A Long Life is Not Enough

January 8, 2013, 12:26 pm by Heather Webster

Our laws and government reflect are a statement of our values. Resources are never infinite, so we must spend government budgets wisely. Choices about expenditure are rarely simple and never easy, but our choices say much about who we are and what we value. Our investments influence the present and the future.
Modern food production, excellent public health, engineering and medicine assist us to live the longest and healthiest lives in history. Attitudes and laws about women’s rights, homosexuality, and discrimination prove our capacity for vigorous debate and rapid change. But where is the debate about healthy lives as opposed to being alive?
The Health Department increasingly dominates the state budget. Its rapid growth is cannibalising investment in all other areas. As our population ages, we seem obsessed by keeping people alive without consideration of their quality of life. Ageing is addressed by expensive and often invasive treatments, often with little consideration of quality of life. Much of the health budget is spent on fixing the results of preventable diseases and prolonging already long lives in sad and lonely hospital beds.
Where is our investment in education and income generating capacity, not just to compete in an increasingly competitive world but also to prevent looming health problems like obesity? We need the debates necessary to guide investment where it can deliver quality of life, for both individuals and our society. Rights have no power without the capacity to service them.
Investment in science for an innovative future, investment in the arts for a rich cultural life and investment in education strengthen us all for the future. We ignore them and under-resource them at our peril. Declining resources and rising costs need tough social and political choices. The current state budget is using more and more of our diminishing resources on an “un-healthy” budget. Failure to control and direct the budget wisely will result in long-term ill health for us all.
Heather Webster
As published in InDaily 7 Jan 2013

Posted in: Conversations at the Creek

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