Socialism and Dentistry

By C. B. WARNER, A.M., D.D.S.
Biloxi, Mississippi
In your July issue you have an article entitles, “Socialized Dentistry.” It was my hope that it would attack this hybrid union, but it was favorable. There are so many dentists striving for free dental work, or socialism, for that is what it amounts to, that I wonder whether then can define the term socialism, or are aware what they are heading for? Years ago there were teachers in private schools who were crazy to have the Government enter into business and when the public school was ushered in, three fourths of them lost their jobs, and many starved. Now the public school is a good thing, and perhaps socialism is coming, but if we are to go wholesale into free dentistry why not go gradually, and apply socialism all along the line and also apply it to other types of business? Not wipe out our private dental field as the first offering to socialism. If our writers, teachers, and leaders really wish dentistry to be thrown into the hands of politicians they must look for the majority of dentists to go into other occupations, unless they have good pulls. Dental colleges, dental magazines, dental laboratories and dental supply houses will also be forced to quit the field, for the Government will soon provide its own dental equipment just as it provides its own weapons of warfare.
In the July issue of Oral Hygiene there was a contribution by me describing chiseling in the dental profession. This menace has cut our field in half and only needs a little more attrition to break it up entirely. In our conventions and magazines you will find nine tenths of the attention give to increasing our skill in dental work. When that situation prevailed in agriculture six years ago it went on the rocks. Then, the condition was changed and emphasis was placed on marketing, and the farmer began to proper. Nothing was said about his giving farm produce away free. Oh! No! Nothing like that. Instead the farmer was compelled to raise his prices, cut his acreage and sell to the Government when he could not sell elsewhere.
Since may article was published I have received letters from all over the country. Some of them very pitiful. Yesterday, in one of the letters, the writer states, “If I had been a chiseler I could have worked night and day. Every year, since I have been in practice, the first of each month has been a nightmare.” Labor now getting five dollars a day is striking for eight. It favors socialism for dentistry but not in its own field. Did not the American Federation of Labor pass a resolution favoring socialized medicine? Is not the CIO decidedly more socialistic than the Federation? Surely, they all wish socialism, but not in their particular field. Witness how the clothing manufacturers set up free clinics for their labor but would not permit the Government to establish clothing factories by relief labor. It remains with our profession not to fight free dentistry but to work for it. However, our leaders need not worry about socialized dentistry not coming, did not John Lewis raise a half million dollars for the last Democratic campaign fund? If the CIO wishes socialized dentistry it will get it, and all the quicker if we accept without question what Washington is now freely offering us.
Dentistry is Being Sacrificed
Yes, the word has gone down the line that dentistry is the first offering to socialism. If you do not believe it just read a few socialistic periodicals. As an economist I read at least a dozen each month. Every time a free clinic opens up they are tickled pink. Your hardships, from a crippled dental field, means little to them even though it may mean death to you. Unless we are able to quit borrowing billions from the rich and doling to the poor, socialism may come. But I object to its wiping out business, one at a time. Instead it should very gradually enter into each line of business so as not to upset our welfare. Do not delude yourself that this cannot come to us suddenly. Were not all of our banks closed over night for a two weeks examination? Was it not suddenly that the holding of gold became a crime?
Out attention in the last few years to our dental market has placed us in a critical position. Our hope is that we may right about face, with everyone of us pledged against free dentistry and socialism, in a common front with medicine, nurturing our political power and the hope that Lewis may be so interested in other things that he will forget us for a while. But all these are too much to expect. I know these socialist and labor leaders for I worked with them as Chairman of the National Committee of the original Farmer labor Party. Most of them are fine fellows but their interest is not with the dental profession but to get their own teeth filled free in clinics. Just now they are sitting in the political saddle and it looks as though they will be there quite awhile.
Your guess is as good as mine as to when forces will move to socialize the entire dental field but we do know that even now socialistic free dentistry has wiped out a large part of our earnings, and is doing so every day. In dentistry, as in other lines of business, prices depend upon supply and demand. With a dental field uncontrolled the great bulk of our profession is bound to lose large sums of money.

Dentists Should Have Same Benefits as Business
There are plenty who delude themselves by saying that the poor cannot afford dental work anyway so we might as well do it for them free. One of the needy told me the other day that he was willing to bet that my patients went to the movies five times as often as I did. He also stated that the main cause of people not getting dental service is due to the high price of gasoline. Other lines of business recognize these facts and could give free service, but they never do. There are many, however, that have nothing but the bare necessities and the Government pay out good money to the poor for dental work when the dentists are willing to give it to them for nothing? The Government must save its money to give subsidies to corporation, to pay the farmers to cut down acreage, to assist transportation companies. The Government never will pay out money for dental relief until la fight is made for it. Other lines of business have high priced lawyers, economists, lobbyists to see that they get theirs. Mechanics working for the Government earn more than the small town dentist, who has his education and equipment to buy.
To those who might think that I am unduly alarmed at the situation I might call their attention to an article published July 17, in The Digest Review of Reviews. It is headed, “Uncle Sam M. D.” and starts off as follows, “There was considerable excitement when Senator Jim Ham Lewis proposed a plan for federalized medicine to the American Medical Association. There would have been much less if it had been realized that Uncle Sam, with his doctor’s bag in hand, already has a thriving business, etc.” If Washington can only lull us to sleep during the process we ought soon to see a quick painless demise of the private dental profession.
Biloxi, Miss.