James R. Kimmey, M.D., M.P.H., APHA Executive Director, 1969-1973

Presentations of Three Former APHA Executive Directors

I come from the rural area of Wisconsin. There is a story about a Wisconsin farmer who was off working in his field when a traveling salesman came along who sold farming encyclopedias. So the salesman pulled his car over to the side of the road and hailed the farmer off his tractor and gave him a sales pitch about this encyclopedia. It was going to make him farm better. It was going to make his crop yields better. He wouldn’t have to work nearly as hard. And on and on and on. The salesman gave the farmer his best pitch. When he finished, he asked the farmer, “Will you take it?” The farmer said, “Nope.” The salesman asked, “What do you mean?” And the farmer said, “Son, I ain’t farmin’ half as good now as I know how to.”

Now think about that in the context of this discussion tonight. We have a lot of good ideas. And I would associate myself with Milt Terris’s remarks. I now am administrator of a large university hospital. Every year, like clockwork, I give my contributions to the Missouri and American Hospital Association political action committees. And they get things done.

The problem with APHA is not the dearth of ideas. It is not the quality of the people who represent us in Washington and elsewhere. It is that we don’t want to pay, and paying is how to get things done – as unfortunate as that might be our perspective in America. We are a special interest group, but we act as if science is enough. And science is not enough in our political system today. This association needs to be as aggressive financially as those who oppose us or we will never succeed in the wonderful goals we have discussed tonight.

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