"So you're blowing the whistle on the state of the health care industry?" I asked Steward R. Donaldson, former CEO of a large Columbia Healthcare System hospital.
"Whistle? It's more like a fog horn," he said with a quick banter.
He explained that he had come to Columbia as a hospital administrator when he was working for Hospital Corporations of America, the firm started by Tennessess Senator Dr. Thomas Frist's father. "George Bush's buddy from Texas. Richard Rainwater, had teamed up with a Texas lawyer to create Columbia which they claimed was going to become the 'Walmart of Healthcare'", said Donaldson. "Instead it became like the K-Mart of healthcare," he continued, "but not before taking us through a humiliating experience of what I call the 'rollercoaster ride down the Miracle Mile.'"
"The Miracle Mile? Los Angeles?" I asked.
"More like the Las Vegas Strip." he said.
"The methods we employed to recruit doctors from other hospitals, many of which had to close down after our arrival, we learned in Vegas from Steven Wynn of Mirage Hotels and Resorts Int'l," he said. "And we created a mirage of financial well-being as well as heathcare well-being based on the Milton Friedman model of laisse faire and the invisible hand of capitalism creating the basic illusion," said Donaldson.
"It's like this," said Brooks Foster of Foster Consultants, an expert on business in Las Vegas who has served as a mentor to businesses in the area for four decades. "The U.S. was in a depression, the Great Depression. The economy was dead in the water. Henry Ford's cars weren't selling and Harvey Firestone's tires were rotting in their racks. So what did they do? They decided to support a regime change starting with FDR," he said.
"You mean the reported coup to be lead by General Smedley Butler the retired Marine and two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner?" I asked.
"You got it," said Foster.
"So when they were outed by Butler, FDR seized the opportunity to hold the New Deal gun to their heads and garnish their support. Then came the WPA projects like the Tennessee Valley Authority and Hoover Dam, which by the way, created Lake Mead and an abundance of electricity without which Steve Wynn's Bellagio's fountain would be shooting sand instead of water. Heck, there would probably have been no Ceasar's Palace either. In reality, Jay Sarno, the Jewish businessman who built Ceasar's Palace would have been more correct in calling it 'Spartacus' Palace' because it was built with money from the Teamsters Union. Do truck drivers look like Ceasar to you? So Sarno, whose people were oppressed by the Romans must have laughed all the way to the bank, don't you know."
|Lake Mead seen from Hoover Dam|
"Tax payers' money?" asked Foster. "What money? Everyone was broke. Nobody had jobs. All they had was a dream and a vision and what followed was jobs and roads and dams and water and electricity and hotels and casinos and eventually Steve Wynn serving as master of ceremonies to business and industry leaders. The public works projects were so massive that they had to have a powerful effect and the demand created travel and Ford sold cars and Firestone sold tires and suddenly the American Nazis were happy and in bed snuggling with the socialists of FDR's left. TV shows like 'Route 66' helped Cheverolet sell Sting Rays to young men and women traveling Route 66 Westward to cool destinations and the desert bloomed. Literally," said Foster.
|Bellagio Hotel and Casino|
"People want that to happen again," I said to Mr. Foster.
"Well, then," he said, "Just recapture the vision and start printing and redirecting the money," he said. "FDR made Keynsian economics a reality for even die-hard capitalists who won't to this day admit it works," he continued.
"But did the development of Las Vegas ammount to something like the Israelites coming into the desert and worshipping the Golden Calf?" I asked. "And aren't there negative reprecussions like putting the methods of a Steve Wynn in front of a healthcare company like Columbia's recruiting agenda?" I asked.
"Look," said Foster, "take the devil out of the details and suddenly you have no story," he said. "If God Almighty leaves him in it, who am I to take him out? But you just don't want to give him the keys to all the offices. I know that Steve Wynn was fond of the on-line Academy of Achievement which was like a hall of fame for high achievers for whom economist Milton Friedman was the patron saint and that Friedman provided the theoretical framework for Reaganomics and the deregulation that led us to financial disaster. Try to reconcile all that with reality. You can't. Friedman was peddling the elixir of self-sufficiency and the Invisible Hand of Captalism leading the whole thing, but it was always a canard...a myth and a non-workable myth at that," said Foster. "Just ask Donaldson the CEO from Columbia," he concluded.
We did just that. Donaldson responded with two words..."I'll say."