Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to miscommunicate - intentionally

It is easy to miscommunicate; just re-define any word to your own convenience. We can always understand each other because we all share the same understanding of the words we use. Sometimes, however, certain people (read: politicians and scoundrels) think they are very smart and they know more than we do. That is, they know more meanings of a common word than we do.

A case in point is this. There is a report in The Age newspaper today that says Victorian public hospitals are charging Medicare for services delivered on "paid public time." The state insisted that it had sought the federal Health Department's advice that said doctors had the right to private practice. (You and I know that this means doctors can work in government hospitals and get paid for services rendered there, and then work privately and get paid separately there.) Some smart people figured that they can charge Medicare for services rendered during salaried hours, hence double charging taxpayers for the same service. Fortunately the federal Health Department recognizes this double-dipping practice and insists that the state government stops this malpractice - no pun intended.

Now, Victorian Premier John Brumby is fighting with Prime Minster Kevin Rudd to maintain control of the state hospitals. If the above example is how Brumby defines "transparency, openness, and admirability" (his exact words in the present ongoing health reform dialogue with Kevin Rudd), then I am afraid Brumby has to define those three words for us to let us know what he really means.

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