Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23: Good and Awful

The two pages of student commentaries in the "Whatever" section continue to be an excellent, well-written feature. One of the students took on the same topic as the editorial page editor did just yesterday. Editor Norbert Cunningham's article was absurdly extreme, negative, and badly written. Student Alex Corbett's was focussed, well-written, reasonable and positive. So I guess we do have a future to look forward to.

More typical of The Moncton Times as it is today is a column from one of the paper's favourite neo-conservative-god-damn-the- government-three-cheers-for-big-corporations "think tanks". This time it's The Fraser Institute.

Its point is simple (minded) enough. Private medicine and private insurance is the most economical and efficicent method is distributing health care.

How can they be such clowns as to say that? Sheer stupidity isn't enough to explain how they arrived at that opinion. They also must have in the course of their "research" neglected to look at other health systems in the world.

The United States' system, the type The Fraser Institute is urging on us is the last (or one of the last) private health care and private health insurance systems in the world. It's also the world's most expensive and most inefficient one. As well, American health figures, including life expectancy and infant survivial are among the worst in the developed world. Even little Cuba is way ahead of the US in  health care.

In the US, millions can't get any health care at all; and the number is rising. In the US, the most common case of bankruptcy, especially for seniors, is the cost of getting sick.

In fact, there is a much simpler and cheaper way to care for an aging population. We keep medicare because it's long proven itself far the most efficient and cost-effective way of providing health care.Then what we do is to look at how we raise money to pay for it.

The major problem of both Canada and the US is that our wealth is increasingly ending up in the pockets of a handful of the very rich. This process of ripping off the poor and the middle class has been going on for decades. That is not only bad economics. It also is the most destructive force one can turn loose on a society. North American capitalism is well into the process of stuffing itself until it eats itself to death. And none of us, rich or poor, will have any reason to cheer if that happens.

We need medicare. There's a simple and obvious way to meet costs that are rising as our population ages.

1. Stop giving and/or lending our money to private corporations. Stop subsidizing their energy costs. Stop squandering money for idiocies like a rink we don't need. Generally, stop putting us into debt to build toys for the rich. In anybody named Irving thought a hockey rink and convention centre would be profitable, he would build it himself and take the profit. But the people who want this absurdity know quite well it would never be profitable -and probably never even pay for its maintenance. That's why The Moncton Times is beating the frum for it.

If the owner of the hockey team really thinks a new arena is important, give him a license to hold a big fudge sale.

2. Make corporations pay their share of sustaining our society. Their tax rates are not only low. The bigger scandal is that few of them pay even that low rate. Tax laws are made at the demand of the rich to favour the rich with loopholes.

But you will never see a report from The Fraser Institute or AIMS or others of their kind for any controls or taxes for business. There are think tanks, real ones, that do make such recommendations. But you'll never see one of their reports in the pages of The Moncton Times and Transcript.

Lord, what a contemptible rag that can be.

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