“And so my fellow Americans, ask not what you country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country” – John F. Kennedy
The late American President said these words half a century ago. The same principle applies in almost any country and its validity has not changed. It certainly should apply in Australia in 2010.
But it does not. Why attitudes have changed so much in 50 years such that today people ask what can the government do for me (or my interest group)? Australia is in the middle of what is the worst election campaign I have seen in my life. The two parties and “leaders” are battling it out to see who can offend the least number of interest groups and offer the “most “ in government largesse.
The aim is to be the government, which offers to do most for you whilst expecting the least is done by you. This is fuelled by an ever-increasing number of lobbies and special interest groups all of who could do a great job if only they had the right amount of funding.
This week the mental health lobby came out swinging on how mental health had been ignored and needed more funding. No mention was made of how this lobby (in my opinion) artificially increases the numbers of people with mental health illness by reclassifying everyone who may have a bit of stress or a bad hair day as having some form of illness.
We are also told health is “underfunded” in a variety of ways. More funding is needed for hospital beds, and for a plethora of “programs”. General practice too is “underfunded”.
Environmental groups, and education groups also need funding. The list goes on. In fact it is hard to think of an interest group, which does not have its hand out for more money whilst claiming the end of the world if they are not adequately “funded”.
Nowhere in this is there any suggestion of people needing to be responsible for their own actions. Nowhere is there any suggestion that answer may lie somewhere other than government funding. Nowhere is it pointed out that the world will keep spinning very nicely even if various interest and lobby groups do not get as much “funding” as they feel entitled to.
Politicians and governments have reached the point of being seen as our “parents” and we behave like children looking to them for protection and provision. The idea of John F. Kennedy that it is up to citizens to contribute rather than take has vanished.
And that is a problem. Put simply government generates no money other than that which it takes in taxes. Government money is our own money funneled back in various ways, minus what gets used up on bureaucracy. Calls for “funding” are people saying, no one will actually pay for the goods or services I have to offer so we will get you to pay via government redistributing money from you to us.
In health the solution is not funding or more hospital beds or more aged care beds. This makes, as much sense as saying the way to stop cars breaking down is to build more repair shops regardless the fact that the reason the cars are breaking down is due to people not looking after their cars.
The solution is people being responsible for their own health. Rather than ask for “funding” for gastric banding surgery, eat proper food instead of manufactured and processed food, and do regular exercise.
Rather than seek more funding for diabetes treatment how about not developing it? Again via eating real food and not overeating. Rather than seek more “funding” for mental health how about accepting that life is not always a bed of roses and not turning every emotion into a disease.
Government is not the solution and will never be. If anything government policies are more part of the problem. Politicians love to be seen as saviors and encourage people to believe they are helpless and in need of the “saving” hand of government. So we get promises to “fix” health (what your government can do for you) rather than the truth, which is that the individual is responsible (what you can do for your country).
Real leaders would say that the solution is not to “fund” more beds but to reduce demand for beds. The solution is not more disease care funding but people being responsible for their health.
In this woeful campaign between two “leaders “ who are followers of focus groups and not leaders in any sense of the word, do not expect the truth of John F. Kennedy’s words to get an airing.
As an individual you can rise above this by simply being responsible for what you do and hence “detaching” from the teat of government.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.