Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Random and poorly linked observations

Can Generation Y, those twenty-somethings often labelled by baby-boomers as bludgers who had everything dished out to them, actually take credit for the ‘soft-landing’ of the current recession (can we call it that yet)?

I say this after a weekend catching up with friends. Some had been involuntarily retired from their previous jobs, but being tech savvy, were on the books for temp work within hours, and within days had started new jobs. That friction economists love to talk about when discussing unemployment seems non-existent. So my friends continued to earn and spend just as they had before. I wonder if those older generations (whatever you want to call them) would adjust so quickly.

And what of the healthcare system? Are we stuck with a baby-boomer health system in a Gen Y world?

Recent debates have been streaming in from both Australia and the US about reforming the ‘health care system’. It makes me wonder two things that are rarely discussed:

1. What exactly is the boundary of the system?
2. Wouldn’t a system designed to prevent death always seem to be poorly performing?

There have been great comments from the blogosphere about US health reform. In particular, the fact that much health care actually resides outside ‘the system’ – panadol, vitamins (if you believe they actually have health benefits), bandages, etc – you know, stuff a pharmacy sells. If we had concerns about the widespread, affordable supply of these goods, what we we do about the 'allied health system'.

I think what is clear is that while regulation of quality, labelling, etc. is important, regulation of the distribution of services may be overstepping the mark and lead to poor services.

If you want my opinion, there is nothing wrong with healthcare in this country as far as I can see. We have the option of private health cover, and are penalised for not taking it up if our incomes are particularly high. If we don’t have private cover we should expect a baseline of care and nothing more. Even then, the poor are still looked after. Many of you wouldn’t know this, but you can get a doctor to visit you at home, 24 hours a day, and bulk bill. We’ve used this service a couple of times. To me this is medical utopia!

So, since we’ve now solved the ‘health crisis’ by revealing that, in fact, there is no crisis, we can move on other things. Like child care.

Why is it that government feels the need to subsidise the costs of child care? I took my young son for the first time to child care yesterday and for $50 you can have him looked after and fed for 10 hours. But with the child care subsidies, it works out more like $20! So, when weighing up the alternatives of my wife staying home to look after our son, my mother looking after him, and child care, it gives a huge advantage to the latter. Should I be king for a day, this is one of many subsidies I would scrap that appears to be encouraging fragmented families, and the culture of children being raised by ‘the system’.

Finally, I would like to announce that today 29th July 2009 is the official 1st January 2000 of climate change. That date represents the date that we all realised that the millennium bug, Y2K, was actually just symbol of repressed fears being expressed en masse. I feel that climate change is simply an outlet for our caring side in the apparently uncaring world we live in. While I have spent the past few years examining the mechanisms for action to reduce GHG emissions, I am coming to the conclusion that there are many other immediate problems that should be the focus of attention.

A departing thought (from here):

NYTM: Have you ever seen “American Idol”?

Arlo Guthrie: No, I have never watched it. But I’m thankful we’re living in a world where we can actually afford to waste your time. What a great thing that is.

Until next time.

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