DECEMBER 16, 1946
NEW YORK, Sunday—I was shocked the other day to read of the attack on Surgeon General Thomas Parran by the American Medical Association. The Surgeon General of the U. S. Public Health Service, it seems to me, has a perfect right to advocate the President's health program if he approves of it. Health is not a thing based on partisan politics, and public health should not be regarded, either by officials in Washington or by doctors, as a political football.
There are differences today within the medical profession as to how more medical care shall be made available to the average individual with a small income. As far as I know, there are a considerable number of cooperative hospital plans and a growing number of medical plans on an insurance or cooperative basis.
The American Medical Association, for reasons best known to its own leaders, but which sometimes seem somewhat selfish to the layman, has decided to oppose most of these plans and it dislikes particularly the Wagner-Murray-Dingle bill. I am only a layman and I don't imagine that this bill is the last word, or the best health program that will ever be developed. But it is a step in the right direction—and we seem to forget that democracy functions by taking one step at a time. As more people become convinced of the value of something, it becomes more universally accepted. Democracies move slowly because they envision the approval of a majority for any new policy, and that means much education of many individuals.
I believe medical men, above any other group in this country, should refrain from attacking as good a public servant as Dr. Parran has proved himself to be just because they happen to differ on methods by which medical care shall be provided for a great number of people. No one denies the existence of the need, and we can argue out the methods without feeling that people advocating any particular methods have no right to their point of view. The majority will decide in the long run.
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There is great fear expressed in the papers that new wage demands by labor groups will be based on unusual economic theories. I wonder if the real solution to the troubles that we face in the labor field is not an insistence that every business, big or little, shall set up labor-management committees. If this were done, it seems to me that there would be more understanding on the part of labor as to what were the problems in their business, and more understanding on the part of management as to what were the problems of labor.
It is perfectly evident that it is to the interest of both management and labor to prevent strikes, to keep income coming into the worker, to the investor and to the management. The sooner we come to look upon business as a cooperative undertaking where contributions may be made in different ways, but where all individuals involved have a mutual interest in the results, the sooner we will get down to brass tacks and evolve the type of machinery which makes cooperation possible.