People think doctors are greedy bastards

I was reading Jon Chait discussing a post over at The Corner on Barney Frank talking about the banking bill.  Stay with me; I’ll bring it around to health policy.  Veronique de Rugy didn’t like Conressman Frank’s assertions:

And if Mister Frank really believes that chasing well-paid employees to go elsewhere is a winning strategy and won’t have any impact on the industry, then I suggest that next time he is sick he goes to a hospital where doctors are poorly paid and see how he feels about that.

I was going to let this go, but I just can’t.

Why do people believe that if doctors suddenly made a bit less money, then suddenly the field would be filled with sub-standard incompetents? Seriously?  That’s what people think?

Look, I’m not saying doctors are overpaid, but – as a profession – we’re doing OK.  If, however, all we cared about was money, then there are faster and easier ways to make it.

Moreover, if, as may believe, reducing pay would automatically cause the best and brightest to jump ship, then we would assume that right now the best and the brightest would be going into the most lucrative fields.  There’s no doubt that radiologists make more then oncologists, but do we assume that they are all smarter?  Better?  More qualified?

Do we believe that collectively, pediatricians are less competent than internists because they make less money?  Do we value children so little?  I mean, I’m a pediatrician!  I didn’t go into this field because I couldn’t make it into the more lucrative fields of medicine.  This is what I wanted to do.  Is that so hard to believe?

Do we believe that all the physicians who choose to go into research (which usually pays less than private practice) are less intelligent and capable? Really?

Can we stop pretending that this argument has any merit?  It’s insulting.

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