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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Don't Feed The Trolls, Part 2

Here is the continuation of my conversation with m_michaels17.  For the first part read my last blog post.

MM: Restaurants, and entertainment are not valid comparisons because they are not life sustaining. To answer your questions.... yes, if you broke down and needed gas most attendants would help you get the gas you need to get back on the road. It's actually happened to me more than once when I was a teen. Yes,grocery and general stores have historically run tabs that people pay later. Yes, if you're so poor you can't afford clothes, there are clothing drives and food banks that will help you. Yes, if you're behind on your water bill they will not shut you off as long as you attempt to pay some of the balance. Trust me on that one, my father is a plumber. He deals with the water and sewer authority on a daily basis. I'll give you another example that comes to mind.... my father has had his own lucrative plumbing business for 30+ years. He's given many local customers payment options over the years. For instance there was one particular 70 year old lady with roots in her sewer that completely clogged her line and backed the sewage up into her shower, floor drain, and was filling up her basement. Her husband had recently passed away and she could barely afford to pay for the sewer cleaning. My dad cleaned her line and discovered all of the under ground lines were collapsed. She needed a complete restoration which involved digging up her whole yard down to the street. The job cost approximately 30 grand. If she didn't get it fixed the county would condemn her house. He did the job up front and let this lady make him payments with out interest because that's what decent Christian people do for others in need. It's a shame so much of this country is so consumed with money and nobody cares for each other anymore. She paid him every last penny. A deal made out of desperation and a handshake. I understand you have to charge to run a business but sometimes life happens and we aren't prepared for it. It happens to all of us. Making exceptions for people in need once in a while will not kill a business because you're making really good money every day. So if you did a surgery at cost it wouldn't be close to what we actually charge and you know it. Nobody is even asking for you to do that. All people ask is to let them pay you weekly in extreme cases. That wouldn't break the bank or put you out on the street.

MM: And I'm not saying you can't rely on a veterinarian. There are many of us out there that are compassionate and would do anything for our patients and their owners. There are many of us that became a vet to help animals at all costs. I donate hundreds of hours a year to charity. So please don't tell me I'm saying vets aren't reliable. I have about 10 clients that make payments currently and pay me on time every month. Once in a while someone misses a payment but they always end up coming through. Contrary to your beliefs the lights are still on and shining brightly.

DB: Now we're having a good discussion! I appreciate that.
I will trust in what you say of your own experiences. I've never seen a grocery store run a tab, known a gas station attendant to let someone go without paying (and I've had friends who managed or worked at convenience stores), and have known people who have had utilities shut off when they fell too far behind even if they were making small payments. So let's chalk up these differences in our viewpoints to our personal experiences.
     "And I'm not saying you can't rely on a veterinarian....So please don't tell me I'm saying vets aren't reliable". Actually, you did say that veterinarians can't be relied on. Here are your own words: "There are two professions that only except cash... drug dealer and veterinarian." "Most animal hospitals take donations for this exact purpose but yet rarely use the money to actually help cover the cost of a surgery." These are direct quotes from you where you have stated that most veterinarians are dishonest, unreliable, and basically scum. You not just implied, but directly stated that you believe the majority of the profession is bad. If that was not your belief, why did you say those things?
     "There are many of us that became a vet to help animals at all costs. I donate hundreds of hours a year to charity." Are you actually a veterinarian? You have not stated or even implied it until this time, which is odd to me. If so, then our conversation will need to take a different turn, and I would encourage you to get on the Veterinary Information Network to see how many people agree or disagree with you. As a vet you should have enough experience to know not to run off at the mouth and make snap decisions about a colleague when you don't know the entire situation. This is something that has been taught and emphasized in vet school for at least the last 20 years. If you are not a vet, then you have seemed to misrepresent yourself here and need to correct that immediately, as this is a very serious situation.
     I don't take payment plans, and I never will. That's not a debate and we both recognize that. However, I accept Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American Express, and Care Credit. People can pay with those and then make payments to those companies. I'm glad that your clinic has clients who pay on time. I have tried doing that more than once, and have ended up having to send many people to collections companies because they failed to pay and never communicated with us. It happened enough that I stopped doing it. I can never tell at the beginning which person will be responsible and which won't, and it was becoming a big problem. You will find that the majority of veterinarians feel this same way. It's not because we don't care or are heartless when someone is down on their luck. It's because we have a business to run and that business isn't being a credit agency. For me it's not about making more and more money so that I can buy fancy cars and big TVs (I don't have either). It's about paying my staff well, being able to afford good equipment so I can provide a better quality of medical care to my patients, paying the debts of my clinic, and overall simply staying in business and keeping the doors open. If you don't believe me that most veterinarians have had bad experiences with trying to do payment plans, simply start talking to other vets in your city or ask questions on veterinary boards where you can get interaction by my colleagues. But I have trusted your statements about things like grocery stores running tabs, based on your experience. Please trust my own experience that most vets have found payment plans to be difficult to manage and unreliable for being repaid.
     Now that doesn't mean that I never help people out, which you seem to have assumed. I have frequently waived office visit fees in order to help clients afford their bills. I have charged some people less because they seemed truly in need. We do have an emergency fund created from donations by other clients, and have used it many times to help with expensive procedures. But we can't help everyone. It becomes hard to decide who we are able to help and who we can't. Who is truly in need and who is being irresponsible with their pet? We reserve our help for a small number of people because we can't extend that help to everyone. And ultimately it is NOT our responsibility to care for the pets owned by other people. THEY are the ones who took on that responsibility, and ultimately it is their burden.
     "Restaurants, and entertainment are not valid comparisons because they are not life sustaining." I only brought them up because of your own assertions. "They work in every other business and practice. There are two professions that only except cash" These are your words, and you made a rather large blanket statement. I was pointing out the problem with your logic and words, as well as using specific professions that you mentioned would help me out if the tables were turned. If you make a statement that "every other business and practice" uses payment plans and then I can bring up multiple kinds of businesses and practices where that is not the case, I have shown that your logic is flawed and you have made a mistake, and shown more than two businesses or practices that do not accept payments.
     On this subject let's think about "life sustaining" and things necessary for existence. Despite what some may think, pets are NOT necessary for life. Plenty of people around the world survive quite well and are very happy without a pet in their life. Sometimes this is due to finances, sometimes due to culture, and sometimes to personal choice. But billions of people live their entire lives without a pet, so it is clear that they are not a necessity. Therefore having a pet is a choice, not a requirement. Having a pet is a luxury, not a necessity. When someone gets a pet, they have chosen (whether or not they think about it in this way) to be responsible for the health and well-being of that pet. Too many people get pets when they cannot afford even basic preventive care, as I'm sure that you've seen. The responsibility for the care of that pet is completely on the owner, not the doctor. My doctor can make recommendations for my health, but it's up to me to follow them and take care of myself. In most of the US a car is a necessity in order to be able to get to and from work. Yet it is not my mechanic's responsibility to make sure my car is running well. When something breaks, it is up to me to be able to afford to fix it, not him. Yes, he may help me or allow payments, but that is not something he is required to do. I bought the car, I make the payment, I chose which car I would get, and I have to take care of it. If I buy a car that is too expensive for me to maintain, that is MY fault, and not that of my mechanic, the car dealership, or the loan company. If a client gets a pet for which they cannot afford to care, that is THEIR fault, not that of their veterinarian.
     That is my main point here. Yes, I do help out clients where I can. But in the end it is NOT my responsibility or requirement to find a way for them to pay. It is THEIR responsibility because they chose or accepted that pet. Sometimes pets are euthanized because the client cannot afford care. While tragic and something that bothers me every time, it's also the reality of life and something that cannot be easily changed. This does not make me heartless, "vile", or "twisted". In modern society we seem to have lost the idea of personal accountability, and see it as the duty of others to help us.
     Now once again you have repeatedly failed to answer most of the questions I have asked. I am starting to believe that this is because you have no reasonable answer for them, that you are deliberately avoiding them, and that you simply don't care. Let's make one more attempt, and I seriously ask you to reply to me on these points.
     Do you believe that attacking and insulting people is a good way to get them to change their views on an issue?
     Did you have a real purpose in your original email to me beyond a quick insult?
   Why did you feel that it was appropriate to make a direct, personal attack instead of trying to engage in calm and rational discourse?
     Is passion an appropriate excuse for insulting a stranger over a single point of disagreement? Would you want people to make comments about you based on limited information as you have made about me?
     What do I really think about my clients? Please base this on quotes from my blog posts so that I can see where you have formed your opinion.
     When did I ever call any client a "dead beat"? You explicitly stated that I did.
[Up to this point there has been a reply every day.  Now there have been three days without anything from MM]
DB:  Hi!  It's been 3 days and I haven't heard any response from you.  I've been enjoying our discussion and wanted to be fair and give you an appropriate time to response.  I do have some thoughts on what you have said and how you have conducted yourself through our discussion, but before I summarized these things I wanted to let you have another chance to explain yourself and clarify your points and comments.

[Another three days go by without any response]

DB:  Hi, again.  It looks like you have decided to stop this conversation so I will say some last comments and then let it be.
     You have conducted yourself extremely rudely and without an attempt at understanding.  It seems like your initial email to me was nothing more than a personal attack based on limited information, and you were not interested in trying to actually talk to me to either understand my position better or to try and show me the error of my ways.  Instead you let your anger get the best of you which made you appear to be a hateful, closed-minded individual.  You have made numerous incorrect assumptions about me and have denied doing so even when I have quoted your words back to you.  You have accused me of saying things that I never actually said, and never backed up your claims when I asked you for proof of such statements.  You have also backtracked on several of your own statements and seemed to at some points deny what you had said in an earlier email.  To me this indicates someone who is not thinking rationally and is only working off emotion without truly considering their own thoughts and words.
    Another thing that bothers me is your implication that you are a veterinarian.  If this is true then you have violated professional behavior and courtesy, and may even have violated your state veterinary practice act (if you live and work in the US).  I've been licensed and practiced in 6 states and each of them has had clauses in the veterinary law that mandate ethical professional behavior.  Though I am not going to do so, I would be within my rights to contact the veterinary board in your state to register an official complaint at your extremely unprofessional actions towards a colleague.  If you are NOT a veterinarian, then your implication of being so violates other laws, in addition to be quite unethical. 
     By your actions in these regards you have shown yourself to be very hypocritical when you call me "twisted and vile".  Though I don't consider your behavior to be quite as bad as what you accused me of, I do think that you have shown yourself incapable of acting in an ethical, professional, or even simply polite manner.  During this discussion you have come across as angry, narrow-minded, and petty with little to no concern for any view other than your own, and an inability to consider contrary opinions.  If you do not think that these words describe you, I would go back and look at what you have said and do some honest introspection. Maybe even have someone else read this email chain to see how each of us has conducted ourselves.
     I have a very thick skin and am well prepared to take criticism when I put myself out there on the Internet with a public blog.  Other people may not be the same way and your words could truly hurt someone.  In the future I would ask you to give the same respect that you would want for yourself, and give people the benefit of the doubt before you make extremely harsh and hateful accusations.  Rather than wasting your time simply venting your anger, take the time to have a discussion.  I have had those with readers in the past and sometimes came away with my mind changed.  However, those people approached me in a rational way and we had a good discussion on pros and cons of certain viewpoints, all without resorting to insults, attacks, and name-calling.
     I truly wish you the best, and hope that you will take to heart the things that I have said.

And that was it.  No more replies, so I am assuming that m_michaels17 decided to block me or simply not write back.  I hope it's because they realized that their comments were uncalled for and that they really didn't have a leg to stand on in their argument.  I wonder if they expected me to reply to the original email and if I would argue back or call them names.  I don't know that they were expecting me to start a strong discussion and actually read and remember their own words.

The psychology of people like this is somewhat interesting, and goes back to my post of a few days ago about civility on the Internet.  I was amused by m_michaels17's inability to answer my questions and their denying of their own words.  I see far too much of this in modern society, though it may not be a recent development and instead is a part of human nature.  But nowadays this kind of knee-jerk over-emotional reaction to something seems to be more of the "norm" than I remember it being a few decades ago.  I hope that this changes soon, as it's not a good way for members of society to behave.