Alberta Politics Politics US Politics


IWUZ talking to a friend of mine the other day. His wife has a bone chip in her knee; she needs an operation to have it removed, but, before she can have surgery, she needs an MRI. Waiting time for an MRI? Who knows?

Under Canada’s “best in the world, (according to the left- wingers), free, government paid for, well actually taxpayer paid for, system It could be two weeks or six months. So she’s bought a cane so she can get around and function while she waits. (You can pay $700 and have it done privately. That drives the left-wingers nutser.)

Will this waiting cost the system less? Not unless she dies, and that’s not likely from a gimpy knee. It will in fact cost the system a lot more; her lost productivity, doctor’s visits, and complications. But she bears the pain. She got screwed by one of the two worst health care systems in the developed world.

So, what about the best in the world, (according to the right-wingers), American system? Well, if you have lots of money, or an employer who provides a good insurance plan, you’re home free.

But if you are uninsured, or you are working for a business that goes broke, or you are laid off, (millions were in the last downturn); and a week after you lose insurance coverage you have a heart attack; it might cost you $150,000 just to stay alive.

You’re in your mid 50s, 10 years from Social security; your net worth has been reduced from $500,000 to $350,000, (tough to retire on); you’re unable to return to work, so you have no way to bring it back up. In fact you have to draw on the $350,000 for the next ten years until Social Security kicks in. You have been a tax paying, hard working, patriotic American, but you just got screwed by one of the worst health care systems in the developed world.

Whose systems are the best? Well, first let’s clear away some mythology. Canada does not have a purely public system. It is in fact about 40% privately funded and delivered. And the American, Mom and apple pie, private, free enterprise system? It’s actually about 40% public, and if you’re on welfare, or over 65, lucky you!

In Australia and New Zealand and many European countries; (I know, it’s hard to contemplate Europeans getting anything right); both sides have stopped posturing long enough to ensure that the taxpayers, through their government, collectively insure that no one is ruined by catastrophic health care costs. But anyone can buy additional, private insurance if they wish, or simply pay out of their pocket.

For any government, shouldn’t the point of health care be only about what is best for all its citizens? Canada and the US are both long overdue for an adult conversation on health care.

Going back for our future


Bureaucracy Politics US Politics


Statistics are pretty meaningless, or misleading – unless you apply common sense. In Canada they have a federal program called Equalization. The federal government collects taxes, and then redistributes the money to top up the budgets of the poorer provinces, purportedly so all Canadians can have access to a roughly equal lifestyle. What in fact happens is that receiving provinces often use the money to provide better services than the contributing provinces.

In Quebec you can take your kids to daycare for $7. Not per hour; per day. Quebec gets the largest share of Equalization,  and is over $200 billion in debt. Alberta contributes the most, and has no debt. For American readers, soon to go to the polls; that that is how it works when politicians and bureaucrats get into the redistribution business. Caveat emptor!

What these hare brained equalization /  redistribution schemes fail to consider is that the average cost of living in a poorer province or state is usually less than that in a wealthier province or state. (I misspoke. It’s not the schemes that are hare brained, its the people who throw them together to buy our votes. And if it works, it’s us.)

For example:  in the United States in 2008 – 2009,  Mississippi had the lowest median household income – $35,693. The Northeast had 4 of the wealthiest states and the South had 9 of the poorest ones. However, when differences in local cost of living were factored in, a Mississippian earning $38,000 could live as well as a New Yorker in Manhattan earning $93,000.

Common sense would suggest that unless all the costs of living can be accurately and fairly factored in, and all the advantages and disadvantages – very subjective here – of living in one place over another, (hard to go fishing on Manhattan; limited live theater in Mississippi, can’t climb mountains in Saskatchewan), that governments would be well advised to keep their noses out of income redistribution, and let people choose to move to where the jobs they are suited for are; and to where they want to live.

Going back for our future