The snow was falling as I switched on the TV to listen to a panel of reputed thinkers in Ontario debating the pros and cons of freezing hospital CEOs’ salaries between $500K • $750K at this time when medical services around the country were being cut to reduce government deficits. A fear was being expressed that these CEOs might flee to the US in search of higher pay if their salaries were capped. I switched channels to watch a campaigning US Republican presidential hopeful proclaiming that medical services available free of government control represent freedom of the individual. I was a bit dumbfounded by these messages and switched the TV off.
Doesn’t the Hippocratic Oath bind those in the medical profession to selfless dedication to the preservation of life? Or has that been replaced by a Hypocrisy Oath? And how the heck can an individual be free down south if he is afflicted with a disease that he can’t afford to pay to get cured of?
I wanted to phone into that TV panel and tell them to please let those CEO’s go south because they were obviously in the wrong jobs. There are lots of skilled CEO material floating around our province with clear consciences, honest motives and fresh perspectives, waiting to take those jobs and willingly settle for the handsome salary of half a million dollars. In fact, I wanted to ask the panel why it was not debating the merits of capping those salaries at $250K – how much money does a person need? And while they were at it, those migratory CEO’s could take the ambitious doctors within our medical profession along with them too– those who had received a subsidized education in this country and were now looking to “maximize their earnings” in southern climes – I did not have confidence that they were healers anymore, gold diggers perhaps. And as for that poor sod on the electoral platform, I hope he doesn’t blow a gasket and find out that his private insurance company does not cover such types of collateral damage, and that he has to cover the exorbitant bills himself. I wondered what platform he might then choose to stand on.
I thought the radio would have more enlightened faire and switched on that device instead, and listened to this academic talking about “creative destruction”; how this phenomenon was the only thing going to sustain our growth and prosperity into the future. The professor went onto profess that generations of miners, factory workers and farmers were not good for growth and that things had to change rapidly in order to create the next platform of innovation. The professor was “tenured,” we were reminded, and thus insulated from this wonderful panacea called “creative destruction.” I wondered how our country would have emerged into the 21st century as a G8 nation if hadn’t been for resources, manufacturing and agriculture. And if we outsourced all this economic activity to China, what the heck were we going to do here? Watch hockey? I switched off the radio and put on the CD player with some classical music – no more voices, I couldn’t bear to hear any more of this talk in which the protected 1% clinically discussed the fate of the other 99%.
And I looked out at the snow, thick now, a rare storm, making the ground a pristine white, blanketing us with purity. I wanted the snow to last, enveloping us in its virginal innocence even for a few days, before it gave way to shovelling and melting and revealed the ugly world again as it truly was.