Public defenders in
Massachusetts went on strike this week, refusing to accept
assignment of new cases. Seems that the Bay State
has a bad habit of falling behind in payments to the
attorneys who accept assignment of public cases, and the
lawyers have had enough. And you can't blame them:
they are paid as little as $30 an hour for their services,
a shocking sum in the legal world. It's a miracle
they have any public defenders at all. Some of these
lawyers are owed as much as $15,000. And it's not
the first time things have been this bad; according to the
news report, the state commonly lets payments to public
defenders slide. So the lawyers got together and
shut the system down.
This is the way Socialist
republics like Massachusetts manage to provide "free"
services: when they don't stiff the providers, they
shortchange them. The only way a government can give
away the services of its citizens is by not paying for
So to the Massachusetts
lawyers, I have this to say: How do you like it,
boys and girls?
We physicians have been
getting stiffed by government for decades. The
average Medicare doctor would love to have Medicare owe
him as little as 15 grand; each of us is continually
floating a no-interest loan to Uncle Sam to the tune of
many tens of thousands of dollars.
When we get fed up, we
can't do as the Massachusetts lawyers did, and organize.
Thanks to our friend Fortney "Pete" Stark, that is
considered racketeering. And for the privilege of
continuing to receive late payment of pathetic fees for
taking care of the sickest and most demanding class of
patients, we must endure reams of paperwork and Byzantine,
intrusive regulation. And the punishment for failure to
dot every i and cross
every t is draconian.
Believe it or not, physician's offices have been raided at
gunpoint at Medicare's behest.
So who gave us Medicare,
with its shabby fees, dilatory payments, oppressive
regulations, and complete lack of redress of grievance?
Lawyers. It should come as no surprise that they
won't tolerate what they impose on others. Look at
Congress: a big gaggle of lawyers who have
established a blue-ribbon health-care plan for themselves
while demanding that the rest of us go to the back of the
Here's my proposal:
let's establish legal "Medicare". After all, a right
to legal representation is far more firmly established in
the Constitution than any right to medical care.
Government should provide it to the citizens free of cost.
Let's find out whether the lawyers like a taste of their
own medicine. My bet is that if we ever established
such a system, it would die a quiet and natural death
before the next session of Congress.