american dental association

washingtonpost.com
The unexpected political power of dentists
The dental lobby’s power is “right up there with the NRA.”
By https://www.facebook.com/maryjordandc

[L]awmakers from Maine to Alaska see… dentists and their lobby, the American Dental Association, [as] a political force so unified, so relentless and so thoroughly woven into American communities that its clout rivals that of the gun lobby…

As the cost of dental care rises beyond the reach of millions of Americans, the dental lobby is coming under increasing scrutiny. Critics say the ADA has worked to scuttle competition that could improve access to dental care in underserved areas and make routine checkups and fillings more affordable…

Most of the 200,000 dentists in America work solo, in offices that are essentially small businesses. They are known for projecting a remarkably unified voice on issues relating to their livelihood. The ADA says 64 percent of dentists belong to the association. By comparison, only 25 percent of physicians belong to the American Medical Association…

The ADA agrees that too many Americans are getting inadequate dental care. They argue that the answer is not the creation of “lesser trained” therapists, but more government funding and “community dental health care coordinators” to educate people and get them to a dentist…

Others argue that the American model of dentistry is badly in need of innovation and competition. The Pew Charitable Trusts and other foundations advocate [mid-level practitioners called dental therapists] as a way to improve access and affordability…

They would also treat people on Medicaid, the government health-care program for the poor. Two-thirds of licensed dentists do not accept Medicaid, and hospital emergency rooms are swamped with people with neglected teeth.

So, I was in the library looking for a Diane Mott Davidson book a couple of weeks ago to take camping with me, when I found this book – it sort of visually jumped out and grabbed me, even though it’s in a really dull beige cover and I had no idea who Avram Davidson was. 

I’m not sure if I’m just the last human on earth to find out who Avram Davidson is or if he’s a forgotten legend, but looking at the cover it became clear he was an influential writer – the book is a collection of short stories, each with an introduction by someone who knew or read Davidson, including Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Ursula LeGuin, Peter Beagle, Frederik Pohl, Spider Robinson, Poul and Karen Anderson, and Alan Dean Foster. 

What the hell, I thought, they might be terrible or they might be great, but at least they’ll be fun. 

It turns out Avram Davidson is GREAT. His short stories are funny, pointed, sarcastic, progressive (to an extent – his world is a very masculine one, there aren’t many ladies) and really entertaining. My favorites are two of the early stories, “The Golem” and “Help! I Am Dr. Morris Goldpepper”. The Golem is about an old Jewish couple who are sitting on the porch chatting with each other when a Golem shows up, and instead of being terrified or even excited they are mostly annoyed he keeps interrupting their chat with his Super Dramatic Speech. On the other hand, Help! I Am Dr. Morris Goldpepper is about an ingenious dentist who, summoning to his aid the American Dental Association (representing over 45,000 registered dentists!) foils an invasion by aliens bent on abusing California’s elder care system. 

Some of them are super surreal, like Take Wooden Indians, which involves a sinister cult who want to prevent human progress in order to preserve the art of the wooden Cigar Store Indian by stealing the secret of time travel from a man who likes to go back in time and carve them. Another story, Or All The Seas With Oysters, is basically a sinister take on Pokemon, decades before it was invented. 

I didn’t care much for the story “Revolver” as a whole, but it does have a wonderful page-long passage about a slumlord who prefers tenants on public welfare because they get regular checks, “never complain” about vermin, and have had their souls “cleansed” by the humiliation of being considered a drain on society. It’s a heavily barbed indictment both of how we treat our poor and how landlords dodge fair/safe housing laws. 

Every time Davidson launches into a story about something reprehensible – slavery, orientalism, our view of poverty in America – I cringe, expecting….well, what we’ve come to see a lot of in golden age scifi. But then he turns it on his head and bites viciously into it. It’s wonderful to read. Like the story Dagon, which seems on the surface to be about a white soldier In The Exotic East, turns out to be a wonderful story of his punishment for his misdeeds. I would guess a lot of his sensitivity towards these things stems from him being a Jewish writer in the mid-20th century, in a genre heavily laden with racism and anti-Other sentiment, but I think also it comes from him being fuckin’ brilliant. 

Anyway, it is a super thick book and I had to read it in fits and starts because short stories are exhausting, but I highly recommend Avram Davidson’s work if you happen across it. APPARENTLY it influenced like three generations of famous SFF writers, too, so there’s that. 

!!!SIGNAL BOOST OMG!!!

THERE IS A BAD TOOTH GANG WAR GOING ON IN LA!!! THEY ARE HEAVILY ARMED WITH STICKY SWEETS AND SNACKAROOS!!!!! THEY WANT TO BAD MOUTH MARKIMOO (@markiplier) AND MESS UP HIS TEETH!!!

PLEASE PROTECT YOURSELF AND KEEP YOUR PRETTY FACE MARKIMOO!!!! FLOSS DAILY AND BRUSH BEFORE EVERY MEAL!!!

(source, provided by the American Dental Association)