(This slightly revised excerpt is from Dr. Hendricks’s original letter to his good friend, Ms. Rand.)
by Tom Licata
To: Vermont’s Legislature
From: Dr. Thomas Hendricks
Re: Health Care Reform
Should Vermont’s single-payer health care proposal go forward as envisioned, know that I shall quit when medicine is placed under State control.
Do you know what it takes to perform a brain operation? Do you know the kind of skill it demands, and the years of passionate, merciless, excruciating devotion that go into acquiring this skill?
This is what I will not place at the disposal of Vermont’s Legislature, whose sole qualification to rule me is their capacity to spout the fraudulent generalities that got them elected to the privilege of enforcing their wishes at the point of a gun.
I will not let Vermont’s Legislature dictate the purpose for which my years of study had been spent, or the conditions of my work, or my choice of patients, or the amount of my reward.
I have observed that in all the discussions that has preceded the eventual enslavement of medicine; men discussed everything—except the desires of the doctors.
Here, when discussing Dr. William Hsaio’s single-payer proposal, in this Feb. 18, 2011 one minute video, the Vermont Legislature’s House Health Care Committee displays the arrogance to which I write of: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPnxG0IUKTo&feature=youtube_gdata
These legislators supposedly consider only the ‘welfare’ of the patients, with no thought for those who are to provide it. That a doctor should have any right, desire or choice in the matter seems regarded as irrelevant, selfishness; his is not to choose, they say, but ‘to serve.’
I have often wondered at the smugness at which Vermont’s Legislature asserts their right to enslave me, to control my work, to force my will, to violate my conscience, to stifle my mind—yet what is it they expect to depend on, when they lie on an operating table under my hands?
The Vermont Legislature’s moral code has taught them to believe that it is safe to rely on the virtue of their victims.
Well, that is the virtue I have withdrawn.
Let the Vermont Legislature discover the kind of doctors that their system will now produce. Let the Vermont Legislature discover, in the operating rooms and hospital wards, that it is not safe to place their lives in the hands of a man they have throttled.
It is not safe; if he is the sort of man who resents it—and still less safe, if he is the sort who doesn’t.