Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Links

This and that for your weekend reading.

- Will Falk points out how the right's calls for health-care privatization are both aimed at largely fictitious problems, and likely to make any genuine concerns far worse:
What the authors of (Fraser Institute and C.D. Howe Institute studies) don’t say is that the decade before last had a much lower rate of spending and from 1991-96 averaged just 0.9 per cent growth. We actually had real spending declines on a percentage-of-GDP basis for most of the 1990s.

Yes, we have had spending growth over the past 10 years, but what did we expect when we guaranteed the provinces 6 per cent more a year? Privatizing health financing would just add more fuel to the fire. The Fraser Institute does Canadians a disservice when it produces a political conclusion based on such nonsensical projections. C.D. Howe’s authors did a better job over a longer time frame. Their projections were age-adjusted with a variety of important variable factors around technology, relative price and GDP growth. However, their projection is at heart another neo-Malthusian straight line.

The political elites are engaged in a game of self-fulfilling prophecy. Straight-line cost projections and guaranteed federal revenue increases will ensure the cost increases they project.
(O)ur challenge this decade is different. Then it was about fixing hospital care; now, we must harvest productivity gains from new technologies and virtualization of care. From a human point of view, this time will be easier. We have very low nursing unemployment — a third of new nurses come from abroad. It is a difficult task but not so challenging we shouldn’t try.

Let’s stop talking about how we finance 6 per-cent-plus increases or privatize health care and instead tackle improving the system to preserve it for the next generation.
- While the Wall government is no longer quite so eager to portray itself as following in the footsteps of the collapsed Irish economy, there isn't much doubt that it's still sticking to the same direction regardless of what lessons we should be learning from Ireland's financial meltdown. Which means that we too can all too likely look forward to being next in line to have our pensions raided in an effort to spare the corporate sector any of the cost of rebuilding from its destruction.

- Which leads nicely into the Mound of Sound's observations as to how it is we're considered powerless to shape our own destiny:
The question becomes how did major corporations gain the power to threaten our governments, our societies - the power to write our legislation? The answer is simple. We gave it to them.
Yes, corporations threaten us when we want to do something they don't like but that's only because we've loaned them the knife. Why don't we take that knife back? Why aren't we the ones able to threaten corporations? Why don't we reclaim our sovereignty so foolishly surrendered by people of the ilk of Reagan and Mulroney? All we have to do is call their bluff. There will be "repercussions" initially but, then again, haven't we been living with the horrible repercussions of Free Trade for decades?
- And the likelihood that we'll end up bearing the cost of blindly following corporate wishes is all the more reason to want to make sure our policy choices are based on real evidence and logical assessments as to how to develop our economy, rather than faith-based appeals to the market gods.

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