Weekly Posting of the Conservative Cow Doctor


Euphemisms Gone Rogue

Euphemisms put a smiley face on distasteful things. When I started my veterinary service in 1989, I searched for favorable words to explain the cost of traveling into the country to treat a critter; an expense clients historically resisted. “Out call” is emotionless, while “mileage” sounds too much like a penalty. In a moment of sheer brilliance, I coined the phrase “ambulatory service.” My logic was the term gives the impression you are screaming down the road with flashing lights and blaring sirens, so clients are receiving something of value. It was the smartest thing I had ever done…until I met Art.

Art was a seasoned Arab horse breeder and a new client who asked me to come out and castrate five, two-year-old colts. Art’s eighty or so years had slowed him, but he had the five colts haltered when I raced into his driveway. I went to work and within an hour I had ten testicles in my bucket and five horses in various stages of recovery. As the last pony staggered to his feet, I handed Art the bill and he wrote me a check. Because of the volume of surgeries at one stop, I did not charge for “ambulatory service”.

One month later, Art called me out to treat a horse with a wire cut. We casually visited as I sutured the leg wound when Art remarked, “Come down to the barn and see my new stud colt from California.” Once finished, I gathered my equipment and followed him to the barn.

There were just a couple small windows dimly lighting the stall, so Art stepped in to lead the horse into the daylight. Years ago, Art was probably stout enough to physically subdue any colt, but today the stud outweighed him six to one. The stallion began nervously loping around the stall as Art stepped to the center. “He doesn’t want to be caught,” Art mumbled and he stretched to snag the stud’s halter. In a split-second, the fractious colt, stopped, spun and kicked Art square in the face, dropping him like a rock.

I was certain Art was dead and as I fumbled to open the stall gate, he moaned and sat upright. Art crawled around on his hands and knees searching through the sawdust for his dentures while I tried to hustle him out the gate before the colt did kill him. Within a couple seconds, Art found his teeth, crawled out of the stall and slowly struggled to his feet. In the daylight, I saw his lip was split clear to his nose, so I said, “Let’s go to the hospital.” He resisted at first, but upon inspecting his face in the rear view mirror of my pickup, he agreed. On the trip to Billings, Art was fretting about the cost of new dentures, which I took as good news regarding his mental function. I called Art’s wife and explained what happened, so she met us at the hospital. With Art in good hands, I drove back to my clinic, invoiced Art for treating the horse with the wire cut and thought nothing further about the accident.

Months passed and the bill remained unpaid, so my staff began sending the series of friendly collection letters. One day, a check appeared in the mail along with a scathing letter from Mrs. Art. Confused, I placed her letter on my desk, forgot about it and never heard from them again. Three years later, while shuffling papers around my desk (something I now do every year), I re-discovered the letter. I read it again and with fresh eyes, her point hit me like a gulp of sour milk—my euphemism had gone rogue. Unlike his first invoice, Art’s bill for suturing the wire cut contained the “ambulatory service” charge. Over the three years the letter was buried on my desk, both Art and his wife thought I charged an extra fee—ambulatory service—to run him to the hospital. By this time I had passed the point of no return and this brings me to my point: Politicians also craft euphemisms to cultivate favorable perceptions, so never accept their terms at face value.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) is the euphemism for Obamacare. Recent polling data indicates a majority of doctors think patient care will suffer under PPACA, plus President Obama now projects it will cost $110 billion more over the next decade than originally proposed. (As the president’s pledge to cut the deficit in half over four years, actually resulted in doubling it, we must assume a similar four-fold increase in the true cost of “free healthcare”.)

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ironically protects no one and is cost prohibitive. In exchange for most of the money in your wallet, you will surrender your health decisions to the Internal Revenue Service (another euphemism). Do not rely on federal politicians to correct this unconstitutional abomination; the Tenth Amendment acknowledges your state legislature has the power to nullify PPACA. In the 2011 Montana Legislative Session multiple bills to block PPACA made it to the governor’s desk where he vetoed them. This issue makes your vote in 2012 the biggest in our nation’s history. If you do not understand the devastating effect PPACA will have on our great American experiment in freedom, please stand down and let those of us who do slay this dragon. If PPACA is fully implemented, our generation becomes the one who failed to guard the watchtower of liberty handed down by our founders.

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