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Ralph Klein has gone and it is time to retire Ralph's World. Thanks to all of you who have supported this venture by contributing material and through your comments. It has been fun.

Should we get another blog underway? Let me know your thoughts by e-mailing me at johnnyslow@gmail.com.

John Slow
January 1, 2007

Friday, March 31, 2006

SENSIBLE HEALTH CARE #9 

POLITICAL MYTHS ARE REALLY LIES

* Please note: - This posting builds on two books introduced in a previous posting:“THE BOTTOM LINE” by Diana Gibson & Colleen Fuller and “DON’T THINK OF AN ELEPHANT” by George Lakoff.

IF Mark Twain had written “The Bottom Line” he would have named it “LIES, LIES, AND DAMN LIES.”

A bold faced lie becomes a political myth when it is repeated over and over again by the most oratorically persuasive political figurehead and fed by the media to the public as if it were the truth.

“The Bottom Line” exposes the lie of “unsustainability” (MYTH 5 p.54) with evidence that our Premier and his sales staff are attempting to keep hidden.

Hiring former Mulroney crony Mazankowski and bringing in AON consulting to assess health care in Alberta is no more credible than bringing in a demolition company to tell you whether to repair or demolish a building you want to buy as cheaply as possible.

Why, then, is our Premier’s most vocal minister doggedly pressing on toward “Third Way” legislation?

There are two widely known Alberta happenings that clearly illuminate George Lakoff’s (“Don’t think of an elephant”) insight into the kind of authoritarian, morally self righteous and punitive political power that conservatism is exercising more and more in our so-called democratic world.

One happening has the man, who represents everything conservatism means in this province, pushing a plunger into the cylinder that triggers off explosives totally destroying a public hospital.

The other has the same man, with the varnish off, late at night in a men’s shelter shouting angrily at down-and-out fellow humans, for whom he has no empathy or understanding, and walking off in disgust throwing money at them.

Lakoff’s discovery is that, in practice most people do not gather information, consider the issues and vote rationally for a political leader.

In actuality they vote for the man or woman who most successfully portrays himself as the strongest, most morally righteous, and most resentful-of-resistance head of the family he dominates.

This powerful, controlling political figurehead and those who support him make a virtue out of forcing legislation through despite the fact that they have no intention of listening to those most likely to be affected by their actions.

We, with progressive values, must not falter in the process of making our demand to be heard as pressing as possiblein in the cause of responsible and sensible health care.

Why? Because to state it plainly:

USING POLITICAL POWER TO DESTROY PUBLIC PROPERTY IS A BETRAYAL OF PUBLIC TRUST

WIELDING GOVERNMENT POWER IN A WAY THAT CAUSES INJURY RATHER THAN PROMOTING HEALING IS A CRIMINAL OFFENSE.

Heath Care in Alberta is public property, it does not belong to a premier fronting for corporate powers calling themselves private enterprisers.

Blair McPherson

Monday, March 27, 2006

SENSIBLE HEALTH CARE # 8 

INVESTING WISELY IS NOT SPENDING FOOLISHLY

*Note, this posting refers to two books highly relevant to the Premier’s posturing about the “Third Way” that threatens Alberta’s health care.

Putting public money into health is not SPENDING, it is “INVESTING WISELY” in one of Alberta’s most valuable assets.

BUT ALBERTA’S PREMIER CALLS IT “SPENDING TAXPAYERS’ MONEY,”

HE NATTERS INCESSANTLY ABOUT “COSTS” AND THEN PROCEEDS TO ACT AS IF HEALTHCARE WERE HIS OWN PERSONAL PROPERTY TO BE DOLED OUT TO THE AVERAGE CITIZEN BUT SOLD, FOR PROFIT, TO HIS CORPORATE SUPPORTERS.

BOOK # 1, “THE BOTTOM LINE” is the title of a neat little book full to the brim with information and perspectives that the Premier and his apologists are desperately trying to keep out of the general public’s sight and snowed under by his sales department.

Authored by two diligent researchers, Diana Gibson and Colleen Fuller, this book should be spread around and read as soon as possible.

BOOK # 2, the other book, is entitled “DON’T THINK OF AN ELEPHANT.” The link is a PDF sample of this book. It will take considerably more time and effort to integrate into your thinking and speaking.

But it has the potential of being of more long lasting help for those who are working toward genuine change in the political, social and democratic spheres of human endeavor.

Authored by George Lakoff, a professional researcher into communication process, it is an antidote for the frustration, disappointment and discouragement that endangers the spirits of those of us who believe in the democratic responsibility of communicating with our government.

“Don’t Think of an Elephant” is subtitled “KNOW YOUR VALUES AND FRAME THE DEBATE.”
Lakoff’s central teaching clearly exposes the way conservatives are succeeding in what he calls “framing” the debate.

In other words they are ahead of other more progressive and rational thinkers in the game of appealing to the public’s emotional response to images of power.

The conservative power image turns out to be that of the strong, authoritarian head of the family who knows right from wrong and tells his inferiors, including his wife, what to think and how to behave. He does not listen to them, and if he does, he only pretends to do so.

Opposition to this power figure results in expulsion from the family or punishment for bad behaviors. Having empathy for fellow humans, for example, by supporting social programs brings down his moral outrage at bad behavior.

But Lakoff sees that there is another image of power, really more integral to the democracies of North America, and that is, a head of the family who is equally strong but also a nurturer of the whole community of care and social responsibility.

It is this empathetic and responsibility based concept of power that Lakoff believes can and should be made real using the same, only more honest, communication methods upholding genuine and positive social an political values

To see the authoritarian “father” at work, you need only to consider George W. Bush’s preemptive use of force, his punitive response to those who don’t support him and his agenda for lowering corporate taxes so there will be an excuse to cut social programs.

Here at home, Ralph Klein has played the big authoritarian daddy for well over a decade now, he seems to last by appearing at the same time to be a bumbling bumpkin who most people mistake for “being one of us.”

Stephen Harper now plays the powerful head of family figure as he claims he will be changing government from a “culture of entitlement” to a “culture of accountability.” Those who suspect he’s beginning to sound like George W. Bush are on the right track.

Read “Don’t Think of an Elephant” and you will soon see where these images of power are coming from and how there’s hope of changing the tone of public discourse.

Blair McPherson

See other articles in this series below:
Sensible Health Care #1
Sensible Health Care #2
Sensible Health Care #3
Sensible Health Care #4
Sensible Health Care #5
Sensible Health Care #6
Sensible Health Care #7
Sensible Health Care #8

Sunday, March 19, 2006

SENSIBLE HEALTH CARE #7 

OPINIONS CLASH AND CONFUSE
INFORMATION CALMS AND CLARIFIES

*Please note:- This posting builds on, and is supportive to, the previous one entitled, "TWO SIDES TO THE THIRD WAY DEBATE." That attractively presented article vividly illustrates he vast chasm between superficial, uninformed opinion, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the presentation of conclusions based on research and rational analysis.

Paul Jackson's Calgary Sun column is obviously based on little more than a belly full of irrational responses to political leaders and a head full of emotion loaded smear language intended to cut down Liberals and NDPers while proposing to give Klein license to do as he will.

The other presentation of Ten reasons against two tier medicine, by probably the most informed researchers in Canada today, represents what is, arguably, the result of the broadest and deepest search for information about health care available.

Why is it so hard for Alberta citizens to learn the truth about Medicare in this province?

The answer is that Alberta's Klein government has, from day one, dealt in highly suspect and unsubstantiated opinions devoid of complete and accurate information. Klein still chooses to retail emotion loaded, propaganda-spun opinions rather than come clean with unbiased information for the public at large.

The result is a politically controlled, big business driven, decision making process designed to undercut and dismantle one of the greatest public services in Canada today.

Unless? Unless we, the public, can shame, demand or force the government into opening up with their numbers and their motives.

By far the most sensible way to move a group of people through a problem solving process is to start by gathering and widely disseminating all of the relevant information possible.

The most senseless (a.k.a. stupid) place to start into group decision making is to call for expressions of opinion from a people who are ill informed, propagandized or almost totally ignorant about the nature of the problem or problems to be solved.

We have come to the point where the Klein government treats a person or group seeking accurate information as if they were an enemy to be put down and kept in the dark rather than persons with a legitimate right to the numbers that reveal the reality of the situation faced by those providing health care services.

HERE IS THE KIND OF THING WE'RE FACING

OPINION: "Unsustainable" is nothing more than an emotionally loaded and aggressive opinion: Klein and Evans offer no solid information. Instead Klein calls Taft a liar and Mason a socialist ideologue. He and Iris Evans bluster on about health costs absorbing the whole budget by the year 2030 when they are asked for honest information ( See Hansard )

INFORMATION: According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2001 the Alberta government spent $2,081.83 per capita on health care -- slightly below the national average of $2,089.72. " As a percentage of the gross domestic product, Alberta's health care spending is 4.7 percent and this has changed very little in the last 15 years" - (Phillip H. Walker Edmonton Journal 5/03/06)

Why, then, is the Klein government suddenly claiming to foresee disaster unless we sell our system to privateers?

Maybe it's time to address the Premier by the name he uses so freely on those who challenge him for information, i.e. by the legislative equivalent of "liar".

"TEN TOP REASONS AGAINST TWO-TIER MEDICINE IN CANADA" by contrast with Paul Jackson's purely opinionated Sun article, is based on real research and honest analysis by highly qualified and objective professionals.

The Klein government undoubtedly loves to hear mindless opinions like those of Paul Jackson.

What they really need to hear is what Dr. Colleen Flood, Dr. Tom Noseworthy and other informed professionals prescribe as an antidote to the kind of democratically poisonous and opinionated conflict that this government engenders by its refusal to make the truth known to the citizens of Alberta.

Blair McPherson

See other articles in this series below:
Sensible Health Care #1
Sensible Health Care #2
Sensible Health Care #3
Sensible Health Care #4
Sensible Health Care #5
Sensible Health Care #6
Sensible Health Care #7

Friday, March 17, 2006

SALT Presentation to Iris Evans 


The Seniors Action Liaison Team had the opportunity to present to Alberta Health Minister Iris Evans for half an hour on March 13, 2006.

This is a copy of the presentation they delivered. To provide feedback to SALT please click here and we will forward your comments to them.


Submission

To

The Honourable Iris Evans
Minister of Health and Wellness

As part of the consultation on the
Health Policy Framework



Respectfully submitted by
Noel Somerville
On behalf of:
The Seniors Action and Liaison Team (SALT)
and
Public Interest Alberta



Madam Minister,

My name is Noel Somerville. I am a Vice Chair of the Seniors Action and Liaison Team (SALT) and a member of the board of Public Interest Alberta. This presentation is made on behalf of both organizations. There are several points we want to make about the Health Policy Framework.

First, we reject the premise that public health care costs are unsustainable. The dramatic growth rates that have occurred following the radical cutbacks of the mid nineties create a misleading picture. Yes, these costs are growing and will continue to grow, but when growth patterns are viewed over the longer term, we believe they remain a relatively stable percentage of the provincial GDP and in that respect are quite sustainable. In the interest of a meaningful consultation on the proposed health care reforms, we request that your department publish information on Alberta’s annual public health care expenditures as a percentage of Alberta’s GDP for each of the past twenty-five years.

What we do believe to be unsustainable is the ideology that government should get smaller and smaller, tax cuts should get larger and larger, and that privatization is the means to accomplish these ends. In our view, privatization is a major part of the problem, not the solution, to controlling costs in the health care system. The areas in which costs have grown most steeply are those that are almost exclusively in the hands of private and corporate interests – pharmaceuticals and technology. With respect, Madam Minister, we do not believe that your government has a mandate to preside over the dissolution by privatization of our most cherished social services.

Secondly, we reject any reform of our health care system that allows access to necessary medical services on the basis of ability to pay rather than on the basis of need. Our health care system represents a huge investment of public money in the institutions to train doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, in the cost of building and maintaining our hospitals and equipping them with the latest technology, and in the cost of government-funded medical research. Having collectively paid for this system, we are all entitled to access on the basis of need. It violates any standard of fairness that preferential access should be granted to the wealthy or those fortunate enough to qualify for individual or group health insurance plans.

Third, we reject the proposal that allows doctors to practice in both the public and private systems. To do so creates a conflict-of-interest in the doctor/patient relationship, makes queue-jumping inevitable and may encourage doctors to perform lucrative but unnecessary procedures. If doctors have two sets of patients, one paying and one not paying, preference will obviously go to the paying patients and the non-paying will face longer wait times and second-class status in the system that we have all funded. People weakened by severe pain or ill health are extremely vulnerable to manipulation; what such people are interested in is not ’choice’ but treatment and a cure.

The Health Policy Framework places great emphasis on choice. Choice is a great thing when shopping for a car or a pair of shoes. But the fact is that a great deal of choice already exists in the health care system. Doctors are free to opt-out of the system and set up whatever type of practice they want. People with money are free to seek treatment wherever and whenever they want. One has to wonder, however, about those who are old, frail, ill, have pre-existing conditions or even genetic pre-disposition to illness. These people don’t have choice, and private insurance will not give them choice because they can’t qualify for coverage nor afford the premiums.

Fourth, we reject reforms that undercut the huge economies of the single-payer national health insurance system by introducing private insurance for medically necessary services. Such a move is counter-productive to the primary objective of improving the efficiency and sustainability of our health care system. It will lead to massive, non-productive expenditures by private insurers in advertising and claims adjudication and will impose huge additional costs on hospitals and clinics that have to employ bean-counters to track every service to know which insurer to bill. A recent statistic from the Harper Index quotes a study by a researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, who estimated that, if the USA adopted a single-payer health care system, the annual saving on paperwork alone would amount to $161 billion.

Again, it would really promote a meaningful consultation if your government were to estimate the costs resulting from the proposed health care reforms on the following:

Finally, we oppose any framework for change that sidesteps the democratic process and provides for the health care system to be governed and reformed by regulation rather than by legislation. Substantive changes to regulations can and have been implemented by Orders-in Council, completely circumventing the accepted principles of parliamentary democracy.

We do not, however, oppose genuine reforms in health care delivery:

What we want is a continuation of initiatives such as these that will make the public health care system more efficient and cost-effective.

What we want was neatly summarized in the undertakings that Premier Klein made in his television address to the province on November 16, 1999 when he said:

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Two Sides to the Third Way Debate 


With so much written about Ralph Klein's Third Way for providing health care in Alberta, the staff at Ralph's World has combed the media reports to bring you the two articles that we feel best represent the opposing sides of this issue.

In order to appeal to all Albertans, and not just those interested in health care, we have chosen to display the picture at left. It is our hope that those of you attracted by the picture may also read the articles. For those that take offence, we apologize for our crude methods.

Supporting Premier Klein and the Progressive Conservative party is:
Paul Jackson - Calgary Sun Columnist with his well-reasoned article entitled Freedom healthy.

Supporting Kevin Taft and Brian Mason and the Opposition parties are:
Colleen M. Flood, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, University of Toronto
Terrence Sullivan, President Cancer Care Ontario
Steven Lewis, President, Access Consulting Limited, Saskatoon
Noralou Roos, Canada Research Chair in Population Health Research, University of Manitoba
Dr. Tom Noseworthy, Director, Centre for Health and Policy Studies, Calgary
Their opinion piece is Top ten reasons against two-tier medicine in Canada.

Have a look at both and see what makes the most sense to you. Let us know what you think by dropping us a line.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

SENSIBLE HEALTHCARE #6 

(SUPERFICIAL DIAGNOSIS/SHODDY TREATMENT)

The most sensible thing a responsible health practitioner does when preparing to treat a patient is to listen with great care to what the ill person is experiencing.

In Ralph Klein’s Alberta, unprofessional politicians prescribed treatment for our health care system over a decade ago. That politically prescribed treatment was forced on this province’s health care professionals and all supporting services despite being based on a shamefully superficial pretense at listening to the patient.

Today, after a decade of treatment by the Klein government, the prognosis is bleak. Impossible burdens placed on health care workers make it increasingly difficult for them to provide quality care to the very citizens they are trying to serve.

Instead of accepting responsibility for a cheap diagnosis leading to a “crappy” treatment outcome, the Premier’s propaganda machine types up press releases and rehearses sound bites designed to sell more of the same medicine to an under informed and emotionally overwhelmed public.

They manipulate numbers, distort Supreme Court’s decisions, ignore the massive research behind the Romanow and Kirby reports in favor of their own flimsy Mazankowski report that tells them what they told him to tell them.

The only way to understand how our Premier and Minister of Health continue to behave as if findings like those of the Romanow and Kirby reports,, are “crap” is to look again at Klein’s politically created myth about the nature of “severely normal Albertans”.

A recent book by a teacher named George Lakoff and entitled simply, “don’t think of an elephant,” provides great insight.

Once enough people, many of them highly intelligent, begin to believe the half truths embodied in a myth (he calls it a frame) they become unwilling or unable to allow in any evidence that challenges what they believe to be true, no matter how illogical and poorly researched their myth is.

IN KLEIN’S POLITICALLY CREATED MYTH, TRUE ALBERTANS ARE RUGGED INDIVIDUALS WHO WORK HARD TO PUSH THEMSELVES FINANCIALLY UPWARD TO THE POINT WHERE THEY NEED NOT DEPEND ON ANYONE ELSE AND ARE ENTITLED TO USE THEIR MONEY TO BUY PRIVILEGES THAT OTHERS CAN’T AFFORD.

Conversely, TRUE ALBERTANS RESENT PAYING MONEY TO THEIR GOVERNMENT TO FUND PROGRAMS THAT ARE THERE TO HELP PEOPLE WHO ARE UNABLE TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES; THESE ARE NOT ENTITLED TO THE SAME PRIVILEGES.

Strangely, however, according to this myth, true Albertans believe every corporation whether small or large is entitled to make a profit so they willingly pay, or have their government pay, more to a corporation for the same service their government really owes them and could provide more efficiently.

One possible way of exploding this myth and exposing the lies it contains is to replace the label “Albertan” with language that speaks of people as fellow humans with minds of their own.

The Albertan myth teaches teaches that we belong to a tribe who band together for protection against whatever enemy our political leaders decide we need to battle against.

The Albertan myth teaches that the government always knows more than we do about what “Albertans” think. So, when we protest to them, they pretend to appreciate our questions and then go on to flood us with propaganda designed to prove how great they are and how small our concern us in the light of their largess.

We need language that describes us as CITIZENS of a democracy capable of seeing through the sham and pretense of politicians who actually look down on us and treat us with contempt when we don’t swallow their cheap diagnoses and “crappy” treatment plans.

Thinking CITIZENS won’t buy the Klein government’s phony pretense of providing us with choices when, in fact, they simply want to sell what belongs to us to corporations and enterprises. Then we will have no option but to pay the money they demand for the services, and services won’t be offered unless they can make a profit.

Probably there are better words besides CITIZEN to encourage others to reject the politically created myth that Klein and his sales force have used to silence dissent and elicit unthinking and irrational support from too many for far too long.


Blair McPherson

Sunday, March 05, 2006

SENSIBLE HEALTH CARE #5 

(EXPLODING KLEIN'S POLITICAL MYTH)

Politically created myths can be very powerful and are often socially destructive forces when widely disseminated and unquestioningly believed.

By far the most sensible way to provide timely access to medical services on an equal basis to all of Alberta’s people is by strengthening the public system financially and by increasing its efficiency.

Significant steps are already being taken in that direction within the public system even while attempts are being made at syphoning off resources into private facilities.

Progress is being made by essentially undoing practices like overloading operating rooms and understaffing hospital wards, practices that the Klein government, through its short sighted and irrational obsession with saving money, has forced health care workers into doing.

Why, then, are the Premier and his Minister of health now so obsessed with selling the public system even more short by manipulating numbers, distorting findings, mouthing half-truths, withholding information and accusing everyone who questions them of telling lies or talking “crap?”

The answer is: that this government’s propaganda machine (a.k.a. Public Information Bureau reporting only to the Premier), has created a political myth that they’ve repeated so often they seem to actually believe it themselves .

KLEIN’S POLITICAL MYTH TEACHES THAT: IF YOU ARE A TRUE “ALBERTAN” YOU DEEPLY RESENT AND HEARTILY DISLIKE PAYING TAXES TO YOUR GOVERNMENT.

Aided and abetted by a major portion of a subservient media this, irresponsible and unproven half truth, goes on to preach that, EVEN IF IT COSTS MORE, TRUE “ALBERTANS” WOULD, IF GIVEN THE CHOICE, MUCH PREFER TO PAY MONEY TO SOME MULTINATIONAL COMMERCIAL ENTERPRISE THAT CLAIMS IT WILL INSURE YOU AGAINST HAVING TO WAIT FOR MEDICAL SERVICES.

This myth is being imprinted on the unthinking and poorly informed public by the constant repetition of fear-loaded language; incessantly repeating words like “unsustainable”; “spiraling costs”; “out of control spending” at every opportunity.

Our Premier even claims that the health districts are demanding “billions” (once he had it up to $100.6 billion). That, he claims, threatens to soon use up the whole provincial budget because all the health authorities know how to do is "spend,spend, spend".

We must somehow rescue the language of public discourse from the conservative think tanks, the senseless right wing radio talk shows and the newspaper columnists who are often little more than irrational rabble rousers.

For starters, let’s begin talking about what we contribute to governments, not as taxes but as INVESTMENTS IN PUBLIC SERVICES; not as tax burdens to be shirked if possible but AS SHARED CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE NEEDS OF ALL CITIZENS WHETHER RICH OR POOR.

The truth is that we, the citizens of Alberta, already INVEST handsomely, in the finest kind of medical insurance a society can provide for meeting the medical needs of its people.

We, for example as one family, willingly INVEST more in what the medical services our health system provides us than we do for car insurance, fire insurance and theft insurance for our property.

In turn we have a right to expect that our government will invest the millions we, as a people, place at their disposal in hospitals, training programs for doctors, nurses and all necessary support staff.

We have a right to be genuinely angry, disgusted and critical, instead of proud and pleased when this government guts our hospitals, understaffs them, withdraws support for some services and then tries to get us to throw our system open to exploiters and opportunists in the commercial world.

Time we blew the myth Klein has created to justify undermining public health care out of the waters. Eh?

Blair McPherson

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Furnace Replacement Subsidy - An Interesting Tale 


This classic Catch-22 was sent in by a Ralph's World reader from St. Albert. The following is from a letter that she sent to her MLA looking for advice.

Now that my gas bills are running around $300 per month, this warmest winter ever in the Province of Alberta, I am motivated to quit dithering and try to wrestle a furnace replacement subsidy out of the (unwilling?) hands of the Government of Alberta.

To that end I just called gov-ab seniors' information- to ask if there were any new twists-and-turns in the application procedure. Well, there's a dandy. And I need your advice.

I spoke with an advisor (no sense in asking for a name for they're "not required to provide that information"). My question was: "What is the procedure for applying?". The answer: get a form; fill it in; get quotations, provide copies; and "provide a copy of a letter from the gas company saying that your furnace is unfit"; mail it all in to us. *EEEK!*

As I am sure you know, gas-appliance inspection requires a gas-fitters' ticket. And for some years now, there has been a regulation in Alberta that a gas-fitter who finds that a gas furnace is in any way a possible danger is required to turn the furnace off, and also to lock it down in such a way that the owner cannot restart it.

So, do you see the picture? The poor senior, eaten alive by gas bills who only wanted a letter, is standing in a cooling house. By tomorrow, her house may be frozen solid. Nothing to do but call for (frightfully expensive) emergency action.

So I explained that to the advisor. Then the schpiel changed substantially. Quoting from her "answer-book", she said that..well, we'll need a letter saying your furnace is unfit either from the gas company or from a contractor. I told her thanks and rang off.

So you see, they're fooling with us again (still?). And I have no idea how to proceed.

Will you please suggest how a senior is supposed to navigate this minefield?

Deane Doucette,
St-Albert

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Online "Third Way" Consultation Process Enhanced 


Dateline March 3, 2006 - RW NewsWire - Edmonton

Stung by opposition criticism that one month was not enough time for Albertans to provide input to the new Third Way" health initiatives, Premier Klein has ordered Health Minister Iris Evans to implement major enhancements to Alberta Health's Online Public Consultation System.

"The system has to provide instant feedback to those Albertan that take the time to help me build a better and brighter health care system" the Premier said. "We only have a month to get this done so we need to get on with it."

We are pleased to announce that Ralph's World Political Polling Systems, a division of Ralph's World International, has been awarded this important contract.

The picture at left shows Health Minister Evans walking the Premeir through a prototype of the new system.

We are asking all Albertans to try out the new prototype using the following link.

"Third Way" On-line Consultation System

Please provide any feedback you may have to Ralph's World Political Polling Systems, Health Minister Iris Evans, or Premier Ralph Klein.

A Wink and a Grin - The "Third Way" is In. 


Premier Klein and his faithful sidekick Iris Evans have together conceived a new 18-page white paper entitled Health Policy Framework along with a spanking new webpage to explain it all to us rubes.

This is the legendary "Third Way" for Alberta health care that the Premier has been teasing us with for the last few years.

For an overview of what it's all about you might want to read "Klein moves to gut medicare" - an article by Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star.


The Premier's happy face took a distinct downturn in the legislature yesterday as he hurled a copy of the Liberal Health policy booklet back in the face of the 17 year old female page who had just delivered it from the Liberal benches. The Premier had asked for their input. When it was provided it he had his tantrum and called it crap. Don't believe that the Premier of our Province could be that childish; that out of control? Read all about it here.

You have to hope that the Tory faithful will do the right thing at their upcoming leadership review.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

SENSIBLE HEALTHCARE #4 

The “THIRD WAY” is NONSENSE
By far the most socially sensible thing Canada has ever done was when the Federal Government finally legislated the only possible way for all citizens to share equally in the benefits of modern medicine was that those services be paid for by the whole of society.

Socially and morally and, likely illegally, the most insensitive and irrational thing a province of Canada can do today is what Alberta’s Klein government (a.k.a. the PC party) is now proposing.

In 2002 the Senate committee, chaired by Michael Kirby, had as its goal “ To ensure that all Canadians have timely access to medically necessary health services regardless of their ability to pay for these services.”

The principles of universality, comprehensiveness, accessibility and portability were also upheld as equally essential with timely access.

What the Klein government now proposes is that “TIMELY” access be translated as “INSTANT” access for those who have the most money.

Ever since the Klein government centralized power and authority in the Premier’s office a determined, politically connected and financially powerful lobby has been pushing the Premier to use his propaganda power to sell the idea that you can get a quicker and cheaper deal by buying your health care in some privately operated facility designed for paying dividends to elite investors.

That sales pitch, used during his whole rise to power, has promoted irrational fears that some colossal disaster will happen unless the public falls into line and, denying their own perceptions of reality, allow him to turn government responsibility over to opportunists whose merchandising skill are only surpassed by his own.

Like a man, so obsessed with having his own way that he will distort and manipulate facts, our Premier has been shouting “unsustainability” as if Alberta’s health system were a house on fire when, in fact, there is only a small blaze in the basement and the firemen are already on the way.

I’m making this up? Well read what our Premier is telling the Legislature. (cross reference) . Or read Mark Lisac’s book “ALBERTA POLITICS UNCOVERED” page. 51 where it tells of how Klein’s revolution cut the health budget down from $4.3 billion in 1992-93 to $3.77 billion in 1995-96 and ever since has been shouting about health costs ‘spiraling out of control’ .

The Premier’s most recent sales pitch for the third way includes keeping health costs in line with inflation. Was he doing that when comparing rising costs with the all time low budget for health in 1995-96. Inflation doesn’t even come near accounting for the massive increase in population, especially that of aging boomers, now does it?

Our Premier, using his most Churchillian public voice, solemnly pronounces health care must change and that that this proposed change is so we can pass healthcare on to our children.

Whose children is he talking about? Those of an elite few or every citizen’s child?

Could it be that it’s this government that needs changing into one that sees money as the servant of people and their needs? Right now they obviously see people as the servant of the Klein government’s obsession with money.

Blair McPherson

John Clark Moves On 

John Clark, the most prolific contributor to Ralph's World of late, has decided to create his own weblog. He has asked that we remove his postings which we are in the process of doing. He plans to re-post a number of these on his new site.

John's new weblog is called "Alberta -- The Details" and is located at http://www.albertathedetails.blogspot.com/.

The management and staff at Ralph’s World wish John the best of luck with his new site and thank him for his many contributions.

Keep on blogging John!

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