Bernard Darnton
Bernard Darnton

For Sale: Health System

A hardworking Soviet citizen, Sergei, once went to the local Lada dealership and put in an order for a new car. The dealer thanked him and said, "I'll put your order on the list. Your car will be delivered eight years from today." "Oh that's no good," said Sergei, "the plumber's coming that day."

Ho, ho, ho, let's laugh at the Commies now that they're down and out. A hardworking New Zealander once went to the local surgeon and put in an order for a new hip... Err, yes, terribly funny.

The Soviet state used to control the supply of bread and cars. There were queues and waiting lists for both. Here, the state used to control the supply of telephones. There was a six month waiting list. The state still controls the supply of healthcare. You know the rest.

Our die-while-you-wait health system is in a dire state.

We watched the budget with baited breath waiting for some respite. The pin-striped one got up and explained the revolutionary change that would revitalise the provision of healthcare in New Zealand. Crown Health Enterprises were to be renamed 'hospitals.' Thank God I had my subsidised Valium at the ready to calm me down after the excitement of that.

A state health system is a cornerstone of socialism. And our health system is fulfilling some of the finest goals of socialism. Like killing people. Sorry, I meant to say egalitarianism. There will always be some people who never have perfect health. Our health system is ensuring that we don't run the risk of creating a healthy elite. We certainly don't want to increase the gap between the healthiest and the least healthy members of society.

There are two real problems. The first is the electorate who, suffering under state health provision, want more state health provision. The second is that group of politicians who know the real solution but are too gutless to even mention it, let alone do it. They insist on fiddling with management structures, changing names and calling it 'reform' when what really needs to be done is deregulate and flog the whole damn lot to the highest bidder.

But America has private healthcare and they're a mess. Well, private apart from Medicare. And Medicaid. Oh, and the Food and Drug Administration. And not forgetting the National Institutes of Health and the Centres for Disease Control and the rest of the government alphabet soup that usually screws things up. What about the poor who can't afford decent insurance? Better to ask: What about the poor who currently have their already meagre pay-packets raided by the tax man to pay for healthcare they probably won't get when they need it?

People say that health is too important to be in private hands. I think food's pretty important so why don't I buy my food from Uncle Joe's Soy-Bean Collective? My food is grown by private growers, shipped by private transport and sold by private supermarkets. None of them give a toss whether I starve to death or not and I've still had to let my belt out a notch recently. Surely health is too important not to be in private hands. Governments have some sort of reverse Midas touch where everything they touch turns to crap. And you're willing to turn the care of your body over to them?

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