Thursday, December 30, 2004

Health costs

I've been reading the Health and Independence Report 2004. This year the government has budgeted $9.92 billion for health, which is $200 per month per New Zealander.

$200 per month will buy you UltraCare, "the ultimate Southern Cross plan that provides extensive cover for almost all of the costs of medical treatment and full cover for private surgery, up to a maximum of $60,000 per operation. Coverage for medical benefits ranges from doctor's visits and prescriptions to consulting a [sic] osteopath, chiropractor or psychologist. Naturally you're also covered for specialist consultations and imaging such as x-rays."

Instead of providing this level of health care, the government has 175,652 New Zealanders on waiting lists for surgery or specialist assessment.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Leave the truckies alone

"Fears of drug use among truck drivers are spurring police and freight companies to consider random testing of commercial drivers for narcotics," according to the Sunday Star Times.

This is wrong on so many levels.

There's nothing to fear. Truck drivers have used speed (amphetamines) for decades. Speed keeps them alert and awake, which is better than being asleep at the wheel. We give ordinary motorists caffeine as a "driver reviver". Truckies need something a little stronger.

Testing truckies for narcotics won't catch the ones who use speed. Speed is a powerful stimulant. A narcotic is an opium-like drug which induces sleep or stupor. Truckies don't use narcotics. They use speed. (The word 'narcotic' comes from the Greek word 'narke' meaning stupor.)

"To find that in one of every three vehicles checked there were drugs or had been drugs is a real eye-opener," said Senior Sergeant Irwin Van Pelt, head of the northern commercial vehicle investigation unit. But not as much of an eye-opener as a good hit of P.

Haven't the police got anything better to do? You bet! A British study discovered a significant number of truck drivers who had serious accidents had eaten a high-fat meal in the half-hour before. It's the ones who get more go on Moro that we need to worry about.