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Oct 24 2012

They took ur helth curr!

I will honestly never know how it was that conservatives got this reputation as being “fiscally responsible”. People who fancy themselves politically savvy centrists will often describe themselves as “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” as though that was a superior approach to just calling themselves “moderates” or something. Nuanced it may in fact be, but a point in their favour it is not. Classical fiscal conservatism is, at its heart, an argument that the state should interfere with economic matters as little as possible, and even then only to encourage the development of private industry through competitive markets and maintaining standards of fairness.

Since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, however, fiscal conservatism has come to mean “get the government out of the way” by “starving the beast” and basically denying the possibility that public control over any industry is anything other than a surefire path to failure. It’s not enough to maintain fairness – it’s an absolute necessity that government be powerless not only to participate in markets, but to also demonize the possibility of intervention when things are clearly headed for calamity.

Specifically, this attitude has reared its disgusting and self-centred head in a discussion over the provision of health care to refugees. The basic underlying philosophy of publicly provided health care is to ensure that people are able to access medically-necessary services based on their need for those services, rather than a market-based approach that prioritizes those who have superior ability. Yes, it happens to be anti-capitalist, but it has the side benefit of being more fiscally responsible, since people aren’t putting off illness management until it’s too severe for them to ignore it. Refugees, people literally fleeing to Canada for fear of persecution in their home countries, often have greater need (particularly for psychological care, a particular bugbear of mine). The public health care system, it therefore seems to follow, should respond with greater provision of services.

Not if you’re a “fiscal conservative” though:

The Conservatives argue the extended benefits are better than those received by most Canadians. “We are rescoping the program to ensure that there is equity and fairness in health benefits,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told a Senate committee studying new refugee legislation.

But Tyndall said the government is playing politics. “The government has used this issue to divide Canadians, pitting those who are dissatisfied with their own health coverage against refugees,” he said. “Canadians are smarter than this. This is an attack on our entire health-care system.”

The Conservatives also argue good health-care benefits attract bogus refugee claims. The government estimates that the cuts will save about $20 million a year for the next five years.

The emphasis in the above paragraphs is mine, because it shows the sowing of the seeds of a meme (this story is from the summer). The idea is not that refugees are people who need help and that Canada is a compassionate and forward-thinking place that recognizes the contributions that people who arrived to Canada as refugees can and do make if only given a chance. It certainly isn’t that refugees are people with particular ongoing needs who are relying on the basic decency of Canadians for help.

No, this meme is that refugees are a bunch of lying freeloaders who are just looking to get in on the whole “free health care” scam in order to sucker hard-working Canadians out of… 59 cents a year. And if Canadians are simply too stupid (or rather, not crazily xenophobic and racist enough) to see the clear obvious truth of that meme, then maybe we should give them a little nudge:

A political flyer sent out by a Saskatchewan member of Parliament has outraged some medical students and doctors in Ottawa. Earlier this month, Conservative MP Kelly Block sent out a letter to constituents praising recent cuts to refugee health benefits. “New arrivals to Canada have received dental and vision care paid by your tax dollars — not anymore,” the letter read in part.

"Ending Unfair Benefits for Refugee Claimants. New arrivals to Canada have received dental and vision care paid for by your tax dollars. NOT ANYMORE"

This is a clear and obvious appeal to to meanest, most selfish, and most short-sighted instinct of Canadians, nakedly and intentionally stoking the flames of resentment of those refugees with their cushy benefits and gold-plated post-traumatic stress disorder. The language of the feedback in the flyer is telling as well, asking people to choose between “Newcomers don’t deserve more benefits than Canadians” and “Refugee claimings should get dental, vision, and pharmacare even if I don’t“. There is no discussion of why this is necessary (it isn’t) or about the plans Conservatives have to make life better for Canadians (there aren’t any). No, this is simply telling you to snatch the spoon out of the person next to them because their gruel looks a bit better than yours.

The grotesque part of this whole affair isn’t that MP Block went on to publicly defend this atrocity. It’s not that people are already suffering at the hands of this bizarre and heartless decision:

As a nurse, Daigle said she understands the impact. “A lady was having excruciating pain,” Daigle said. “Her whole cheek was swollen. She had infection. She had to actually wait over four days before she could actually be seen. She could have died from infection, becoming worse and worse. “We’ve been seeing delays in care that can compromise their health.” Daigle said some Ottawa doctors are refusing to see refugees because the system has become more complicated.

These things are awful, but (cynically) short-term issues. The problem is that this will end up in a campaign mailer touting the Conservative Party of Canada’s “fiscal conservative” credentials, even though the decision is more than likely going to end up costing taxpayers more money as people require emergency care instead of preventive care. When it comes from the CPC, “conservative” seems to simply mean “blinded by small-minded hatred”. Given an opportunity to make a forward-thinking policy decision to invest in refugees as people who will ultimately benefit the country, or even just as a cost-minimizing exercise of making sure that people don’t end up in hospital down the road, this government has decided instead to sacrifice refugees (and Canada’s international reputation) on the altar of “fiscal conservatism”. And in order to back-fill some astroturf support for their ethically and mathematically indefensible policy choice, they’re relying on the tried and true tactic of stoking racial resentment.

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31 comments

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  1. 1
    ashleybell

    Awesome! Canada’s race to suck as bad as the U.S. is going gangbusters. We just gotta get you guys some more guns though, you’e still behind in that dept.

    What makes this even more discusting is that refugees, people who don’t know the lay of the land or the local language, need abject advocacy from the moment they arrive. They don’t know what to do because they CAN’T know what to do… No idea of the scope of what is and isn’t available to them.

  2. 2
    Sara

    I hope you won’t mind if I take issue with one thing which your post implies (otherwise it’s like I’ve met my political doppelganger).

    You rightly point out that refugees “often have greater need (particularly for psychological care, …)”, something which studies have shown for both refugees and immigrants from low7middle-income countries (see http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.1080/08039480701773261, http://bjp.rcpsych.org/content/169/6/726.short, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9450.2006.00546.x/full for some recent figures for Scandinavia).

    However mentioning refugees in the same breath as PTSD – “those refugees with their cushy benefits and gold-plated post-traumatic stress disorder” – gives the wrong impression that the prevalence of PTSD, as well as generally speaking mental illnesses, in this population is very high. That however isn’t the case: adverse events, such as war exposure, indeed increase the risk of mental illness, and but that is all they do. Not every or nearly every refugee, whatever their experiences may have been, goes on to develop (long-term) mental health problems.

  3. 3
    ashleybell

    I followed the link you provided:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/10/21/ottawa-kelly-block-letter-refugee-cuts-protest.html

    Is the CBC the Canadian equivalent of Foxx? The comments there were atrocious! They almost all played the ‘they can still go to the emergency room’ card. The way they were talking about Canadian health care made it seem as bad as ours, and as bad in the same kinds of ways.

  4. 4
    Crommunist

    No, CBC is closer to NPR. The commenters are odious indeed, but that seems to be the nature of the internet.

  5. 5
    stakkalee

    The government estimates that the cuts will save about $20 million a year for the next five years.

    Whenever anyone touts a savings of millions of dollars for a budget that’s in the many billions I always have a bitter chuckle. There’s plenty of ways to save that pocket change, but somehow the “palatable” option is always the one that will hurt someone, preferrably someone brown and foreign. And of course, as you mention, that leaves aside the reality that ignoring a problem until it’s an emergency is typically the most expensive way to deal with a problem, but why let common sense interfere? Whipping up some racial animosity is a surefire way to electoral success, at least in the short term; and that’s all conservatives ever seem to care about – the short term.

  6. 6
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Also the nature of right-wing parties to pay people to comment on the internet using their talking points.

  7. 7
    stakkalee

    But Randy Quaid! And greedy doctors! And don’t forget about Randy Quaid!

  8. 8
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Of course, they want the response to be “Why is this brown person getting free medicine? Fucking foreign freeloaders!” but mine is “Hey, that’s a good idea. Medicine and dental care should be included in the Canada Health Act for everyone. And if someone is fleeing from terrible circumstances somewhere else in the world and needs the care more urgently than I do, by all means, let them go first.”

  9. 9
    frankathon

    Haha our governement is lauphable! I just want to point out that most Canadians dont get dental care paid for, nor do they get vision care paid for by the gov.

    Speaking of bad fiscal governement from the Cons did you see this: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/23/conservative-government-approves-billions-in-spending-without-knowing-consequences-auditor-generals-report/

    When are the next elections again?

  10. 10
    ashleybell

    Nice point. A kind of humanitarian international triage approach…

  11. 11
    w00dview

    As someone who has lived in England for a couple of years, I have noticed with great dismay that the “people on welfare or benefits of any sort = subhuman parasites unworthy of compassion” meme is very virulent over here with the British media taking great delight in pushing this on their newspaper columns as often as possible. Indeed, with the Tories in power, this view has only gotten stronger. I know friends of mine who are otherwise liberal believing this nonsense! It boggles my mind that the country that created the NHS has this callous view towards social welfare.

    Onto the article itself, it is depressing how eager Canadian conservatives are in trying to out-asshole their wingnut brethren south of the border.

  12. 12
    Aliasalpha

    So if the real problem is that refugees get better health care than the average Canadian, surely the most practical solution is to spend more money on health care for the average Canadian. That way everyone is healthy & able to contribute to society and the xenophobic pricks can still look down on refugees because their health care isn’t quite as shiny

  13. 13
    Csshdoller

    Sucks to have the government shame a subclass of people doesn’t it?

    Sucks even more when the people they are shaming usually the ones that need the help the most.

    Sucks even more when we as a populace of entitled spoiled brats are too smart enough to objectivy think outside of the messages and ideas the shitty government puts in our head. Make no doubt about it, just 70 short years ago the government that was ELECTED into place in Germany (and in Italy) successfully were able to get away with enalaving and murdering 12 million people in a matter of a few years by these tactics alone. The people of western culture 20th century Germany are no different than 21st century Canadians or Americans. We are a weak minded culture who has entirely too much shit and are spoiled rotten little brats.

    Me, you, and everyone reading this blog too. I like to think I’m a little more enlightened than most but that’s me speaking in a vacuum probably.

    http://wayne.patch.com/articles/bergen-county-sweep-nets-51-alleged-deadbeat-parents
    (Sarcasm mode on) Hey Crom speaking of shaming the wrong people and government being awfully good at making political scapegoats out of subclasses of people to take attention off of themselves, check out these fucking douchebags those brave ad policemen arrested. Boy they sound like they are doing the community a big service 51 less responsibly evading pieces of shit off the street the better right Crom! Filly scum. My favorite moment here on that thread May be my favorite comment of all time anywhere on any blog: “no it’s about the kids STUPID”.

    Hahahaha dumb bitch. And likewise this here too is about the hard working Canadians STUPID. Hahahaha. I wonder how Mildred (from that blog) would feel about this issue?

  14. 14
    Crommunist

    I like to think I’m a little more enlightened than most

    Hahahaha dumb bitch.

    Doctor Dunning? Doctor Kruger? I think your patient has arrived.

  15. 15
    Sercee

    That’s the point I made when that flyer got posted by a Facebook friend. Most of the commentors on that thread roughly agreed, but to the couple who jump on the “yeah, why should they get it cuz I don’t!” wagon I reminded them how perfect their teeth were.

  16. 16
    A Hermit

    Conservatives, believing as they do in the cult of the individual and the all-conquering power of “personal responsibility”, have to inoculate themselves against the idea of undeserved suffering. If someone is poor, or sick, or needs help in any way it must be their own fault…to think otherwise would mean acknowledging that much in life is beyond our control; that we really are social animals and do need each other; that we have a responsibility, not just for ourselves, but also to one another.

  17. 17
    Enkidum

    Can you provide a translation into English?

  18. 18
    Enkidum

    Since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, however, fiscal conservatism has come to mean “get the government out of the way” by “starving the beast” and basically denying the possibility that public control over any industry is a surefire path to failure.

    I’m pretty sure I know what you’re trying to say here, and I’m pretty sure that ain’t it.

  19. 19
    Crommunist

    Maybe this will help

  20. 20
    Crommunist

    Doi. This is what I get for trying to be too elaborate with my phrasing. Fixed. Thanks.

  21. 21
    smrnda

    I’m in the US, and I don’t think it’s fair to look at the market based system as awarding health care only to those with the most ability. It’s mostly just luck.

    I worked at a day care and I got better health care than when I worked as a software engineer just because of which organization happened to latch onto a better plan. It seemed about as meaningless and random as other pluses of working at one place or another – whether you work next to a good restaurant or post office or something. Worst was that I actually quit working in software design to go back to working at a day care – cutting my pay in 1/3 for the benefits. Additionally, I was taking up a space at a job where there were many qualified people and not working in an area where they were few.

    The system is just irrational since health care becomes a major concern in where you’ll work. It’s actually harder for start-ups to get off the ground because of the health care issue, so a big case can be made that comprehensive, national health care would make it easier to start new businesses.

    My gripe against conservatism and libertarianism is that obviously, human survival and flourishing depends on access to resources. Whoever controls access to resources controls those things, so obviously in a complete laissez-faire system those with the most property have all the power. The rhetoric about freedom and personal responsibility and government force and tyranny is just a way to cover the fact that control of resources IS a form of coercive power. And why should some people control them and not others?

  22. 22
    Rutee Katreya

    The people of western culture 20th century Germany are no different than 21st century Canadians or Americans. We are a weak minded culture who has entirely too much shit and are spoiled rotten little brats.

    Do you know anything whatsoever about the circumstances that lead to the rise of Nazi Germany? Even the tiniest little thing?

    I mean, far be it from me to demand that people remember the exact specifics of each step, I hardly remember each step in exacting detail. But even the tiniest fragment of the truth would destroy this utterly inane narrative you’ve created where ‘spoiled, rotten brats’ with an ‘entitlement narrative’ created a terrible regime.

    And complaining about Child Support without suggesting a system of universal taxation for the benefit of children, makes you kind of a terrible human being.

  23. 23
    Rutee Katreya

    On topic, jesus fuck that was painful to read. Hopefully liberpublicanism doesn’t spread too damn far into your country as well…

  24. 24
    Crommunist

    Just wait for this afternoon. Have a ‘chuck bucket’ nearby and prep for nausea.

  25. 25
    wondering

    I get enraged by stories about immigrants and refugees alright, but not the way they expect. The story about the woman who was killed after being sent back to Mexico because domestic violence isn’t something worthy of a refugee claim had me screaming into a pillow.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/04/19/veronica-mexico-refugee.html

  26. 26
    Csshdoller

    I know what I have read in the past about the Weirmar (spelling sorry) republic and have discussed with others over the years just as any other person on this blog.

    I know the inflation was so high it was out of control. The conditions for post Great War Germany could not have been good. Although there was a thriving subculture of artists, Bauhaus being the obvious one to look at there. Women started making noise I believe there were more women than men enrolled at the Bauhaus?

    This has nothing to do with my comment though.

    But let me guess, you and the Cromster and all the rest of you people here are too cool for school and got the inside scoop, right? Do you sit there and drink wine sipping about how much you know when you comment to idiots like me just wondering?

    regardless of whatever god bestowed wisdom i am apparently lacking, people are people and will follow similar patterns. The more closer to a cultural identity in the past the more likely people are similar in how they act and believe and Things they so, etc.
    across the same type of culture will retain the same fundamental identity.

    I don’t know what your argument though is. Maybe you missed mine because I admit it was confusing. Mine is this:

    1. I agreed with most of what the Cromster was saying. Although I tend to hold these people more accountable than he would more than likely (because ivd lived in that socioeconomic bracket and lived in a much higher bracket too. I know the patterns a little). But regardless I agreed with his overall point.

    2. I was tongue in cheek pointing out (if you clicked my link) that so called deadbeat dads have strikingly similar situation as these people he’s defending. Some May argue worse because his kids were eliminated from his life before they were even born so he never had a chance. )

  27. 27
    Rutee Katreya

    I know the inflation was so high it was out of control. The conditions for post Great War Germany could not have been good

    And yet, they were just like the ‘spoiled rotten children’ of the USA. Not that the USA doesn’t have serious problems due to its imperialist past and present, but you likened it to decadence from having too much. And then said the Germans of the Weimar REpublic were the same.

    But let me guess, you and the Cromster and all the rest of you people here are too cool for school and got the inside scoop, right

    Fool, if I thought you paid attention in school I’d have more respect for you.

    Do you sit there and drink wine sipping about how much you know when you comment to idiots like me just wondering?

    I don’t drink. You also weren’t ‘just wondering’. You made a multi-paragraph rant.

    he more closer to a cultural identity in the past the more likely people are similar in how they act and believe and Things they so, etc.
    across the same type of culture will retain the same fundamental identity.

    Yes, the weimar republic was totes mcgotes a successful imperialist power, drunk on its own successes and positive of being nigh-invincible while muscling around its lesser neighbors and being told it’s the guardian of freedom for it.

    I don’t know what your argument though is. Maybe you missed mine because I admit it was confusing. Mine is this:

    I’m pointing out stupidity in your posts.

    1. I agreed with most of what the Cromster was saying. Although I tend to hold these people more accountable than he would more than likely (because ivd lived in that socioeconomic bracket and lived in a much higher bracket too. I know the patterns a little). But regardless I agreed with his overall point.

    No. You were not in the same ‘socioeconomic bracket’ unless you are a refugee from a destroyed country. At best, you might also be below the poverty line, but the difference between a white dude and a non-white refugee, even when the white dude is poor, is vast.

    2. I was tongue in cheek pointing out (if you clicked my link) that so called deadbeat dads have strikingly similar situation as these people he’s defending. Some May argue worse because his kids were eliminated from his life before they were even born so he never had a chance. )

    ‘tongue in cheek’ means you were being facetious and didn’t actually believe what you said. Which you pretty clearly did and do.

    And no, there is no fucking comparison between a deadbeat dad and a refugee. Parents have their income assessed, and are mandated by the court to pay a % to the child-rearing spouse. It takes MONTHS, and frequently, YEARS, of failing to live up to this obligation before you MIGHT be arrested. It’s punishment for failing to meet a fair burden you owe to your children. It’s not even the tiniest bit like being the target of organized racist campaigns.

    And no, even if he lost access to his kids, it would still not be the same. But he doesn’t really have to worry about that. It’s insanely difficult to lose visitation rights. You have to be an incomparable asshole to permanently lose visitation; physical abuse is frequently insufficient to have that right revoked.

  28. 28
    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach

    Conservatives, believing as they do in the cult of the individual and the all-conquering power of “personal responsibility”

    I think you perhaps meant to write
    Conservatives, believing as they do in the cult of the rich individual and the all-conquering power of “personal responsibility”corporations and their rich owners
    This was all tried out pretty thoroughly in the late 1700s etc and was called mercantilism. Rich people get governments to grant and then support their monopoly powers by use of military and political force. Great way to make a few people rich and a lot of people dead. And of course, not-rich people don’t matter very much so them getting deaded don’t matter none.

  29. 29
    sharoncrawford

    Exactly. The only proper response is — that’s a great idea! Extend vision, dental. Rx coverage to the rest of us!

    Decades ago, when I was living in the US there were a number of battles around the so-called protective laws that applied just to women. A persuasive argument can be made that the way to get rid of them is to extend the same protection to men. If men are at an advantage in a particular area, the solution is to give the same advantage to women, not to take it away from men.

    The idea is to move forward not backward.

  30. 30
    sharoncrawford

    Sigh. Another failed tagger.

    The idea is to move forward, not backward.

  31. 31
    Cashdoller

    Wow sweetie pie you reslly have all the answers don’t you? You’re one of those people that have an answer to everything.

    I go “hey Rut quick look the sky is blue!”
    And you’ll go ” no it’s not blue, you’re an idiot. I clearly see some white and it was black 12 hours ago”
    I go ” oh rut. I can call you rut right?”
    And you go “your an idiot! I’m an expert on per WWII Germany and I DON’T DRINK!”
    I go “I drink. I gotta put a few down to even have you around”
    You go “you’re so stupid. This is so painful to witness”
    I go “just becsuse you decided to walk around with a Weimar Republic bottle cork in your ass to prove how awesome you means you can’t whine Rut. Are you in a permanent rut by the way?”
    You go “I am so much better than you. I use rhe word liberpublicasm which means I am BETTER! Go back to your county you spoiled brat”
    I go “rut just let me tap you one more time in the bathroom. Right in the rut”

    Oh boy Rut. You reslly do have all the answers. I love know-it-all got-the-inside-scoop know it all angry mob types like you. Rut is a perfect name for you. It rhymes with “shut” which (look out for spelling errors or incorrect grammer rut I know you’re looking you sly dog you) if you add UP at the end, we come up with what u should be doing: shutting the hell up.

    I know you’ll have the answers here too, but just so you know:
    1. I’m in school as we speak. I’m a fulltme grad student. Go figure!
    2. No you family law expert nothing you say has any validity on reality. I know you have all the answers, but here is a dose of reality for you: I’m a deadbeat dad. Yep. By defintion I am. And boy do they come after the bad guys, took everthing from me. License, credit, bank accounts,’ they just basically strip you of your liberty and civil rights, oh and by the way, I also have sole custody of a child who is 10. I’ve had her since she was 2. She is running for Vice President of her student counsel. Im the ONLY male on her PTA board. I volunteer in the classroom. She’s a straight A B student. She’s happy, outgoing, funny, smart, confiden, all the things you’d expect from a girl who has a good father in her life.

    Oh answers here is something else to chew on: I have another daughter who I have been court mandated out of her life for 2 years +. No drugs, no violence, no alcohol, no criminal record, no restraining orders, no domestic abuse. Hell I have glowing letters from my other kids school saying im amazing, why did they remove my visititation? Well naturally becsuse mommy said I am neglectful and a bad parent. And she cried too. I was playing the worlds smallest violin in the corner but no one heard me. All visitation halted. I’ve been back 4 tmes, nothing. I just put together a motion for another trial.

    But what I rally have to worry about is the judge who on record told me he doesn’t care if my daughter and I are homeless, he wants that child support or else! Isn’t that like him being drunk at the bar, him coming up to me and I’m smashed too carrying around my drink. He tells me to drive him home and give him some Tylenol. But I’m drunk too I say. Ignored. I drive him home,,we get into an accident and die.

    That’s the current family law system logic in a nutshell.

    Okay go ahead give me the

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