Monday, October 01, 2007


Back in February, 12-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache. His life would have been saved by a routine tooth-extraction, but his family didn't have Medicaid, and even if they had, would not have been able to find a dentist to treat him (American dentists being more interested in high-paying cosmetic work rather than actual healthcare). So instead, the infection in his tooth spread to his brain, and he died - a martyr to the US's system of privatised healthcare.

Last week, the US Congress passed a bill to make sure that this never happens again, by extending health coverage to 10 million poor children. But President Bush plans to veto it. His reason?

Mr Bush says expanding public funding goes against the principles of private health care, and that subsidising it creates a disincentive for people to buy private care themselves.

He supports tax cuts that will help poorer people buy private insurance and says he opposes this legislation because it "directs scarce funding to higher incomes at the expense of poor families".

And of course Bush's tax cuts for the ultraultrarich or his subsidy to Halliburton war never did that, did they?

Cutting through the bullshit, what Bush is proposing is that there be more Deamonte Drivers, more pointless deaths from easily-treatable conditions, in order to avoid creating a "disincentive" - that the children of the poor be sacrificed in order to protect the profits of America's private healthcare industry. And that is simply evil. There is just no other word for it.

(It is also obviously a reminder of why we need a strong public health system here in New Zealand, and why we must resist the National Party's long-term goal of turning its donors in the private health industry into the default providers. People are more important than profits, and the idea that people must be allowed to suffer and die so that others can make money is simply obscene)