Thursday, January 14, 2021

Freedom at Any Cost

I believe it's not a coincidence that the UK, US, and much of Canada - the trio that promoted neoliberal free market politics - are not doing enough to restrict the spread of Covid. The rightwing in our countries (and some centre and left players) still act on the dogmatic ideology of freedom at ANY cost, so they're loathe to restrict hours of business. And God forbid they affect profits.

Reading George Monbiot's Guardian article today has strong parallels with a review of Timothy Snyder's latest book, Our Malady, about American healthcare system. And they could both be talking about Ford's treatment of Ontario.

Monbiot on Johnson:

"Here's the chilling, remarkable thing that should be inscribed on everyone's minds: there is no plan. . . . A government with any level of competence would have explained from the outset where we need to be before it lifts this lockdown. It might have stated what the R number should be. . . . It would have committed not to end the lockdown until such conditions have been met. . . . Without a plan, we are likely to remain trapped in a perpetual cycle of emergency followed by suppression. . . . From the outset, the government has tried to persuade us that there's a trade-off between protecting public health and protecting our social and economic lives. But there is no trade-off. . . . Every week brings a new scandal, as the government shows a generosity towards profit-seeking corporations that's not extended to the rest of the population. . . . But if you get the system right, you free the nation from both uncontrolled disease and lockdowns. This is the lesson from Taiwan. . . . The government could have used the first two lockdowns and the school holidays to carry out an emergency refurbishment programme in schools, fitting them with ventilation . . . Astonishingly, it did nothing."

And here's Timothy Snyder (from a book review by Leonid Schneider) on his personal experience with the health care system in the United States. 

"If pure capitalist logic is applied to health, the bacteria win. . . . We would like to think we have healthcare that incidentally involves some wealth transfer, what we actually have is wealth transfer that incidentally involves some health care. . . . Trump made it clear that resources purchased with taxpayers' money would be distributed according to governors' loyalty to him. . . . Governors who tried to saved lives were called disloyal. . . . Throughout the country, people working in hospitals were exposed to the virus far more than they should have been. . . . They could not speak openly about these dangers. . . . Doctors and nurses were fired for bringing their own protective gear to work. . . . If health care is a privilege rather than a right, it demoralizes those who get it and kills those who do not. Everyone is drawn into a sadistic system that comes to seem natural. Rather than pursuing happiness as individuals, we together create a collective of pain."

At work, we were given lower-level masks and a few of us wore them only in the hallways, under the eye of cameras, and had to be sneaky to shift to the better quality we bought ourselves once in the classroom before the students arrived. And now we have people fighting to get to the front of the vaccine line with ever-shifting criteria now permitting hospital administrators to jump queue. Ford keeps tweeting at us to stay home, but won't offer any support to those who have to choose between feeding their families and potentially infecting their colleagues if they feel ill or have a sick child at home. Yes, we have amazing health care and all, but this pandemic has really shown us the weak links in the system. As long as we put profits ahead of people, we won't solve this situation.

1 comment:

Owen Gray said...

Neo-liberals have always been dedicated to doing things on the cheap, Marie. And you always get what you pay for.