by Dave Witherow

Is private enterprise a lost cause these days?  Sometimes it seems so – especially since the Jacinda junta scuppered so many small businesses during the late great Covid panic. And it’s no better now, with half the country on some kind of benefit and the best brains moving to Australia.  

Years ago, before New Zealand became a Lefty paradise, I thought of opening a pub. Why not? Pubs are civilized places – bastions of intelligence and good-humour, and, of course, private enterprise. And and since I was already spending a lot of my time in pubs I thought why not combine pleasure with the useful bonus of an income? But between breath-testing, random-stopping, and the demonization of the drinking classes, I decided there was no future in that. “So you’ve given up then?

”Well, no, not just yet. I’m going give it one last go. I’m going to open a Medical School. “But there are Medical Schools already”. There are. That’s true. But there’s no competition, don’t you see?  They’re all run by the same mob – the doctors. It’s the longest-running racket in the country, all neatly set up to keep the quacks in clover. It’s a rort, in fact, and not far short of criminal. But not to worry – I’ve talked it over with my old friend Trev – you remember Trev – and we’re just about set to go.  “But how can you compete with. . . .” No trouble at all. Look at the way they run it now. Look at Otago — seven years for a doctor’s ticket! Seven years farting around in the pubs every night and partying-up all weekend — unless you’re off surfing or skiing. It’s a total joke, and it costs a fortune, and Trev and I are convinced we can blow the whole thing out of the water. We’ve done the sums, and we reckon we can punch out quacks in eighteen months for about fifty grand a head. “That’s really amazing. But will your quacks be any good?”  

Certainly they will. Well – maybe not right at the start. They might need a bit of time to get up speed, if you see what I mean, because our system is based on learning on the job. It’s what you might call a hands-on approach. Not entirely, of course. We’ll equip them with enough of the basics to deal with the standard stuff that your average GP runs into –- constipation, headaches, piles, the flu, the odd broken bone. That kind of thing. Anything tricky they can send up to head office and we’ll sort it out. And after two or three years on the job they’ll be up there with the best of them. 

“I see. But won’t there be difficulties — mistakes and so on, during this, ah, learning-curve”.

Of course there will. But what’s new about that? The quacks make mistakes every day of the week — dodgy drugs, botched operations, the occasional punter not waking up.

And what about the poor buggers on the waiting-lists, lying around unattended for months and months and quietly pegging out at home? What about them? Swept under the carpet, that’s what. Nothing to see, dig another hole. It’s just par for the course in the medical game — but with our system it will be out in the open: Caveat emptor. And our doctors will be highly competitive. Prompt treatment at a fraction of the going rate – and your money back if it doesn’t work. 

“But how can you be sure. . .” Look. You’re going to get the odd turkey, no question. There are turkeys in every line of business. Fact of life, so let me explain. Here’s your turkey. He sets up shop, hires a nurse, puts an ad in the paper and gets stuck in, and if he’s no good what happens next? People start carking right and left, that’s what. So the word goes round – don’t go near old so-and-so. A cousin of mine went in with a boil on his bum and woke up in Melbourne with a new liver and two wooden legs.  People don’t like that kind of thing, you see. So the word goes round, and before too long the turkey is out of business. That’s the beauty of free enterprise – incompetence exposed and competence rewarded. But there’s none of that now. It’s a closed shop, just take it or leave it.  

“Yes, I can see what you mean. I’m on a waiting list myself, you know, It’s a bugger, really, and now the other knee’s about to go, and they’ve sent me a crutch and a packet of aspirins and told me not to leave the house or I might get Covid.”   Well, you were lucky — they’ve run out of crutches, from what I hear. But never mind – these quacks are in for a serious rocket before long. Just leave it to me and Trev.