The fact that Health was neglected by Peter Costello in this year's Budget is disappointing, but not unexpected. Right-wingers deplore the use of universal taxes for the universal benefit of all the taxpayers.
What is more disheartening is the absence of comment from Labor . Whitlam's 1975 idea was to give the people something of value, support when they need it, in place of the historical fear of medical expenses when ill or hurt. Aneurin Bevan (who launched the British health service in 1948) had said: "Society becomes more wholesome, more serene, and spiritually healthier, if it knows that its citizens have at the back of their consciousness the knowledge that not only themselves, but all their fellows, have access, when ill, to the best that medical skill can provide".
Such lofty ideas don't seem to inspire the people advising Mr Beazley. I suspect they believe that "Medicare's too hard and there aren't enough votes in it". However, Labor is wrong in neglecting its best legacy. The people who value Medicare would applaud Labor enthusiastically. The others, privately insured, may discover, too late, that their concern for personal protection was inadequate, in spite of the high premiums they have paid. They will, one day, need the public facility, in an emergency, after-hours, or as the result of a traffic accident. They may find it under-resourced and understaffed at their time of crisis.
People are not unintelligent, merely uninformed. It is in this sense that I hope David Sirota's words will be taken seriously. He describes the alarming condition of the privatized US health industry. We are informed of the inevitable result of the politics, currently being copied by Australia's government, of turning a "social good" (Health) into an opportunity for private exploitation.
David Sirota's article Careless Industry: How corporate America perpetuates the health care crisis is adapted from his new book Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Governmentand How We Can Take It Back
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