Friday, June 10, 2005

Small Chaoulli consolation

Not that I would want to rain on the parade of Conservatives celebrating the tepid decision of the SCOC in the Chaoulli case — but don't let the premature hyperventilations of the Caring NationTM manufactured consent crowd fool you, the Justices have not egregiously compromised the politburo. The defenders of freedom among the Conservative faction may want to consider the exo-jurisdictional and contra-democratic costs of sacrificing the means to achieve a questionable and feeble end in what may prove to be a pyrrhic victory — probably the only kind of victory left available in Canada.

Bob Tarantino from Let it Bleed:

Canadian conservatives should be wary: we may have achieved what we perceive to be a desirable goal, but at the expense of the entrenchment of a line of judicial reasoning which is perhaps anathema to what we consider a proper interaction between the courts and the legislature.
Why? The Eclectic Econoclast, whose name alone should suggest one of the more interesting blogs in Canada, elaborates in a very good post:
the Justices of the Supreme Court are uniquely unqualified to make the requisite cost-benefit decisions that must be made in deciding how many [and whose] scarce resources to devote to the various ways of reducing dangers to life and personal security. As strongly as I have disagreed with Canadian health care policy, I disagree even more with majority decision in this case. This is a matter for Parliament to decide, not the Supreme Court. It is a matter of policy, not a matter of legal interpretation. If Parliament gets it wrong, it is up to voters to elect people who will get it right.
Jerry Aldini has the bead on this, like most, SCOC decisions,
there's something in there to disappoint everyone.


Publius said...

I think you're viewing this from the wrong angle. Yes it's a triumph for judicial activism but that has been so well entrenched in Canada all Chaoulli will do is add another spade full to the earthworks. No the beauty of the decision is that it unleashes two kinds of anarchy, each in there own way marvelous.

The first kind is obvious. A legal limbo has emerged that may last long enough for a parallel system to emerge, if only on a very small scale. Once it's up and running it will have a coterie of vested interests established to keep it alive, including a chunk of the middle class whose parents can now actually get health care.

The second kind of anarchy is, as I pointed out in my blog posting yesterday, that Trudeaupia is being used to destroy Trudeaupia. The left is now forced to attack the very institutions that it has used for thirty years to shove its policies down our throats. The Conservatives, never thinking two steps ahead, are now rushing to cheer the Charter and the SCOC.

Many of the old pieties are dying rather nasty deaths now. Nothing will change tommorrow, or the next day or maybe all that much five years out. What is clear is we cannot go back. The lie has been shown up. The only thing keeping the monopoly going was the taboo of private health care. That taboo's been broken.

MapMaster said...

I'll preface my pessimism by pointing out that I don't have air conditioning. Although you're quite correct about judicial activism, I would add.

I don't disagree with you that a legal limbo has opened in which private interests can peep out from under the rocks. But it will be on a small scale, especially here in Ontario if people like Smitherman have their way (I heard him on the radio yesterday and he disputes any argument that private insurance is possible). In fact, I would venture to say that it will be negligible, not necessarily to real people, but to the preservation of the old pieties, and in that sense the benefit to real people will only be unveiled and utilized by the more clever and resourceful among us — nothing wrong with that, I hope to be able to afford to be one of them.

Bit I find it hard to imagine that the Liberals, and the always helpful media, will not be able to accommodate or ignore, as they do now, any further creepings of private health care into the official one-tier doctrine. I think as far as most Canadians are concerned, the lie will remain intact and the taboo ideologically and only slightly practically broken. And any future advances will be as slow and painful as this.

Should a parallel system emerge that actually impinges on the consciousness of Canadians, there remains a decent chance that it will be seized upon as a scapegoat by the political class when their complex and unsustainable schemes fail (hat tip to Lisa for this suggestion). With the extra-constitutional resources of the government and relative compliancy of the judiciary in this country, it shouldn't be too hard for the entrenched Castro-channellers to maintain a painful status quo.

But that's just me! I hope I'm wrong — I've learned to temper my optimism in the past few weeks. By the way, if you had noticed, I take back my sophomoric comments about first-year-university-level philosophy in a previous post — I was far too angry and dismissive at the time. I want to take up the shortcomings of anarchistic libertarianism sometime, but it's late and I'm hot, so soon…


gm said...

If the sorry state of Canadian health care tells us anything, it is this: politicians and their bureaucracies should not be trusted with the care hospitals provide, any more than they should be trusted with the allocation of food.
This ruling opens the door to incremental reform.

Timmy the G said...

Right wing bloggers can scream into the ether all they want, but the fact remains that the majority of Canadinas want their public health care system preserved. That's not "manufactured consent", that's a fact.

However, I am actually in favour of carefully managed reform, with private elements playing a clearly identified and complementary role in the public sector.

Completely privatized health care is a losing proposition. Look at the mess in the U.S. if you want to see what to avoid. Their system costs the public more yet doesn't serve everyone. Two million medical care-induced bankruptcies a year by insured people, and 44 million people without insurance.

Take off the ideological blinders, MM. There is a public and private role in the provision of health care. Success comes in finding the right mix, and so far, we have not.

Lisa said...

I suggest you take off your own "ideological blinders" Timmy G. The fact remains that if the majority wants something, then they should pay for it themselves. Put your money where your mouth is. If most Canadians want public health care, then it should be voluntary - those that don't want it need not pay for it or use the service. Of course, it's always easier to cry rights - "right to childcare", "right to food", "right to someone elses labour and income" than to work to improve your own situation.

"Their system costs the public more yet doesn't serve everyone" is more appropriately applied to Canada than the US. If the US system is in such a shambles, then why do so many Canadians go across the border for care? Trusting a bunch of crooked bureaucrats to "fix" what they've fucked up in the first place is not the answer.

Timmy the G said...

Because if you have the money, you can buy your care in the U.S., Lisa. They don't have to worry about taking care of their own population. Why not take care of well-off Canadians instead?

"Trusting a bunch of crooked bureaucrats to "fix" what they've fucked up in the first place is not the answer."

You're right, we should trust HMOs to do the job. They've done such a spiffing job in the U.S., after all. And "crooked"? Do you apply that term to all public servants on a knee-jerk basis?

Oh, and my money is where my mouth is. I don't complain about my taxes.

Mike said...

The majority of participants in a pyramid scam want it to continue, too, for exactly the same reason.

MapMaster said...

Ideological blinders prevent me from seeing … what? … that the majority of Canadians in polls want public health care or a mix of public and private health care? No secret there — it's just that I don't care to be blinded by the ideology of majority rule.

I don't care much for the para-ideology of managing and identifying the proper mix of what's good for the individual and what's good for the state. Who's going to determine these academic-sounding ratios and formulae? Roy Romanow? A panel of government-appointed experts? A first ministers' conference? You may perhaps be reasonably assured, based on previous history, that the outcome of such confabs may suit you, but that same history doesn't convince me that it will suit me. Success may come in "the right mix," but that will probably only be accident, not political design.

I do have an ideology, as you've properly identified — that people be allowed to make their own choices without harming others. That's the reason I support the market. I'm not such an ideologue that I'd suppose that the public health care system could be suddenly ripped away without causing suffering. Best to let private and uncoerced interests become unfettered, and let the concomitant and gradual expansion of private health care foster a culture of independent decision-making, self-sufficiency and antipathy towards forced redistribution. Then, the public system can wither on the vine.

Will a U.S.-style system ensue? That could be, if vested corporate interests are allowed to coddle with the state and dominate legislation. It's not a comparison I like to invite in some ways, because obviously a government that feels it has the power to dictate the workings of private enterprise, such as we have in Canada as well, will impose the sorts of restrictions that have made American health care an expensive and only slightly-less state-capitalist monopoly. HMOs are not a good example of private enterprise — American employers are required by law to provide health insurance to their employees through these legalistic monopolistic creations. Elsewhere, the American system is distorted by numerous legislations and regulations. So don't go around calling the U.S. an example of "completely privatized health care" — that's an egregious ideologically-motivated lie.