Written by Mark Taliano
The corporatist narrative informs us that freedom is blind attachment to the dictates of opaque supranational stealth agreements that supersede and obviate national legislation, rules, and regulations.
It tells us that tribunals outside of the reach of Canada's judiciary are to be trusted, and that investor-rights, even when the investor is a foreign country, are more important than national rights.
Totalitarian corruption from above, free from the shackles of democracy, is the new theology as Canadians are taught to blindly trust the benevolent corporatocracy, secure in the knowledge that what is good for corporate globalization must also be good for us.
When we are told that de-regulation is good for us, we believe it, even as tragedies such as the Lac Megantic inferno are fresh in our minds.
Destruction of the public sphere is also thought to be good, as are corporate in-roads into previously sacrosanct domains that were once thought to be emblematic of Canada.
It comes as no surprise, then, that many Canadians support the accelerating corporatization of universal healthcare. It's the (only) answer to the demands of an aging population, we are told, and what is best for the corporation is best for us.
Opposition is somehow treasonous, a socialist plot, and anathema to freedom loving peoples.
Consequently, sacrosanct investor-rights agreements -- such as the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- are deemed necessary to lock in protections for free-ranging, transnational corporations, even as they shackle national economies and neuter democratic decision-making.
People blindly accept the co-option of human rights terminology that disguises the secret powers from above: "free trade" will liberate us; globalization is good, and Canada is open for business.
Once we remove our blinders, we see that the corrupting lies from above are disguising an anti-democratic system of governance that is impoverishing us, eroding our economy, and destroying any notions of universality or common good.
The irony is rich. The dismantling of our emblematic health care system is happening beneath our very noses. We are assured that it is in or best interests, and that corporate, multi-tiered health care, like corporate globalization, is inevitable. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Each promise about corporate healthcare is false. Comprehensive documentation shows that a "two tier" (it's actually a multitude of tiers) system is inferior to a universal publicly funded system, by any measure.
Not only is corporate health care bad for the collective health of a country's population, but it also cripples national economies. Ted Wagoner, former CEO of General Motors, recognized in 2008 that high healthcare costs reduce General Motor's competitiveness. Wagoner noted in "G.M C.E.O: Serious Health Care Reform 'Undoubtedly Would Help Level The Playing Field'" that his company spent over $103 billion over fifteen years on pensions and post-retirement health care benefits, and that, "Obviously if we had the $103 billion and could use it for other things, it would enable us to be even farther ahead on technology or newer equipment in our plants or whatever." The article further explains that Japan's universal health system ensures that Toyota "paid $1,400 less per vehicle on health care' and makes $2,400 more per car than American manufacturers."
Everything from bloated administrative costs, to the high cost of medical procedures, and the exorbitant cost of medications, to name just a few, make the US corporate healthcare model less efficient and more expensive than universal models, and the extra costs do not lead to better outcomes.
National health care programs, on the other hand, save money and improve outcomes. Bulk buying of medications improve patient accessibility to care, reduce costs to patients, and improve local and national economies.
Additionally, as the public system is further eroded by parallel corporate systems, other variables, such as wait times, also increase for most people.
Given the comprehensive evidence that illustrates the weakness of corporatized health care systems, this option should not even be on the table.
What, then, are productive solutions to Canada's current heath care woes?
Dr. Danielle Martin, family physician, V.P of Medical Affairs and Health Systems Solutions at Women's College Hospital, and Assistant Professor in Medicine and Health Policy at the University of Toronto, offers steps that could be implemented immediately to improve the health of all Canadians AND strengthen our economy.
Step one is "20 Drugs To Save A Nation." Bulk buying of medications through a public drug plan would reduce costs substantially. We could start now by bulk-buying 20 selected drugs, and eventually create a national pharmacare program which would save us as much as $10.7 billion per year.
Step two, "Less Is More" involves changing the culture of medical tests. We could improve health outcomes and save money by avoiding unnecessary testing and procedures.
The internet site www.choosingwiselycanada.org identifies the problems and dangers associated with unnecessary testing, and it explains "When you need them -- and when you don't."
Step three, "Sick With Poverty," is likely the most controversial, but it too would offer tremendous savings, as well as better health (and economic) outcomes.
Canada would save $7.6 billion per year on reduced health care costs alone if the crisis of poverty was responsibly addressed by discarding the current welfare system, and replacing it with a Guaranteed Annual Income system.
Evidence shouts that we could improve our collective health, and our economy, by improving, rather than rejecting universal healthcare -- and by shredding some of these corporate rights deals while we're at it.
All we need now is the collective will to make the right choices.
Written by Mark Taliano
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