I’ve been following the American healthcare pantomime with the usual morbid fascination I reserve for their insane media (you can include political leaders and citizens under that adjective for that matter). After a while, however, I started to be genuinely concerned that this madness is going to cost the non-crazy Americans a chance for real healthcare reform. Hmm… not so funny anymore.
And into this shitstorm was unfairly thrust the good ol’ NHS, better known across the pond as an evil and Orwellian socialist institution that would have let Stephen Hawking’s die, had he been cursed to be born British (I can understand the confusion; as Ricky Gervais said, born in Oxford but speaks with an American accent? Pretentious). Even worst, one of our own (meant very loosely) joined the attack. Tory MEP Dan Hannan tears into the NHS (on Fox News, no less!), seemingly lending weight to the nightmare perception of the British system. Mikeno12’s comment sums things up succinctly.
We weren’t going to put up with that shit. The #welovethenhs Twitter campaign mobilised us Brits to shout our support for the ‘cradle to the grave’ free health care provided to everyone – whether rich, poor, sick, dying, hypochondriac or just a small-breasted teen who fancied a bit of a cleavage.
Yesterday, Gordon Brown and his wife, Sarah Brown, joined the campaign with an emotive Tweet (an oxymoron?) and, since then, the British media has been covering this story pretty extensively (something that does not seem to have been echoed in the US, unfortunately – though the only reference to this I would ever expect to see on Fox News would be along the lines of “do you want British socialist scum recommending US policy?”).
Possibly the most interesting development in the whole tale was the Conservative leader, David Cameron, interrupting his holiday to publicly distance his party (the British equivalent to the Republicans) from aforementioned NHS-basher, Daniel Hannan. Rule #1 of British politics: fuck with the NHS at your peril.
Note to Americans: I’ve read some comments suggesting health care reform would decrease accountability. In this country, dissatisfaction is voiced in the most powerful way, by decisive elections! Perhaps, this is why the Republicans are so scared of reform? They’re worried it will prove so popular and benefit so many people, they’ll either never win an election again or have to completely change their ideology. Best to keep the public stupid and scared, eh?
Looking at the facts (a rare practice in this debate) provided by the BBC, US health isn’t the ‘best in the world’. Of course, the NHS isn’t either, and this explosion of support shouldn’t make us ignore some of the very real problems people have had with the system (for the record, not me; I’ve had three pretty significant operations with the NHS and have no complaints – if you’re looking for anecdotal comparisons, I recommend reading this moving account by someone who’s experienced both).
My own, considerably less moving, account of my own surgery last year:
I guess the point is that having shitty health care that may bankrupt you so private companies can get grotesquely wealthy just sounds offensive to my British delicacies. It makes me feel ill thinking about it. I suppose the saddest thing is that some American’s seem to be so obsessed with the ‘dream’ of corporate greed that they don’t see how innately unfair their system is.