who will be next World Bank President What will they do


Conventional Wisdom Watch: Frist Up, Fischer Down This morning's reports have the Wall Street Journal saying that Bill Frist, the former Senator from Tennessee, Senate Majority Leader, and healthcare tycoon, is "getting especially close scrutiny for the job" of World Bank president.

Reuters is sticking with Robert Zoellick (former US Trade Rep) and Robert Kimmitt (Deputy Treasury Secretary) as the top contenders, and saying that Stanley Fischer (former IMF #2 and current central bank governor for Israel) and Paul Volcker (former Chair of Federal Reserve & investigator of WB leaks) are not likely to get the nod. Both have been appointed to jobs by Democratic administrations in the past, so that's not surprising.

While the WSJ and many others paint a benign portrait of Frist as "a heart surgeon who has traveled widely in Africa," that is hardly the whole story. Frist is the scion of a magnificently wealthy family that owns Columbia, one of the largest "managed health care" corporations in the U.S. -- that is, they own scads of hospitals and health insurance plans. Columbia has been at the forefront of developing and using its influence to maintain the reign of the wasteful and grossly imbalanced health care system in the U.S. -- the system exposed (again) in Michael Moore's newest film, "Sicko." Bill was its CEO, I believe.

Frist was also a hardline servant of the Bush administration in the Senate, and widely ranked as politically inept as Senate Majority Leader.

As I believe has been noted elsewhere on this blog, his most famous medical intervention in recent years was diagnosing Terri Schiavo, the brain-dead woman in a coma whose husband wanted to end her expensive and pointless life-support regimen. After looking at video footage of her in her hospital bed, Frist pronounced her capable of feeling and self-expression.

In short, Frist would hardly be a major step up from Wolfowitz.

Soren Ambrose ~ May 24, 2007

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