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Issue #1749      September 21, 2016

Taking Issue – Rob Gowland

Costly health care and defending the revolution

People quite rightly fear that the Libs – if given the chance – would rush to push us all on to an American-style hyper-expensive fee-paying system of privatised health care. If anyone is still unsure of just what that would be like, they need look no further than the scandal-ridden field of drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinics.

A stint in a private rehab clinic can cost an addict – or more commonly, an addict’s loving and concerned family – a cool $10,000.

Not just the regulation of such clinics but their actual operation should by rights be the responsibility of national health care systems. They should be attached to, in fact be an extension of, the relevant public hospital care for patients suffering from drug or alcohol abuse. In Australia, however, these clinics are private concerns, run either by religious charities or by entrepreneurs who see drug and alcohol abuse as a business opportunity.

A stint in a private rehab clinic can cost an addict – or more commonly, an addict’s loving and concerned family – a cool $10,000. And, to the delight of the operators of these money-making facilities, most addicts relapse at least once and have to be treated again, for another ten grand.

How do addicts or their families pay for such costly treatment? They mortgage their homes, go into debt, descend into poverty. Everything, in fact, that Americans are forced to do if they need to go to hospital.

For capitalism, health care is just another profit-making opportunity. For socialism, it is a service that a society provides for all its members equally and at no charge. Guess which is the more civilised system?

I suspect that the following item won’t exactly be news to readers of this newspaper: according to “the Research Group on Propaganda in Swiss Media”, Western intelligence agencies purposely manipulate the global media to promote misinformation about certain politically relevant events. There, now I’ve shocked you, gentle reader. Sorry about that.

The study by the Swiss group was focussed on reports about the conflict in Syria published by German, Austrian and Swiss media. According to the German journal Freie Welt, the researchers found that 82% of articles, comments and opinions are written to support the position of the US, the EU and NATO. Of course, the class position of the owners of the media in question probably has something to do with where they choose to source their “news”.

The researchers also found that Western intelligence agencies maintain direct contacts with large media sources and provide them with the “right information” which is reported as coming from a source “close to the government or military circles”. In contrast to the much-lauded concept of a “free press”, the study found that “our media from Vienna to Washington often report on the same subjects and even use the same formulations.”

Their conclusion: many Western media outlets have become a means for the dissemination of propaganda and disinformation.

Well, fancy that.

When the US was engaged in trying to bring about the “democratic” overthrow of the government of Salvador Allende in Chile back in the early 1970s, they engineered mass demonstrations by women beating pots and pans and shouting that they were starving. They got international media coverage but Chilean workers were unimpressed. The women demonstrating about poverty were all middle class and upper class women, many of whom had never ventured into their kitchens before they went in to ask their staff for a saucepan they could take to the “protest”.

The failure of such “popular demonstrations” and similarly contrived actions such as the “strike” by truck owners meant Washington had to resort to an outright military coup.

Since then, US intelligence agencies have polished their skills in this area, having engineered several successful (and a couple of unsuccessful) “colour revolutions”. The formula is now very familiar: stage violent and disruptive rallies in a central location, relying on right-wing thugs to fight the police. If local toughs are hard to come by, import Special Forces operatives from as far afield as the US, Britain or Israel to dress up as local fascists. With a compliant mass media that refuses to look too closely at what’s really going on when there is a “protest” against a left-wing government, whipping up the appearance (at least on television) of a popular revolt is all too easy.

Do you remember the media reports of protests in Venezuela’s capital in June over food? The Sydney Morning Herald gave half a page to one story, under the headline “We want food!” and the by-line Efrain Otero, Caracas, but sourced the story from no less than three global news agencies: Reuters, AP, and Bloomberg (see the Swiss story above). The first paragraph set the tone: “Protesters demanding food made a run for the Venezuelan presidential palace on Thursday in a rare, apparently spontaneous outburst of anger at the socialist administration in Caracas.”

However, with the best will in the world, Mr Otero could not inflate the number of demonstrators beyond “more than 100”, which is hardly any, considering the space devoted to covering the demonstration. The “spontaneous” protest, which Otero also admitted was “rare”, erupted right in front of media identified as “pro-opposition broadcaster Vivo-play” who dutifully reported a woman telling them “there’s no more food in the shops and supermarkets”.

President Maduro pointed out to a much larger Indigenous rally later in the day, that the enemies of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela are waging an “economic war” against his regime: “Every day, they bring out violent groups seeking violence in the streets”.

Now doesn’t that sound familiar?

Whenever the working people achieve a revolution and take over the running of a country, they must be prepared to defend their revolution, for the forces of wealth and privilege will fight back, ruthlessly, in an attempt to regain their former position.

Next article – Getting fooled on Iraq, Libya, now Russia

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