Tut, Tut

To the Editor:

In Jackson Baker's fine piece on Wyeth Chander (November 18th issue), he tripped up on a phrase that I'd wager Chandler, as a Shakespeare fan, would have corrected him on. Baker wrote that Chandler was "to the manor born." Tut, tut. The correct phrase is "to the manner born." The Bard used it to describe someone destined by birth to follow a custom or way of life, according to Fowler's Modern English Usage.

Tom BeVier

Traverse City, Michigan

To the Editor:

Thank you for Molly Ivins' column on "GOP Ethics" (November 25th issue). Orwell was right. But even he would have been flabbergasted by the cunning dishonesty of Karl Rove and crew.

The GOP has largely succeeded in defining "moral values" in a way that only Orwell could appreciate. In the Rovian universe, morality is limited to 1) opposition to abortion in all circumstances, even if the mother's life is threatened, and 2) hatred of gay people (it's way beyond opposition to gay marriage). Sexual infidelity, gambling, and drug addiction are also considered immoral if Democrats commit these sins, but not if Republicans do (e.g., Gingrich, Bennett, Limbaugh).

The essential moral values that make up every ethical system -- honesty, integrity, charity, compassion, civility, and respect for your fellow man -- are entirely missing from the list of "values" celebrated by Rove, Cheney, DeLay, and their ilk.

B. Keith English


Spare the Child

To the Editor:

The teacher who asked when our society got smarter than God because of ending corporal punishment in Memphis City Schools ("Sparing the Rod," November 25th issue) seems to believe the Bible tells us to hit children. That interpretation is not held by many clergy. Looking back in history, we see that the Bible was used to promote slavery, infanticide, suppression of women, and other acts. We no longer believe it is okay to "discipline" wives. Doing so can lead to time in jail. It's time to give up hitting school children with boards and using the Bible to justify these cruelties.

Nadine Block

Director of the Center

for Effective Discipline

Columbus, Ohio

Tort, Tort

To the Editor:

In response to Alan Crone's viewpoint ("The Real Tort," October 28th issue), organized medicine must whole-heartedly disagree. Medical liability reform is about the continued access to quality medical care and the lowering of health-care costs by encouraging physicians to practice prudent but not defensive medicine. The stability of insurance rates would be a welcome byproduct, allowing many medical practices to continue providing quality care.

When 100 percent of all cardiovascular surgeons and 92 percent of all OB/GYNs who have practiced for over 10 years in Tennessee have been sued, it is not just about medical malpractice. It is about certain patients and personal injury lawyers trying to win the "lottery." Less than 1 percent of cases result in trial victories for plaintiffs. The cost of addressing a frivolous lawsuit is approximately $23,000. The cost of successfully defending one is almost $100,000. Since 1999, liability insurance premiums for Tennessee physicians have increased by 84 percent.

In Memphis, we know that physicians have limited their practices due to increased liability costs. Most physician payment is determined by insurance companies through contracts that prohibit charging the patient directly for increases in practice cost, including rising malpractice premiums. As the amount that insurers pay for services steadily decreases and practice costs increase, physicians are caught between a rock and a hard place. Those who can retire are getting out, because it is getting harder and harder to make ends meet.

The best and the brightest who were considering careers in medicine are now having second thoughts. There are some communities in the malpractice-crisis state of Mississippi where women have to drive 80 miles to deliver a baby and where no neurosurgeons are available. These areas once had competent specialists who have now left the state for less suit-prone communities.

State senator Mark Norris has introduced reasonable legislation, which, if enacted, will address this pending crisis and once again make the practice of medicine a desirable profession. Medical liability reform has more to do with the cost of being a patient than the cost of being a doctor. Reasonable reforms will help Tennessee from becoming the next crisis state.

Neal S. Beckford


The Memphis Medical Society


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