I had an interesting conversation yesterday with Joe Schwarz, one of the best-informed, multi-talented men in public life in this state. After a stint as mayor of his native Battle Creek, Schwarz spent sixteen years in the state senate, where he was immensely knowledgeable on education policy and finance.
That was, of course, back in the era before term limits. Schwarz is also one of those people whose resume could fill a box. He’s also had a career in the U.S. Navy, and as a spy in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. He ran for governor once and congress twice, finally winning a single term in 2004.
Schwarz’s problem was never the general election. Every time he got to one of those, he won easily. But he had trouble in Republican primaries. He is a fiscal conservative and a military hawk, but also believes in funding education, and that abortion should be “legal, safe and rare.” Nor does he always suffer fools gladly.
By the way, I didn’t mention his day job. He is an otolaryngologist, which we civilians call an ear, nose and throat surgeon, and is still happily practicing medicine.
That is, when he isn’t teaching at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. Schwarz understands health care issues, and I was curious about our medical school explosion.
The U of M has a medical school; Wayne State has one; Michigan State has two; Oakland University and Beaumont Hospital have started one, and Western Michigan is now starting one.
Is that too many? Will we be producing too many doctors?
That’s a good question, the good doctor told me, but not the most important one. When all these medical schools are up and running, they’ll be producing something like six hundred and ninety doctors a year, trained largely at state expense.