Friday, August 13, 2010

Why we need effective government

The coalition government in the UK is engaging in an unprecedented dismantling of government functions. We are constantly told that nothing is sacred (although when the public health minister suggested removing free milk for toddlers, the Prime Minister, recalling the reaction to Margaret Thatcher’s axing of milk for older children, quickly stopped her). Yet it is easy to forget why we need government until it is too late. In an excellent blog on the BMJ site, Vassilly Vlassov describes how the Moscow forest fires followed Putin’s cutbacks in the state forestry service. After Hurricane Katrina, Pail Krugman wrote in the NY Times (5th Sept 2005) “…the federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?. “ Also a few years ago, I wrote an article in the Medical Journal of Australia entitled “What are governments for?". It may be worth a re-read.

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