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Friday, April 20, 2007

Genocide, Intolerance and a changing Western World

My response to an accusation levelled at me that I support the influx of Moslems into Europe to the detriment of Western culture:

I don't want to see European and Western culture destroyed. I love being a white, middle-class Westerner of Christian background. I love how my culture has developed. I get a real kick out of the diversity that has allowed my culture to grow and flourish.

A pertinent example of just why I love the influence of all the cultures that the West has absorbed, and been influenced by, is a typical Australian cuisine choice that now exists.

Speaking generally, in my youth (I'm 42 now) you basically had a choice of English style food, Chinese food and some badly done Italian food. With this you could drink Aussie beer or plonk out of a cask. Dessert was inevitably cake or ice cream served with tea or crappy instant coffee.

Nowadays if I go into a general cuisine Australian restaurant I have a choice of (well prepared) foods from all around the world. I can have: a good lump of steak with roast vegies and some steamed bok choy; a cheesburger with fries; some pork loin and mortadello tortellini; some stir-fried vegetables. I may have this after an entree of Moroccan meatballs or maybe some tasty scampi. I can choose beer from all over the world from Budweiser to Tsingtao or wines from Western Australia's Margaret River through Spain's Rueda to California's Napa Valley. I can then finish off with dessert of Tira Misu, Apple pie, ice-cream or maybe just a morsel of Baklava. I can then complete the meal with a long macchiato, cup of tea or maybe just a refreshing glass of San Pellegrino or Coca-Cola.

All this gastronomic joy is brought to me through the many cultures absorbed by the the West. This flexibility and desire to grow is one of the great strengths of my culture.

It's not just food. For me, food happens to be an exceptional example of the benefits of tolerance. Have a look at the inventions, customs and advances that have come to the west from the Muslim world, from Asia and from the Americas. How on earth do you think we've come as far as we have?

The intolerance that you propose is the marker of times throughout history when the West stagnated. The hate and violence that you preach is what holds back the progress of the West.

Look back in histoy and you'll find that there is always a "boogey man". In my time it has been Italians and Greeks, then it was the Vietnamese, then it was Indians and Pakistanis. Now it's the North Africans. Look again at the lessons from History and you will see that one day it will be the Americans that are the world's problem refugees.

The idea of growing and adopting new and unfamiliar cultures and beliefs can cause fear and concern. It doesn't mean loss of identity it simply means a new perspective on a changing world.

The world will always change and be full of challenges. When fear of the unknown is abused and exploited as a "solution" (final?) to this change then that is always the dark hour of humankind. The dark hour where hate oozes sickly from our pores in a rancid, unstoppable puss that pollutes all that is good and kills all that grows and changes to nourish us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Cost of Health Care

I was lucky enough to have the following article pointed out to me by an anti-gunner that I debate issues with at aus.politics.guns. Thanks Trevor.

This article appears in the Sydney Morning Herald April 18, 2007. Author is Mark Coultan. Piece is titled "Gouged and gutted by medical insurance".

http://preview.tinyurl.com/34gw3z (if you want to preview the site first)

There were several highlights in the article for me.

"Corzine was not wearing a seatbelt, in violation of his own state's laws."
This is the lawmaker disobeying the very laws he seeks to punish his constituents with. He was in a vehicle with a police officer who obviously did nothing to enforce the law that he is supposedly sworn to uphold.
If the lawmaker doesn't respect the law then why should a citizen have any respect or trust for that leader?
If the law enforcer doesn't enforce the law (presumably he liked his/her job) then what sort of respect should he expect from the community?
What does this really say about these type of laws that try to legislate common sense?

"Unlike the stories you sometimes hear about American medical care"
Yeah, from rags like the Sydney Morning Herald (and the Telegraph, Sun etc). So now they are giving us accurate information (btw I think they probably are) and not sensationalising this time? I'm sorry but they cry wolf so often that I have *no* respect for them.

"A New York state politician did a survey of New York hospitals' costs, finding that one, Mount Sinai, charged $US224,000 for intestinal biopsies, a one-day procedure."
Found *one*. What did the others charge? Are people forced to use this service? Why does it cost so much?

"With breast cancer on her medical record, insurance companies did not want to cover her"
Nor should they have to cover her if they don't want to. It's their business isn't it? See further down for why she has no alternatives to consider.

"To save money, she takes her $US300-a-month medication three or four days a week, instead of daily."
$300 a month! Imagine how affordable it would become if the company did not have to:
- Pay hundreds of millions of dollars ($USD100,000,000+) to get their drug approved by the FDA (not to mention government organisations in other countries).
- Pay annual license fees, regulatory fees, fees for submissions of reports to the government.
- Comply with complex accounting procedures required by the government.
- Pay exorbitant insurance costs to defend themselves against a legal system that has decayed into a lottery for civil litigants.

"As some Americans penny-pinch to afford health care, the nation as a whole binges. The US spends 16 per cent of its gross domestic product on health, about 50 per cent more than Australia or other industrialised countries, yet its health outcomes are no better, and on some measures slightly worse, than comparable countries."
This is an incredible amount of money. To get results that are no better than other industrialised countries just underscores how inefficient the government is as a delivery mechanism of resources.
Worse still is that they are *forcing* (ultimately at the point of a gun) their citizens to finance their squandering.

"Not surprisingly, health care is a constant political topic. Several states, including Massachusetts and California, are introducing universal coverage reforms."
A constant political topic :). I don't know about you but I get sick of all the talk, investigations, commissions, hearings and chest-beatings that ultimately produce the same old tired, expensive and inefficient results.
It's also typical that a "law must be introduced". Great, one more law that people can't reasonably know about.

"There are too many powerful, entrenched and vested interests - doctors, pharmaceutical groups and insurance companies."
This is a massive problem in this area. These interests have:
- jumped through the hoops of government
- paid the over inflated fees required to conduct their business
- paid the onerous annual license fees
Why wouldn't they fight to keep competition out? They have too much time and money invested in the system to want to see someone else come in without going through the same pain that they've had to go through. In fact the more competition that they can keep out, the better.
What most people don't understand is that it is *only* through the *force* of government that monopolies and oligopolies exist. Most of these "big, evil" corporations are there only by the grace of government force.

"with the cost of health care rising rapidly"
Why is it rising? Look at the cost of doing business that is imposed by government. Look at the concentration of power facilitated by the government rules. Look at inflation created by government mismanagement and corruption of the monetary system.

"societies have a choice: either restrict health care on the basis of medical need, which is what a Medicare system attempts to do, or restrict it on the basis of income or employment, which is what happens in the US."
Great! The constant inability to think outside the box is always frustrating. These are *not* the only two choices. How about taking the government out of our lives and letting people choose how they want to live?

To all those do-gooders who want to make me live the "right" way using the violence and force of government - pull your whining little heads in, piss off and leave me alone.