If there is one movement that sends this Curmudgeon into a frenzy it is what could be called The Commodificators.
It has a simple philosophy: people are commodities. Human labor is a commodity to be used for profit. Health and education are commodities to be packaged to generate profit.
Popes have spoken in stern terms against commodification, but it moves forward relentlessly like the gigantic hungry monster it is.
Destruction of the rights of organized labour is just part of the process.
Anybody who has walked past rows of Asian students flown in to be fleeced of their money for the education commodity, or into a plush private hospital where every surgical whim is answered while next door in the cash strapped public hospital emergency lifesaving commodities are denied, cannot doubt my claim that Commodification is on the Rise.
The only way a poor person can obtain the commodity easily placed in the hands of the Rich Person Commodity is to reach for the credit card. That goes for everything from piles to teeth implants.
It is time to tear away the cloak of mendacity that surrounds the privatization of our hospitals under the Trojan horse of 'freedom of choice'.
In the United States the traditional hospital was once a non-profit hospital, usually sponsored by a religious denomination.
One of the earliest was an 'almshouse' started by William Penn in 1713.
In the late part of last century chains of for-profit hospitals have arisen in the U.S. and the same thing has happened in Australia.
Public health has become the poor relative.
Those of us who believe in health care as a right, not a privilege, are facing real challenges.
The origins of public health care provided by the Churches...
Christians who believe in health care being practiced with charity and with due consideration of the dignity of the human person will have to act with true grit if the slide into commodification is to be resisted.
An old French term for hospital is Hotel-Dieu – 'Hostel of God'.
The First Council of Nicaea in AD325 urged the Church to provide for the poor, sick, widows and strangers. It ordered the construction of a hospital in every cathedral town.
Medieval hospitals in Europe were religious communities with care provided by monks and nuns. Some were part of monasteries. Others had their own endowments.
Muslim hospitals between the eight and twelfth centuries developed a high standard of care. Hospitals in Baghdad employed up to twenty-five staff physicians and had separate wards for different conditions and led to the modern hospital.
It's worthwhile doing a Wikipedia study on the history of hospitals and reflecting on where society is heading.
What has stimulated this piece has been an article in New Matilda, written by my friend Dr Alf Liebhold concerning how corporate America is perpetuating the health care crisis. Alf has this to say:
Careless Industry: How corporate America perpetuates the health care crisis
By Dr Alf Liebhold
13 July 2006
The fact that Health was neglected by Peter Costello in this year's Budget is disappointing, but not unexpected. Right-wingers deplore the use of universal taxes for the universal benefit of all the taxpayers.
What is more disheartening is the absence of comment from Labor . Whitlam's 1975 idea was to give the people something of value, support when they need it, in place of the historical fear of medical expenses when ill or hurt. Aneurin Bevan (who launched the British health service in 1948) had said: "Society becomes more wholesome, more serene, and spiritually healthier, if it knows that its citizens have at the back of their consciousness the knowledge that not only themselves, but all their fellows, have access, when ill, to the best that medical skill can provide".
Such lofty ideas don't seem to inspire the people advising Mr Beazley. I suspect they believe that "Medicare's too hard and there aren't enough votes in it". However, Labor is wrong in neglecting its best legacy. The people who value Medicare would applaud Labor enthusiastically. The others, privately insured, may discover, too late, that their concern for personal protection was inadequate, in spite of the high premiums they have paid. They will, one day, need the public facility, in an emergency, after-hours, or as the result of a traffic accident. They may find it under-resourced and understaffed at their time of crisis.
People are not unintelligent, merely uninformed. It is in this sense that I hope David Sirota's words will be taken seriously. He describes the alarming condition of the privatized US health industry. We are informed of the inevitable result of the politics, currently being copied by Australia's government, of turning a "social good" (Health) into an opportunity for private exploitation.
David Sirota's article Careless Industry: How corporate America perpetuates the health care crisis is adapted from his new book Hostile Takeover: How Big Money and Corruption Conquered Our Government—and How We Can Take It Back.
Read the full article at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2628/
The healthcare image used as background to this article come from stock.xchng the free web photo source – www.sxc.hu Photographer: Sanja Gjenero, Zagreb, Croatia. The photo of the Curmudgeon was taken by Brian Coyne.
Cliff Baxter is a highly awarded journalist with a lifetime experience gained on the principal Australian secular newspapers, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and The Catholic Weekly.
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