The Wall Street Journal is, as always, full of thought-provoking articles. Let’s start with the most serious, and proceed to mere pet peeves. (Sorry, can’t find either of these articles on the internet.)

Mary Anastasia O’Grady, who frequently writes about Latin American affairs, has an editorial about Dariel Ferrer, an Afro-Cuban doctor who is being harassed by the Cuban government for speaking up for and serving the poorest members of Cuban society. Castro has a smooth program for educating doctors in Cuba and then exporting them to countries like Nicaragua and South Africa, thus winning grateful friends around the world. Communist Cuba also supposedly has an exemplary healthcare system: free care for everyone, funded by the government. Sadly, far too many in the American medical establishment have swallowed this tale, hook, line, and sinker. I’ve seen many articles, in the New England Journal, specialty journals, and even plain school newsletters, praising the humanitarian efforts of Castro-run Cuba, and lamenting the lack of a similar program in the United States. Here are a couple of sites, on the subject: petition by doctors who defected to the US, blaming Castro’s policy for healthcare problems in Cuba (not the US embargo); and a press release about doctors who have been tortured and imprisoned without a fair trial.

Ms. O’Grady describes the “crimes” of Dr. Ferrer which have led to his harassment by the government:

“We have dedicated ourselves to offering free medical attention to those in need and visiting extremely poor communities where scarcities strike marginalized Cubans daily. . .” Dr. Ferrer reported [of his clinic’s activities]. The 36-year-old doctor’s selfless dedication to others would win praise from any government genuinely concerned about the welfare of citizens. But in Cuba, his work scandalizes the state. It has rewarded him by shutting him out of the official medical community and refusing to allow him any form of gainful employment. . .

. . . despite the persecution he works tirelessly for the sick, the poor, and the imprisoned. [His] clinic writes “respectful letters” to high-ranking government officials, raising concerns about public health issues and proposing solutions. In a July 2005 document called “Health Authorities and the Complicity of Silence,” Dr. Ferrer complained of the deaths of dozens of children in recent months owing to increased cases of transmittable diseases. He expressed concern that meningitis, dengue fever, hepatitis and leprosy could become epidemics.

Now, on to a less matter: the upcoming switch to Daylight Savings Time. There is an editorial by Michael Downing, author of Spring Forward: The Annual Madness of Daylight Saving Time, to the effect that “daylight saving is a waste of time.” He quotes NC Rep. Charles Rose on a Native American definition of daylight saving: “The white man cutting an inch off the bottom of his blanket and sewing it to the top to make it longer.” I purely hate Daylight Savings Time. Last year I linked to this NRO editorial on the subject. After this year’s experience with clinicals and early hours, I hate it even more. These last few weeks in March have been the first time since last October that the sun was visible when I got up to go to work. And here the government, in its ineffable wisdom and providence for us poor mortals, is going to shift sunrise forward another hour. That means I get to go another month without seeing the sun in the morning, only glimpsing it as it sets on my way home, as long as I’m working in a huge modern building complex, where a glimpse of the outdoors is rare and startling. I didn’t realize how much I missed the sun, till I noticed my moods in the morning being much more cheerful the last few weeks. Determined as I may be not to participate in “seasonal mood disorder” (another invention of the drug companies and psychiatrists), I can’t help feeling a little gloomy most mornings that I wake up in pitch black, drive to the hospital in complete darkness, and feel completely alone in a dark sleeping world. And now that the government has arranged DST to begin in March instead of April in the future, I get to enjoy these dark mornings for even more of the year. I seriously suspect that these arrangements will have an incalculable bad influence on the lives of residents and medical students, who are already well-documented to have higher rates of depression and suicide than the general community. (Nurses have shift changes at 7, so this doesn’t affect them quite as much.) And it’s not like anybody but parts of the entertainment industry are actually benefitting from all this chaos. Read Mr. Downing’s material to see how.

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