George Orwell's 1984 struck the Fisher household last night. We received this in the mail:
A government camera caught this traffic "infraction" and the ticket was set to me. But I, you see, was not the driver. My son was.
And so, a tangled conversation ensued, tempers flared, motives questioned, circumstances unknown and impossible to reconstruct - all caught in a series of still-frame photos. After all, there are laws - rules that must never be broken - absolutes - especially when you want to get paid, like the City of Chicago wants to get paid. I felt myself wondering if this is justice or a means to a very monetized end. Worse still, I was not the perpetrator, but the "responsible party."
In a strange way, I saw this ticket as an extreme example of "Pay for Performance (P4P)" - just like we are implementing in healthcare. P4P is another government-mandated endeavor to assure the best quality of healthcare through the use of "absolute truths" agreed upon by a body of experts. There can be no room for negotiation, no original thought involved. Follow the rules and you will get paid. After all, as the ticket says in the upper right corner, it's not about the patient, it's all about this:
You see, there was some irony here for I had just run a red light, too.
The police had barricaded the railroad crossing gate near my home in front of the usual road I usually travel yesterday. I saw the railroad gate was malfunctioning: it kept going up and down, up and down repeatedly without pausing in any position. It seemed the stop light mechanism was tied to the gate's action, only turning green would never turn green before the gate lowered again. Without action, traffic would have never moved if each of us at that intersection had not used careful judgment and broken the stoplight law and proceeded with caution.
So I got home without incident, relieved that no one was hurt and that I had creatively problem-solved a predicament and done my part to relieve traffic congestion safely.
Now, though, I guess I'll wait for my ticket in the mail.
And look forward to inflexible Pay for Performance initiatives that make us march lock-step in the name of excellence in medicine.