If I had actually planned on learning anything during my cardiology rotation at the VA, I would be rather disappointed. As it is, my sense of urgency about the number of nonmedical history and theology books I need to read before graduation has been growing lately. So I am quite happy to be left alone in a well-lit, fairly quiet room (except for intermittent bursts of wild thumping and ratcheting overhead, as though some construction crew is trying to imitate a hard-rock band), with internet access, and my bag of books and the crocheted tablecloth I would also like to finish by graduation (for my first-ever apartment).

I do intend to read Cecil’s section on cardiology, as instructed by my preceptor, but I figure since it’s only 150 pp, there’s no hurry. I also intend to review Dubin’s invaluable guide to interpreting EKGs. But I left it at home today, because after a couple of decades with my father, and then circulating around me and my friends for the past few years, it’s in a fragile condition.

So, catching up on medical blogs: Thanks to GruntDoc for the link to this eloquent debunking of the “healthcare as right” myth by Leonard Peikoff, founder of the Ayn Rand Institute (which reminds me to re-add Atlas Shrugged to my reading list, but at the bottom, because it’s so impossibly huge).

Some excerpts:

“Observe that all legitimate rights have one thing in common: they are rights to action, not to rewards from other people. The American rights impose no obligations on other people, merely the negative obligation to leave you alone. The system guarantees you the chance to work for what you want–not to be given it without effort by somebody else. . .

“Under the American system you have a right to health care if you can pay for it, i.e., if you can earn it by your own action and effort. But nobody has the right to the services of any professional individual or group simply because he wants them and desperately needs them. The very fact that he needs these services so desperately is the proof that he had better respect the freedom, the integrity, and the rights of the people who provide them.

“You have a right to work, not to rob others of the fruits of their work, not to turn others into sacrificial, rightless animals laboring to fulfill your needs.”

Go over and read the article to see the excellent analysis of how HMO and government intervention in healthcare adds a whole new level to physicians’ analysis of risks and costs when deciding what care to provide.