Friday, September 29, 2006

British Columbia in denial over healthcare

British Columbia in denial over healthcare

The media in BC have made it known that the provincial government is about to spend $10 million on a public forum which is aimed at engaging public participation in the debate on health care and its cost to the community. In her most recent budget speech the minister for finance suggested that healthcare in the near future threatens to absorb most of the province’s budget. One can assume that her speech and the recent proposal for public debate are somehow linked. How are we, the public, to interpret the message we being sent by the provincial government? What is the question we are being asked? Is this more than a $10 million discussion to demonstrate publicly that the government is at work, hoping to find solutions to a spending problem? Or is this a sincere $10 million question, the answer to which will solve the approaching threat of unmanageable healthcare costs?

Criticism of the healthcare system in British Columbia abounds, as does criticism of the medical profession and of the unions responsible for workers in healthcare. Equally, there is no shortage of resentment and severe criticism of the large, mostly global producers, of over the counter and prescription drugs. The system, the practitioners, workers and unions then may be seen as largely argumentative and disagreeable conspiracy of ‘me first’ players all vying for the upper ground in what is generally known as the healthcare system. Upper ground, in this case, is not a reference to morals, but rather a reference to financial gain. The system will argue that in order to maintain effective levels of service it needs specific funds. The practitioners with their reputation for bleeding the system will not disappoint when it comes to arguing their importance to the system, and not to be outdone, the unions will argue as pointedly as the practitioners that they are far from occupying the upper ground when it comes to compensation for their role in caring for the ill and the injured in British Columbia. As the demands for a ‘fair share’ of the medical pie grow so do the pressures on the public purse. Ironically, the public is the singular source for these funds. I attended a local BBQ this summer where Gordon Campbell quipped that there is only one kind of money and that was ‘your money, the public.’ We all agree on that view, no matter what our political background or beliefs. One would think, naively perhaps, that as it is our money we ought to have some say in how it is spent. That being the case, the proposed forum on healthcare in British Columbia is perhaps not as off-the-wall as one may think on first hearing about it.

The public, however, seem to forget that as individuals they are solely responsible for the escalating costs of health here in this province and indeed in many other provinces and countries in the developed world. The public, the practitioners (public and private), the healthcare systems, the unions and their members, the care facilities boards and management, drug and equipment manufacturers come together to form a confluence of attitudes and demands which result for the most part in the gouging of the ill and the injured. The public and the lifestyle choices made by the public over many decades seem to have brought the healthcare system close to the edge of irreparable failure. In short, the healthcare system is itself terminally ill. The malaise it seems stems from the public’s own desire for increased care based for the most part on its addiction for care; an addiction which had its origins in a genuine need, but which over time has been corrupted by all the parties. Government, in British Columbia and elsewhere, has ignored the threat of healthcare costs at its peril. Before even asking the question it seems clear that the public needs to recognize that it is the problem and that for a solution it needs to act more responsibly and in the event it does not, it should be prepared to pay more and more for curing ills which it could have avoided in the first place through healthy living. Obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol and the long list of other complaints that face the public today are a result of poor education and lack of appreciation of the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle. We can spend the $10 million or we can simply skip forward to answer for 10 cents; the public can save the economy by living healthy and vacating the waiting rooms in our general practices and walk-in clinics which seem occupied largely by people who have little else to do than seek the sympathy of a doctor for 15 minutes and who are prepared to wait 2 hours for the privilege.

Monday, September 18, 2006

If you are looking for 'democracy' in the media make the US the last place on your list to look

Who owns CNN? or MSNBC? ABC?by systemfailure Wednesday, Apr. 09, 2003 at 1:43 AM
So ya think we have a "free press" eh? Check out who owns who, and who owns what you think.......
GENERAL ELECTRIC --(donated 1.1 million to GW Bush for his 2000 election campaign) Television Holdings: * NBC: includes 13 stations, 28% of US households. * NBC Network News: The Today Show, Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, Meet the Press, Dateline NBC, NBC News at Sunrise. * CNBC business television; MSNBC 24-hour cable and Internet news service (co-owned by NBC and Microsoft); Court TV (co-owned with Time Warner), Bravo (50%), A&E (25%), History Channel (25%). The "MS" in MSNBC means microsoft The same Microsoft that donated 2.4 million to get GW bush elected. Other Holdings: * GE Consumer Electronics. * GE Power Systems: produces turbines for nuclear reactors and power plants. * GE Plastics: produces military hardware and nuclear power equipment. * GE Transportation Systems: runs diesel and electric trains. ================================================== WESTINGHOUSE / CBS INC. Westinghouse Electric Company, part of the Nuclear Utilities Business Group of British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) whos #1 on the Board of Directors? None other than: Frank Carlucci (of the Carlyle Group) Television Holdings: * CBS: includes 14 stations and over 200 affiliates in the US. * CBS Network News: 60 minutes, 48 hours, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, CBS Morning News, Up to the Minute. * Country Music Television, The Nashville Network, 2 regional sports networks. * Group W Satellite Communications. Other Holdings: * Westinghouse Electric Company: provides services to the nuclear power industry. * Westinghouse Government Environmental Services Company: disposes of nuclear and hazardous wastes. Also operates 4 government-owned nuclear power plants in the US. * Energy Systems: provides nuclear power plant design and maintenance. ================================================================ VIACOM INTERNATIONAL INC. Television Holdings: * Paramount Television, Spelling Television, MTV, VH-1, Showtime, The Movie Channel, UPN (joint owner), Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Sundance Channel (joint owner), Flix. * 20 major market US stations. Media Holdings: * Paramount Pictures, Paramount Home Video, Blockbuster Video, Famous Players Theatres, Paramount Parks. * Simon & Schuster Publishing. ============================================= DISNEY / ABC / CAP (donated 640 thousand to GW's 2000 campaign) Television Holdings: * ABC: includes 10 stations, 24% of US households. * ABC Network News: Prime Time Live, Nightline, 20/20, Good Morning America. * ESPN, Lifetime Television (50%), as well as minority holdings in A&E, History Channel and E! * Disney Channel/Disney Television, Touchtone Television. Media Holdings: * Miramax, Touchtone Pictures. * Magazines: Jane, Los Angeles Magazine, W, Discover. * 3 music labels, 11 major local newspapers. * Hyperion book publishers. * Infoseek Internet search engine (43%). Other Holdings: * Sid R. Bass (major shares) crude oil and gas. * All Disney Theme Parks, Walt Disney Cruise Lines. ====================================================== TIME-WARNER TBS - AOL (donated 1.6 million to GW's 2000 campaign) America Online (AOL) acquired Time Warner–the largest merger in corporate history. Television Holdings: * CNN, HBO, Cinemax, TBS Superstation, Turner Network Television, Turner Classic Movies, Warner Brothers Television, Cartoon Network, Sega Channel, TNT, Comedy Central (50%), E! (49%), Court TV (50%). * Largest owner of cable systems in the US with an estimated 13 million subscribers. Media Holdings: * HBO Independent Productions, Warner Home Video, New Line Cinema, Castle Rock, Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera. * Music: Atlantic, Elektra, Rhino, Sire, Warner Bros. Records, EMI, WEA, Sub Pop (distribution) = the world’s largest music company. * 33 magazines including Time, Sports Illustrated, People, In Style, Fortune, Book of the Month Club, Entertainment Weekly, Life, DC Comics (50%), and MAD Magazine. Other Holdings: * Sports: The Atlanta Braves, The Atlanta Hawks, World Championship Wrestling. ======================================================= NEWS CORPORATION LTD. / FOX NETWORKS (Rupert Murdoch) (donations see bottom note) Television Holdings: * Fox Television: includes 22 stations, 50% of US households. * Fox International: extensive worldwide cable and satellite networks include British Sky Broadcasting (40%); VOX, Germany (49.9%); Canal Fox, Latin America; FOXTEL, Australia (50%); STAR TV, Asia; IskyB, India; Bahasa Programming Ltd., Indonesia (50%); and News Broadcasting, Japan (80%). * The Golf Channel (33%). MEDIA HOLDINGS: * Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Searchlight. * 132 newspapers (113 in Australia alone) including the New York Post, the London Times and The Australian. * 25 magazines including TV Guide and The Weekly Standard. * HarperCollins books. OTHER HOLDINGS: * Sports: LA Dodgers, LA Kings, LA Lakers, National Rugby League. * Ansett Australia airlines, Ansett New Zealand airlines. * Rupert Murdoch: Board of Directors, Philip Morris (USA). *(Phillip Morris donated 2.9 million to George W Bush in 2000)*

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Tofino's water shortage an excellent 'show and tell' for municipalities in BC

Our provincial government here in British Columbia in collusion with the ever-obedient media are pleased to remind us every day that this great region is in the midst of an unprecedented era of economic success. Good for us.
It came as a surprise therefore to many of us to learn that one of our destination jewels on Vancouver Island, the westcoast town of Tofino got caught short - of all things - of water.
The area is generally described as a 'rain forest' so one could be forgiven for that questioning look or a raised eyebrow. After all, imagine one's surprise waking up one morning and finding the Fraser River empty.
Of course there is plenty of water in Tofino and elsewhere in BC. What may be lacking, however, is water management. Here in Maple Ridge management - council and municipal staff - has for many years favoured press ganging the outlying areas for urban development in keeping with almost every other town of every size and demographic description in North America. It gives municipalities, among other benefits, the opportunity for a 'clean slate' approach to municipal services and the door opens to applying new and more efficient technologies. With the focus so keenly outwards from the town centres it is no wonder that older neighbourhoods are often left behind socially and structurally. While many municipal managers are sensitive to the dangers of ignoring the town centres, the majority continue to favour the clean slate option by expanding into an ever shrinking agricultural and so called 'green zone.' The sudden water shortage in Tofino last week should have been a wake up call to other municipalities in BC.
Our teenagers in Maple Ridge often refer to this town - with some affection - as Maple 'Ditch'. At first this may be taken simply as a play on words. Drive around the town for a short while - anywhere in town - and observe for the number of open ditches. Observe too that most of them may be found right in what is referred to as the town centre. For the opposite view take a drive around any of our famously bland cookie-cutter subdivisions and you will find that for the most part only the best practices are to be found when it comes to infrastructure and services. The fact that all these subdivision look like they were designed by one architect who knew only how to design one style of house is another matter altogether.
Thankfully the managers of Maple Ridge, either of their own volition or driven by some unseen planner, are responding to Maple Ditch by spending tax payer dollars in the most productive way possible. The downtown and central parts of this district are in the middle of a frenzied engineering program to catch up on decades of neglect. The more they focus on this approach to protecting the town from the ills of urban sprawl, the better life will become for the incumbent citizens and the more likely we are to encourage economic development and social and cultural improvements.
If Tofino was a lesson in what not to do, let Maple Ridge prove that it can provide lessons in 'getting it right.'

Friday, September 15, 2006

Evil competition - Christians v. Muslims

"Speaking in Germany, the Pope quoted a 14th Century Christian emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought the world only "evil and inhuman" things. "

It is probaly unfair to lay all evil at the feet of Muhammad. Christianity too has had a momentary lapse of judgement from time to time.

Non-believers around the globe have watched this dispute for top spot in the evil stakes rage for centuries and simply scratch their heads in disbelief (in every meaning of the word).

How far off is the reality TV program "SURVIVOR - Christian Tribe v. Muslims" followed by all the wannabe tribes. Hell, why not throw in the Christian Scientists and the Promise Keepers too for the B teams.

Non-believers should rise up in the name the name damn it they should just rise up anyway and speak out against the fact that the Muslims and Christians are just getting way too much attention these days.

Surely not believing in God is more interesting than following the herd. Think of how little disruption non-believers caused the world. Even communism lasted less than a century. These religious fads just goes on and on and on.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Friday, September 08, 2006

Too little not early enough?

Musing on FEMA's performance in New Orleans, and Canadian and US attempts at getting their respective citizens out of Southern Lebanon in more recent times, I guess it is safe to say that neither country will ever be accused of premature evacuation.