The Left tries to reframe our expectations

Teacher affirmationIn September 2011, I wrote a post about the way teachers constantly present themselves as the hardest working, most underpaid people in America.  I have a great deal of respect for teachers and, to the extent I deliver my kids to their care, I want them to be decent, knowledgeable, skillful, hardworking people — and that’s not something that can be had for free.  Nevertheless, I don’t see them as the martyrs that they see looking back from their mirrors.

I touched upon that subject again just this past September, after I’d gotten deluged by Facebook posts from teacher friends, all of them reminding us in a cute way that no one works harder in America than a teacher or for less money compared to their work output.  Again, with all due respect for teachers, I think many people, including the troops, would quibble with this.  I contrasted the Democrats’ deification of teachers and compared it with their denigration of doctors, something expressed obliquely through Obamacare.  Doctors train for years in their profession, work heinous hours, and truly hold people’s lives in their hands — and Obamacare is intended to increase their work load and cut their compensation.  My conclusion was that socialism prefers propagandists, something that teachers are perfectly situated to do, over providers.

And speaking of socialists and the way they value different categories of workers, Daniel Hannan has written about the British deification of its National Health Service, a system that is above reproach.  It’s not above reproach because it’s so wonderful, mind you.  It’s above reproach because no one is allowed to reproach it.  Hannan notes that there are two classes that speak well of the system:  those who work in it or are ideological supporters of socialized medicine, and those who are loudly grateful to have received decent treatment from it.  Hannan makes two points about this second category.  First, they’re amiable followers of the more strident ideologues.  Second, their gratitude that the system works is itself an indictment of the system’s myriad failings:

What of the wider constituency? What of the undoctrinaire people who say, with conviction, “the NHS saved my grandmother’s life”? Well, to make a rather unpopular point, she was saved by the clinicians involved, not by Britain’s unique prohibition of private finance in healthcare provision. In a country as wealthy as ours, we should expect a certain level of service. We can be grateful to the people involved without treating the whole process as a miracle.

When else, after all, do we become so emotional? Do we get off planes saying “I owe my life to British Airways: they flew me all the way here in one piece”? Of course not: that’s what is meant to happen. Our assumption doesn’t insult the pilots any more than expecting a certain level of competence in healthcare “insults our hardworking doctors and nurses”. On the contrary, it compliments them.

The elision of the “hardworking doctors and nurses” with the state monopoly that employs them is what allows opponents of reform to shout down any criticism. People who complain are treated, not as wronged consumers, but as pests. People who argue that there might be a better way of organising the system are treated, not as proponents of a different view, but as enemies.

Naturally, the above passage made me think of the obeisance we’re expected to pay to America’s teachers.  The demand that we recognize what wonderful martyrs they are is a tacit acknowledgment that too many of them are government drones who are, quite rationally, milking a system that gives itself up for milking.  This doesn’t mean we should denigrate teachers or take them for granted, but there’s a strong element of a “methinks we all do protest too much” mindset when it comes to the ritual demand that we acknowledge that teachers are society’s new martyrs.  After all, as Hannan said, they have a job to do and they should be doing it.

Incidentally, while Hannan doesn’t address the issue of teachers, he does point out that our being bullied into expressing exaggerated surprise and appreciation when there’s competence in a public sector area isn’t limited to Britain’s NHS.  His other example is the UN, which you all know I believe is one of the most vile, evil, antisemitic, child exploitative, anti-American, money-wasting institutions on earth, as well as a few other institutions that, coincidentally, are also usually anti-American and antisemitic:

Any organisation that is spared criticism becomes, over time, inefficient, insensitive, intolerant. It has happened to the United Nations. It has happened to the mega-charities. It happened, for a long time, to the European Union (though not over the past five years). The more lofty the ideal, the more reluctant people are to look at the grubby reality.

Cheers to Hannan for stating that, while the Emperor isn’t precisely walking around naked, his clothes are scarcely the golden, bejeweled garments that his sycophants claim he’s wearing.

Morning roundup — and Open Thread

My very strong sense is that the shutdown will reveal how much of our federal government is inessential.  I’m not the only one who feels this way.  And no wonder, because the shutdown reveals waste everywhere.  This shouldn’t be a surprise.  Monopolies are invariably poorly managed and unchecked bureaucracies invariably grow.

PowerLine takes on a disgusting piece of revisionist history.  (I’d seen the underlying grotesque revisionism myself, but hadn’t had the time to challenge it.)

When it comes to Obamacare, is the government shutdown both a means and an end?  Buzzfeed thinks that the shutdown on its own, without any specific defunding measures, will damage Obamacare quite badly.  Considering Obamacare’s disastrous first few hours, Buzzfeed may be right.

Even in my most atheist days, I recognized that religion, whether or not there really was a God, is a moral necessity.  Dennis Prager’s challenge to Richard Dawkins hones in on that fact.

Britain’s NHS continues to show us just  how coercive government-run healthcare is.  I’m no fan of smoking, but this type of bullying is sickening.

As we already saw in the Balkans, when it comes to Islam, the call to jihad always trumps all other loyalties.

Obama’s foreign policy in a nutshell — sort of.  I actually think there’s a malevolent consistency running through it, which sees Obama’s hierarchy:  Most favored are Muslim tyrannies; second place to Muslim nations; third place to Leftist tyrannies; fourth place to socialist nations; fifth place to free countries and traditional American allies.

Did I mention bullying somewhere above?  Why, yes I did, in connection with Britain’s NHS.  The fact is, though, that leftists are always bullies, as Christian troops in the American military are discovering to their cost.  The First Amendment promises religious freedom.  America hasn’t always been true to that, as with her attack on Mormon polygamy.  (I hold no brief for polygamy, but it was a core Mormon doctrine.)  There are certainly practices one can quarrel with.  For example, I don’t think the First Amendment should extend to human sacrifice.  To the extent, though, that heterosexual marriage is one of the core doctrinal concepts in all of the world’s religions, and that it reflects biological and reproductive reality, the bullying and coercion from the left is unconscionable.

Arthur Laffer (the repeatedly proven Laffer Curve) and Stephen Moore write Obamanomic’s epitaph.  (And one should add that Obamanomics, which is simply Marxist economics has already been repeatedly proven . . . as a failure.)

This is an open thread, so please add anything you’ve found that’s interesting.

Double paying in Britain for health care

When I lived in England, those who could afford to escape from government medicine by paying twice did so.  I addition to their high taxes, they bought a private insurance that I remember rejoiced in the name BUPA.  Things haven’t changed.  I don’t know why I’m on the mailing list, but I just got this announcement in today’s email:

NHS Waiting Lists Soar by 50% in the Last Year !!

Can you afford to be without Health Insurance ??

With the NHS waiting lists out of control, it’s no surprise millions of UK residents are protecting themselves with medical cover.

Premiums have dropped dramatically in recent years and are now at an all time low due to increased competition.

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Whether you have still not yet taken out Medical Cover, or wish to review an old one – let us do the hard work for you and compare the leading providers for you.

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We’re actually all familiar with this situation. Everyone pays for public schools. Thanks to unions, though, even the best public schools indoctrinate as much as they teach. The worst public schools are dangerous slums where children learn basic survival skills. Parents who want out, in addition to paying high taxes, also end up paying tuition for private schools. Poor parents, of course, are trapped, and beg for vouchers, which their elite Democrat masters deny them. (And yet they still vote Democrat. Go figure.)

Socialized anything is low-quality, crowded anything. Only the rich, who can afford to double pay, escape.

The news out of England *UPDATED*

A few stories from England’s Daily Mail, all showing that the country is not in the best of health.  Each of these stories highlights, not the horrible things individuals can do, because those crimes transcend national boundaries, but the way in which England has rendered itself unable to react in any way to the insults occurring within its borders.

1.  An Eritrean national who helped plot an attempted jihad-inspired mass murder in England is not only free after serving just half his sentence, but the Brits cannot deport him for fear of violating his human rights.  Interestingly, concern about human rights didn’t seem to impinge on his activities when he helped the would-be bombers.

2.  Somehow England’s best, brightest and Leftest minds were unable to figure out that open immigration would depress wages.  This is what years of Leftist higher education will do to you — make you stupid.

3.  As a child, I remember reading that Soviet hospitals had something in common with medieval hospitals:  if your relatives weren’t there to take care of you, you died.  Turns out that you don’t have to be in a hardcore Communist nation or a medieval time warp for that to open.  Just go to England.  Soft socialism will do exactly the same bad job for you.

4.  Human rights don’t stop with Jihadists.  True blue axe-murdering Brits get their day in the sun too, as was the case with an axe murder with three notches on his blade who was nevertheless allowed out of prison to attend a course in chopping down trees.  Once an axe lover, always an axe lover, I guess.

UPDATE:  Sadie just sent me the worst article of all, one explaining better than anything else could, how Britain has arrived at this state:

From the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz to Meg, the good witch from the Meg and Mog children’s books, witches have always dressed in black.

But their traditional attire has now come in for criticism from equality experts who claim it could send a negative message to toddlers in nursery and lead to racism.

Instead, teachers should censor the toy box and replace the pointy black hat with a pink one, while dressing fairies, generally resplendent in pale pastels, in darker shades.

Another staple of the classroom – white paper – has also been questioned by Anne O’Connor, an early years consultant who advises local authorities on equality and diversity.

Children should be provided with paper other than white to drawn on and paints and crayons should come in “the full range of flesh tones”, reflecting the diversity of the human race, according to the former teacher.

Read the rest here.

And one more from Sadie:  police ban cafe owner from displaying Christian literature (including the Bible) and images, as they are an offense to public order.  The next thing, presumably, will be a raid on Buckingham Palace.  I’ve heard there’s an old woman living there who actually claims to be the head of a Christian church in England.  (I feel a satirical post coming on, if I can just keep my comic mojo going.)

Britain’s NHS to suffer drastic cuts

In a market economy, the marketplace drives the availability of goods and services.  If there’s a big demand, the market will create a big supply; if the demand dries up, so does supply, as the market sends its resources elsewhere.

Supply and demand, however, have no place in government controlled sectors of the economy.  Although Britons are getting sick in the same numbers they have in past years, because the government is broke, so is the National Health Service, and the supply of medical care is swiftly vanishing:

Thousands of doctors and nurses face being made redundant or not replaced if they leave, while many hospitals have cut treatments, the British Medical Association has found.

Despite ministers’ assurances that the health service would not face the same cuts as other departments, many hospitals are feeling the strain, according to the BMA.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has boasted that frontline services would be protected. But it emerged yesterday that in his Cambridge constituency, Addenbrooke’s Hospital is planning to sack 170 nurses and up to 500 staff in total over the next year.

Read the rest here.

Unless ObamaCare can be stopped — and that’s a big “unless” — reading the preceding paragraph means that you’re looking at America’s future, one in which goods and services are made available to the public, not on the basis of the public’s need, but on the basis of the government’s efficiency and solvency.  If you’re not worried, you are very optimistic person or a fool.

Maggie Thatcher got it:  “Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess.  They always run out of other people’s money.”

What happens when medicine sinks in pay and status

As the Soviet Union showed, by the time medicine is fully nationalized, careers in medicine have been reduced to the lowest status level, somewhere around street cleaning.  Learning medicine and practicing medicine (including nursing, pharmacy, technical jobs, etc.), is incredibly time-consuming and, in a society that still has the gloss of being capitalist, costly.  The jobs themselves are incredibly tough, both physically and emotionally.  Aside from the undoubted pleasure many find in helping sick people, the real remuneration for all the time and energy involved in working in medicine is money.  Government, of course, takes that incentive away.  And, absent the incentive, that’s how you end up with this:

An NHS hospital has staff from a staggering 70 countries on its payroll.

The huge number of overseas nurses, cleaners and porters has forced health chiefs to send them on ten-week English courses because many do not understand basic medical phrases.

Among the terms some workers from countries such as Burma, the Philippines and Poland can’t follow are ‘nil by mouth’, ‘doing the rounds’ and ‘bleeping a doctor’.

They highlight the language problems throughout the Health Service, which critics say are putting patients’ lives at risk.

The lessons follow several ‘near-disaster’ cases, including one where a meal was delivered to a patient because a member of staff did not understand that ‘nil by mouth’ meant the man could not eat or drink.

Although all doctors from outside the EU must pass an English language test set by the General Medical Council before they can practise, the same rules do not apply for other hospital workers.

Instead, they are usually assessed on their grasp of the language at interview.

The problem has become so acute at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals that foreign workers are being encouraged to attend ten-week, taxpayer-funded ‘English For Speakers Of Other Languages’ courses, which are run by a nearby college.

Research has found that up to a quarter of nurses  -  more than 60,000  -  working in London are foreign, with the largest number coming from the Philippines.

Read more here.

While the above report makes clear that the language problem in the NHS involves nurses, not doctors (who must be minimally competent in England), reading the British papers makes it clear that foreign educated doctors carry their own problems.  Training isn’t standardized, many of them commute from overseas and are perpetually jet lagged, and practice values are different.  In a country that makes being a physician worthwhile — which is what America has done for so long — you get the best and the brightest.  Once practicing medicine or being a nurse is about as high status (and high paying) as being a clerk in a government office, you’re going to see the best and the brightest gravitate elsewhere.

Britain, with Communist medicine, has Communist health outcomes: lots of death

Britain’s NHS, which is government-run (i.e., Communist) medicine, has, unsurprisingly, Communist outcomes.  Lots of people die unnecessarily in England under the government’s beneficent care:

British health care is little better than that of former Communist countries, which spend a fraction of the billions poured into the NHS.

A survey published yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development sees Britain languishing with the Czech Republic and Poland in international league tables on health.

The OECD – which represents developed Western countries, some former Soviet nations, Mexico, Japan and South Korea – compared healthcare standards among its 30 members and found that we lag even further behind the wealthiest nations, such as France, Sweden and Germany.

The figures showed:

  • British cancer and heart attack victims are more likely to die than almost anywhere in the developed world;
  • Asthma and diabetes patients are more than three times as likely to end up in hospital as their neighbours in Germany;
  • Life expectancy in Britain – 79 years and six months for a man – is far worse than in France, where men expect to live until 81. The deficit is similar for women.

Britain performed only marginally better than former Communist states whose governments spend only half as much on healthcare.

Read the rest here.

Do I need to say, again, that this is the ultimate goal the Democrats have for America?  Repeated evidence to the contrary (the entire Soviet bloc, England, Canada, etc.), the Democrats are convinced that, if you can just do it right, government health care will be better than health care in a market economy that is only subject to limited government constraints.  They can’t get it through their heads that, to the extent medical care in America is too expensive, that expense is driven by government interference in the free market.

As I always say, government should exist to police fraud and protect citizens from overreaching.  Government becomes a problem when it dictates what people must buy (as is the case in practically every health insurance market in America), and controls the available products.  Government becomes a threat when it takes over the market entirely, as it has in England.

Death by government

First, a joke, one I’ve told before:

In long ago Japan or China (or amongst the Eskimos, or something else), a young boy came across his father carry a large basket on his back. In the basket was the boy’s grandfather.

He asked, “Father, where are you taking grandfather?”

“Shh,” said the father. “Grandfather is old and sick. He eats, but he does not earn. I’m taking him to the river, where I will leave him to die. It will be better for all of us.”

“Oh, father,” said the boy. “That is an excellent idea. But be sure to bring the basket home, so that I can use it for you one day.”

And now the two articles that tie in with that story.  The first describes a woman who learns that Medicare won’t pay for pain medicine for her elderly mother:

Since mother’s pharmacy was located in a Wal-Mart, I left the scripts with capable pharmacists and shopped awhile. Returning to pick up her medicines the pharmacist called me to come over and discuss the different medications and their uses and required knowledge. Then he paused and said,

Now, I need to tell you that your mother’s pain medication will have to be purchased by you, as Medicare will not pay for these, as your mother is too old.

Thinking I heard the man wrong, I asked him,

Did I hear you correctly? Did I hear you say my mother is too old for pain medication following surgery?

The druggist, smiling, repeated his previous comment, reiterating that Medicare, at least in his district, refuses to pay for pain medication for seniors, even following surgery.

That’s just one anecdotal story, of course.  I’m sure someone supportive of government run health care would argue that she misunderstood, or that the pharmacist misunderstood, or that the pharmacist was a sadist, or that it was only specific types of medicine and not just any medicine, and so on and so forth.

But what about the situation in which an entire medical group in a country that has socialized medicine rises up to say that the government is killing old people?

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, a group of experts who care for the terminally ill claim that some patients are being wrongly judged as close to death.

Under NHS guidance introduced across England to help doctors and medical staff deal with dying patients, they can then have fluid and drugs withdrawn and many are put on continuous sedation until they pass away.

But this approach can also mask the signs that their condition is improving, the experts warn.

As a result the scheme is causing a “national crisis” in patient care, the letter states. It has been signed palliative care experts including Professor Peter Millard, Emeritus Professor of Geriatrics, University of London, Dr Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in Palliative Medicine at St Luke’s cancer centre in Guildford, and four others.

“Forecasting death is an inexact science,”they say. Patients are being diagnosed as being close to death “without regard to the fact that the diagnosis could be wrong.

“As a result a national wave of discontent is building up, as family and friends witness the denial of fluids and food to patients.”

The warning comes just a week after a report by the Patients Association estimated that up to one million patients had received poor or cruel care on the NHS.

The scheme, called the Liverpool Care Pathway (LCP), was designed to reduce patient suffering in their final hours.

The article describes the humanitarian motives behind that LCP. I’m willing to believe that. The problem is that the government doesn’t have humanitarian motives. It has guidelines. And as well all know, humans don’t fit into guidelines.  Indeed, the human unwillingness to fit into tight little packages ties into another problem with guidelines:  they are inflexible.  Humans are not.  Another thing that’s fairly flexible is the marketplace.  If too many people complain about watching Mom or Dad starve and dehydrate to death, the market adapts.  The government doesn’t.

Why in the world would Americans want to go even further down this path than they already have?

And while we’re on the subject of rationed health care

Faced with an epidemic, England is already planning on rationing:

Thousands of patients could be denied NHS treatment and left to die under ‘worst-case’ emergency plans for a swine-flu epidemic.

The blueprint would force doctors to ‘play God’ and prioritise intensive-care treatment for those most likely to benefit  -  ruling out patients with problems such as advanced cancer.

The ‘scoring’ system would be introduced if half the population became infected with flu.

[snip]

The scale of their concern is highlighted in the Department of Health’s report: Pandemic Flu – Managing Demand and Capacity in Health Care Organisations.

Detailing plans to ration hospital treatment, the report warns that if half the population were infected, 6,600 patients per week would be competing for just under 4,000 intensive-care beds.

Around 85 per cent of those beds could already be full with day-to-day emergencies.

To allocate ventilators, beds and intensive-care equipment doctors would have to ‘score’ patients on their health and prognosis as well as seriousness of their conditions.

Those who failed to respond to treatment would be subject to ‘reverse triage’ – in which they were taken off ventilators and left in NHS ‘dying rooms’ with only painkillers to ease their suffering.

Patients with underlying illness such as advanced cancer or the last stage of heart, lung or liver failure  -  and those unlikely to survive even if they were given treatment  -  would not be given an intensive-care bed.

Definitely what we want over here — right, folks?

Actually, I’ll freely concede that we probably would do precisely the same if we had an epidemic.  In an epidemic situation, rationing is inevitable, because an overwhelmed system cannot cope.  What I’d like to think, though, is that our system will be less overwhelmed than the creaking National Health Service, which already does rationing to cope with its inefficiencies.

A glimpse into the future of Obama care

Again, Britain reminds us of the possible consequences of allowing the government to control health care.  (See here and here.)

As always, what amazes me about the Left is it’s never ending optimism about the government.  Its members will cheerfully concede that the government pretty much bungles most of the things on which it gets its hands, and they’re terrified of the government when the “other” party is in power.  Nevertheless, in masterful cognitive dissonance, they’re always willing to turn over more and more of their lives to that same government.

Despite failure after failure after failure, those on the Left are always perfectly sure that this time (with Carter, with Clinton, with Obama, etc.), they’ll get it right.  They’ll never concede that their theory is flawed — that statism is imperfect and by its nature cannot achieve they goals they set for it — but will always insist that the execution was flawed and that this time it will work.  A hundred million lives have been lost in this quest for statist perfection, and hundreds of millions more have been made drab, depressing, demoralizing and dangerous.

Let me say it again:  The market is imperfect, but the spur of competition forces those who wish to survive to offer a service that consumers will buy.  In a properly functioning marketplace, the government’s only role should be to ensure that no one is cheating the market. If one takes away this competition — making government the only game in town — there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that gives the workers in that statist system any incentive to provide a decent service.  So what if they do nothing at all?  There’s nowhere else to go.

Socialized medicine

I heard on Dennis Prager today a call from a British man who pointed out that, in the 10 years of Tony Blair’s socialism, every major institution in Britain declined.  And the more the government meddled, the greater the decline.  Today’s British papers offer yet another example:  The dental portion of the National Health Service was in trouble, so the government, rather than releasing market forces, interfered even more than before (which is hard to imagine, but nevertheless true).  This is the horrible result of maximum government meddling in what should be a thriving supply and demand marketplace for dental care:

The shake-up of NHS dentistry has been a disaster with standards of care dropping and almost one million fewer people being treated on the health service under the new system, a damning report by MPs has found.

Dentists now have no financial incentive to treat complex cases and patients are being pushed unnecessarily into the hospital system

Instead of improving access to NHS dentistry the reforms have made it worse, the report by the House of Commons Health Select Committee found.

The number of dentists working in the health service has fallen, the number of NHS treatments carried out has dropped and in many areas patients are still experiencing severe difficulties in finding a dentist to treat them.

Worryingly, complex treatments carried out on the NHS have dropped by half while both referrals to hospital and tooth extractions have increased.

This suggests dentists are simply removing teeth rather than taking on complicated treatments because they have become uneconomical to provide.

The report said that in the two years following the introduction of the new contract in April 2006, 900,000 fewer people saw an NHS dentist than in the last two years of the previous system. Even this could be an underestimate, it said.

Ministers introduced the reforms to the dental contract despite widespread concern they would not improve access to care. The contract was so unpopular that more than one in ten dentists refused to sign it and more than a third signed it in dispute.

However, the then health minister in charge of dentistry Rosie Winterton insisted: “The reforms will improve access, encourage more preventive dentistry and provide a stable income for dentists.”

You can read the rest here.  It’s depressing reading and should be read with a part of your brain holding on to the fact that Barack Obama wants to put the American government bureaucracy in charge of your medical and dental care too.

The Left’s faith in government control is truly impressive when one considers that, with amazing consistency, after a brief bump from the infusion of vast amounts of taxpayer cash (or, in the case of Europe, American funding), the systems inevitably collapse under the weight of a government ineptitude, inflexibility, and corruption.

Some quick hits from the Brits *UPDATED*

Britain’s Telegraph has three interesting articles, and the London Times one:

Read about the vast difference between Britain’s and France’s socialized medicine. I’d certainly like to know what accounts for the difference before I start making changes to the American system. Color me skeptical, but I bet Obama, who shows himself to be remarkably ignorant about so many things, doesn’t know.

Speaking of the NSH, here’s one man’s story of what happened to him when he tried to improve his treatment for cancer. It’s a reminder that a whole bunch of socialism is less concerned with getting a good deal for all and much more concerned with making sure that some guy over there doesn’t get a better deal.

One British columnist offers a good analysis pointing to a McCain victory in November.

And some good news: Although it’s for the wrong reason (shock collateral damage in the form of Muslim deaths), some of the most outspoken clerics in the Islamic world are starting to turn on Al Qaeda. (H/t Danny Lemieux, who read it at Flopping Aces.)

UPDATE: You have to read this one too: Melanie Phillips’ marvelous op-ed about the way in which the British body politic is trying to bamboozle Brits into ceding all national power to the European Union (and the way in which plucky little Ireland is the one thing that stands in the way).  Phillips also disclosed the really dirty little secret, which is that the horses have already left the barn:  the EU controls most of British day-to-day life already.

A cautionary tale if Hillary becomes health tzar

There’s talk of Obama giving Hillary the green light to socialize American medicine if she’ll walk away from the primaries.  Melanie Phillips gives us a good example of why the renewed specter of socialized medicine should worry us:

To the Labour Party, the National Health Service is the talismanic proof of its own moral superiority.

Time and again, Labour brandishes its undying commitment to the NHS as the embodiment of its social conscience, and vilifies anyone who suggests that a different system of health care might be better as a heartless brute who would force the sick to choose between death and bankruptcy.

Well, now we can see quite what odious hypocrisy that is. For in the cause of supporting the NHS principle of equal treatment for all, the Government is actually ordering the withdrawal of treatment from desperately sick and dying people as an act of ideological spite.

A woman dying of cancer was denied NHS treatment in her final months  -  because she had paid privately for a drug which offered her the chance of living longer, but which the NHS had refused to provide.

When she decided to use her savings to pay for this drug, the NHS withdrew her treatment, including her chemotherapy.

This is by no means a one-off case. Six other cancer patients are taking legal action against the NHS after their own treatment was cut off or a threat was made to do so because they too paid for lifeprolonging drugs.

This is simply obscene. It is hard to imagine anything more vicious than stopping, or threatening to stop, the treatment of seriously ill people simply because they have the audacity to want to improve their chances of staying alive.

Read the rest here.

I know that our medical system isn’t perfect, and that it’s expensive.  However, medical care at some level or another is available to all — and it’s good care when you get it.  There are human errors, but the system tends to strive for the greatest good.  What’s fascinating about reading about England’s health care service (and Canada’s, for that matter), is the number of times the health care is bad, not because a person screwed up, but because of ideological choices driving the provision of health care in those countries.  Because the government is rationing care, it decides who is unworthy of receiving that care:  the old, the very sick, and the mavericks who dare to buck the system.

At my martial arts studio, there is a British woman whose mother is mired in and dying from the NHS.  She won’t give details.  She just gives the bottom line:  America should never, never, never go over to socialized medicine, a system that will willingly, and without debate, abandon those in greatest need of its services.