Monday, July 17, 2006

That liver could have gone to a white person!

It was the front-page article and the headline read: Illegal immigrant gets $500,000 liver transplant and the sting said "A Pacific Island overstayer will not pay a cent towards a half-million dollar hospital bill after the government granted her permanent residency." The story is een important enough to be granted it's own logo 'Migrant Health Crisis'.*

The Sunday Star Time isn't racist you see, it's just worried:

"The money we spend on these people is money we cannot spent on New Zealand residents or citizens," Crombie said.
But lets look at the woman involved in the lead story in just a little bit more detail. She moved to New Zealand in 1998 and worked in a Tomato packhouse in South Auckland. Now my rant about employers and immigration will have to wait for anohter day, but today I'll just point out she was working here for 4 years before she got sick, and that the extent to which her employment complied with New Zealand employment and tax law was almost certainly up to her employer, rather than something she could control.

She went into liver failure while she was pregnant, but she didn't go to a doctor until she was 7 months pregnant, because she was worried about being an illegal immigrant. The liver failure was a result of undetected hepatitis B.

Did you get that - if she had gone to the doctor earlier she wouldn't have had liver failure. The reason her health care ended up costing so much money was not because we're too generous with health care to illegal immigrants, but because we're too stingy.** If this woman had had access to health care throughout the time she was working in New Zealand she wouldn't be sick now. That she was too scared to go to the doctor is an indictment on our immigration system.

I am going to write more about immigration. The current debate appears to be limited to either Winston Peters style frothing at the mouth, or defending immigration because business needs workers. There seems to be no room in the debate for those of us for who believe in immigration from a left-win, anti-racist perspective. Which makes it all the more important that those of us who hold that view speak it as loudly as we can.

* I have a kind of fascination/pity for the people who design logos for news stories. It seems to me that it'd be a truly soul-destroying job. One news channel's logo for the death of the twins in South Auckland recently was a hospital bed with two dummies on it - tasteful.

** This is obviously a problem among all poor people, not just illegal immigrants. Charging for doctor's visits in a publicly funded health service is ridiculous, and not just because I don't believe in paying for health care. Primary health care is the most effective way of spending health dollars, and yet it is the area where there is the biggest


  1. "Charging for doctor's visits in a publicly funded health service is ridiculous, and not just because I don't believe in paying for health care"
    It takes some work - but that has to be one of the dumbest comments you have made.

    How long do you *already* have to wait for a doctor? How scarce are our health resources *already*?
    If you lowered the "price" to free how much worse do you think that would get?

    There needs to be a marginal level of cost on something like healthcare, simply because health is a marginal thing. Finding the right level of cost to allow for everyone to see a doctor when they should (using self-selection bias) is the difficulty. But the level is not free...

  2. Perhaps you missed the "illegal" part of "illegal immigrant." When it comes down to the question "Which of our valued citizens or permanent residents shall we cut from the waiting list today?", one obvious answer is "How about this bugger who isn't even meant to be here?"

    To bypass the racism red herring ("NZ citizen or resident" doesn't equate to "white person" by a long way), let's consider the second case cited by the article, a woman from England. I believe you and me were both born in England and brought out here by our parents. I don't know about yours, but mine had no end of trouble getting into NZ, it took them a lot of time and effort. So if the odd fellow English type figures "Fuck it, I'll just go there and not come back," the only thing I'd like to see provided for them out of my taxes is a free plane ride home and a police escort to the plane.

    I don't see any reason to modify that opinion just because the dumbass in question comes from Tuvalu or Syria and not England - after all, that would be racist.

  3. You know what, iiq374? I'm really, really sick of you talking to my friend Maia in those insulting terms. Disagree with her if you will, but don't call her dumb. I know Maia in real life and I can attest that she is a brilliant scholar and humanitarian who actually goes out and works to help the causes she supports in this blog, rather than sitting at a computer all day trying to score points off other people. Keep your patronizing, rude insults to yourself, please.

    As for your comment: well, you have to wait for health care in pretty much any country. I waited months for some urgent surgery in America, where health care is far from free. I've also worked for the British NHS, which provides free health care, and I'd take the NHS over America's and New Zealand's systems any day.

  4. Go sofiya!

    Isn't it interesting how abusive many RW commenters have got in recent days, unable to deal with the challenges Maia's posts pose for them?

    It makes me wonder if they actually want to silence Maia, and other posters who hold similar views.

  5. Yes, visits to the doctor are just so much fun, if it was free then everyone would be going every day - it certainly beats a night out at the movies or reading a good book.

  6. Yes Trouble, it reminds me a bit of something I wrote some time ago:

    I'm frequently ashamed that some RW bloggers seem to find me an "acceptable" feminist. I must try harder.

    (sorry I originally somehow posted this to the wrong thread)

  7. You know what? I consider "feminazi" an anti-Semitic slur. News flash, RW guys: it's not funny. It's offensive to Jews. It's offensive to women. It's offensive to people who fight tyrannical patriarchal regimes such as the Nazis. It's not even original. Get over yourselves.

  8. Insolent Prick you are no longer welcome posting here - go and be abusive in your own space.

  9. There has to be some sort of rationing, money is a bad way to do it except almost any other way.
    I'm all for getting rid of it as long as we have an effective alternative.

    Similarly if a person is an illegal immigrant there needs to be a sense in which they are unwelcome or else they are defacto legal immigrants, while legal immigrants are just naive immigrants.

    Getting rid of boarders would also be nice but I don’t know if we are ready for that, maybe it would be something you would ease into. If done all of a sudden, it would probably be disruptive rather like suddenly raising the global temperature by 8 degrees.

  10. "I'd take the NHS over America's and New Zealand's systems any day."

    My experience is different. 3 NHS doctors I rang when I had a chest infection offered me a two week waiting list for an appointment - because of a backlog of flu vaccines. I offered to pay for an appointment out of hours - no deal.

    One problem are people who go to the doctor for anything they think might be wrong, even if it is a cold or sore back. No incentive to just go to the pharmacy or try other therapies, but go to the "free" doctor.

    My partner was sick and told (as a recent migrant) you better bring two forms of id (national insurance card wasn't enough proof) and have a pre-screening appointment with a nurse (who told her how bad she was for being overweight and how that can do a lot to her health) before doctor can see you, which wont be for another week. She didn't go back there again, and just waited till she got better (hardly in the mood to sit for an hour at another doctor when she could barely get out of bed).

    Of course you can bypass that and pay twice which means over £100 for a private GP as well as the tax/national insurance you pay.

    By contrast in NZ I could always get an appointment within a day or so, changed doctor with ease.

    Free at point of use is anything but free, someone pays and the consumer loses any control over service.

  11. Sofiya - sorry you misinterpreted but calling someones comment stupid is not equivalent to calling the person stupid.

    Oddly enough although I may work with a computer all day, I too get out and help those causes I deem worthy. Despite the false impressions held by a number of left wing / Socialist supporters it is possible for "capitalists to care". Of course it is more likely for capitalist libertarians to be in that camp than straight "right wingers" - but certainly not impossible. I have no doubt that Maia invests great efforts in the community, just as I do. But that does not make either of us immune to coming up with utterly riduculous assertions at times.

    It is the (general) nature of blogging that when someone says something you can respond with your opinion of what was said. If you trawl through the comments here you will see a few times when I have agreed with the general principle of what has been said - and indicated as so. Just as I will indicate when there is a flagrant misnomer in an otherwise valid argument.

  12. GP fees are easy. I visit each 6 months for free (there's plenty of doctors driving taxis if anyone wants to complain about workloads), and if the doctor asks you in again that's free too.

    Treat unlicenced migrant workers as citizens, with the protection of labour laws and all, and you'll have a lot less employers trying to abuse cheap "illegal" labour.

  13. Just posted an essay, but deleted it by accident
    Basically.... Why is that arse getting on that lady's case.
    I am English and from England -and as he proudly proclaimed, he is from an English background too - yeh right ! - but clearly does NOT have the mindset of an Englishman . Bigoted is the word that springs to mind.
    I have never posted here before put felt compelled by this story I think you are a remarkably brave lady, who has put your own health in danger for the chance of a better life for your baby, in fear of being deported.
    Things are SO bad just now, it shouldn't have to be this way.
    Oh and that guy say he wants to come to England - You are NOT WANTED - you bigoted ignorant pig.
    In Britain, there is racial tension between the Pakistani/Indian ( muslim ) community at the moment. However I must point out that 90% of the doctors in our hospitals are of Pakistani or Indian ethnicity . So those thugs who go out on missions, to beat innocent ethnic minorities, and get the crap beaten out of them , themselves, are ultimately treated - or have their lives saved by the people that they want to destroy.
    Were they born with brains do you think ?
    comments that guy said re: legal/illegal immigrant has no bearing if someone needs help.
    Don't get me wrong - I don't agree with illegal immegrants swarming thUK either, and being parasites on our taxes.... But if it's life of death - then I choose LIFE EVERY day of the week.
    Bear in mind - our government squanderee £800 million on the Millenium dome - which is now defunct... How many lives could that have saved.
    The liver life saving operation is a drop in the ocean ... And may I remind you of George Best who had a new liver - and pissed it up the wall.... Let's all pause and think for a moment about that waste....

    I wish you all the best - from a friend in England