How do you stop people from acting foolishly?
There's a government-sanctioned body in Nevada -- a task force on unlicensed health care -- that's trying to do just that within the Hispanic community.
Oh, the politically correct task force members, led by former attorney general Frankie Sue Del Papa (who keeps reminding me Hispanics now make up 26 percent of Nevada, so the task force "is good public policy"), don't put it quite that way, of course.
They're just trying to help Hispanics from becoming "victims" of frauds who claim to be in the same profession as Dr. Oz.
What largely prompted this foolish mission with taxpayers' money was the tragic 2011 death of a Hispanic woman -- she received a botched buttocks enhancement in the back of a filthy Las Vegas tile store from Colombians who knew as much about medicine as blues entertainer Dr. John. They're now in the slammer.
I attended a meeting of the task force where a slews of cops and public officials blathered on about "unlicensed doctors" -- they're con artists -- "taking advantage" of people.
No mention ever of personal responsibility, of people gambling with their health in an effort to save money.
Nor did you hear that if phone numbers and websites of licensing bodies for medical practitioners are more easily available -- they're readily available today -- that's all people need to check and see if someone's a fraud.
Let the state health division do what it should already be doing: Heavily publicizing contact information.
There's no need for a taxpayer-funded task force.
If history has taught us anything -- whether licensing information is accessible or not -- it is that people of all races, religions, genders and ethnic persuasions do dumb things, particularly where health, money or vanity are involved, and you can't stop them with anything less than a bullet.
Common sense flies out the window when a JLo buttocks is promised at Wal-Mart prices.
Priscilla Presley and other now-maimed Beverly Hills matrons acted goofy 10 years ago when they let an unlicensed quack pump their faces full of the same industrial grade silicone that's used to lubricate auto parts -- he promised a wrinkle-stopping elixir better than Botox.
Las Vegans Ping Zhang and Hong Sheng let an unlicensed woman butcher them last year during cheap unlicensed eye lifts in a home because she supposedly did the procedure in China. Authorities say the "doctor" is believed to have fled to China.
In 2010, Las Vegas authorities said, 134 people from various backgrounds were duped by a Romanian immigrant into undergoing dangerous stem cell procedures because he said he could cure a variety of diseases, including muscular sclerosis. He is now under federal indictment.
"Stupidity knows no ethnic persuasion," said Dr. Julio Garcia, the respected plastic surgeon who says the vast majority of "victims" of health fraud are just people trying to get a good deal, knowingly gambling with their health. He often is hired to try to undo the damage done by fakes.
He says doctors and dentists graduating from Latin American medical schools don't practice in the back of tile stores in their homelands, so the suggestion that a cultural difference is responsible for Hispanic immigrants seeking health care in back rooms is either bogus or evidence that they never got real health care in the first place.
Can the task force stop people from acting stupidly?
"If politicians could stop people from acting stupidly," Garcia said, "then they would have no one to vote for them."
Paul Harasim is the medical reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. His column appears Mondays. Harasim can be reached at email@example.com or 702-387-2908.