Sunday, August 16, 2009


The collective principle asserts that... no society can legitimately call itself civilised if a sick person is denied medical aid because of lack of means.

— Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear

The American ultra-Right is fighting off defences of the NHS on all fronts - even the Tory leadership (whose defence is hardly impassioned, but still). In their lazy, illogical, psychotic way, conservative opponents of Obama's healthcare reforms have portrayed the NHS as evil (managed as it is by sinister, Iron Curtain bureaucrats) and Obama as both a socialist and Hitler.
Quoting the Fabian Society blog, Lenin demonstrates the disparities between the health of British people and their American counterparts. In high-income groups, as well as low-income, Americans experience worse health in virtually every part of their bodies:

The US population in late middle age is less healthy than the equivalent British population for diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, myocardial infarction, stroke, lung disease, and cancer.

People in the UK live longer than people in the USA; well-educated Americans are just as likely to suffer from diabetes or heart disease as poorly-educated British people; 61 million Americans have no or insufficient health insurance (20% of African-American citizens in the US have none), whereas all British citizens have access to healthcare which is free at the point of entry; political decisions in the UK are based primarily on the needs of its citizens and medical research, whereas in the US they are dictated by the bottom lines of Pfizer and Grover Norqvist; and - here's the crucial one for right-wingers who bemoan the NHS's "Stalinesque inefficiencies" - per capita spending on US healthcare is around three times that of the UK, which suggests that directing money at a free-market system delivers negative rewards.

What is at stake here is nothing so rational as the health of a nation; it is the American principle that each man is responsible for himself and nobody else, and that if this principle is applied to everyone, health and prosperity will naturally follow. The fallacy of the neoliberal position - of course - is that it prevents people from starting from an equal footing. And as Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson have demonstrated in The Spirit Level, unequal societies have lower life expectancies, higher child mortality, more people addicted to drugs, higher crime, and poorer physical and mental health.

The irony of this is obvious, though the various factions and lobbies who so virulently oppose Obama's healthcare reforms, are too blinded by prejudice to see it. Countries with more-or-less socialised healthcare are, to a nation, more equal than those which don't, which means their citizens are less likely to require acute healthcare. Conversely, countries with little-or-no state-funded healthcare are more unequal and their citizens are therefore more likely to need the very services they are denied. The NHS continues to be the best preventative health service we have.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about state funded healthcare causing terrorism, you didn't think of that did you.

Frighteningly insane.

12:52 PM  

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