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The organizational culture of medicine used to be dominated by the ideals of professionalism and volunteerism which softened the underlying acquisitive activity. The restraint exercised by these ideals now grows weaker, the health center of one era is the profit center of the next.
Modem medicine is one of those extraordinary works of reason: an elaborate system of specialised knowledge, technical procedures, and rules of behavior.
The medical profession has had an especially persuasive claim to authority. Unlike the law and the clergy, it enjoys close bonds with modern science, and at least for most of the last century, scientific knowledge has held a privileged status in the hierarchy of belief.
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Keep doing good deeds long enough, and you'll probably turn out a good man in spite of yourself.
May 12, 1949
Paul Starr is a Pulitzer Prize-winning professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. He is also the co-editor and co-founder of The American Prospect, a notable liberal magazine created in 1990.
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