MASTERSON ONLINE: Disproportionate voice

It’s remarkable how a terminally diseased 11-month-old child in England, his life hardly begun, can scream to the world in such a disproportionate voice about an immoral flaw in single-payer medicine.

Yet that’s exactly what little Charlie Gard has been doing in recent weeks as the English courts and an onerous medical bureaucracy intent decided Charlie won’t receive last-chance experimental treatments in the United States that might ease his suffering, perhaps even save his life.

The U.S. press has carried some stories of the controversy, yet nothing to compare with the stream of accounts appearing in the British press. This is a huge story mainly because it shows the planet just how single-payer health care and the decisions its bureaucratic committees make decide the fates of seriously ill people, even that of a child.

For those unfamiliar with the story, an Internet check gives the details of Charlie’s plight from when his parents and compassionate supporters raised $1.7 million to help fly their son to the U.S., where doctors at New York’s Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center had offered resources for experimental treatment of his rare mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

The single-payer approach wouldn’t pay for those treatments. But that became a moot point when Gard family raised the necessary funds to hopefully save their child. It wasn’t about economics but control.

As of late this week (there was one final appeal hearing pending that hopefully changed developments in Charlie’s case since my deadline) the governmental systems of jurisprudence and medical care in Great Britain had thrown up a wall of solid resistance.

There’s bound to be something sadly missing from the human compassion genes of those who would deny Charlie and his family an expense-paid chance, however slight, to try to help improve his health and hopefully extend his life.

Certainly our president and even the pope could empathize with Charlie and his family. Both lined up solidly to offer their help in any way possible. Still no budging. It’s reminiscent for me of the intractable French policeman named Javert in the Broadway hit Les Miserables who loudly proclaims that he is the law and the law is not to be mocked. Well, obviously neither is the single-payer system.

This unacceptable and illogical decision by the English government is now on display for the world due to the sufferings of a baby none of us will ever know. In that respect, even should little Charlie not survive, he will have made an enormous difference by having lived long enough to hopefully clear our vision.

Charlie’s plight provides a penetrating look into the callousness of single-payer health care managed by little public “servants” in big jobs with enormous powers.

Somehow, I don’t believe that’s not a health-care program the vast majority of rational-thinking adult Arkansans and Americans want to see for this nation and its children.

There’s much truth in the adage that those who control health care for the masses also invariably will control the masses. Charlie Gard’s life provides the evidence.

Perils of overthinking

I watched a friend grind over a 5-foot putt for more than a minute the other day. He walked to survey it from both sides. He took a few practice swings before finally addressing the ball. Then, in his intellectualized attempt to guide the ball into the hole, he missed by two inches.

Another player on the same green facing virtually the same putt took a good look, a single practice swing, kept his head still, and trusted his read enough to stoke confidently the ball squarely into the hole. He felt it.

On my way home that evening, I saw a squirrel dart from right to left in front of my car. Safely reaching the curb, he suddenly whirled and zipped back beneath my wheels. Nothing I could do except regret the furry little fella’s fatal indecision.

Over dinner at a restaurant, another friend agonized between three possible meals, including the one he always enjoyed. The other two were new and sounded delicious on the menu. He asked the waiter’s advice and mine. Finally he went with one of the untrieds and wound up disappointed. “Why didn’t I just stick with what I knew was great?” he lamented.

These kinds of experiences set me to wondering how much detrimental overthinking we all do. I know I’m certainly guilty of finally pulling the trigger on a choice that didn’t result in the outcome I’d hoped for. Gut instinct and intuition can prove as effective as any tedious mind-churn I apply to life’s dilemmas.

I’ve come to believe at this age how much better off I’d be to reflect on a problem or situation for a reasonable period then get on with doing it.

Even when I’m mistaken in my choices, or misjudge the consequences, I generally figure out a suitable way to recover, adjust and move on.

Over-analyzing in many instances (golf or otherwise) can lead to paralysis generated by my overpowering desire to control an outcome. Excessive cogitation may feel necessary or even wise, but often simply gets in the way of the correct choice.

I’m convinced it benefits us best to simplify and trust the lessons and experiences we’ve known to make the best possible decisions. Or, you can continue over-analyzing. It’s your life.

Mike Masterson is a longtime Arkansas journalist. Email him at mmasterson@arkansasonline.com.

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