Category Archives: Healthcare

It’s a Healthcare Trap!

ack1Jon Stewart has somehow “trapped” Bill Kristol into admitting that the US government can and, in fact does provide top quality healthcare. Stewart was referring to the system of healthcare provided to the military and, by asking why this sort of system couldn’t be extended to the American public at large, seemed to make Kristol suddenly very awkward about the whole question. Suddenly two conservative memes had collided: we give our soldiers the very best vs. let the private sector do everything because that’s the American way.

The reality is that the notion that the private-sector can do anything and everything better than the government is a sentiment that attempts to cover up the fact that the private, for-profit system in the United States has left many people vulnerable to financial ruin and medical catastrophe.


Hogtown gets the Flu

I figured that it was only a matter of time, but yeah, we have Swine Flu cases in the GTA now. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do about that. Three or four cases hardly merit wearing a mask everywhere. I’m worried about when I’m supposed to start worrying. The longer this goes on with no one getting the serious symptoms outside of Mexico the more it looks like the media cried wolf on this one.

Why I am not an American

(H/T Matthew Yglesias) Damon Linker has a post up about Charles Murray’s definition of happiness:

But that’s not all. Because genuine happiness, for Murray, requires spending one’s life striving to overcome an endless series of challenges and obstacles, the lavish European safety net ensures that individual Europeans will never experience spiritual contentment or satisfaction. The assumption seems to be that a life of leisure — or at least a life with open access to health care, quality child care, generous unemployment insurance, and 4 – 6 weeks of guaranteed vacation time a year — will be an unhappy one. (It doesn’t sound half-bad to me, but I’m a Euro-loving liberal.)

Luckily, though, there is the American alternative (at least until Barack Obama gets through with us). Unlike coddled Europeans, Americans face the constant possibility of personal economic catastrophe. They work their lives away just to make ends meet, never knowing if they’ll be rewarded for their efforts by being fired by their employer or impoverished by medical bills after a life-threatening illness. And that constant insecurity is what opens up the possibility of genuine happiness for them, because if they manage to survive, let alone thrive, they’ll know that they did it on their own, without the help of the state, through heroic acts of self-reliance. This ideology — equal parts Christian masochism, Emersonian individualism, and Nietzschean striving — forms the core of American exceptionalism, according to Murray.”

Now obviously both Yglesias and Linker are Americans and both have deep disagreements with Murray. It’s impossible for anyone to say that the US all one way or another. US contains both San Francisco and Colorado Springs to use a geographic explanation. Yet Murray’s idea of how to be happy is implemented in many aspects of US government policy. Very expensive post-secondary education and a lack of universal healthcare seem to be a pair of obvious examples. Murray is praising this state of affairs probably in light of conservative fears that Barack Obama is on the cusp of changing all that.

As for me, I am more fearful of those that would have Canada more closely conform to Murray’s vision of a happy society. I would say I would be far less happy if I had an ongoing fear that I’d lose my medical insurance if I lost my job. There would be much more stress anyway, that’s for sure. Canada’s social safety net, much as it has been wilfully frayed in the past couple of decades by right-wingers, still gives me some comfort that I can get the help I need if I fall on hard times. The fact that the United States lacks these things makes it unlikely that I would ever give up my Canadian citizenship to become an American.

A final note: Now there is a reason I titled this post “Why I am not an American” and that is because this is, really, a choice of my own. I have no idea how to impose happiness on everyone. I would rather everyone have as much leeway as possible in deciding this. In other words, if Murray’s vision is what makes a great majority Americans happy, I have no desire to impede their happiness. I’m just saying, it’s not my choice.

McDonald’s to Heroic Employee: Don’t be a Hero

Looks like McDonald’s bloodsucking insurers don’t want to cover an employee who stood up to a women who was being assaulted:


Wal-Mart Hates its Workers

If you didn’t already believe that, they are suing an employee who was injured on the job to recoup some of their medical payments.

Two thoughts:
1. Remember this the next time that you are thrilled by the prospect of a toaster oven for $29 and,
2. If this typical of the kind of behaviour that one can expect in a private health insurance regime, then no thank you, I’ll throw in with Tommy Douglas.

Cabinet Shuffle and Priority No. 5

I suppose we’ll find out who is doing what this afternoon. I can’t really get worked up over this sort of thing. Harper’s biggest move so far was to replace Rona Ambrose (cluelessness) with John Baird (cluelessness and ANGER!) at Environment. Anyway, Harper is his own minister of everything so I doubt he’s looking for anything but better spokespeople.

Supposedly, this shuffle will set up a fall session focusing on law and order as well as foreign policy. Apparently the Conservatives have been ignoring health care concerns ever since the election and correspondingly, they have simply gone away. I remember a while ago people tried to call him on this, and yet nothing else of substance seems to have been done. Either this means that the health care concerns of a couple years ago were manufactured or that Harper is simply allowing the system to deteriorate to the point where he can impose radical measures (i.e.: large-scale privatization, for-profit clinics and hospitals) on Canadians.

Cognitive Dissonance on Private Health Care

That’s what we get from the Canadian Medical Association’s new statement on for-profit medicine in Canada. What’s so dissonant? Well they claim

Recent polling conducted for the CMA shows that a growing proportion of Canadians may be ready for that debate, with 62% of respondents considering medicare plus [what a nice name for privatization] a “good plan.”

Elsewhere in the report though they say:

“the CMA is trying to kick-start a debate that many Canadians, including politicians, would prefer to avoid.”

If Canadians think that medicare plus is such a great plan, why aren’t they interested in this debate? Why are even the Conservatives not really interested in attempting such a plan? If so many people think it’s so swell, what’s holding them back? Methinks that the CMA is bullshitting us.