Friday, January 23, 2015

Jan.23: I should never read an Irving press newspaper quickly....

....no matter how dumb and boring it might appear to be.

I made that mistake on B1 of the Jan. 22 issue, "Health system lacks focus, says Council CEO".

Well, it looked boring. But today was boring, anyway, so I thought I'd go back, and take a look at it. The Health Council of New Brunswick is an outfit that does "research" on health services. So I glanced at the "research".

Apparently, they questioned people across Canada to ask whether they thought their health was Excellent, very good, etc.

Why? Are Canadians in general experts on their own health? And, if so, why aren't we all doctors, bringing our wonderful gift for analysis to the world?

New Brunswickers ranked lowest in Canada. So? Maybe New Brunswickers are pessimists. Maybe it's because they're older than the average for Canada. Maybe it's because of some impurity in Irving gas. How much lower do they feel? The story doesn't tell us. Is it lowest by 1%? Or lowest by 25%. It makes a difference. But the story doesn't tell us.

As it is, 54 % of New Brunswickers think their health is very good to excellent. That sounds impressive. And what about how many say it's good? The story doesn't say.

How many people were surveyed? What are the figures for other provinces? What is the margin of error? It's standard practice to include these because surveys mean nothing without that information. But it never occurred to the reporter or the editor to ask those questions.

And what does this survey mean, anyway? This is worse than incompetent. It's even worse than lying. It looks like new heights of stupidity.

Oh,  yeah. The story concludes by saying the council gets data from various statistical sources and surveys. Well, yeah. I never figured they got them from lottery tickets. But how did they choose the sources, and how credible are they and how competent is the council to interpret such figures?

So I checked the Council on the web. And that's when the smell got really bad.

It gives a list of council employees. It seems it has only three analysts. The other eight people on staff are administrative, including a grandly titled  CEO. Talk about administrative overload!

It is never clear on who started it. Or why. It is  not clear on its relationship with private business - though there certainly seems to be one, and it certainly operates like one. Is it a government body of some sort? There is certainly a relationship with government, and it certainly seems to be welcome in government circles. But nowhere can I find any suggestion that it is a government body.

So. Who pays the bills for 8 administrators and 3 researchers of undefined credentials? The CEO comes into this straight from two, well-paid jobs, one in private business. Unless he brownbags it to work, and spends his evenings panhandling on Main St., somebody is paying him and his minions. Who?  Why?

If I were suspicious, and I am suspicious, I would guess that the New Brunswick Health Council is yet another front for big business in this province, putting out propaganda to give the wealthy even more power in this province - and, along the way, to infiltrate the heath system so it can be gradually turned into another course of private profit for the very rich.

Apparently, a copy of the report was sent to the Health Minister who says he hasn't had time to read it yet. If I were the  health minister, and if I received a "scientific" report that only 54% feel their health is very good to excellent, I would toss it in the wastebasket, and tell the people at Health Council of New Brunswick to go find honest work. And if I were an editor assigning a reporter to cover the story, I'd tell the reporter to give a full account of exactly what the Health Council is, and remind him to ask questions.

But this is New Brunswick.

As for me, I do not know exactly what the Health Council is or who finances it. But this is New Brunswick. So I strongly suspect that the Health Council is a propaganda front for the very wealthy - as are the Irving press, the Liberals and the Conservatives. And this is worse than propaganda. This is playing the game Irving played in the last election - deliberately intruding into the affairs of a society that never elected him.

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