Dynamist Blog

Poaching Doctors

In a post about Robert Nozick's "Wilt Chamberlain" argument against progressive taxation, Tyler Cowen lays out a milder version of the case, starting with this principle: "A doctor is not required to devote his entire life, or even a part of it, to helping poor kids in Africa, even if he could create greater good by doing so. Personal autonomy matters." Tyler's discussion, and the comments, are worth reading for their own sake, but I was particularly struck by how his seemingly obvious first principle has recently been contradicted--by complaints that African-born doctors are being "poached" by developed countries and should stay where they are. In the LAT, Kerry Howley examines the argument and finds, aside from the moral effrontery of it, an interesting empirical regularity: The African countries that send the most medical professionals abroad are also those that have the most medical professionals per capita.

Local Language

I am not a Hillary fan, but attacking her for dropping her final g's is culturally moronic. Picking up local accents, especially ones you've spent most of your adult life around, is not a sign of "dumbing down" your speech to pander. It's only natural to speak like those around you, and there's nothing particularly ignorant-sounding about an American dropping g's. Would you attack the junior senator from New York if she used an occasional (and equally non-standard) Yiddishism? The poor woman is stuck with that horrible Midwestern screech. Cut her some slack for softening it with a little bit of drawl.

Of course, I could be a little sensitive on these things, since my native speech pattern involves droppin' g's and I haven't used my full-blown native accent for decades--so long, in fact, that I can no longer recreate the full effect. I pander to the educated elite by sounding less like a country music singer and more like the rest of the intellectual class. One of the pleasures of living in Texas was letting up on the final g's.

Health Beat

Thanks to the many readers who've emailed about my health. A week ago I had surgery. It wasn't as extensive as I'd thought might be necessary, just a larger partial mastectomy than my first one, plus an axillary node dissection, which removed all the lymph nodes under my right arm. I sleep a lot, my arm is sore, and I have a tube coming out of my armpit siphoning lymphatic fluid and (by now only a little) blood into a grenade-size rubber container. But I'm basically OK and, best of all, the pathology report after the surgery indicates that the margins were clear, which suggests that the cancer was fully removed. I should be able to have the drain removed sometime next week. Once I'm healed from the surgery and can lift my right arm above my head, I'll be having radiation every weekday for seven and a half weeks to mop up anything that might be left.

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