Its difficult not to notice that political discourse is often littered with codes and vague euphemisms. Governmental communication offices across the globe are filled with young, vibrant, political science graduates pulling and stretching language to sweeten policy that would otherwise be bitter on the tongue. When you hear a conservative law makers talking of introducing ‘choice’ in essential public services where none previously existed, then they are actually talking about budget cuts, privatisation or an abdication of the responsibility trusted to them by the public.
Thats it! I suppose I can stop the blog right here…….
Ok then, I could write a little more.
The social and healthcare reform (SOTE) being introduced by our coalition government is far from an original idea. It has been attempted elsewhere in the world. In countries such as the UK healthcare reform was touted by the then conservative government as a customer choice bonanza. That somehow the free hand of the market would summon forth mystical powers that would bring yet unknown efficiency and ungodly control over internal cost inflation in the hospital wards and departments. It’s so fantastically trickle-down, so lusciously supply-side an idea, wasn’t it? And just like trickle down economics, this public-private marriage in Britain failed and as we speak, it continues its contract-bound downward spiral , resulting in a crippled, underfunded, understaffed healthcare system and private investors making increasingly larger stacks of cash at the tax payers expense, day by day, patient by patient. What a proper full on disaster.
No doubt people may believe they will get private-like healthcare, don’t be fooled.
In the spirit of fair, balanced blogging, I must tell you that The Uk labour Party also embraced this disastrous policy when they held power.
Back in Finland, our adventures in austerity bears all those hallmarks of the Margret Thatcher/ David Cameron era. Policies forwarded by Sipilä would spin off services away to private companies citing customer choice and lower prices as the primary, albeit falsely dishonest motivation. Not doubt people may feel they will get private-like healthcare, don’t be fooled.
The setup allows these for profit organisations, to provide the most basic of service and is allowed to flick off anyone they deem be to expensive or otherwise awkward. When this occurs it’ll be right at the back of the public queue to for you sir/madam! The choice, it seems, is for the service suppliers, not for the patient. Its all a sweetened lie.
You can choose which train service to rob you blind, for now there are several options.
Having lived just enough independent adult years to remember the costs of living in the UK before the Conservatives asset stripped the country, Sherlock Holmes-esque observational skills are not required to observe the comparison between then and now. In the UK, Electricity prices now are 70 percent higher than pre privatisation levels. Gas 60%, water 64% higher. Public transportation rose over 300 percent!!!!! DAMN!
Again, in an effort to remain fair and balanced in this blog, there is indeed more choice for the consumer. You can choose which train service to rob you blind, for now there are several options.
As I write this blog, the Finnish government won the confidence vote proposed by the three opposition parties and so the Rail privatisation bill will proceed. This is possibly one of the biggest mistakes I have observed this administration making (i’m sure there are others, feel free to comment below)
Whether these reforms work or not was never really Sipilä’s primary concern, as was the case when Thatcher sold off their family silver. The History books of the world tells of repeated attempts of decreasing the size of states to its bare bones, and its tells of repeated failure. Any person attempting such bold moves inside government would be aware of this history.
Sipilä’s actions then, suggests that he doesn’t believe in the idea of a state nor in our idea of agovernment, at least in those parts of government that lay outside his narrow worldview of business. Cutting education, the lifeline of our children’s and by extension, the country’s future and spinning off services to private companies will provide for his friends and supporters, relief, if only for a brief moment, from the pain they experience when a poor, undeserving people receives something that themselves are not getting. Even if they do not need it, even if they do not want it. It is the beat of their resentful heart we feel when these policies are being presented to us.
All we can do is soldier on.
Despite the hair pulling obviousness of it all, a defence against such actions are still difficult to present. If people thought like computers, things would be easier. People, unlike computers do not like to be proved wrong, or seen to be as misinformed or plain stupid. So I would expect these kind of policies to continue, at least while this government remains and this cycle will continue its oh so depressing rotation.
I will keep on recalling my past life and experiences in an effort to explain that most bad ideas are seldom new ideas. That people should look outwards to see how other countries faired in similar circumstances.
And I’m sure that I will hear statements that somehow Finland is different from other counties and the same actions made here in the same way will somehow yield a favourable result. As every other country claimed before, in that period before ruination.
However ridiculous it seems, this is a part of how representative democracy operates.
All we can do is soldier on.