On February 2, I had a heart attack. All of a sudden, I was spun into the emergency health system. Over the next four days I received the most amazing health care from the ambos to the nurses and doctors at the public Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. It was a powerful rebuttal of the narrow-minded idea that society has to be based on material self-interest, profit and greed.
Lying in this now famous coronary care unit (CCU), the subject of an ongoing TV series, it occurred to me not only how good many of our public health institutions still are, but also the great potential to extend such excellent service to community-based ongoing and preventative health (including mental health) and dental care.
The farmer from way out west in the bed next to me told a story of rural hospital cutbacks and closures, and of train lines axed. What a criminal waste. Before long, of course, all of us in the CCU will be thrown back out on less glorious parts of our health system.
If public, community-based clinics can be the base of a health system in a Third World country like Cuba, why not in wealthy Australia? Of course it is possible — it is just that it will never willingly be introduced by the traditional ruling parties, because both Labor and the Coalition are locked into a destructive neoliberal course. They are taking our society in the opposite direction of where it needs to go.
"What do you do for job?", asked a cardiologist before she inserted a stent into my left anterior descender artery. I told her I was a professional ratbag. It didn't seem to bother her. The nurse beside her, with a "Your rights at work" badge on, smiled. And then they did their job, excellently.
That's my story from the recovery bed this week, folks. Hopefully it convinces some of you readers to do your job as the funders of this great ratbaggy rag, Green Left Weekly. We're on a great and necessary struggle together. I have no doubt about that. There is such a better world that it is possible to win and build out there. Don't let the cynical snipes from the Malcolm Turnbulls and Peter Costellos make you think, even for a moment, that it is just a silly, utopian dream. It's just the chronic greed of profit-addicted capitalism that stands in the way.
In two weeks we'll be marking issue #700 of GLW — a chance to celebrate over 16 years of building not just an alternative voice to the bland, pro-rich, toe-the-line media of Murdoch and his ilk, but also building a tool to help organise and advance progressive struggles here and overseas.
We're soliciting messages of support to help us celebrate another milestone in our history. A selection of the messages we receive will be printed in GLW and placed on our website — if you're interested in sending us a short note to mark the occasion, email it to <email@example.com>, fax it to (02) 9690 1381 or post it to the address below.
Last week, our supporters raised $6798 bringing the total raised for our fighting fund so far this year to $20,666. That's 8% of our target. If you can you help us get closer to our $250,000 target for this year, please phone us on the toll-free line 1800 634 206 (calls from within Australia only), send in a cheque to PO Box 394, Broadway 2007, or donate securely online (protected by SecurePay) at <http://www.greenleft.org.au/donate.php>.