Pinochet is dead. Good. An absurd response, though we all deserve a little cheering up. The problem was with Pinochet alive. All the people who are no longer around as a result of him, are still not around and won't be coming back.
And we were informed this morning by clipped and matronly Patricia Hewitt that the NHS must not only clear its debts but must achieve a surplus. As I understand it, a surplus is a profit. What is the National Health Service supposed to make a profit on? Its purpose is to make people better. Is Hewitt expecting tips from grateful patients? An organisation that does not produce anything can only make a surplus by cutting costs: getting rid of staff, buying outside cheap labour and supplies, cutting corners, making patient turnaround faster. Get them in and out of the operating room and hospital and back home before the bleeding stops. Not so many sheets to wash, fewer nurses to employ. Why must there be a profit? Of course, it's nonsense, because the
money is state money, or should be. And if they do make a surplus, the NHS will be told it
doesn't need so much funding. I can't be bothered to find the figures, but I have a
strong intuition that the cost of updating and maintaining Trident, and
the shortfall in funding of the NHS that causes it to be in debt may
have a relationship to each other. A moral one, if nothing else. I loathe this government.
I've just read Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country. I've never read any of Vonnegut's books without a)smiling and b)weeping quietly to myself. This time is no different. I suspect I recognise a fellow depressive who knows exactly what there is to be depressed about. Laughter is how depressives survive, when they do survive (though the Prozac helps). But Mr V suggests that eventually the laughing stops. He's in his mid-eighties now and working on a novel about a comedian living at the end of the world, which he can't finish. The problem is:
'Finally, you get just too tired, and the news is too awful, and humor doesn't work anymore. Somebody like Mark Twain thought life was quite awful but held the awfulness at bay with jokes and so forth, but finally he couldn't do it anymore...It may be that I am no longer able to joke - that it is no longer a satisfactory defense mechanism.'
I really hope he finishes his novel. But I know what he means. I can feel the sadness seeping up through the Prozac like slime through floorboards. Still, Pinochet's dead. Hey ho.