In the ongoing effort to demonstrate that the people in charge in Canada are every bit the prize nits they seem to be, British Columbia NDP premier John Horgan just beclowned himself by declaring that his provincial health system is “crumbling” so Ottawa should conjure up more money to dump into it and watch it vanish. It really is as foolish as it sounds, and it really is all he’s got.
It would be easy to focus scorn on his apparent notion that the federal government has a magic money tree. And worthwhile, because if no such plant exists, the net result of the central government raising more money in taxes and sending it to its provincial counterparts is that wealthier provinces such as B.C. end up with less not more. And while one might be puzzled at a regular citizen not grasping this point, one is utterly baffled that a career politician doesn’t.
I’m tempted to claim everyone except the politicians does realize it. But since Horgan’s sort of rhetoric works the delusion must be fairly widespread, not least because Horgan’s sort of people go about spreading it. So what’s his excuse?
Born in 1959, he became a federal political staffer in the late 1980s, a provincial public servant in 1993 and a very senior one in 1996 before a brief stint as a “private sector” consultant on how to influence government, then won a provincial seat in 2005. Surely 35 years of pondering things governments might do and ways for paying for them has taught him a little bit about where the money comes from, or doesn’t.
If he’s talking nonsense on purpose because it plays well in the short run, I retort that encouraging the public to demand things from you that are impossible is its own form of dangerous stupidity. Which brings me to the second and deeper dumbness of his remarks.
I mean peddling the notion that our health care system is a brilliantly designed disaster. Faced with the collapse of the whole structure, while his federal NDP counterparts demand that it be expanded to include dental care, Horgan told a journalist his local citizens “would love to have a national dental program but they would rather have a GP (general practitioner). They would rather have a primary care network that would meet their needs and their family’s needs now and into the future. And that’s not happening. And time spent talking about new programs while existing programs are crumbling, I think is wasted time.”
If only. Admittedly Justin Trudeau seems to have outsmarted Jagmeet Singh on the terms of their deal, which takes the latter deep into fright wig territory. But it’s worse than “wasted” time if it leads to massive new policy blunders. As is talking about solutions that lead nowhere, since the consequences of delaying meaningful reforms in a crumbling system are so serious.
Horgan’s proposals do lead nowhere. And have for over 50 years, ever since our splendid system was implemented and immediately went wrong. Sometimes the feds shell out more money, and sometimes they panic and snatch it back. But if you were to look at long-term trends in wait times, access to doctors and so forth you’d discover that they have nothing to do with deals that do or don’t save Medicare for a generation or whatever constitutes the fatuous pomposity du jour.
Alas, the politicians do not look at such trends. Instead they burble that “it’s about services for people. It’s about those cancer patients that do not have a place to go when they come out of their treatment. We need to fix that. It’s not John Horgan’s problem, it’s B.C.’s problem, it’s Canada’s problem. And we all need to lean in to get it fixed.” If you were writing a satirical program about soothing political babble lacking intellectual content, you wouldn’t have to edit a single word of it.
In noting Horgan’s remarks, Vancouver doctor and former Canadian Medical Association president Brian Day tweeted “A former NDP government cut medical school intake that led to the crisis. We are 51st in docs per population. Wake up! We need drastic reforms. Our state monopoly has failed.” Yes, the same Brian Day whose Cambie Clinic has provided some limited relief from public waiting lists since 1996 in return for which the B.C. government, under administrations of various partisan stripes, has been trying to crush him through lawfare since 2009.
Horgan, like most elite commentators, scorns to address the concept that the state monopoly has failed. Why, we have the best health care system in the world, especially if you’re somebody important. Think he sat on a waiting list for cancer treatment in the fall of 2021? Hoo hah. But he did get to see the suffering of the proles, both patients and nurses, and it moved him deeply. We have his word for it.
Criticized in the legislature for passing the buck to Ottawa, Horgan radiated wisdom and compassion by going “Aw [f-bomb].” Then he semi-apologized for his “intemperate remarks”, saying he was frustrated that the Opposition claimed he was passing the buck to Ottawa. “What led to that (frustration) is they didn’t want to hear what I had to say.” Plus he wasn’t really sorry because his outburst was “a human moment and life is filled with human moments.”
Yeah. Like the ones where you realize you’ve been a colossal fool. Which we all have, and if not you better get some quick, because the only thing worse than being a fool is not realizing it. Which fundamentally is where our leaders are on socialized medicine.
Canada’s health system is just about the most restrictive in the world. Not the free world. The world. It consistently delivers bad results, costing more than any comparable universal-coverage system while keeping patients waiting, in pain and fear, much longer. Whether doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is insanity or just stupidity, nothing can shake their determination to ignore incentives and insist that the magic of government efficiency is bound to kick in soon, indeed already has, and we should be grateful for our national treasure despite this weird business where, for instance, one in five inhabitants of BC doesn’t have a family doctor but it’s never the important people.
Guess what. If we don’t want to hear what you have to say again, it’s because it’s insolent callous rubbish. Think for a moment about where in this country you encounter long infuriating waits. Like phoning the CRA. Or trying to renew your passport. Or accessing our glorious socialized medicine. Right. Notice a pattern?
They don’t. They look at it and think how great it is that the cruel unfeeling private sector has been pushed aside by such splendid avatars of compassionate wisdom as themselves. Including in Ontario, where Liberal leader Steven Del Duca thinks eliminating private long-term senior care is just the ticket. So once again, abandon conspiracy theories. They’re not smart enough.
They are the fools they seem to be, and proud of it.