Global Analysis from the European Perspective. Preparing for the world of tomorrow

Surgeons of our minds

A piece of stats news has been broken in Poland that the number of surgeons has dropped by a quarter (one fourth, twenty-five percent) as compared to 2006. Within thirteen years. Make a guess: what happened? How did that large number of doctors disappear? Young people stopped being interested in medical studies? No. Make another guess. The demand for surgery is much smaller since society at large is healthier and healthier courtesy of the salutary regulations and decrees of the European Union? No. Make yet another guess. The surgeons emigrated to Western countries? Spot on! Bingo!

The Western intellectual circles regard it as evil to exploit weaker nations, especially the Third World countries. They love calling such behaviour fascism (a very fashionable offensive appellation) or racism or what not. Occupying moral high ground, they applaud sending doctors to Somalia or Nigeria or Bangladesh. Yet somewhat miraculously this principle does not apply when physicians from Eastern Europe keep coming to the Western states, draining East European health care systems. Why shouldn’t they after all? We need them – say Western intellectuals – our societies are growing older, there must be someone willing to take care of them.

How do the Western intellectuals reconcile their indignation at exploiting poorer (Third World) countries with depriving Eastern Europeans of their doctors? Oh, come on, another lofty principle is made use of: human rights, among which the freedom of movement is especially enshrined. So the story goes that “we do not rob the poorer countries of their doctors (engineers, teachers, professionals of any kind): they merely use their human rights and flock to places where they have better economic conditions.”

There are two buts. Medical studies cost a lot of money. Very few students in a country like Poland pay for their education: the six-year university course is lavishly paid by the state, by the tax-payers, by all those Poles who are and will be in need of medical care. These studies are not paid by British, French, German or Norwegian tax-payers. So the deal that that Western countries are making is very profitable. They tell East European suckers to raise their young men and women from cradle till graduation – schools of various types, medical care, you name it – and then send them over to France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, where profit will be reaped without investing a cent.

Both parties to the deal – the Western governments and their Eastern counterparts – knew it very well that open borders due to uneven levels of economic advancement would translate into one-way movement. A phenomenon comparable to the one known from physics about the flow of a liquid in communicating vessels. Easy to predict for everyone and anyone. Open your borders and let yourselves be robbed. In the name of the oh so lofty, high-flown human rights.

There is one factor that might make those surgeons (doctors of other specialties, engineers, teachers, other professionals) reconsider. Patriotism. Duty to the community that enabled your education, invested in your well-being and rightly expects at least a measure of gratefulness. And this is why this feeling of duty, this feeling of connection to your folks is fiercely suppressed by the exploiters. Patriotism? Oh come on! This is a nineteenth-century – read: old-fashioned, outmoded, outdated in a word a shameful – concept!

Isn’t it unnatural then that the surgeons and other professionals – once relocated to their adopted father- or motherlands of plenty – dabble in virtue signalling and are oh so eager to help – toss the leftovers from their tables to – the poor and the needy the world over?

4 comments on “Surgeons of our minds

  • Well, a solution (notice I say A solution, not THE solution) can be for the state providing this support for the education of the individual to financially quantify the country’s contribution. Then the state can again financially quantify the individual’s contribution back to the state for every year of “service”. Once the state’s contribution to the individual’s education is covered, the individual is free to do as he/she wishes. Otherwise, he/she is legally obligated to ensure financial reparation of the state’s contribution to his/her education.

    Then no one can bitch or whine about it. A simple start to addressing this issue.

    • I believe that people should be free to live the life they want. If they want to emigrate, the country should not block them, otherwise it’s prison! But of course it’s a bad deal for the country to sponsor higher education if the people emigrate.

      I basically agree with you, but what you describe can be solved with a simpler solution: abolishing state-funded higher education and introducing student loans. It basically comes to the same effect. The state can give a preferential interest rate, even 0%, to encourage people to study. The added benefit would be that people would think twice before taking up useless studies, which will not pay off in the long term.

      • What we seem to be discussing here is the relationship between the state and the individual. Importantly, “what are the duties/responsibilities of the state” to the individual as well as the greater good (a debatable concept)? What is often overlooked is “what are the duties/responsibilities of the individual” to the state as well as the greater good (again a debatable concept)? In the past (when times were simpler and less complex) this interplay was part of the unwritten code. This not to say it was not abused in many instances (a very large complex subject).

        Quantifying the contributions of all veers into a swamp of unquantifiable zero sum calculations that is of interest/benefit only to lawyers, accountants and bureaucrats.

        If the individual (generally) derives undue (how to measure this?) material benefit from a state program or system (why is the state providing this to start with and is it prepared for abuses?), is the state on behalf of its citizens (or subjects if you prefer) allowed (or required) to seek recompense for the benefit? Should this be quantified and if so how? Or should this be viewed as “just the cost of doing business” so to speak for humanity’s greater good?

        I’m sure many books can be written on this and perhaps have been.

        • The problem is simple. Jack, John, Mark and Pete pay for Bill to become a doctor or engineer or teacher. Once Bill graduates and is qualified to do the job, Jack, John, Mark and Pete naturally expect the return on their investment: they expect Bill to treat, design things for, teach Jack’s, John’s, Mark’s and Pete’s families.

          The counterargument that it is against Bill’s freedom or that it is imprisoning Bill does not hold water: having children or contracting marriage or signing a job contract might as well be regarded as imprisonment, which it is not. Rather, it is an honourable sense of duty, pledge, i.e. giving to others what is due to them.

          In the times that we are living all obligations are viewed as imprisonment or lack of freedom. You might as well say that an individual ant or bee is imprisoned as it cannot leave its extended family.

          It is indisputable that freedom of movement is a tricky kind of exploitation of weaker nations or states. As said in the text, weaker nations or states raise an individual (Jack, John, Mark and Pete pay for Bill to become a doctor or engineer or teacher) only to hear a goodbye from him in gratitude for the support that the individual has received.

          That’s also why Football Team A cannot be better than Football Team B if the moment Football Team A raises a good player, it sells it to Football Team B. In this case Football Team A at least gets some money whereas in the case of nations or states they are total losers. Possible remittances sent by Bill are to be viewed as pittances.

          One last word: those who have emigrated or have a relative abroad will never ever concede to the above argumentation. We call it vested interest, do we not?



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