Friday, February 27, 2009

Michael Duffy, health care, the mentally ill, war stories, neo discoveries and Michael Costa's neo week competition

Not that I ever go to a football match - life's too short to watch men sniffing each other's bums or chasing a pill over a paddock as if it's the meaning of life - but on a few occasions I've been dragged along and been politely astonished.

Suddenly the term 'one-eyed' became meaningful in a very real way. Now I know it's a trite observation that fan is a contraction of fanatic, and I know sporting fans can be harmless (except for you Carlton supporters, you bludging, John Elliott loving wankers) but I'm always amazed at the level of passion people can expend on issues of sublime irrelevance to the mainstream of life (if you happen to think food and shelter and sex and health are a little higher up the scale).

I know fans aren't necessarily the same as fanatics, or cranks or zealots but sometimes it's hard to pick the difference.

Anyhoo, it became clear to me in a vision that the right wing loons who write fanatical one eyed columns are generally as mad as march hares, and make as little sense as football fanatics, and so the only way to approach them is the way you'd approach a fan in a football ground - gingerly, stripping off any contrary colors, putting on a fixed smile, and talking in a soft, gentling way as if you're a horse whisperer.

Otherwise you might cop a kick in the crutch, seeing as loon columnists have the manners of horses. I sometimes wonder why.

Maybe it's a lack of travel. My partner, just back from India (Mumbai in particular), reported it a real mind fuck, a way of thinking, with castes and tribes, and over a billion complications, that makes the place unknowable, and conventional western thinking useless. I had the same response the first time I took off across China, and strangely enough when driving across America. You think because you speak the same language that you have some way of connecting to a country and its thinking, but really America is a different country, and they do things differently there. Even when you've made a superficial connection, you rarely appreciate how superficial it is.

A lot of the things the local loons rabbit on about simply don't compute in other parts of the world, or if they do, as a kind of low level buzz on the radar, as if someone's dropped a bunch of confusing aluminium foil into the atmosphere.

Now this is all a preamble to a celebration of the esteemed Michael Duffy, the neo columnist who gave his name to this neo site, and who each week in The Sydney Morning Herald demonstrates a neo fan's view of the neo world. 

Sorry, for those who came into the story late, we're having a neo week here, in honor of neo columnist for The Australian Michael Costa and the neo Matrix movies - remember guys only in black trench coats, and only in drag in honor of tg Larry Wachowski  (what a head fuck for neo transsexual hater Janet Albrechtsen). You win points in the game by seeing how many nouns or verbs you can insert a meaningless "neo" in front of. 

Costa has started hot out of the gates with neo interventionism, but what about neo surrealism and neo classicism and neo modernism and neo post modernism? And neo lyricism, not to mention neo romanticism and neo hedonism and neo dada and neo punk?

New rule: anyone talking about neo stones gets banned. Appalling pun. Neo lithic is the only word accepted when talking about Costa. And yes we know neo politan is a kind of ice cream, bugger off Naples, this is a cultural heritage we share with the good ol' USA.

Sorry about that detour. These acid flashes are getting hard to handle. My main point is, the Duffster is regularly perverse, as when this week he suddenly begins making  neo discoveries about neo health care. This week, in Health carers stars of an ailing show, the Duffster has, by consulting statistical data, found out that health care is possibly the largest industry in Australia and growing (Shock horror! This will come as news to Gerard Henderson, who firmly believes small business is the only game in town). And by talking to doctors and nurses he's also found out that it's something of a mess.

That's right - neo hot news from the Duffster. The health system is fucked, and the de-institutionalisation of the mental health system these past twenty years has been a disaster, in execution if not in concept, to quote the Duffster.

Well he'd have to say that, wouldn't he, because a hell of a lot of the pressure on the health system, and government participation in it, has come from right wing loons of the Duffy kind, who hate the idea of socialised medicine, hate the very notion of a national health care system, hate the idea of government being involved, cavil at every penny spent on government health care, and led the charge to downsize government spending.

By a curious coincidence, and since anecdotes seem to be the go, we have a nurse in the family, who's very handy if you want to know the doctors to avoid in an operating theatre in a rural hospital (and there are plenty), and we're friends with a young doctor who regularly tilts at the windmill of bureaucracy in a hospital that's new but run with a hundred year old mindset, and we also happen to be friends with a bigwig psychiatrist in the public system, whose chief job once upon a time seemed to be shuttling the mentally ill by taxi up and down the coast in search of a bed for the night.

They all have war stories, but thankfully they don't have an ideological bent which involves the destruction of government participation in health care. They just want it to be better, they try hard themselves, and they're regularly disappointed by the cheap, careless shots taken at the jobs they do in a system permanently under funding stress and political indifference.

The Duffster's potent conclusion: It's time the interests and concerns of doctors and nurses were given a more prominent place in the national conversation about health care.

Wow. A right wing loon wants to take a look at the health care system from the point of view of participants (never mind that happens to include all of us). So what are the solutions caring Duffster? More money, more government focus, perhaps structural reform? And no it's not just the bureaucrats growing in numbers while the pointy end suffers, because often the bureaucrats are being employed to keep expenditure under control to satisfy the cost control freaks out there in the community. You know the attack public waste at every opportunity brigade.

At this point the water gets too deep for the Duffster. Go whistle in the wind. End of column. Attention should be paid. End of story. Pious neo platitudes and war stories is about all you can expect from the Duffster.

Okay, how about this for a thought. It's time that right wing loons acknowledged that along with deinstitutionalising old fashioned Victorian style bedlams came a new responsibility to the mentally ill, so that community based caring didn't just become an excuse to kick the mentally ill out into the street, and thereby bump up the number of homeless wandering the streets of big cities like Sydney. 

And when it comes to this kind of responsibility, it's not going to come from the private sector, or half baked Christian charities intent on ramming Christ down the throat of the disturbed, but from government. And it involves spending money. Live with it, work with it, and above all fund it.

The fetishisation of bed space, and bed turnover, and kicking people out of beds to prove that hospitals are being run with the kind of efficiency demanded by day traders is one of the chief burdens of the current system. And some people are permanently broken and require care. How do you deal with that? I know, I know. More tax cuts, and kick them out on the street. Never mind all that fuss about community support. Why should my taxes support the crazy. Let them jump in front of a train. (In Victoria of course the cops do the job with a gun).

Thank the lord, I've mentioned what the Duffy was writing about this week. Loon watch done, ready and waiting for orders, suh!

By the way, if you think tolerance and community care is all fixed, all fine and dandy, here's Colorado state senator Scott Renfroe during a debate on health care benefits for same-sex partners:

I'm not saying (homosexuality) is the only sin that's out there. We have murder. We have all sorts of sin. We have adultery. And we don't make laws making those legal, and we would never think to make murder legal.

That's right. Having a fuck poofter style is a rough equivalent to murder. To which all I can think to say is fuck you all you fucking fanatics. (Thanks to Slate in its Say What? humor piece for this. And you thought you understood America. You neo logisms!)

Hey men, don't you find the senator's cheesy smile just so sexy? God I just luurve sexy men. Strictly as a heterosexual of course you filthy perverts. God save America from some Americans. 

And god save publicly funded health care from the loons.

Oh almost forgot the Duffster's score card this week:

Ability to reconcile philosophical contradictions: 0
Perverse interest in health horror stories: 0
Potency of actual horror stories told, up against the wealth available: 2
Willingness to embrace neo caring strategies: 1
Capacity for pious neo platitudes as a column closer: 11
Net benefit of column in terms of neo understanding of health care issues: 2

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