Keane observations about life, politics and sports.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is Pro-Bono Work Tantamount to Stealing?

CNBC just had a couple guests on to debate to merits of mandating pro-bono services by doctors. The left wing host (Mark Haines) and the socialist guest were in favor and the representative of the American Medical Association was opposed. Personally, I'm strongly opposed to any form of mandatory community service. Compulsory community service is picking up trash on the side of the highway awarded to those who commit a minor crime in lieu of jail time. However, beyond the fact that forced pro-bono work is basically punishing doctors without a crime being committed, there is a bigger overlooked aspect to pro-bono work. Truth is whether it is professionals (lawyers, doctors, etc) providing services free of charge to the indigent or corporations giving to charity it is a false type of charity. The CEO of a corporation gets all sorts of accolades for donating product or cash to a charity. Problem is it isn't his to give away. Just as politicians claiming to give $$$ to their constituents are lying it is the same with businesses. If lawyers or doctors do pro-bono work they pretend they are donating time. Reality is they just charge their other customers more to make up for lost wages. Why is a ten cent aspirin listed as costing several dollars on a hospital bill? To supplement the folks who show up in the emergency room for "free" treatment. There is no such thing as free. When people say free what they really mean is someone else pays besides the end user. Regardless of whether doctors and lawyers pad their bills to make up for pro-bono making it mandatory is clearly wrong. Slavery was outlawed in this country over one hundred years ago. When slavery was made illegal it wasn't just slavery for picking cotton or being a household servant.

Sorry for rambling, however Haines really set me off with his haughty "why don't they do it for free?" attitude. Does he expect CNBC to pay him? Or does he show up one day a week for free and call it pro-bono? Between this stuff and his being a dishonest shill for the attempt to nationalize health care and call it "reform," Haines is encouraging people to change the channel.

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Blogger bob said...

Voluntarily pro bono work could have some merit. About a month a ago in the Cleveland area an organizer solicited medical workers and hospitals for time and equipment. Many signed on and performed free health exam and minor procedures for a day.The accounts of the event said it was well attended and very successful.

But it was voluntary not compulsory.

August 20, 2009 at 2:09 AM

Blogger John said...

Personally, I'm strongly opposed to any form of mandatory community service.

Mandatory community service is just a mild form of slavery. The concept only gets more Orwellian when it's described as "mandatory volunteer service".

As you say, nothing is ever free, and when the state declares something "free", it just means that the cost is passed on to someone else who lacks the political clout to avoid it.

August 20, 2009 at 6:55 PM

Blogger Norma said...

In some fields, like teaching, library science, architecture, etc., pro-bono means you are keeping someone else from getting a paying job.

August 23, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Blogger LargeBill said...


Good point on how in some positions pro-bono or volunteer jobs keep others from doing those jobs for pay. We work concessions at PB stadium to raise money for KofC charities and I'm sure the Bengals would have to pay a lot more for real workers.

August 23, 2009 at 4:05 PM


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