Thursday, April 28, 2011

Globe and Mail embraces the necessity for suffering

Via POGG, Eh?, we have this odious Globe and Mail editorial endorsing Harper's Conservatives for Canada's next government.  Pogge catches the Globe in an absurd rewrite of history, crediting Harper for the 2009 Canadian stimulus plan, which the Globe somehow forgets was only done because the opposition parties ganged up and were prepared to form a coalition government or see an election after the Finance Minister's November 2008 "fiscal update" made no mention of the need for stimulus (and eliminated public financing for political parties).  This was the original "prorogation crisis" where the Governor General had to save Harper's job.  That's dumb enough.   I think the thesis is really the second last paragraph:
Even more determination will be needed to confront the sustainability of publicly funded health care in an aging society. Health care is suffering from chronic spending disease. If left unchecked, it could swallow as much as 31 cents of each new dollar in wealth created in Canada in the next 20 years. In spite of some unwise commitments he has made on subsidy increases to the provinces, Mr. Harper has the toughness and reformist instincts to push the provinces toward greater experimentation (in private delivery, for instance) and change. 
Seconds after praising Harper for his non-doctrinaire conservativism, the Globe is endorsing him because they're hoping he will cut and privatize our cherished universal single payer health care system.  For American readers, this should all sound sickeningly familiar - the population is aging, so social safety net services that help the elderly will cost more, so naturally we should embrace failed privatization schemes and impose austerity on the non-wealthy. 

I don't actually know what "swallow as much as 31 cents of each new dollar in wealth created in Canada" means either - health care spending could rise to 31% of GDP?   The Globe doesn't cite a source, but it's probably about this report released recently (of course during an election) by the right wing C.D. Howe Institute hacks.   But even that report only manages to fear-monger our health care spending up from 12% of GDP to 18% of GDP by 2031.  Where does the Globe contrive this 31% figure?

We live directly north of the world's largest and longest ongoing experiment in the private delivery of health care services.  Whatever claimed benefits that system could have in terms of maybe producing more innovative drugs, or better top-end care (for the very few who can afford it), being cheaper is not and has never been one of those benefits.  The US spends by far the most on health care of any country in the world, both per-capita and in absolute terms while leaving tens of millions uncovered.  Even the US experiment with private delivery within their universal elderly health care system, "Medicare Advantage" was a failure from any cost-effectiveness perspective, costing far more per patient than plain old government run Medicare.

In any case, how sly of the Globe to sneak this near the bottom when it really is the only thing that could explain why they would endorse Harper after praising Ignatieff for his high road campaign and hard work, while criticizing Harper for his dictatorial style and abuse of parliament.  They praise, then dismiss Ignatieff with an argument that boils down to "we can't endorse him because he isn't winning" which kind of defeats the point of endorsement as opposed to prediction.  Their dismissal of Layton is unsurprising for them, but given their own stated reasons, absent their desire to privatizing and cut health care, picking Harper otherwise doesn't make sense.  Given that Harper actually promised very clearly not to cut health care funding in the leaders debate, it makes even less sense, but the Globe just writes that off because they're hoping he was lying about that.

Inexplable austerity from the self appointed Serious People, it isn't just for America.

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