...how would you know?
The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, today encouraged Canadians who may be at risk for cancer to talk to their physician about screening.
“Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada,” said Minister Ambrose. “If you are at risk of cancer or have a personal or family history of the disease, talk to your physician about whether you need testing. Many forms of cancer can also be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle through physical activity, healthy eating and not smoking.”
I had no idea.
Minister Ambrose is an intelligent and accomplished woman. No doubt she is surrounded in her day to day work by other intelligent, accomplished and well educated adults. Is there anyone in her circle that isn't aware that testing for a wide variety of ailments is a wise precaution? Probably not. So she is directing this Philippic to the wider nation, or at least to that tiny portion of the country that reads government press releases.
I'm being a bit unkind here. It's unlikely that Minister Ambrose actually wrote this release. She might not even be aware that the release was made, or if she is only as one item among many documents that pass her desk on a daily basis. Some humble functionary in the Health Department spends his or her days churning out these things. They are the governmental equivalent of a mother admonishing her children to brush their teeth. Which begs the question as to why issue them at all?
The simple answer to that question, and the answer to so many of the dumb things we do in life, is that strange human desire to do something. When confronted with a grave and terrible problem it is a human instinct to try to solve the problem, even if you haven't the slightest clue how to solve it. If you happen to be in a position of authority, whether private or public sector, there is the added burden of seeming to do something in order to justify your authority. It requires a great deal of experience, will and foresight to know when not do anything. The art of perfect stillness can take decades to realize.
Unfortunately communications flacks in government departments tend to be in their twenties and thirties. While they speak and write with greater confidence than most people their age, they often produce only a glittering glibness. Judgement is something harder to establish. A government which tries to solve every problem, even ones it has no realistic chance of even mitigating, is a government doomed to failure. When you lecture people to get testing for cancer, or AIDS or any other disease you are assuming the role of national nag, something between a hectoring mother and an obnoxious wife. This is something that even the early democratic socialists would have balked at.
This is the contradiction inherent in a democratic welfare state. The people are too dumb to manage their own affairs, but they are considered sufficiently competent to elect the leaders who are charged with running their affairs. You're not smart enough or farsighted enough to go to the doctor, but you are clever enough to pick your own parents. From this we get the alternating patronizing and pandering attitude of government officials and politicians.
That's how it's worked so far. But now fewer and fewer people vote. In the not so distant future a government might win a majority of seats in the Commons with less 30% of the electorate bothering to show up at the polls. An apathetic electorate is a statist's dream. No longer does the Master Builder have to worry about getting past the mainstream voter, he merely targets his appeal to those likely to show up at the polls.
We are already seeing this with big city municipal elections, where the nutty left is guaranteed somewhere between a third and half the seats on council. It isn't that these views represent between and a third and half the voters, just those that happen to give enough of a damn to vote. For welfare statists this is a undisguised blessing. It is far easier to form a coalition of government dependents and Leftist true believers than establish mainstream support. They might comprise only a third of the electorate, but that's more than enough to win an election when only 40% of the electorate bothers showing up.
Now we have Rona Ambrose telling us to get screened for cancer. It's grating but largely harmless. How long before a future NDP governments orders Canadians to take these tests, on pain of fine or having their health benefits suspended? It seems preposterous today but today the boomers are still in reasonably good health and paying taxes. Today conservatives still show up at the polls.
Tomorrow is another day.