Monday, August 02, 2004

The tide has turned

Hold on to those memories of the recent federal election - it appears that never again will an election be fought where all the parties defend the Medicare status quo (the so-called "single tier"). At the very least, the notion that we must outlaw private facilities wishing to operate entirely outside the government-funded system is drawing its final breaths.

Truths are being spoken, and the genie is escaping the bottle. Here's John Ibbotson in the Globe on Friday:

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Yesterday, Mr. Klein raised a question virtually no politician in Canada ever dares broach: Why, he asked reporters rhetorically, are you free to piss away money at a casino, but you can't use it to get your mother the hip replacement she so desperately needs?
Such questions are intolerable, because they expose the underlying totalitarianism of the public health-care system. Mr. Klein will need to stifle himself; that sort of loose talk could wreck the necessary compromise.

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Ibbotson is a pure (cruel?) realist. He rarely deals in right and wrong - it's always about political implications (can X happen, not should X happen). So when he throws away a phrase like "underlying totalitarianism", it's not to sneak some of his ideology into the mix - it's because a hard reality exists that no intelligent commenter can dispute on the facts.

This same topic was broached last month, and Mr. Klein's rhetorical question will continue to be asked in all manner of venues - from government press conferences to friends around a campfire. Thankfully, this means that one of these days, someone is going to have to answer it.


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