Letter to the Editor

Against the Current, No. 38, May/June 1992

Val Moghadam, Helsinki, Finland

IN THE MARCH/APRIL 1992 issue of ATC, there was a link between two articles that was not explicitly noted. Colin Gordon’s article, aptly titled “The Politics of Health Care Reform: Market Magic, Bad Medicine” states that the AMA’s objection to the Canadian health-care system is that it is slow to provide elective or non-emergency surgery. This dovetails rather nicely with Catherine Sameh’s article, “Implants, Identities and Death,” which notes that fully 20% of breast implants are performed on women seeking enlargement of their breasts; the other 20% are reconstructive surgeries for women who have had mastectomies.

The unacknowledged link here is the much-vaunted “free market” where consumers have a range of choices and can make rational decisions. But what kind of rational and informed decisions do consumers make when they are deluged with the mendacity and exaggeration–usually in the form of advertisements–of the purveyors of products and services? This is one of the fundamental flaws of the market system, and it is a pity that the case of the women whose health has been tragically jeopardized by silicone gel breast implants advertised as a “sollution” to the “disease of small breasts” is not being translated into a major indictment of “market magic, bad medicine.”

May-June 1992, ATC 38