Hegemony is a word I have resisted using to describe U.S. geopolitics for sometime. It is described in Dictionary as:
Leadership or dominance especially by one state or social group over others.
It is a word that has been used by more left-wing commentators than myself to describe U.S. geopolitics – Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal and others – when trying to explain the degree to which the United States seeks to impose itself on other nations. United States Presidents ranging from Jimmy Carter to the incumbent Donald Trump, have been accused of trying to impose this on the world, however true it may – or may not – have been in the context of their accusations.
When Mr Trump was elected President, he issued an Executive Order that withdrew the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Many nationalist/populist commentators rushed to applaud him as an example of the nationalism that they wished their country would espouse. I wonder if they would have still congratulated him if they knew that barely a year later he would be making statements about potentially rejoining.
No one in New Zealand should be celebrating Mr Trump’s latest announcement, that New Zealand and nations like it should be made to made to adopt the American model of health care.
First off, what model? All I see is a mish mash of failing and failed health care programmes that might have been well intended when they were first released, but which have proven to be disastrous failures. All I see is a horrendously expensive, completely disjointed system dominated by inept corporations who only see dollars.
Second, why on Earth would New Zealand want to do away with Pharmac? This is the drug agency that negotiates on New Zealand’s behalf for affordable medicine at prices closer to what New Zealanders can afford than those that are being offered in the United States.
Third, who is Mr Trump to tell over sovereign nations what they can and cannot do with their health systems? Mr Trump is practicing as I always feared he would, economic hegemony, which he is prepared to back up using the pulpit of the bully boy – the big boy who goes around and smashes little kids lunches; who starts fights with vulnerable people if they do not let him have his way.
I live in New Zealand because I am committed to helping make New Zealand the best nation it can be. I am also living here with my severe hypertension for which doctors have pretty much given up on trying to find a solution, because New Zealand is lucky enough to have – for all the concerns aired about its funding priorities – a Government agency like Pharmac to keep costs affordable.
Depending on where one gets them from, my medication would cost hundreds of dollars per annum in the United States, just for one medicine. I am on five. A brief break down is below (source: Drugs):
- Nifedipine – I have two a day; a years supply would cost about U.S.$500
- Furosemide – 1 1/2 daily; a years supply would cost about U.S.$40
- Metoprolol – 1 per day: a years supply would cost about U.S.$700
- Felodipine – 2 per day: a years supply would cost about U.S.$750
- Cilazapril – not found
If we took the cost of these medications and added it together, I am looking at effectively U.S.$2,000. If we add the nearly 29 years that I have been on some of this medication, we would be looking at a grand total of U.S.$58,000 (N.Z.$83,238 based on current exchange rate). It says nothing about the locoid and other creams I have used for my eczema or my inhalers for my asthma.
I believe everyone has the right to affordable healthcare. Why should New Zealanders and other nationalities suffer because of one persons desire for U.S. economic hegemony?