Health Care: It is an EQUAL Right

I was at the Georges Dumont Hospital this morning, and saw a number of signs (on hospital property?) related to our provincial election, reminding Premier Graham the French-language health care is a right.

I would like to remind the creators of those signs that health care is an equal right, and as such should be provided equally, fairly, and effectively to all citizens of the province regardless of language or any other characteristic. Unfortunately, this is not correctly the case in New Brunswick. We currently have two health care systems in the province – one of which is bilingual, and the other essentially unilingual French.

As we all know, our health care system (not just ours, but nation-wide) is at real risk of collapsing under its own cost. It is unsustainable as it currently exists. Add to that a situation in which there are two health care systems, each with its own management, bureaucracy, and other costs. With additional complexities created in trying standardize procedures and processes, and in establishing province wide programs to improve health care.

Why do we have this situation? Is this required in order to provide equal health care in both languages? NO. This situation is perpetuated purely to stroke the ego of one group within the province.

Do not misunderstand me (and don’t you dare misquote me!) – I fully support equal health care rights for everyone in the province. Does this require duplicate bureaucracies? NO! Any rational, reasonable, mature groups of people should be able to come to an agreement which eliminates  unnecessary overhead, and yet maintains equal quality of service for all New Brunswickers, and does so without giving one group in the province preferential treatment over others.

The Next Big Language – WHY?

I have been doing some work lately teaching myself some of the basics of Ruby, Python and a couple of other languages. As I was working with these languages, I was suddenly hit with a question – why? Over the course of my career, I have programmed in a lot of languages (somewhere around 20 that I have actually used to do useful work, I think). I am sure many of you can say the same thing. And do you know what? They all suck in one way or another! I have seen language’s popularity come and go. I have seen arguments in person, in newsgroups, and all over the web which bordered on religious fanaticism. Even as I write this, a good discussion continues in response to The Next Big Language.

Again, I ask myself “why?”

Looking back over projects in which I have participated, led, observed, or otherwise been involved, I cannot think of one where the success of failure (or degree of success – failure is not usually absolute) of the project was due to the limitations of the programming language. Nor has the programming language been the determining factor in the cost of the project, or the quality or the maintainability of the code.

There are so many factors which are accepted to have much greater impact on the course of a project than the choice of language/technology – requirements, architecture, realistic planning and tracking, and proper resourcing to name a few – that I find the whole debate around programming languages to be somewhat meaningless in the real world (actually, I find it more annoying than meaningless).

This is not to say that I do not believe we should always be innovating and inventing new ways of doing things (including programming languages). It does mean, however, that it is highly unlikely that any of these language advancements (or The Next Big Language, whatever it is) will make a significant difference in software development in either a corporate IT or commercial product development world – at least not any time soon.