“Least Untruthful”

By

Leonard Zwelling

            By
now, the whole world is aware that the National Security Agency of the United
States was collecting information on American citizens within the boundaries of
the country. Much of this newfound awareness is due to the leaks to the press
from Edward Snowden, an NSA contract worker who is at-large, but highly sought
by the federal government. I would like to focus a minute on the related
statements of James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence.

            On
March 12 of this year, before the Senate Intelligence Committee, General
Clapper denied that his agency collects any type of data at all on millions of
Americans. This was a lie. We have seen lying in front of the Congress and in
other venues before and I don’t mean by other Congressman. Watergate,
Iran-Contra, Clinton and Monica are all examples of officials trying to
cover-up what they don’t want the American people to know. They might be better
off just saying “it’s none of your business” or “I don’t want to tell you” or
take the 5th. What was so unique about the Clapper lie was his
rationalization. It was the “least untruthful” answer. What does that mean?

            Over
the past two years, many members of the faculty have expressed concern about
the changes implemented by the new administration at MD Anderson. There appears
to be a huge investment in basic science from the multi-million dollar packages
given to new recruits to the separate structure and pay scale at IACS. The
clinicians have largely gone without any love. Their merit pay has been frozen,
their support staffs are moving on, and the expectations for their patient
encounters keeps climbing. It’s like Catch-22. They keep changing the number of
bombing missions you have to fly before you can go home. And, by the way, if
you don’t want to fly those missions, you can’t be crazy, so put on your flak
jacket and climb aboard. And, you are crazy if you want to fly the missions so
put on your flak jacket and climb aboard anyway. Catch-22.

            The
ever graying visage of the MD Anderson President who also surrounds himself
with the grey and the colorless (all men) continues a form of cheerleading for
a plan called the Moon Shots the details of which remain fairly obscure, at
least to me. So to make sure we get the real story and not just the least
untruthful one, how about somebody in this administration answer the following
questions;

1.     What
is the pay differential in IACS vs. the rest of the institution and why is
that? Are there metrics of IACS success that if not reached will engender a
lowering of these salaries?

2.     Are
there really no clinical revenue dollars being expended on the moon shots,
platforms. recruitment and IACS?

3.      Can we get a true cost of all of these
programs and the true revenue generated by each?

4.     What
is the purpose of the arrangements with outside clinical entities like Banner
and the new one in New Jersey? How does the money flow? How is the quality
maintained? How will you know?

5.     How
can we maintain the quality of care we believe we provide and still increase
volumes using support systems at least 10 years out of date?

6.     What
is it that all of these people coming from Harvard and beyond know about cancer
that we who were already here do not that will lead to the cures about which
the President spoke and what happens if that is the most untruthful thing we
have ever heard?

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