Sunday, April 17, 2005

Is our public health system stuffed?

Do we need to spend more tax money on our public health system? Do we need to throw more good money after bad? Do we need another poke in the eye with a sharp stick?

Senior clinicians issue health warning - our overstretched health system is compromising safe patient care. Here's an expensive socialist proposal - let's ramp up public health care funding so that by 2010 we're spending 50% more on public health than we are today. That should fix it, surely? Nope. It's already been done, and it didn't work! This year the government has budgeted $10 billion for health, half as much again as the $6.77 billion spent in 2000. Waiting lists are longer now.

If you wanted a new car in East Berlin prior to the destruction of the Berlin Wall, you put your name on a list and waited around 12 years for it to be made. When your car was eventually ready, it was cheap, although poor quality. The reason for the wait was due to the socialist government in place at the time; cars were made to order and there was no opportunity for competition. As soon as the wall fell more cars became available.

We run a similar (but often fatal) version of this scenario here in Godzone but with people's health rather than automobiles. We all smugly smile about life under the Warsaw Pact but no-one seems to get the parallels to what's happening here for people who want hip replacements rather than cars.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Retro Ken

Congratulations to former trade unionist Ken Douglas, who has lost 68 kg since a "stomach stapling" operation in December 2003, and now weighs a sensible 83 kg.

"Red Ken" paid for the $20,000 operation himself - but now, true to form, he is suggesting that the Government should pay for others to have the operation to get more people back into work.
A $20,000 intervention that is going to get somebody back to full productive work and no subsequent hospitalisation... it's got to be money in the bank for the Government.
If there were money to be made, wouldn't private lending institutions already be competing for a slice of the lucrative gastric bypass loan market? Maybe not. No private lending institution can enforce a punishing repayment regime of 39 cents in the dollar, so the government has an unfair advantage. Perhaps "Red Ken" is right, after all!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Dunne Day

United Future leader Peter Dunne is congratulating himself after his New Zealand Day Bill passed its first reading in the House this evening. The proposal to rename Waitangi Day to New Zealand Day now goes to the justice and electoral select committee for public consideration.

Well, I'll tell you what I think. It's a dumb idea.

You see, it's been tried before. The Labour goverment under Norman Kirk passed the New Zealand Day Act 1973, renaming Waitangi Day to New Zealand Day and, moreover, declaring the day to be a nationwide, but non-Mondayised, public holiday. And it came to pass that a giant moa laid an enormous egg on the spot where the treaty was signed. But then, two years later, the National government under Robert Muldoon reinstated the name Waitangi Day with The Waitangi Day Act 1976.

We gained nothing but a compulsory public holiday from all this. Peter Dunne now wants to Mondayise it. But we can take Monday off without Peter Dunne's permission and without a legislated name change.

It's also an arrogant idea. Which commemorative days will the man want to rename next? Easter Sunday? Anzac Day? Christmas Day? April Fool's Day? And to what will he rename them? And why? It's not up to buffoons in Parliament to tell us what to call those days of the year which hold special significance for us. It's up to us to decide what to call them and, for that matter, whether to celebrate them by having a day off. For Tariana Turia, every day's a Waitangi Day. (But let's not pass that into law, either.)

It's also just plain wrong. There's a social engineering agenda behind this proposal. By renaming Waitangi Day, Peter Dunne wants to suppress Māori protest. He wants us to come to terms with our future as a multi-cultural nation.

Please pick a different day to celebrate multicultural diversity. Call it what you want, but don't tell us. Leave Waitangi Day as a day to celebrate biculturalism. It's traditional.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


What a blessing that the rushes of blood to the head over the Jim Peron affair are now subsiding. Twenty years ago, in San Francisco, Jim Peron expressed the view that adult-child sexual relationships are not always abusive, a view also espoused by NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Love Association. He now rejects his former view as mistaken and bad.

Classical liberals and sundry defenders of freedom of speech are fond of quoting Voltaire, who is supposed to have said
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
The Locke Foundation's Madeleine and Matthew Flanagan, who style themselves as classical liberals, have put a great deal of effort into investigating Jim Peron's past and acting as the prosecution in his trial by media, but I have yet to hear them say
Monsieur [Peron], I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.
I guess it's hard to defend someone to the death when you're busy running them out of town.