I see Chris Trotter over at Bowalley road has now gone completely barmy (even for a lefty) and accused the National government of being Nazis with the new welfare reforms. He even goes as far as to suggest that the MacDoctor and his colleagues are somehow complicit (or will be forced to be complicit) in this. Apparently, what has caused him the jump the shark is this:
“THE EVIDENCE is said to be compelling: “for most individuals, working improves health and wellbeing and reduces psychological distress.” In fact, so convinced of the health benefits of employment is the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) senior health advisor, Dr David Bratt, that he equates putting patients on “welfare” with putting them on “an addictive debilitating drug with significant adverse effects to both the patient and their family (whanau) not dissimilar to smoking.””
I’m not exactly sure what has caused poor Chris so much distress. The above statement is perfectly true. There have been a number of studies that demonstrate that being booked off work for a prolonged period for an illness has adverse health effects over and beyond the obvious health problem that caused the patient to be booked of work. If you took two people with similar back pain and placed one on welfare and the other in a part-time (manageable) job the person who works will almost always fair better than the person who does not. This is in almost every parameter imaginable – happiness, life satisfaction, socialisation, wealth, general health and even specific resolution of the back pain. The evidence for this is not merely compelling, it is overwhelming. It is the equivalent of taking a drug at least as dangerous as smoking in terms of ongoing debilitating effects.
This is not saying, as Chris tries to hysterically make out, that sickness beneficiaries are evil or junkies. Nor is it saying that such people are worthless (and should be, by Nazi analogy, packed off into concentration camps). It is saying, however, that placing obstacles in the way of someone willing to work is monstrously cruel and every effort should be made to find some form of work for all except the sickest and permanently disabled (who are now on “assisted living” benefits).
For years (probably decades) the most glaring inadequacy of the MSD work certificate is that it contains no provision for light duties or some form of possible work description. In order for MSD to find suitable work for sickness beneficiaries, they have to go down the confrontational route of being assessed by a strange doctor hired by WINZ to provide a work report. Often this report is inconclusive, further delaying work. It is obvious to all GPs that the persons best able to determine what kind of work a person is capable of is the person concerned and his own GP. Most will come to some reasonable arrangement (which, of course, may still not involve working) that the patient should greatly benefit from.
Like most socialists, Chris suspects we are all going to the dark side (after all, all doctors are rich pricks)
“And, just as they were in Germany 75 years ago, the doctors are being asked to help. We must hope that Kiwi physicians turn out to be less enthusiastic social-engineers.”
Thanks for the faint vote of confidence, Chris. I don’t know of a single doctor whose focus is on anything but what is best for his/her patient (yes, there is probably some bad egg out there somewhere, I just haven’t met him/her). No practising doctor is focussed on what the National government wants. Ever. Not even the bad egg, I’ve never met (s/he will be focussed on money).
Work does not make you free, but it is good for your health. I find it sad that the very people who purport to be caring and concerned wish to keep beneficiaries confined to a lifestyle that is manifestly debilitating, rather than helping them strive to attain some semblance of dignity to their lives again.