JANUARY 24, 1962
ROCHESTER, N.Y.—Our interest is centered these days on the 21-nation American foreign ministers' meeting in Punta del Este, Uruguay, which is expected to act on Cuba's ties with the Communist bloc and her position in the inter-American system.
In a publication sent to me last week the question was asked whether we were prepared, if Cuba offered to break off trade agreements with the Soviet Union, to pick up again our trade agreements with Cuba. For instance, to resume buying as much sugar as we bought before and, I suppose, at the preference price we gave the Cubans.
Before a decision could be made as to how Cuba's interests were to be tied into the West rather than to the Communist bloc, there are undoubtedly many more demands that would have to be worked out before any trade agreements could be effected.
According to newspaper reports, Secretary of State Dean Rusk would link the economic help we are giving to Latin-American nations to their action on Cuba.
I doubt very much if this is the case. We are fully aware now of Soviet activities in many parts of the Western Hemisphere, and it seems to me we have to look on the situation within each country as a separate problem. We cannot condition our action in regard to any one state on what action it may take toward others in the hemisphere.
It is obvious that we are anxious to establish a firm orientation toward the West in the whole area of North and South America, but we cannot succeed in this unless we deal with each state separately. I cannot see how all can be linked together so that one pronouncement of our policy or attitude would suit the whole group.
New York City, it is conceded, has very special traffic problems, but its new Traffic Commissioner, Henry A. Barnes of Baltimore, Md., has picked two areas in which he thinks the situation could be improved.
(1) He would like to take doctors' cars off the streets.
(2) He would disallow the immunity enjoyed by foreigners in the diplomatic service except those of ambassador rank.
As far as diplomats are concerned, under the rank of ambassador, this may be a possible regulation to enforce. But I have been astonished to see reference to "special privileges for a rich portion of our community—the doctors."
I doubt if many of our doctors in the course of their working years accumulate extravagantly large amounts of money, and I know of no workers in our community who, on the average, work such long hours. It is not at all out of the ordinary to find a doctor working from 10 to 14 hours a day.
The electrical workers have gained a five-hour workday. Yet in a profession that takes years of preparation, great numbers of doctors still work extremely long hours because they are so engrossed in their profession or because particular patients need attention that cannot wait till the following day.
If we were operating under the British system of medicine, then we could establish given hours for everybody. But I question that Mr. Barnes is trying to push the American Medical Association into organizing a new system for medical care. He is merely plagued by all those double-parked cars with the MD license plates that he sees on our streets.
Many people claim that the doctors' privilege to double-park when on private calls is abused by the wives. However, if this is the case it is a matter that could be checked very quickly. We know that a large majority of doctors drive their own cars, have private offices, have obligations in hospitals, and have to make a certain number of house calls where patients are not well enough to go to their offices. If a doctor should have to circle the streets searching for a parking place, and if he is on an emergency call, the patient may well be dead before he could arrive.
Somehow an arbitrary ruling which Mr. Barnes would like to push through seems highly unreasonable and unwise for New York City. It looks to me as though a committee should be formed of doctors to meet with a group chosen by our new Traffic Commissioner. Something could be worked out and then circulated to all physicians so that they would know exactly what the regulations are, what their privileges are, and under what circumstances these privileges could be exercised.
If something like this is not done, there will be much resentment, not only among the doctors, but among needy patients, and will create much bitter feeling toward the local government.