The Moment of Truth — May 16, 1998

Doctor Glut

Hi, welcome to the moment of truth, the one moment in the entire broadcast week when the naked truth peeks out from behind the bushes to see if the capitalist media commissars are still out there waiting to stab it in the butt with a pitchfork.

I don’t know if you remember this, but about a year and a half ago, the AMA started lobbying the government to stop letting foreign doctors into the US to practice. The reason I remember this is that the AMA claimed that there was a doctor glut in this country. A doctor glut, okay? Meaning that there were too many doctors in the US already. Any more would be bad.

Now, in my mind a doctor glut might mean that there were so many doctors that I could go get a nose job for like forty bucks. There ain’t no doctor glut, there never was, health care remains prohibitively expense or just plain unavailable for a huge amount of people in the US. Anyway, the doctor lobby failed to stop the immigration of foreign doctors, mainly because doctors have become a less powerful policy-influencing force ever since they’ve become wageslaves to managed care, HMOs and private hospitals.

Flash forward a year and a half to the present, or rather a couple weeks ago, when the high-tech industry started lobbying the government to allow more skilled foreign high-tech workers into the country. At first it looked like it wasn’t gonna happen, because the industry hadn’t demonstrated a need for these foreign workers. The tip-off was that the high-tech workers already in this country hadn’t gotten any big pay hikes recently. Eventually, though, the government agreed with the industry that it would be good for the economy if high-tech workers, who are in fact at a premium and threaten to become an economic force unto themselves, if these high-tech workers had to compete with more job applicants, particularly ones from the developing world with low wage expectations.

Boy, what sweet deal. I wish I could do that. Anytime I didn’t like the price of something, instead of just having to do without it, I’d just lobby the government to drive the price down for me by flooding the market with cheap foreign equivalents. That would be great. Hey, I need a haircut, could you ship some barbers over here? Hey, while we’re at it, I’ve always wanted someone to clean my house every week, but even the low-paid domestic workers of Chicago are out of my price range. How about sending some Filipino teenagers out here to clean my house for practically nothing? Or Indonesians, why massacre them when they could be cheap domestic labor for the US working class?

While we’re at it, how about some really good lookin’ hookers?

Or – I know! Doctors! Why not let in a whole bunch of low-priced general practitioners and solve the health-care crisis instantly? That would make sense, if it weren’t for the fact that sick people with incomes at the poverty level and below are the least powerful lobby of all.

The point is, capitalism treats people like things. We just happen to be things that can speak up for ourselves and complain about how much we’re being bought and sold for. That causes a lot of problems which in some countries, like Indonesia and the United States, are solved by violating the civil and human rights of labor organizers. Corporations have all kinds of methods to avoid paying fair market value for our labor. Whatever happened to free trade? When are the workers of the world going to be able to trade their labor freely on the market, instead of having its value artificially lowered by corporate cabals and military juntas?

These and other logical yet unasked questions can be answered by pounding your head against a brick wall. In the meantime, help promote progress in the area of economic justice by asking aloud from time to time at a crowded barbecue, does one Ross Perot really contribute as much to society as thirty-five hundred teachers do?

That’s the moment of truth. I’m mejeffdorchen. Join me every Saturday at the tail end of the hour beginning at 11 am on National Beer Presents This is Hell with your host Chuck Mertz right here on WNUR 89.3 FM Chicago’s Sound Experiment.