What I’m reading
Blood Matters by Matthew Klugman is a fascinating history of the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service in Victoria. As well as being of great interest in itself, it yields lots of insights into the role of volunteers and social social solidarity, particularly in relation to the “gift of blood”.
The story ends in the 1990s, when organisations that had served Australia well for decades were swept away in a tide of managerialist and market-oriented reform. The Victorian service was merged into a national body, while Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, the government organisation that had processed blood was privatised on terms that were grossly unfavorable to the public. It’s arguable that this is all for the best. Certainly the quality of Australian blood supplies remains high, and the ethic of blood donation is still strong. But I can’t help feeling that in this, and many other respects, we are living off social capital accumulated in the past.