In 2009, the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion Ledger published a letter to the editor as an open letter to President Barack Obama. The letter was written by Dr. Roger Starner Jones, who addressed then-pending federal health-care legislation. The comments by Dr. Jones are just as valid now as they were then.
Jones is a physician who specializes in emergency medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, a 722-bed facility in Jackson. His letter was printed under the title “Why Pay for the Care of the Careless?”
Before you cast aspersions on Dr. Jones as having been born with a silver spoon in his mouth, consider his background. He grew up in a lower middle-class, single-parent home in the rural hill country of Pontotoc, Miss. While attending public schools, he paid attention in class and did his homework. He ran with the right crowd and stayed out of trouble. His dedication in school resulted in a full-ride scholarship to the prestigious University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn. After college, Jones set out for medical school, with everything he owned in three bags. The rest is history.
Once again, Dr. Jones’ letter-writing story teaches us that motivation, not entitlement, is the key to personal success and happiness in life. Here is what he wrote to the Clarion Ledger:
Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ring tone.
While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as “Medicaid”! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.
And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman’s health care?
I contend that our nation’s “health care crisis” is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a “crisis of culture” — a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based on the irresponsible credo that “I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me.”
Once you fix this “culture crisis” that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you’ll be amazed at how quickly our nation’s health-care difficulties will disappear.
STARNER JONES, MD