Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Slippery Slopes and Health Care

Holy Moly. Don’t do that. Do you have any idea how dangerous it would be? Think of the repercussions. Once the wheels are in motion they will be impossible to stop. Just one itty-bitty step in that direction and god knows where we’ll end up. You’ll set us on a slippery slope to oblivion. Or maybe even someplace worse. Like America. Aaaaaargh. My hair is literally standing on end at the thought. Talk about creeped out.

Anyway, these days it doesn’t matter what trendy causes you support or which ones you oppose, there’ll always be a slippery slope for you to slide down.

Tell me, if you had to name the most tired, overused, worn-out debating strategy in the world, what would it be? Sleep-inducing Rhetoric? (If you can’t impress ‘em with intelligence, baffle ‘em with bullshit) Fabricated Statistics? (There are three kinds of lies – lies, damnable Lies, and statistics) Demonizing Your Opponent? (“Racist, sexist anti-gay; right wing bigots go away…” ).

All are very effective debating strategies. But not as effective as mine. Mine is a tried and true show stopper. A veritable juggernaut of belligerent bafflegab.

It’s the Slippery Slope Strategy.

And never has this strategy been put to more effective use than in Canada’s health care debate.

My God people, do you have any idea what would happen if we allowed Canadians to purchase their own health insurance or health care? Within no time at all, the public system would crumble, hospitals would close and millions of poor Canadians would be suffering and dying. In fact, all that prevents the poor from dying a brutal, painful death are the laws against private health care. Just let one American (Capitalist bastards) MRI provider set up shop in Canada and before you know it, bodies of poor people will be piled like cord-wood along the sides of the road and plaintive voices will rise in the morning air: “Bring our yer dead- Bring out yer dead”.

Pause for full dramatic effect.

Admit it, you were actually buying into that nonsense. It’s positively hypnotic, isn’t it.

One solitary private health care clinic = slippery slope = total and complete decimation of our public healthcare system.

Of course this is complete and utter nonsense. There are already many private health care delivery services here in Canada.

Many employed people have Extended Health Care coverage. If they get sick, they get special treatment from our health system. They get to stay in semi-private rooms instead of wards. They get dental, chiropractic and drug coverage. And then there’s the people who have Government workplace insurance coverage (WSIB here in Onario) and are injured in the workplace. Thanks to the influence of their powerful government sponsored health insurer, they get pushed to the front of the line with respect to specialist appointments, physiotherapy, medical scanning, medical testing and surgeries. After all, we must get these people back to work to alleviate the financial burden on our public insurance program. The rest of us can wait.

And then, of course, there’s the rich, connected and famous. Sports stars and Politicians get Cadillac service. Have you ever heard of any Canadian hockey star or Politician waiting for any medical treatment? And then there's the movie stars. Can you imagine Sarah Polly, or maybe Kiefer Sutherland, finding a peculiar lump on his or her anatomy and then patiently waiting months in line with the rest of us for a Doctor's appointment, a specialist’s appointment, testing and, ultimately, chemo or surgery. No way. Ain’t gonna happen. They probably wouldn’t even try to slip into line ahead of the rest of us Canadians in the public system. After all, it’s a public system and they are above that. They’d probably access one of Canada’s many private clinics or go stateside. And yet these privileged, elite ‘stars’ are the first to lecture us about the evils of private health care.

Well, it’s hard to argue with them. After all, private health care IS a very slippery slope. Yadda yadda.

And yes, you did not read me wrong. There ARE many private health facilities in Canada where only the influential and rich get treatment.

Paul Martin, Canada’s late, great (did I really say great? ) Prime Minister gets his treatment from a doctor in Quebec who operates a private, fee-for-service clinic. Yep. That’s right folks, while this millionaire shipping tycoon denies us regular Canadians the right to buy our own health care, he actually does it himself.

Socialist Quebec, by the way, has the most private clinics in Canada. It’s their dirty little secret. And there are many more of these clinics in many provinces across Canada.

It may appear to some people that these clinics are proof that the slippery slope theory is valid. After all, it had to start somewhere. At some point in history there was one or maybe just a few of these clinics. And, from there, they grew to the point where, today, they are all across Canada.

However, if the concern is really that one or a few private health providers will actually put Canada on a slippery slope towards a totally private system, why have these providers been allowed to propagate? Could it be because the very Politicians and connected people who continually lecture us about the evils of private health actually use these private providers themselves?

In reality, maybe the health care slippery slope issue isn’t as black and white as the rich and connected would have us believe. After all, they don’t actually oppose the slope, although they want us to believe they do. They just want to make sure that only a few privileged people get to descend down it – as long as they are among the few.

So, at this point we need to make a decision. There are three choices.

The first is the least equal: We can continue to allow only the elite to access a quicker way back to good health through private care, as we do today.

The second is the most equal: We can eliminate private care totally and make the elite wait as long as everyone else. Until they die, if necessary.

The third is a compromise - more equal than the first and less equal then the second: We can make private care available to everyone and give anyone, who can somehow raise the money, the freedom to seek their own health care as they choose.

Equality is an important thing. So is freedom. Between the two – equality or freedom - which, do you think, is more important when it comes to saving your life?


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