Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our right to control your life

Reading 'Atlas Shrugged' certainly raises your sensitivity to certain modes of language:

'Poorest in England live 7 years less on average
By Jane Dreaper
Health Correspondent, BBC News'

It actually hurt to read this, even though you might term it a bog-standard marxist interpretation. Can't help myself, going to fisk it.

'People in England's poorest areas live an average of seven years less than those in the richest ones, says a major report on health inequalities.'

So are you going to tell us why? What the factors are that cause this discrepancy?

'Epidemiologist Sir Michael Marmot, says the NHS must spend much more on preventing illness.'

Er, whoah there fella, aren't you jumping the gun just a tad? First of all, you haven't even told us yet why poor people live shorter lives. Couldn't there be a way of lengthening poor peoples lives that doesn't involve spending taxpayers money?

'And he calls for an increase in the minimum wage to allow everyone to have a healthy lifestyle.'

Boy, this is definitely not a clear, logical argument. So you have asserted that poor people live shorter lives, with no explanation why that might be, if anyone knows. You have immediately then proffered two 'solutions' to this problem without establishing why those solutions would actually solve the problem. And bizarrely enough both solutions are big Government ones. One involves pumping yet more billions into Britains gargantuan healthcare system, and the other involves interfering with the free market. Funny that.

'The health secretary, Andy Burnham, has welcomed the government-commissioned report and said more work was needed.'

Thanks for phoning it in, Andy. Sheesh

'The Marmot Review shows that although life expectancy has risen in poor and rich areas, inequalities persist. '

No word of a lie, that sentance actually made me laugh out loud. THAT should have been the headline! Listen up people! Living in a capitalist country makes everyone richer and live longer! Yay!

'Poorest neighbourhoods

People in the poorest neighbourhoods will also spend a greater proportion of those shorter lives unwell.'

Still no sign of any evidence of WHY poor people live shorter lives. I have my own theory, but it is based mostly on personal anecdotal evidence, so doesn't mean all that much. But don't these professors and ministers have access to all kinds of research and statistical data about what causes poor people to live short lives? Why won't they divulge that information to us?

'There must be a real political commitment at all levels, because a fairer society will benefit all.' Professor David Hunter, Durham University

I bet he isn't a commie!

'The report estimates up to 202,000 early deaths could be avoided, if everyone in the population enjoyed the same health as university graduates.'

Another laugh-out-loud moment. My mind wandered back to a couple of years ago when Jamie Oliver tried to force kids in schools across Britain to eat healthy school dinners, and the response of many parents was to bring gristle-burgers and chips to the school fence and subvert the whole thing. Food is culture. Unless forced to by an all-powerful, all-intrusive state, people will eat what their culture dictates. In the case of many English, Scottish and Welsh people, that means deep-fried Mars bars and gristle burgers.

'Doing nothing to tackle these inequalities would cost the economy more, according to the review, which says inequality in illness accounts for £33bn of lost productivity every year.'

Pick amount of money from air. Put in story so story sounds fact-based.

'The report says "action is essential" because more than three-quarters of the population experience significant illness by the age of 68 - which will by 2046 be the pensionable age for men and women in England.'

68? Has to be one of the historically longest average lifespans in history. When even your poor people live to 68, you are doing something very very right.

'And there's a call for NHS spending on preventing illness to be much higher than the current 4%, with more money going to initiatives such as providing statins and helping people to stop smoking.'

Of course there is a call for more spending of taxpayer money. That is as predictable a part of most BBC news stories as the reflexive shitting on conservatives and slandering Margaret Thatcher

'Best start'

The authors feel their most important recommendation is giving every child the best start in life.'

Sounds vague but well-intentioned. I personally believe that what they REALLY mean is that working class British culture needs to be destroyed by getting the children away from their parents, and teaching them what middle-class people think they should think.

'Sir Michael Marmot, from University College London, said: "Every child needs to be nurtured at an early stage.'

"In one study, mothers were asked whether it was important to cuddle and talk to a child.

"I would have thought every mother would have said yes to that - but not all of them did.

"That made my hair stand on end.

"And it follows the social gradient - women from less well-off families are less likely to see this as important.

"But then by the age of three, these children had more behavioural problems and worse cognitive skills.

"Then they have less readiness to learn, and the problems continue."

On the face of it, this seems completely reasonable. Of course children should be nurtured and loved. But on reflection, it would seem to me that working class people bring up their children the way they need to, by and large, to fit into working class society. Is it tougher than middle-class society? Undoubtedly. Is it far less concerned with academic learning? Absolutely. Is it a legitimate way to live? Well, you tell me. And while you are at it, tell me who has the right to de-legitimize it.

'The review also says the current minimum wage of £5.80 an hour is below the level needed for a healthy life.'

I'll make you a bet. I bet you a million pounds that I could live a healthy life as defined by the government on £5.80 an hour. If you don't smoke, bet, play the lottery, buy fast food and takeout food, and own a car, it is remarkably easy. All of the above activities are what we conservatives call choices. I don't do any of those. But I eat really really well. I'll probably live to a ripe old age. But that is because in MY culture, none of my list of things is deemed necessary and normal. And even if they were, I would choose to do what I want. What this argument about the minimum wage means once parsed is that people should be able to smoke, bet, play the lottery, buy fast food and takeout food, own a car and STILL be able to afford organic vegetables. Yeah, nuh uh. Not at the cost of rigging the economy thanks.

'It cites the higher pay levels recommended by the London Living Wage Unit - set up by then mayor Ken Livingstone and continued by Boris Johnson.'

Ah, well why didn't you say? Open the coffer floodgates!

This calculated that Londoners need an hourly wage 16% higher than the national minimum rate to lift them above poverty.'

That sentance has the same plausability as the advertisements that say 'People who switched from X car insurance to Y car insurance saved up to £367 pounds'. You could replace any of the material facts with any other number or phrase, and the statement would have the same validity. 'It is calculated that Berliners need an hourly wage 27% higher than the Brizilian chimp chomp rate to lift them above poverty'. Disprove that if you can!

'The report says a minimum income should allow people to consume a healthy diet, take exercise and have technology such as broadband, that enables them to maintain social networks.'

Of course people should have broadband. If you can't check FaceBook 38 times a day, you die! Allegedly.

'Sir Michael says he has been given a sympathetic hearing when presenting his findings to politicians from all main parties.'

Don't remind me. That is the thought that keeps me awake at night.

'The health secretary, Andy Burnham, said: "It's not right that where we live can dictate the state of our health.'

Non sequitur alert. When did we start talking about WHERE poor people lived? I used to live in Walthamstow, but I didn't live like a Walthamstowian. I imagine that I'll live somewhat longer than your average working class Walthamstow resident. But that has nothing to do with WHERE I live, but HOW I live.

'Professor Mike Kelly, of the National Institute for health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) said: "Public health interventions are extremely good value when compared with the costs of clinical interventions.

"We need to shift the emphasis away from medical interventions that treat existing illnesses to interventions to prevent those illnesses developing in the first place, but it needs political support and system change to make this happen.'

And if we have to take away peoples control of their lives, and impose an alien culture on them to do it...

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