Marginally-Less-Angry Woodchuck Returns from Vacation With A Report on Canadian Toilets & Water Wigglies

Hi. I’m back. I managed to finish another book while I was gone, Lies the Government Told You. I highly recommend it. We’ll cover that book in another post, for now I’d like to talk about some observations I made while I was in Canada.

First of all, let me just begin by saying that the toilets in Canada are just awesome.

Unlike our own government, theirs has not imposed the same level of ridiculous restrictions on how much water they can use per flush. I have been deprived of a “man’s toilet” for so long now that I was mesmerized, and watched in child-like wonder as 13 litres of beautifully crisp, clear Canadian water swirled around the bowl like the tractor-trailer size whirlpool scene in the recent remake of War of the Worlds (seen here at 7′ 20″). I was so enthralled I repeated this manly flush-capade several times.

When I returned to my own government regulated commode and its thimble-sized flush restrictions (less than half the water Canadians get), I longed for the great northern lands of Canada once again.

In other news, as I was reading the local paper which I carried back with me in anticipation of this post, I read an interesting article on the Canadian Healthcare System. You know the one, that Obama and the Democrat Socialists want us to emulate. There is more than enough fodder on the internet to blow apart the system in Canada, most of it Canadian generated fodder, which is entirely ignored by our American leftist propaganda machine, so I wanted to provide my own exposure to Canadian thinking.

According to the article, “Can my doctor charge me for refilling a prescription over the phone,” by Lisa Priest in The Globe And Mail newspaper, a Canadian citizen was rudely introduced to their nationalized healthcare system when she received a bill from her Doctor for $30 to renew her prescription by telephone and asked Lisa, “Can she [the doctor] do this?”

The short answer is, “Yes.”

As it turns out, it’s quite common for Doctors to bill their patients for these services in Canada…services we take for granted in our current system here in the U.S. The reason Doctors in Canada bill for these services is because they don’t make enough from the government-controlled insurance programs to cover all of their costs, or generate a profit they can live off of. As a result, they began charging for every little thing you would never even think of. I have actually read this problem is common with nationalized systems and of course will occur in our nationalized system as well.

The following is an example. Please remember that “cost” and “price” are two different things, even though the government likes to confuse them for you. The “price” of a car is what you paid for it, but the “cost” is how much the car manufacturer had to spend to make the car. Government can only reduce price, not cost.

It would be like the government mandating that a restaurant can’t charge a “price” to you of more than $10 for a steak and lobster dinner. Because that amount is either below or barely above the “cost” of the lobster and the steak when the restaurant bought them, they would begin charging a “utensil fee” of $5, a “napkin fee” of $2, a “romantic candle fee” of $1, a “server fee” of $10, a “reservation fee” of $5, etc… all in an effort to make enough money to cover the costs of that steak and lobster dinner as well as make a profit.

The dinner costs the restaurant what it costs when they buy it from the people who killed the cow and fished the ocean, the fact that the government is going to force the restaurant to sell it to you for less doesn’t make the cost the restaurant paid to get it for you any less. All the government did is either make the restaurant take less profit, or make it so there is no profit at all or so little that it’s not worth selling to you.

Additionally, the quality of that steak and lobster will get worse and the ingredients used in its cooking will get worse, all in the restaurants efforts to adjust its COST of the steak and lobster DOWN to get near the PRICE of what the government is permitting them to charge you for it. If the restaurant can’t make it work, you won’t be able to find anyone offering a steak and lobster dinner anywhere at all.

And if the lobstermen and cattlemen have a bad year, and it costs more suddenly for lobster and steak, you’ll never see it again because governments can not change the PRICE that restaurants would be allowed to charge (in this case, a bit more) as fast as the free market can. Which means that option will just…disappear.

The economics of medical care (and all free-market economics for that matter) ARE NO DIFFERENT. Fixing prices means fees go up, quality goes down, waits get longer as shortages occur and options (many life-saving) disappear.

As the Canadian article goes on to explain, “Benjamin Burko, a medical director…started billing for services 15 years ago, after he resented doing hours of unpaid work each day. Something as simple as a prescription refill…takes about 15 minutes of physician and support staff time.” The point is, medical care costs what it costs and no government can make it cost any less. All governments can do is reduce the amount of money anyone can ask to get paid in order to provide the medical care which does two things; it disincentivizes students to become low-paid government Doctors which creates a shortage of Doctors which creates long waiting times and reduced quality medical care, and it incentivizes Doctors to charge for whatever they can, legally, that is not covered by government insurance programs and was previously included in the cost of care as “free.”

When I think of government mandated healthcare I think of water wigglies, those long stretchy toys filled with water or some such goo that you squeeze in one place and it just pushes all the goo out in some different place. This is how health care works (and the free market in general). The government can not control costs. An MRI machine costs what an MRI machine costs. What they can control is how much a doctor can charge for using his MRI machine. If you squeeze the Doctor on what he can charge, then that is just squeezed out somewhere else, like long waiting times, slower improvements in MRI technology, the use of older dilapidated MRI’s, etc…

You have to choose. Do you want crappy healthcare coverage for everyone or excellent healthcare coverage for those who have lots of money and good healthcare coverage for those who can afford it, and not-so-great coverage for those who can’t afford it? Don’t you see? If we want “universal” coverage for the “poor” or the “old” or whatever group you want to talk about, then we all have to agree to receiving crappier, slower coverage.

We will all have to run only as fast as the slowest person in the race. Get the picture? That means your children, your parents, your brother or sister, you…will all need to accept that you might die prematurely, or die more painfully than necessary, or not receive the medications you need (because they were never invented), or wait months for surgery instead of days, so that everyone else can get, at least, something, no matter how bad or old or slow that something is.

Back to Canada. In Canada, they are given a few options for these extra fees. One is called a “block fee” which is a fixed fee paid up front that covers all the incidental costs that a Doctor may bill you for, typically $100 per year (more for a family). Or you can opt for the pay-as-you-go system which can get quite expensive if you didn’t plan your healthcare needs for the year accordingly.

As Dr. Burko states, “These fees are a necessary evil in an underfunded public health system.” He adds, “do you really want her to do work for which she isn’t paid?”

So as much as I love Canada’s toilets and want one to call my own, they can keep their healthcare system.

Categories: Healthcare Reform, Socialism

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