AH, Baile Átha Cliath
On January the 27th a project began in the Leishenshan area to tackle the spread of the Coronovirus in the Wuhan area. Pre-fabricated units, essentially functioning as lego blocks are prepared off-site to then be put together on-site. This hospital was modelled on the medical facility constructed in Beijing in 2003 to tackle the SARS virus. Coming with state of the start facilities, 1,600 beds and high tech insulation rooms.
It took 10 days and thousands of courageous workers, backed by engineers, resources of the state and the Chinese Communist Party to build a hospital. The reason that it took 10 days and received the focus and attention it did was because of the approach taken by the authorities. It was identified as a crucial need and therefore received the focus and attention it deserved. It is a result of a centrally planned economy that can mobilise quickly and efficiently to the needs of the people in it. It is a result of what role health plays in a society building a socialist project and one that sees health as a commodity, something that can be made a profit off.
In Ireland, we don’t have the facilities in most hospitals, from a labour perspective and also services perspective. They are struggling and every month we learn about how trolleys are overflowing, how nurses are leaving and how there are endemic problems within each and every hospital. They cannot cope.
The most prominent example of this total disregard for the health of the people is the construction of one of the most expensive buildings in the world, the National Children’s Hospital. Not only has it taken several years to construct, it has also run into some of the highest overspending it possibly could have and recent estimates by DCU Professor Paul Davis place potential cost at a whopping 2.4 billion euro.
The contradiction here is straightforward. In a country where the profit motive reigns supreme, the State observes the interests of the developers, of the middlemen, of the managers. In a country where the social interest takes a higher priority, we see an efficient and cost effective approach taken to public works. This is important to note, as it not only highlights how ineffective a free market economy is at delivering large scale public works, but also how expensive it makes for those who contribute via taxation. Social democracy facilitates a parasitic class of gangsters to feed off of it. The Children’s’ Hospital will be built at some stage, but it will have lined the pockets of many different consultants, officials, developers, builders, contractors before it actually helps a single patient.
What the going away lesson from this should be is that if society held the needs of the people ahead of the needs of capitalists and speculators, we would be able to achieve significant steps in reducing poverty, homelessness and sickness in Ireland. We would be able to build the housing we need, the hospitals we need and the schools we need. Until we overcome the central obstacle, the State – which wields political power in favour of those who accumulate profit, we will be unable to cater for our people properly.