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‘Why do we rescue banks but not health systems?’

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New research from the US suggests that our political views, rather than being the result of carefully accumulated analysis and an expression of our most deeply held values, are born instead of fundamental physiological responses to the world. It seems people who hold traditional right-wing views tend to be more fearful of the world around them. Who’d have guessed?

Researchers found people who became afraid quickly tended to hold views that protected them as a social group above others.

Because these views were often grounded in deep-rooted fear, changing them was difficult – not least because when challenged the people in question tended to cover their ears with their hands and sing Queen’s Greatest Hits loudly.

I’m not convinced psychologists needed to tell us that people who don’t like others might be scared of them. However, we can’t criticise said psychologists because they would say that we’re scared of them and look at us in a smug way. So let’s embrace the research and wonder if it helps us at all.

Beyond giving us the opportunity to call Tories scaredy cats, I’m not sure it does.

Polls have long told us that nurses are more likely to support Labour than Tories. As the parties increasingly morph into a single sound bite with too much hair gel, that may change – but nurses have traditionally supported leftist politics. We like people.

We like them so much we choose jobs that help them. We might think investing in the health of everyone is a more interesting way to spend our lives than trying to gather wealth.

Beyond that simple principle, I am not very interested in politics. When I watch politics unfold I tend to feel bemused rather than pleased or afraid.

And bemused is how I feel watching the hysteria surrounding the current economic downturn. I mean, on the one hand, it’s quite touching that banks are being bailed out by governments and many rich people will stay rich without having to sell off any yachts.

On the other hand, why do we rescue banks or insurance companies but not health systems?

People who buy into economics say that our existence depends on a healthy stock exchange. Without people buying and selling shares in things that don’t actually matter very much, we would all be living in caves.

That’s nonsense. We could manage fine without a stock exchange and we’d maybe even muddle by without so many banks.

We couldn’t cope so easily without hospitals, though. Yet the people who run them are constantly being told to manage their finances or suffer the consequences.

What strange priorities the people we put in charge of things seem to have.

Want to read more of Mark Radcliffe’s opinions? Just click on the mroe by this author link at the top of the page.

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