Chickens coming home to roost again

chickens
The following is an extensive extract from the Business Insider. I recommend ignoring my extract and reading the full post right here, but if you’re determined not to, go ahead and read my truncated version.

It’s a little technical and although my knowledge of economic theory is improving, I don’t understand all of it. But the implications for all of us are very serious. This is the stuff that John Key and Bill English seem able to gloss over but which continues to make a mockery of their ever-optimistic and perennially wrong economic forecasts. The 95% that I do understand isn’t really debatable. As you’ll find when you read it, there’s an inevitability to what is happening that lends it verisimilitude.

This is just part of the reasons why John Key gave up on catching up with Australia and Bill English made a virtue of our being poorer than our mates across the ever-widening ditch. The ill-informed, self-serving and uninspiring people you put in power don’t get it.

The last paragraph is spine-chilling, provocative, and hopefully will not come to pass.

Not yet.

Over to Raul Ilargi Mendoz…

…and quotes within quotes:
Continue reading “Chickens coming home to roost again”

A media hatchet job

Roman Hasil isn’t the chief guilty party in yet another DHB fiascoRoman Hasil

Watching the news media hounding Dr Roman Hasil has been disturbing to me. Anyone who has experienced depression or lived with a victim would have immediately recognised the outward symptoms.

Watching the way TVNZ’s trusty news team pounced on an obviously distraught Hasil and his female friend in Australia was very disturbing. It wasn’t news reporting, it was akin to ambulance chasing. It was cruel.

The 8 unfortunate women whose lives have been affected by this flawed man’s botched sterilization operations and problems with the bottle would have gained little comfort from the exercise in persecution. Hasil is as much a victim as they are.

Who is really to blame here?

OK, Dr Hasil is not blameless, his behaviour was disgraceful and probably criminal, but what about:

  • the decision makers at Whanganui District Health Board and Whanganui Hospital who failed to carry out the most basic background checks when hiring Dr Hasil. They didn’t even contact his last employer.
  • the recruitment company who held back a damning reference from one of two referees (yes, just two) listed in Dr Hasil’s CV.
  • the string of employers who failed to address Hasil’s obvious health problems.
  • the Medical Council, who could have done more to obtain information from their Australian counterparts.
  • the whole unwieldy New Zealand health edifice which has left the Whanganui Hospital so short of medical staff that they find it necessary to cut corners. Too many administrators – not enough doctors and nurses. Overworked staff. A vicious circle of destruction echoed around the country.
  • our pathetic per capita GDP which ensures that we can’t afford to rectify the shortages.
  • the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons who should have a one stop shop database of information about their members.

Who will pay when the lawyers start on the compensation hunt?

We all know who will pay. It’ll be the long-suffering taxpayers and ratepayers when the District Health Board is sued. It’ll be the patients whose care will suffer because of funds diverted to the battle and staff diverted by the process.

Who should pay?

  • The recruitment agency.
  • The individuals at the DHB who failed in their duty. Not the organizations to which they belong.

Every time an MP, a Minister, a council, a cop, or a raft of other perpetrators does something stupid which results in litigation the taxpayer pays the costs and the damages.

It’s time the individuals shouldered the responsibility for their actions. Maybe we could then look forward to a little more care being exercised before decisions are made or libelous statements uttered.

Responsibility

And after all this, and various other fiascoes, the DHB Chief Executive, Memo Musa, still has his job.

Curious.

Throwing good money after bad

It’s about time the New Zealand taxpayer saw some action on the dreadful state of the tottering health edifice. We can’t afford to pay medical staff enough to keep them in this country, but we can shell out tens of millions (hundreds?) on exponentially increasing health bureaucracy.

It’s crazy.

We need answers, results and accountability. Information Technology is supposed to make life easier for bureaucrats, instead it just produces more and more paper which nobody reads and an increasing spiral of administrative complexity. More and more managers of managers. Less and less doctors and nurses. It’s a sorry state of affairs when we’re spending more money on health than ever before, but our health services seem to be in an ever-decreasing spiral of effectiveness.

The problem isn’t what we’re spending, it’s how we’re spending it. What has changed in the system that requires vastly increased expenditure on non-medical staff and services? If those changes haven’t resulted in improved services and cost effectiveness why were they made and, more importantly, why are we stuck with them?

Michael, I suspect you got it right for once

Can’t be wrong all the time.

Wanganui mayor, Michael Laws, had this to say a while back regarding the Whanganui DHB:

“My initial inclination is that one administrative entity that looked after the west coast of the North Island – from Levin to New Plymouth and included both Wanganui and Palmerston North – would be preferable to the current hodgepodge.”

Sounds good to me. Now all he has to do is stop abusing his fellow DHB members, get them to co-operate and start getting stuff done as he did with the City Council; at least during his first term. Maybe he can’t cope with not being numero uno on the Board.

There is no need for Whanganui Hospital to provide full services if a combined alternative could, as it should, result in more bang for the buck. If you’re living in Greater Auckland you may well have to travel far greater distances (and through worse traffic) to receive treatment than you would if you were to travel from Wanganui to Palmerston North.

Case in point

John de Waal A few years ago I cut off the end my thumb by guillotining it in a folding trailer towbar. Yes, it hurt. At the time I was living in Whangaparaoa on the Hibiscus Coast. The nearest hospital was North Shore, but the nearest place where I’d have received full treatment was Middlemore in Otahuhu. By the time I got there and waited a day or two for treatment my thumb would have been dog tucker. Maybe literally.

By amazing good fortune, I hit the jackpot at my Red Beach local medical centre. A plastic surgeon, Dr John de Waal, was visiting to provide staff training. That’s John on the right. Give him a ring if you need a half-life refit. A lateral thinker and a nice bloke. Thanks John :o)

He sewed my thumb back together as a practical demo for the staff. Clever work – drilled holes in the reinserted thumbnail to serve as a splint to sew the mangled flesh back together. Ten years on it’s almost as good as new. If it hadn’t been for that happy coincidence I’d have been unable to carry on working as a marine engineer. I’d have been another ACC statistic on a permanent disability benefit.

So what’s your point I hear you cry?

With our present setup, unless you live very close to a major hospital you can’t expect close-to-home Rolls-Royce treatment in any area of medicine anywhere in this country. If something bad happens to you you can’t expect treatment around the corner or a helicopter in 5 minutes. The cookie jar is not bottomless. Unless we rebuild the whole tottering edifice from the ground up, you can’t expect satisfactory treatment anywhere. Waiting lists for emergency treatment are, on many occasions, as unsatisfactory as waiting lists for surgery. Yet again we need to start with a clean slate. This time with more input from the medical folk, less from the bean-counters and the pedlars of high tech baubles. It’s a bloody mess.

So where to from here?

This post restored from Google cache

The chickens are coming home to roostchickens

The IMF suggest that the world is in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. In the US and here in New Zealand we’re in election mode. What have our current governments and our would-be leaders had to say about:

  • how we got into this mess,
  • what they intend to do about it
  • and how we avoid the next meltdown?

Not very much.

Wait for the bang

Major US financial institutions are going to the wall with monotonous regularity; many innocent bystanders have lost their houses, their life’s savings, or both. Tens of billions, possibly hundreds of billions, of US federal funding (also known as tax-payers’ money) is going to be needed to bail major lenders out.

How’s that going to play out? Is foreign money going to continue to be invested in the US? A falling US dollar, reluctance to fix the fundamental problems and endemic bad debt may keep investors’ purses closed. One good thing. Maybe at last we’ll see a revolt against obscene executive salaries and bonuses, especially for those who preside over poorly performing businesses.

Housing is overpriced around the world. Bad debt is endemic, building and construction are in decline. The US Fed chief gets it all wrong or doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. “What housing crisis?” he said. And he predicted that no more financial organisations would collapse after Bear Stearns.

Things are going to get worse. You can’t have major structural woes in the US without worldwide problems.

Meanwhile, here in the sticks

We will feel their pain.

Here in New Zealand our banking sector is probably OK, but other financial institutions have been falling like ninepins and there has been lamentable corporate and regulatory oversight of the sector. We regulate productive businesses until they’re strangled, but we can’t enact simple regulation to force financial institutions to act responsibly.

We allow their unprincipled principals to scurry out the back door with tens of millions ensconced in family trusts.

As everybody knows, we have far too much debt. As individuals and as a nation. So the weakening of the labour market is, and will continue to be, a real problem for many. People who are up to their ears in debt—credit cards, hire purchase and mortgages on homes with falling market value—are going to be in deep strife when their overtime dries up or their jobs go down the gurgler.

We’ve actively encouraged people to go into hock for LCD TVs and holidays in Bali. We’ve begged them to max out their credit cards and refinance their homes to spend up large on consumer goods. How stupid is that? Great for Nokia, Chinese plastic junk-makers, BMW and Sony. It may even have produced a few low wage, low productivity jobs in retail, but it’s wrecked our economy.

It’s grim and getting grimmer

Per capita employment has been growing, but working hours have been falling. Have businesses been hoarding labour? What happens next?

It’s already started. Thousands of Kiwi jobs are being lost. 26,000 in the last year. Risk is being reassessed around the globe. Economies with heavy current account deficits are in the gun. Our current account deficit of $140 billion requires 8% of our GDP to service. That’s $14 billion in interest payments. Money that doesn’t get spent on reinvestment, wages and growth. Money that goes to overseas banks’ shareholders.

The investment chickens are eyeing up their home perches.

How much of your mortgage interest payments go to compensate the overseas banks because they’ve been lending billions to dodgy borrowers? If we’d been responsible with our fiscal policies and our personal spending habits your mortgage interest rate would be 5% or less.

Why have we crippled businesses (also known as job providers) with the highest interest rates in the developed world?

We’ve done it in an attempt to stop spending.

Has it worked?

No.

What should we do?

Stop institutions lending irresponsibly.

How?

For a start:

  1. kill no deposit hire purchase.
  2. stop hire purchase interest holidays.
  3. restrict mortgage lending to 80% of registered valuation.
  4. stop owners of second and subsequent houses from legally screwing the IRD.