By the Grace of God, Free Markets Are Healing the Blind

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In the Bible,
one of the miracles used by the Prophets, Jesus and the Apostles
to demonstrate their divine calling was the healing of the blind.
One of the plagues of the fallen creation is the loss of the ability
to see. I have numerous friends and relatives with vision problems,
including an uncle who was totally blind. Since 1975, I have been
continually reminded of the blessing of sight because I have been
unable to see clearly in my right eye. As recently as last summer,
I was told that nothing could be done to remove the scarring from
my right cornea short of a $50,000 cornea transplant that had a
significant chance of failure. One entrepreneur has changed all
of that.

Dr. Ming Wang
of Nashville, Tennessee performed a procedure that lasted a scant
20 seconds and even though the recovery period is supposed to be
two to four months, I was seeing like I have not seen in 30 years
in less than two weeks. Dr. Wang developed the procedure and is
continually developing new procedures and hardware to do things
that are still believed impossible in some places. The best news
is that it cost me less than one tenth of what a cornea transplant
would cost and the success rate is much higher to boot.

The really
amazing story is that of the entrepreneurial spirit of Dr. Wang,
the business model for his Wang Vision Center, and how he came to
be a Surgeon and a Laser Physicist.

Dr. Wang grew
up in Communist China. Although his parents were physicians, they
refused to join the Communist Party and were ostracized. As a result,
their son, Ming, was denied the opportunity for a formal education
after he turned 14 and had graduated from junior high school. In
the days of the Cultural Revolution, people not destined to be educated
were shipped to the remote provinces to become peasant agricultural
laborers. One method of avoiding this fate was to acquire and practice
a skill that was approved by the Communist Party. Displaying a flash
of his developing entrepreneurial spirit, young Ming Wang learned
to play the Er-hu, an ancient Chinese stringed instrument known
here as the Chinese violin. This did not get him a comfortable seat
in the national orchestra, however. While avoiding peasant labor,
he had to play the Er-hu on a street corner in Beijing 15 hours
per day rain or shine.

As the Cultural
revolution waned and the restrictions eased, Ming was afforded the
opportunity again to further his education. He still faced an obstacle.
He had to pass entrance examinations. Because he was now years behind
in his formal education, he would have been at a severe disadvantage
except that he had been receiving instruction at home. Yes, apparently
homeschooling worked well even in Communist China. With tutoring
from his parents and their colleagues at the medical institute where
they taught, he placed fourth in the nation and was admitted to
higher education.

After a chance
meeting with an American college professor, Ming was given the opportunity
to come to The United States. He arrived on February 3, 1982 with
$50 in his pocket and as he puts it, "faith in the American
Dream." Like the runner who has been shackled with weights
for years and suddenly finds himself free of them, he ran like the
wind. What was once his handicap is now his strength. Ming Wang
graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School and MIT with
an M.D. and a Ph.D. in Laser Physics.

Now Dr. Wang
has his own business called the Wang
Vision Institute
. Of all of the doctors’ offices I have visited,
this one is a model of efficiency. There is no great wall (no pun
intended) of medical records primarily kept to satisfy insurance
companies. In fact, The Wang Vision Institute will not file insurance
claims. Did you ever wonder what that small administrative army
costs in you local physician’s office? There is also a big difference
from the many doctor’s offices in Tennessee that are choked with
TennCare patients with minor sniffles or other trivial ailments
because seeing the doctor is "free" (Tennessee got Hillary’s
heath care plan even if the rest of the nation escaped it and it
has been an unmitigated disaster to the quality of health care in
the state). Dr. Wang’s staff is extremely professional and courteous.
His staff includes several ophthalmologists, and technicians who
I am sure he has hand-picked for their skill and proficiency.

Dr.
Wang also partitions his time such that he is able to perform initial
evaluations, surgeries, and followup visits as well as research
into pioneering new procedures and surgical tools. This would not
be possible except that he runs his office as a business.

I would hope
and pray that more physicians would take up this model.

January
5, 2006

Steve
McKamey [send him mail]
is an engineer in the space business, the father of seven children,
feeds the bureaucracies of two states (TN, AL) with his taxes and
raises goats when he is not visiting or hauling someone else to
the doctor.

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