Reader opinion: Eighty-six the surgeon general?
In Friday's Opinion pages, Henry Miller, a physician and fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, presents an image of Surgeon General Regina Benjamin as ineffective and invisible. She focuses her attention, he wrote, on well-covered issues (obesity, tobacco ...) rather than using her position to educate the public on important health risks we may not know about. Miller's Op-Ed article lists six examples, such as how to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Not that it really matters because Benjamin apparently flies under the radar anyway: "In an informal poll that I conducted recently, only nine of 39 experts in public health could identify the current surgeon general," Miller wrote. "Many thought the post had been abolished or was vacant."
In response to Miller's article, reader "TimBowman" left this comment:
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Anyone who isn't aware of most or all of these issues is living in a cave somewhere. It isn't the job of the government to tell people how to live their lives from a health perspective."
I'd agree; the government shouldn't micromanage our lifestyles. We should be able to smoke, drink and pig-out within legal boundaries. But that doesn't mean we should eighty-six the surgeon general either.
"Local Customer" made a good case:
"Miller's article is right on in identifying how our Surgeon General is in a leadership position but is not leading. And whether or not people listen, someone needs to establish what are healthy practices and what we need to do, health-wise. Sometimes you do need a scold to get things right. The surgeon general's most important place is on a soap box, and she must be there, or give the job to someone who will."
More commenters have weighed in, with the majority of them siding with "TimBowman."
-- Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Surgeon General Regina Benjamin announces her report on tobacco dangers on Dec. 9, 2010, at the National Press Club in Washington. Credit: Cliff Owen / Associated Press