Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stephen Harper and the Deadly Politics of Ebola

The scene couldn't have been more ironic or more appalling. For even as the Ebola epidemic raged out of control, and Oxfam sent out a desperate call for more boots on the ground, in Africa. 

On Saturday Oxfam took the unusual step of calling for troops to be sent to west Africa, along with funding and medical staff, to prevent the Ebola outbreak becoming the “definitive humanitarian disaster of our generation”. It accused countries that did not commit military personnel of “costing lives".

And leaders like Obama urged Americans not to surrender to fear and hysteria.

There was Stephen Harper, with a strange look on his face, receiving an award for helping stamp out polio, while cranking up the fear factor.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is warning Canadians not to be complacent about Ebola virus, suggesting it would be all too easy for the disease to come to Canada.

“What has happened recently with Ebola reminds us that in an age of globalization and particularly global trade and travel, what was a problem that was at one time far away from us could arrive at our shores very quickly,” he said.

Instead of reassuring anxious Canadians that our medicare system, the one he despises so much, will make sure that there is no Ebola epidemic here.

And of course failing to mention that if the world is failing Africa, it's largely due to the toxic effects of savage budget cuts. 

According to many experts, the Ebola outbreak has been an entirely “avoidable” crisis that can be largely traced to the impact of budget cuts. It was made possible by a series of brutal reductions — supported by the world’s industrialized countries, including Canada — to the UN’s main health organization, effectively preventing it from responding to the outbreak earlier.

In addition, several countries (including Canada) cut budgets to national health institutes, which have delayed research for a vaccine.

Failing to mention that his ghastly Cons have led the whole world in slashing foreign aid.

This is, after all, the same Canadian government that, according to an international report released last week, made the biggest monetary cut to foreign aid of any country in 2013. This was in spite of the fact that global spending last year on international development reached a new high. 

Or that his cuts to the budget of the Public Health Agency of Canada, have made our lives more DANGEROUS.

This agency has seen its budget allocation decrease from $677 million in 2010/11 to $579 million in 2013/14, a reduction of over 14% at a time when the burden of disease in Canada related to chronic disease, injuries, suicides and mental health is increasing. 

PHAC’s budget for health promotion and DISEASE PREVENTION, public health infrastructure and HEALTH SECURITY(including surveillance and population health assessment, regulatory enforcement and EMERGENCY RESPONSE) has decreased by over $152 million, or 26%, between 2010/11 and 2013/14. 

Given these massive cuts, will the federal government be able to fulfil its leadership role to protect and safeguard the health of Canadians when the next public health emergency occurs?

So we're definitely not SAFER with Harper as he would pretend...

For crass political purposes.

But of course beyond the self serving actions of that grubby little leader, this is just the latest failure of neoliberal ideology. And of a ghastly broken economic system that encourages selfishness instead of cooperation.

And whose cult members never stop trying to kill government. Or hack it down to the bloody bone as Harper and his Con gang are trying to do in Canada.

Even though when disaster and disease strike only good government can save us. And pretending that we are safe behind the walls of imaginary borders, is both criminally irresponsible, and totally insane.

But then Stephen Harper would cheerfully torch the planet just to make his beloved Alberta richer, considers ISIS a greater threat than climate change. And can't seem to understand that unless we do more to stamp out Ebola in Africa it will remain a threat FOREVER.

So what do we expect from a maniac like him?

And what can we do in a time like this one? When the world looks like a madhouse, you can smell the fear in the air, and hear the grunting of the Cons who would use it to enslave us.

Except take the first step towards that better, saner, more cooperative world. Demand that more be done to help Africa.

Remind Canadians that the Harperite cult DECIMATED the ranks of those charged with protecting us from a public health emergency. Over and over again all the way to the next election.

And work to make this country safer, by removing them and their depraved leader from office.

As safely as possible...

But as soon as possible.

Before they kill us ALL...

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Steve said...

Obama is relying on the CDC for guidence, Harpo season one of the Walking Dead!

e.a.f. said...

Ebola is a dangerous disease, if you catch it. Its been around for 40 yrs but the west didn't care. It was restricted to Africa. Now its here and given the cuts to health care in the west and at the U.N. its natures way of saying "pay back time".

In B.C. the Nurses Union has had a lot to say about the inadequate preparation for ebola in B.C. there isn't adequate apparel for nurses. Why? Because the b.c. lieberals have spent the past 10 yrs hacking the hell out of the B.C. medical system. They want nurses to use a face mask, ya, not one of those high tech jobbies, but a little piece of fabric.

I say we send Stevie over there to work for awhile. Then he and his herd can truly see the destruction they have wrought with their fiscal restraint policies. well restraint policies for working people, the corporate elites, not so much.

Simon said...

hi Steve...the contrast between what poor Obama is trying to do, and what the hapless clown Harper is doing couldn't be greater. But yes the Cons are the Walking Dead even if they still don't know it...

Simon said...

hi e.a.f. you're right, most people in North America didn't really care about Ebola until a couple of Americans got sick. Just like they didn't really care about ISIS, or the 200,000 dead people in Syria, until a couple of our own got beheaded. Some lives are clearly worth more than others. But the fact remains Ebola is really only a threat to health workers, and in that regard much needs to be done. Our hospital workers need better equipment, and much more training on how to use it. Putting on one of those space suits is easy, the dangerous part is after they're contaminated how do you safely remove them? And yes, as I pointed out in my post, the right-wing war on government is making our lives more dangerous not safer...

Anonymous said...

Even though when disaster and disease strike only good government can save us.

And you claim to be an atheist?

Do you really believe this Simon, or is it just hyperbole? I confess, I speak more off-the-cuff than with careful consideration, and as such, I haven't fully contemplated the full implications of a very literal deification of government, but then, please excuse me, I honestly didn't realize just how far gone you really were.

I should do a major re-think of Matthew 22:15-22 based on this...

Honestly, I'm quite shocked. I guess I never believed that anyone would actually write, and possibly mean those words. Wow.

Simon said...

hi I don't deify the government, I just don't have the irrational hatred for it you guys have. Besides I don't understand how you can take issue with that statement. When in a disaster those who would be in the front lines would be police officers, firefighters, medical staff, and maybe even the military, and like it or not they ARE government. Think about it, you're on the wrong side. Confess your sins, and remember we are merciful, so it's not too late to join us... ;)

Anonymous said...

Simon, you have so much more in common with Stephen Harper and the Conservatives than you dare to think: you both have a remarkable penchant for creating straw-men.

I don't have an irrational hatred of government at all! I do think there's a lot that is wrong with government the way we do it now, and that needs fixing. Are you deliberately conflating the two? I'm not sure, but it seems that way. Yes, some rightwingers *do* have a hatred of government, but I think even those, if asked would admit that government has *some* legitimate functions. Is there something particularily irrational about that?

Thing is, I don't automatically expect, or hope for salvation courtesy of the government: to a reasonable and appropriate degree, I can look after myself, and I prefer that. Government has a literal army, yes, but the total manpower of that army isn't even 10% of the population of Montreal. In a crisis, especially a major crisis, the literal army and all the combined forces of government just don't have the manpower to help everybody. What's irrational therefore, instead of demanding more for what should remain a relatively small outbreak when we can, and should take reasonable precautions to be self-sufficient for a few weeks?

Your penultimate thought is also puzzling - all of those workers are government yes, and legitimate functions of government, absolutely. I'm not contesting that in the slightest, nor would I.

I guess the difference is, I think to myself that in a potential Ebola outbreak, I can best help everybody by looking after myself, assuming that family and I aren't infected. And, I can take reasonable steps to ensure that I can do just fine for a few months without needing the assistance of government and risking contamination to myself, my family or others.

Of course, if I am infected, or the family is infected, then we will need assistance from the government. But, that is necessarily a different scenario.

As for forgiveness... Well, I'm Catholic. Sorry, it's what I believe. As such, my conscience defines it as a mortal sin to be knowingly endorsing, or otherwise assisting the Canadian pro-choice movement.

e.a.f. said...

so is A. saying ebola is god's way of getting even with us for pro-choice? if that's the case, its not what I learnt in sunday school.

Simon in the same league as P.M. "lets go to war and kill them" harper? please, have you lost your mind. There are a lot of us in that pro-choice club and we don't agree with P.M. "lets go to war and kill them" harper.

Providing women a choice means more women live. Whoever A. is, they obviously have not studied women's health in Canada prior to abortion being legal. Women died all the time from back room or self induced abortions. They just didn't call it that. It sort of like, if you have the money Catholics don't commit suicide, they have accidents.

Anonymous said...

More straw-man arguments, coupled with deliberate misinterpretation of the argument. No, I'm not going argue against the deliberately insincere.