Dental Economics

Address all communications to the Department Editor C. B. Warner, A. M., D. D. S., Biloxi, Miss.

            You have probably read some of the writings of my good friend Charles Edward Russell, noted author and newspaper correspondent. Shortly before the World War he was sent to Europe to investigate military affairs but he avoided London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna for he says, “Information in those places was closed tighter than a drum. Instead I went to watering places such as Spa and Baden. There one can get chummy with officials and they will loosen up after they have had a few drinks. In that way I learned, long before it happened, that Germany would break her treaty and cross Belgium.”

In like manner information concerning the invasion of socialism into the dental field may be obtained. If we go to Washington, to our leading dental officials, and to our dental journals there is a dearth of news; if, however, we read the socialist and communist periodicals we find plenty. Whenever inroads are made on private dentistry, or new public clinics open, there is always plenty of applause.

Our dentists are entitled to know what is being done to their profession, and to have thorough information concerning the details, so that they may have opportunity to garner their strength and bargain with Washington the same as other lines of business. It is a favorite method of the New Deal to quietly cook up a brew, suddenly spring it upon Congress, and run it through with a steam roller before the rank and file have any time to consider the proposal and develop opposition, Let us hope and pray that this will not happen to us.

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            A correspondent writes, “Do you know that your advocating a continuation of private dentistry will stir up opposition from those free dental clinics, with millions of dollars invested, from their leaders who are leading officials in your dental societies, from labor unions, politicians, The Government, and corporations?” The answer is yes. While it is a fact that I have often worked for the Socialist Party and know their leaders and have been a student of Marxian doctrines for many years I also know that the transition from private operation to government ownership is a delicate affair. It should be entered into after a thorough knowledge by all, and a long enough duration of time so that adjustments can be made without hardships to anyone. It should be free from graft, or favoritism, and “efficiency” should be the watchword.

Those who have observed the three lettered Government agencies tossed to the winds, the squandering of billions, and the horde of politicians without stretched hands cannot look upon this offering of dentistry, as the first socialist experiment, with complacency. It would not be so bad if our Congress consisted of socialists who were well informed. Instead, they are Republicans and Democrats who do not believe in socialism.

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Dale Harrison, who conducts an able column for the Associated Press Feature Service, takes a hand in the discussion. He says:

“One of the magazines published a few weeks ago an article which glorified the public clinic. It argued that citizens in need of overhauling would do well to go to a clinic rather than to a private physician. It would be a cheaper, the article said, and just as good.

Well, sir, the author of that article, a neighbor of mine, went a few days after the article was published to his dentist, on account of a tooth was killing him.

“Oh, it is you.” leered the dentist, icicles hanging from every word “I do not wish you to clutter up my office with your carcass.”

“But, doctor,” moaned the author, “my tooth is causing me excruciating discomfort.”

“I read your article,” said the dentist. “I suggest you hustle your old tooth over to a clinic. It is just as good, you know, and much cheaper.”

The author was in a pickle.

“I don’t want to go to a clinic,” he cried. “I don’t know of any clinic to go to, anyway.”

“Just as I suspected,” said the dentist.

Of course, having made his point, the dentist relented, treated the author, I assume, got paid for it.

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Which just goes to show you. I have a kinfolk who, for many years, spoke derisively of medicine, surgery and the allied arts. One day he got took down right smart with appendicitis.

You could hear him calling, “Oh, Doctor, hurry, hurry,” for blocks.

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            Since many of our dental leaders favor the socialist experiment I receive many letters of protest, but these writers should not feel so helpless. They are all society member and have a vote. It is astonishing how the mighty can change on to another bandwagon when pressure is applied. Do you remember when Huey Long first began to talk about Old Age Pensions and Share the Wealth? How the Old Guard in Washington jeered. The movement became so strong that finally Franklin D. Roosevelt, in a fireside chat, advocated the same thing. Over night the politicians flopped.

Take heart, it is not all beer and skittles in the camp of the enemy. They have their worries too, as the following clipping testifies:

“In the courts, too, Group Health in Washington is dependent upon future action. Early this year, when the Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives reduced to take any action against the Home Owners Loan Corporation’s aid to Group Health, and when the legislative council of the Senate advised that the HOLC appropriation to Group Health was legal, the Corporation Counsel and District Attorney in Washington ruled Group Health illegal, and to settle this question Group Health filed a petition for a declaratory decree with the Federal District Court.”