Archive for December, 2011

A failed system: Our doctors can’t afford the services they offer, and neither can the rest of us.

“We have called off the strike so that top union officials can negotiate with the government. I have made an appeal to the striking doctors to go back to their work after the government assured us there will be no victimisation,” Boniface Chitayi

Did you see that placard carried by a picketing doctor that said: “I OFFER SERVICES I CANNOT AFFORD”? Quite an evocative punchline it packed in its poignancy, especially since doctors services are literally matters of life and death.
But it got me thinking. How many professionals can actually afford the professional services they themselves offer? How many people can afford the services offered by doctors?
If it takes three to seven years for a doctor to get to be one of the specialists where real money can be made, then let’s look at other professionals of a similar level of experience and ask ourselves this: can they afford the services they offer? Can an architect with two years experience afford to pay another architect?, can a lawyer with two years experience pay to be represented by another lawyer?, can a teacher two years out of college afford fees in a good high school for their kid? Can a security officer afford to pay for security?
If the doctors’ demands are met, what about the nurses?, they can’t afford the services they provide either….
In fact I have come to the sad conclusion that almost none of the people who have to work for a living can afford their own services. If and when time comes when someone actually can afford their own professional services, they usually employ someone to carry out those services for them and exit the ranks of the worker ants. We are trapped in a system, it is not just the doctors, it is everyone. Anybody who has to work for a living is stuck in a system where the yoke has been replaced by a title, the chains have been replaced by a credit line, the whip has been replaced by societal expectation and the master is the one who controls the money supply.

I also blame the media for making the entire strike about doctors’ pay when it should have been rightly highlighted that our entire healthcare, if not every other sector, is dysfunctional and rotten to the core. A fight to reform healthcare for everyone was reduced to just one aspect of the whole failure of a system. It shouldn’t have.
In conclusion, I say there can be no fair remuneration for doctors, or anybody else, if even a single person will still have need to hold up a placard that reads: DOCTORS OFFER SERVICES I CANNOT AFFORD

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Power 101: Failings of the G7 Alliance and ODM and what they could learn by looking at Moi and Kibaki

“Don’t be fooled: Democrats and dictators alike do what best secures their hold on power” 

~ Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith

In a new book by the the two political scientists quoted above, the power and Realpolitik chicanery laid out in Machiavelli’s “The Prince” and Robert Greene’s “48 Laws of Power” is distilled and updated for our times. The two gentlemen in their book “The Dictator’s Handbook: Why Bad Behavior Is Almost Always Good Politics.” argue that:

The logic of politics – in both democracies and dictatorships – is not nearly as complex as many think. Forget the intricacies of individual states, grand strategy, and the national interest. And for now, let’s forget about right and wrong. Indeed, the real, universal lessons of political life can be gleaned from how leaders survive and thrive when in power.

They then list five simple rules, that are both self-evident and difficult to argue against: (at least to anyone with a modicum of intelligence and an interest in getting and retaining power, which is not necessarily representative of our local politicians)

They write: Although  methods may differ, just five rules shape how they (authoritarian and democratically elected leaders) govern. These rules identify the incentives driving survival-oriented leaders, whether of the Gaddafi or Obama variety.

Rule 1: Keep the winning coalition as small as possible.
Rule 2: Keep the selectorate [pool of supporters] as large as possible.
Rule 3: Control the flow of revenue.
Rule 4: Pay key supporters just enough to keep them loyal.
Rule 5: Never take money out of your supporter’s pockets to make the people’s lives better.

Strategists in the two camps bracing for 2012 elections would do well to thoroughly study this five rules since a cursory glance will tell you that both groups consist of loosely connected motley coalitions of tribes and regions; both are narrowing the scope of their appeal to a large apolitical voter block that has little time for cheap demagoguery, lies and ethnic cocooning;  only one is in a position to control revenues but not in entirety; both parties cannot seem to pay enough to retain loyalty which is evident with the constant party hopping and shifting alliances by the tribal chiefs and stooges who pass for MPs here; and with the majority of the voters poor definitely high inflation coupled with rising cost of living and falling wages is surely taking money out of a core constituency of supporters, except that the people’s lives aren’t getting any better, however if the supporters are taken to be the wealthy kind that fund campaigns then of course no money is being taken out of their pockets to better the wretched masses’ lives (which is not exactly very astute they being so few in terms of votes)

They then summarise thus: All politicians are alike; how they are constrained differs. Just like autocrats and tyrants, leaders of democratic countries follow the Five Rules of politics as best as they can – they, too, want to get power and keep it. The conventional impression that democrats and autocrats are world’s apart stems only from the different constraints they face. Those who rely on a large coalition – democrats – have to be more creative than their autocratic counterparts.

Exactly, the choices before the two groups is that between a strict following of the five cardinal rules set out, or yet to be seen levels of creativity, and I cannot bet on much creativity out of the ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’ bunch of usual suspects that we’ll inevitably have on our ballot papers in 2012.

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Of finding bits and pieces to fit our own narrative and cherry picking what laws to follow

“When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand.” — Deuteronomy 25:11-12

“If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow strictly the teachings of the New, he would be insane.” ~ Robert Green Ingersoll

“On her radio show, Dr. Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination …. end of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them:

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual unseemliness – Lev15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

Signed,

Your adoring fan, James M Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

(P.S. It would be a damned shame if we can’t own a Canadian.)”

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