Thursday, January 30, 2014

You had one job, Australia, and you fluffed it

I have to say it again?

The short version is that my wife, Ms T to those who know us not and those who know us know her name, is sick. Without a high-profile fund-raising disease to provide support, our entire experience of critical illness is of the public system.

And while I complain about details, the key facts are: she's still alive, and we're not broke.

Over the last four years, she's spent about five months in hospital, had one very major surgery plus about ten minor procedures (including removal of two tumours that were side-effects of her treatments), run into her third year of immune-suppressing chemotherapy, vast amounts of various medications, and right now, pain clinic access to try and eliminate her dependency on synthetic opioids.

A US friend of mine tracked things early on, but he gave up when her putative American healthcare bill passed the million-dollar-mark.

But the happy-clappers of prosperity doctrine really hate things like Medicare. It's a direct challenge to their fundamental doctrine: if you're poor, it's because God doesn't love you, and if you're poor because of disease, it's because you have personally and individually offended God and are being punished.

Which is a religious stance that suits the most atheistic of economic schools – the hard market fundamentalists – just fine, because they detest government spending as a matter of principle.

And it's created a most toxic and potent combination that's infecting Australia from its spiritual home in America, and every damn government institution is under attack. Yes, there's SPC Ardmona and the sickening support for mining billionaires and the ABC and SBS, education funding and disability funding …

But my personal angle is personal, okay? I can and do care about the other things, but I write about what I know.

In America, Ms T and I would be yet another case of medical bankruptcy. Instead, I have both an employer and a small business, one son has a university record that makes me swell with pride and the other is about to enter the workforce. And we didn't have to sell everything, retreat to a trailer park, declare bankruptcy, or seek income support from the government.

And right now, the prognosis for Ms T is better than it's been since 2010, whereas under the American system, I'd have scattered petals on her coffin long ago.

You had one job, electorate of Australia, and you did it wrong. With any number of people warning you that gimlet-eyed ideologues wanted power and would abuse it from Day One, you decided that “an Abbott government couldn't be that bad”.

You were wrong, and with years still to go, protest – huge, ongoing, mass protest – seems to be the only way to defend Australia against the US-inspired mission teams of the Tea Party.


Peter Bowditch said...

When John Howard left office there were several goals unachieved, which would have been very disappointing for him - the ABC was still broadcasting, people were still allowed to join trade unions, money was being spent on public schools when private schools needed new sporting facilities, and people could get free medical care. Abbott is working to fix these anomalies.

A friend of mine was totally opposed to "socialised medicine". Then his daughter was born several months early and spent the rest of what would have been the gestation period in hospital. His conversion to reality came when he found out how much money he hadn't had to spend.

It was interesting to note that the arguments put up against the Affordable Care Act in the US were identical to what was being said here in 1974. But the devastation of Australia hasn't come about. Friends of mine in the US are amazed that I don't have to go to eBay to buy date-expired glucose test strips and I'm sure some didn't believe me when I said that all out-of-pocket costs associated with my broken ankle came to about $300. (I had to pay $50 for the plastic boot and Medicare only covers part of specialist bills. MRIs and x-rays were all bulk-billed.)

I am never surprised at the naivety of the voting public, but surely nobody is surprised at Abbott wanting to tear down all that is good about this country.

And no, I didn't vote for him. My grandmother would have come back from the grave to beat me with her free replacement hips and my mother would have followed her to remind me how much six weeks in hospital curing cancer didn't cost.

Toby said...

The same thing has happened to Harper's Canada. Devastating public institutions, destroying the environment and civil society, fomenting inequality, viciously attacking dissent (G20, 2010).

These fascisti have to be removed, staked thoroughly like the vampires they are, and buried. We can't tolerate Abbotts and Harpers, ever.