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Margaret Soltan Deflates Fair Market Value, Or Does She?

Margaret Soltan writes an excellent blog, University Diaries, in which she regularly skewers academic and athletic dishonesty. For obvious reasons, the University of Minnesota has a special place on her blog.

For the latest great effort please see this link.

Here are some excerpts:

Dr. Polly and Fair Market Value

David Polly, in his letter of resignation from the board of a medical organization because of the national scandal over his conflicts of interest, writes that "physicians are entitled to fair market value compensation for their time."

Let's think about fair market value for a moment.

It's hard to determine in many cases, and particularly in this one, because, really, what was Medtronic, maker of medical devices, paying the University of Minnesota spine surgeon for? Consulting as a description means everything and nothing. We know, for instance, that Polly charged Medtronic personnel when they simply stood in the same room watching him operate. He charged them for breathing and looking.

We know, more importantly, that he charged Medtronic for Polly's testifying in front of Congress in ways advantageous to Medtronic without Polly telling Congress he was on Medtronic's payroll.

Here are the hard numbers:

Grassley's investigation revealed that by 2007 Medtronic paid Polly $4,750 a day, or $594 an hour ... and that Polly gave congressional testimony on spine surgery research without disclosing his relationship with Medtronic.

Round it out to six hundred dollars an hour.

Six hundred dollars an hour. How much of each hour was spent directly whoring for Medtronic? I mean, he probably spent only a few minutes talking about them in front of Congress...

Well, we know that he billed Medtronic at these rates for a Medtronic person simply entering his office. He billed them when he called them to chat, billed them when he did this, when he did that... Again, it's very hard to quantify these things. Does a whore charge for taking off her bra and making small talk? Or is she just charging for the act itself?

It gets even worse, if you can believe it. But I think you get the idea.

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