Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nov. 20: It isn't just money...

There's a news story that's been big across Canada, but which seems to have been invisible to the eagle eyes of the Irving editors. It's the story about a Canadian couple on vacation in the US when the wife went prematurely into  labour.

The hospital bill, thanks to the spirit of American free enterprise, was $950,000. The story was presented in most news media largely for pure sensationalism. But it's much more important than that. Households making up 1.6 million people file for bankruptcy in the US - EVERY year, and most for medical bills. Over twenty percent of all Americans have medical bills that are their largest, single expense. And many, many millions more don't have any medical bills because they cannot possibly afford to see a doctor.

Even insurance may not help much because medical insurance policies have limitation clauses which still leave the patient with huge medical bills.

In the US, just about everything medical from the hospitals to the pill-makers is run like a private business. In fact, it is all a private business. Even Obamacare is not really a system of medicare. Obamacare consists simply of government paying exorbitant sums to private insurance companies - which provide for only a part of most treatments.

The result of all this worship of private business is the most expensive and least efficient health system in the developed world.

The whole medical system in the US is a corrupt and corrupting system that exists for only one purpose - to make maximum profits for capitalists (sorry -entrepreneurs). But let's not talk about nasty things like people who can look at a suffering person, and see only a chance for personal profit. Let's talk about morality.

Oh, I'm not going to get religious on you. I have no patience with people who believe or even care that Mary was a virgin and an angel came down and - you know...or that Jesus walked on water or that heaven is up in the sky and Jesus rose from the dead then shot up to heaven in the flesh. None of that stuff matters because, even if true,  it doesn't prove anything. As for Adam and Eve, forget it. If they were the only two people and we're descended from them, that means their children must have made out with brothers and sisters. Yuckie-poo.

But religions have been the traditional source (often the only source) of our social values, of our morality. And just about all of them are remarkably similar when it comes to matters of moral behaviour. Simply put, all taught much the same principles of how we can form societies and live together.

Capitalism doesn't fit with any of them. Capitalism is entirely about me, me, me. There is no concept of society. There is no sense of obligation  or service or of anything that could be called compassion or concern for others. That's why it should be heavily regulated. Capitalism is a pit bull. It needs a fence.

The problem is that we, too, have pretty much lost any sense of morality. Until the last fifty years or so, we got our only sense of morality from the churches and synagogues and mosques and temples. But for the majority of Canadians that source is finished. In New Brunswick, Acadians cannot find francophone, Roman Catholic priests in this province, or even in Canada. So they're looking in France (where there also aren't any.)

In the US, the only churches doing well are the (mostly) fundamentalist ones that are full of nutbars who believe that God wants America to rule the world - and who avoid medical bankruptcy by offering faith healing. (It's a con. I can show you how to do it.)  We have such churches here, too. Check out the Irving press' gawdawful Faith Page.

You will notice that the editorials in the TandT are almost always about money - and never about what people need or what a society should be about. The same is true about both the Liberals and the Conservatives. I have never seen either of those parties (or the U.S. Democrats and Republicans) present a programme that could be said to be based on moral principles. The old, CCF party was founded on moral principles. That's where medicare came from. That's where old age pensions came from. Alas, since becoming the NDP, though it has kept personal honesty, it has drifted from its moral roots.

We're seeing the results as we experience this long, economic decline. By their greed and self-interest; the very wealthy have destroyed their own markets. Greed is immoral. And immorality doesn't work.

Morality has always been a tough sell. But now, it has almost vanished. Greed and self-interest rule. That's the meaning of the story of the couple that got a bill for $950,000 for having a baby.


Well, I've used so much space on that point that I don't have room to talk about today's paper. So I'll write another one, and this time stick to the point of the blog. Meanwhile, to give this one a decent length, let's face an unpleasant reality.  Guess who made the following statement.

"I do not agree that the dog in the manger has a right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a great wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in an taken their place."

Who made that strikingly racist and arrogant comment? No, it wasn't Hitler - though it sounds very much like Hitler. It wasn't Stalin or Mao, either.

It was Winston Churchill.

In Churchill's view, it was right for Britain to loot and even enslave whole nations because the British were a super-race which was white and spoke English. We all have a tendency to think that way. That's why we are horrified when Arab Muslims kill an American, but don't really notice it when Americans kill Asians, Africans, etc. by the millions.

As well, Churchill was descended of a long line of aristocrats. His father was a lord of the realm.  (But that title could pass on only to the eldest son.) As a man of aristocratic birth, he saw himself as above the common people. That sort of thing is normal when we create an aristocracy, especially an inherited one, when it's an aristocracy of the titled or an aristocracy of the rich.

Churchill was a popular war leader, and a man of undoubted courage. But the British well knew how aristocrats behaved. The knew he have never done anything to improve their social conditions, and he never would. For all his smiling and flashing of V signs, Churchill had only contempt for the common people. That's why they voted his party out of power at the end of the war.

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