Rob Peter to Pay Paul

I have used the phrase occasionally. Recently I thought of a variation to explain a recent provincial Heath policy decision.

The expression’s brief definition means taking something from someone or place and moving it to another person or place.

What is the origin of this expression? Glad you asked.

Many attempts to find its origins take us back to at least the 1400s in England—all ring with the sound of truth.

One version doesn’t hold up to scrutiny because it comes after evidence of its earlier use. But let’s not have the truth get in the way of a good story. It has to do with several cathedrals in England.

Some St. Peter’s Cathedral assets were sold off to pay some debts on another cathedral. That Cathedral was eventually dissolved to pay the debts of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Then assets of St. Paul’s were sold off to help out – you guessed it – St. Peter’s Cathedral. Full circle.

Now I turn our attention to the health department’s policy.

My provincial government is enticing practicing doctors in other provinces to come to Alberta. They extol the panoramic views of lakes, mountains and ranch lands.  Gorgeous, I agree.

Try considering Canada being represented by the Titanic and the decks as individual provinces and territories. Collectively all passengers have the same level of health care. Individually some are worse off. When one province entices physicians to come to their deck – the Titanic is no better off.

Doctors and other frontline health workers are a scarce resource, so with the power of market forces at work, we should expect their compensation to increase in whatever form that takes.

The solution on a national basis is to increase the supply, not to move folks around to give the impression that the policy will make a difference.

My deep research into the outcome of the Titanic is that it didn’t end well for thousands of people. I saw many Titanic passenger graves during my recent trip to the Maritimes.

Please give this a bit of a think. What are two examples of robbing Peter to pay Paul; one you agree with and the other you think is bad behaviour?

Do you have an example of you doing this sleight of hand in your life? How did it turn out?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think below.

Photo by Library of Congress on Unsplash.

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1 thoughts on “Rob Peter to Pay Paul

  1. Patti+Dolman says:

    Recently eye exams for over 65 in Ontario was yearly but the government has now made it every 18 months. My daughter just took her children for eye exams and was told her youngest is eligible for his exam at 6 months. OK so for us old folk “ what we can’t see won’t hurt us” ; better that we look the other way.

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