the health of our citizens. We all know about the effects of tobacco, the abuse of alcohol and the results of obesity, etc. Yet our economy is built on filling our need for self-indulgence, and providing full employment so we continue to destroy our health with our life style.
The answers do not come easily.
Opinion, Pages 4 on 08/12/2009