back to article Stephen Hawking both British and not dead

In perhaps the most amusing effort to discredit US President Barack Obama's plan for nationalized health care - if not the most ridiculous - US financial newspaper Investor's Business Daily has said that if Stephen Hawking were British, he would be dead. "The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through …

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meh

@The problem with socialists and their misunderstanding of history

>> Americans have a healthy fear of government wielding the power of the gun,

Big problem with Americans is that the assume Gun == Ultimate source of power and protection.

>> taking their money

Um, that's called taxation, most governments do that.

>> taking their property,

In real socialism you don't really need the concept of either money or property.

>>taking their lives,

You still have the death penalty over there right?

>> taking the lives of others,

Ok, so what was Iraq then?

@Hud Dunlap

There's actually a huge problem with people coming from countries like India on "holiday" and then "getting sick here" (Read: they were already sick) getting thousands of pounds worth of treatments and then legging it back home without paying. Yes, America is hard-done-by booohooo.

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Paris Hilton

We already have a social system, and it is FAIL

Medicare and Medicaid are social programs, administrated by the government. They are also billions of dollars in debt. More than a few medical providers have been forced into bankruptcy because of unpaid Medic* obligations. Oh, and you cannot sue the government, hence you cannot sue Medic* to compel treatment or resolve a grievance.

Doctors and hospitals also have high service charges because of a tort system which allows such high awards for meritless malpractice claims which get settled out of court for obscene and often undisclosed amounts just to make the problems go away as the cost of settlement is still often less than the cost of trial, win or lose. That in turn raises the requirements and costs for malpractice insurance. Unabated fraud to the tune of $11 billion per year also appears to be an issue.

The "reforms" being pushed by the current administration are predicated on lies and misinformation. Forget the fact that the entire debate makes it sound like every single American is in desperate need of medical care, which is wholly untrue.

There are not 47 million uninsured Americans. There are ways around the pre-existing conditions issue, which is already limited by 1997's HIPAA. We get told many times that the public option will not eliminate private insurance in favor of a single-payer system against which you have no recourse, and yet in his own words Obama states that he wants a single-payer system and it would take 15 to 20 years. We are told this is not a Trojan horse, and indeed it is not: it is a poison pill.

The public option is a misnomer. This "option" is provided as an alternative to "approved" health care programs. Government sets the standards and controls the competition. If the health insurance you have now does not meet the standards, and therefore not approved, you can keep it but you will also pay a 2.5% penalty against your gross adjusted income in your taxes (ignoring the fact that punitive taxes are starkly against what our Founders ever wanted.) Yes, you can keep your current insurance, as Obama has repeatedly assured us, but if it is unapproved then you will surrender more of the money you earn. And that is only until so many people drop your carrier that it shuts down.

Obama makes these two contradictory statements:

Transcript: Obama, AARP Hold Health Care Town Hall | LiveWire

"My interest is not in getting between you and your doctor, although keep in mind right now, insurance companies are often getting between you and your doctor." (n.b. My insurance has NEVER come between my doctor and I.)

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/2009/07/transcript-obama-aarp-hold-health-care-town-hall.php

(Video) Obama tells woman instead of a pacemaker we might give old ladies a pill (Updated) :: Political News and commentaries :: Hyscience

"...we can let doctors know, and maybe your mom know, that, you know what? This isn't going to help. Maybe you're better off not having the surgery, but taking the pain killer."

http://www.hyscience.com/archives/2009/07/video_obama_tel.php

How do you reconcile these statements? So a government committee will tell you and your doctor, "no, no, just take pain pills... it will be over soon." Should we prepare for the introduction of the Administration of Sunset Health Affairs (a Sunset Czar, perhaps?) If you refuse to visit a doctor for end-of-life counseling -- and at what age do you do this, anyway? -- do they send the Sunset Squad after you?

Perhaps if government-run health care was not already an abysmal failure -- Medicare, Medicaid, VA, Indian Affairs, etc. -- we might have more faith in a program.

But all of that aside, let us just consider one thing: these so-called representatives who purport to be working for us, who have been given power BY the People and not OVER the People, are there to listen to us, and to pay attention to our bidding. When an agenda has mass support, disproportionate to the dissent, the support is taken at face value with little thought given to special interests and radical groups. But when an agenda has mass dissent, such as with Cap-and-Trade (Waxman-Markey,) when politicians proudly admit to the press that they blatantly ignored the "disproportionate" opposition, it stinks of force-fed agenda.

We as IT people understand the benefits of a distributed system: you distribute load, you distribute power, you distribute storage, you distribute backups, and so forth. How can we happily accept that a single-point system will not fail? In a distributed system we expect rotating outages of a certain percentage, and we focus our efforts on the specific area; the rest continues to operate.

Which is why social health care systems in states like Oregon can be a mess, while my private health care in Florida, for which I pay out of my own pocket, works just fine. I can see my doctor when necessary; I can see a specialist when necessary; I can get an MRI when necessary; all within days, not months. I even get discounts on health programs like gym memberships, and reimbursement up to $150 per year on such programs.

Paris, to be continued...

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Paris Hilton

We already have a social system, and it is FAIL (pt2)

Why carpet bomb a working system like this to favor the relative few who are chronically uninsured? Why not focus specialized effort on these and bring them to the level of excellence many of us already enjoy, rather than spreading mediocrity?

The system does have its faults, some due to government over- and under-regulation. Why does the government not enforce the Commerce Clause and prevent private insurance companies from limiting coverage to specific states? Why does the government place specific limitations on what can be charged for services, which often do not meet even half of the costs to provide these services? And then in many documented cases refuse to pay, or suddenly deny after-the-fact, services already approved? Why does the government not simplify the filing process in order to streamline the system and make it easier to provide valuable services?

And infant mortality rates as a comparison between countries is invalid. The CIA Worldbook and World Health Organization already recognize that industrialized countries often differ in criteria for recorded birth, thus making comparison virtually impossible. The United States is noted for herculean rescue efforts for new-borns, and record every birth (there are birth certificates immediately followed by death certificates in the US,) while other countries require specific birth weights, gestation periods, after-birth living periods, and/or other criteria before a birth is recorded.

A great failing in the arguments to support this program, which, by the way, the President has yet to produce anything in writing, has admitted not reading the House bill, and has put nothing forth to the Senate bill, is that if you enforce prevention, the people will follow. Is there a doctor out there who does not mention obesity issues to patients? Is there a doctor out there who ignores high cholesterol? Who tells patients "eat all the fat you want, laze around on the couch all day, and don't forget to load up the salt"? No! Americans are counseled on preventative care habits all the time, between our doctors, media, and our own community influences. There are gyms, trails, walkways, and so on which go unused. Does anyone really believe that health care reform will change that? I believe the people who want government to give them everything will demand that government keep them healthy despite unhealthy habits.

None the less, the United States has higher survival rates for common forms of cancer, higher heart attack survival rates, higher preventative care rates, and so on. We receive care within weeks for ailments. Every pharmaceutical company in the country has a program to provide drugs for reduced prices or even free for those who need them (oh, but we never hear about this from the evil companies!) We have many organizations which provide additional support for those in need of medical care, from the community level to the national level. In other words, we take care of our people. The quality of care is very high, even with its shortcomings.

So, when told that we spend 16% of our nation's GDP versus whatever percent other countries spend, do we consider the quality of care? If our health care system is so bad, then why do citizens of other countries come here so frequently for care their own country has denied? Why did our own representative with cancer not go to the UK or Canada for treatment? I appreciate the quality of care I receive and am happy to pay 16% of my income for it, but I am opposed to handing over any of my income and not have control over the care I receive -- I have options, I have recourse, I have freedom to choose, question, and sue if necessary.

All things considered, I see little reason to dismantle a program that DOES work in favor of a system which has already been proven (within our country, so keep your knickers untwisted you non-Yanks) to be a disaster. Fixing the problems in the health care system does not mean you have to destroy it.

The American way is to live and let live, and our Founders believed that so much they codified it into our Constitution -- that we may live our lives with no interference from the government, and protection from those who would interfere. But even our Founders knew that there are times when we have to leave our day-to-day lives and take action to protect our liberties and our freedoms.

And if you do not believe that the systematic dissolution of our industries is not leading to the elimination of liberties and freedoms, you need to wake up. The live-and-let-live backbone of our great nation has been roused, and the greatest special interest on the face of the planet is on the move: the Will of The People. They will not be silenced by claims of racism, intimidation, bobble-heads like Bill Press telling them to stay home, morons from Hollywood, worthless wenches like Pelosi who call them Nazis, and jack-asses like Dingle who compare them to the Ku Klux Klan.

It is okay to depict a "McCain * Palin" pin on the uniform of a Nazi circa-1939, but it is not okay for The People to speak out how they see things and demand explanations and to be heard by the very people to whom they have given -- nay, loaned -- power. It is okay for Organize for America and various unions to coordinate protests, and that is considered the glorious exercise of the First Amendment, but those who oppose "reform" are arrogant, ignorant, mad mobs, and other defamatory categorizations.

Wake up. Everyone.

Paris, proven to be a disaster. Maybe she would not be if we just spent more money on her, too.

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Silver badge

Classic!

It's a shame they changed the article, a real classic.

As for the healthcare argument, in the UK if you get sick you join a waiting list and eventually get treated. If you've got money then you can have private health insurance that means you don't have to wait. In the US if you get sick and and have money, you get treated and don't have to wait. If you haven't got the money then you don't get treated, full stop. The big difference appears to be what happens if you haven't got the money.

Of course, taking the lawyers and the malpractice stuff out of the US system would probably bring the costs down to something more sensible.

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Coffee/keyboard

re: The problem with socialists and their misunderstanding of history

Well done sir! I haven't had such a good laugh in ages!

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@ "The problem with socialists and their misunderstanding of history"

OK I'll bite.

"Americans spent a half century shedding their money & blood because of European love for Socialism:"

Fact:- America was pretty much the only country to make a profit from WWII. It only bothered to step in and help the UK, when the UK was bankrupt and part of the condition was that the UK broke up the Empire (which in itself, I concede, is probably not a bad thing) because it didn't like an island nation wielding quite so much power and influence. You even allowed the Nazi party in the form of the German-American Bund, which did in fact promote Socialism. So (just for a change) collectively, you aren't quite so clean and shiny, as you'd have the rest of us believe.

Furthermore your comment about "fighting against socialism"; it wasn't out of the "Goodness" of your collective hearts. As always, it was out monetary, self-interest. Like politicians, you only do good by accident, (or if it furthers your own agenda)

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@jake

"we don't ever worry about medical bills"

In the USA they don't pay 6 dollars a (US) gallon for petrol or 17.5 VAT on everything plus higher income taxes. Over here the worry isn't about paying, it is about whether and when you will get the treatment you have ALREADY PAID for.

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Alert

myths, facts

In the US, you get emergency treatment, regardless of insurance. That is the law.

Americans do not like socialism, since they are, well, Americans. you know, as in different from British. Isn't diversity great?

Survival rate of cancer, for example, in the US, is 35% higher than that of the UK (and even higher than the french. Why should they want UK NHS model??

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Having experirenced both sides

I was in SF years ago and my wife ate something she shouldn't have and it had a bad effect on her. We called 911 and they turned up within a couple of minutes and whisked her off to the hospital and she was sorted out in 10 minutes. Then the hospital asked about payment. Dunno what my cash problem was but I couldnt pay right then. They sent us a bill - $100 - to our home and we paid it. Good service.

Somehow it's just never as efficient in the UK and as I smoke heaven knows what treatment will be refused to me in the future and decided on by someone playing God.

With the tax I pay on cigarettes I think I have more than paid my contribution towards the NHS but am sure that arguement won't wash and all I'll ever get is a load of moralising nonsense.

Hospitals seem to be full of people who have done Prince 2 courses.

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Grenade

people over the border

My Dad used to work for Irish shipping, and tells me the back in the day women would come into Britain on ship to take advantage of our health service to have there baby as they would have had to pay at home. So its a problem we have always had over here.

ironically the women concerned where fairly wealthy American's coming over on cruise ships.

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Big Brother

"The problem with socialists" rant

And there, ladies and gentlemen, is our problem. As AC (13.08 14.30) so eloquently demonstrates, whole generations of Septics have been brainwashed with the Catechisms of Power & Profit :

- Socialism, communism or communitarian behaviour is always bad. “The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God gave each his station and ordered his estate.” It is God's will. Anyone who tampers is a freedom-hating commie, and will be crushed like the Wobblies (or those pesky native americans).

- America's military-industrial complex is always good. Saving the world does require carpet bombing of various brown-skinned foreigners, but they'll feel good knowing they died for freedom. Anyone who questions this is a freedom-hating commie, and will be detained indefinitely in an offshore torture facility.

- Any historical or scientific fact which doesn't suit the prejudices of Joe Six-Pack and Faux News is invalid. History will be rewritten to suit Septic sentiments (Rambo, U-751, Braveheart), and science only counts if we like it (climate change, stem-cells, birth control).

I do agree with that AC that there's no point in being abusive towards Septics who hold these flat-earth views. They sincerely believe it, as we would if we had grown up in their milieu, and at an individual level Septics are as kind and generous as any other people. Unfortunately, as a nation they more closely resemble the dystopic fantasy of Starship Troopers (movie) every day.

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FAIL

@Free doesn't help if you are dead

There are private options in the UK as well you know?

Under the US system my father would be bankrupt and divorced, since he recovered his faculties after doctors had given up which means in the US the medical companies would have tried to recover fees from him and his spouse who would have had to choose divorce or bankruptcy.

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Alert

Dumb as fuck

Holy fuck, Anonymous 04:30. You just might be the world's dumbest person. What a fucking load of shit you posted.

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Anti-American comments

Some of the anti-American comments, in fact most, just make me cringe. Most of them are the usual ignorant trash talk that belongs in the Sunday comics and gets spoken about as pub talk.

Just makes me embaressed to be English.

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@The problem with socialists and their misunderstanding of history

Socialist Stalin was a US, Western ally in WW2 and the US or the West did not battle a Soviet army.

The US was generous to US ally comrade Uncle Joe in providing the Soviet army with lots of equipment to fight Fascist Hitler. In fact Uncle Joe and FDR stitched up a deal better them that duded loyal Western ally Winston.

Hitler's party was "National Socialist" but it doesn't mean they are foundered on socialist principles, the name of the party don't mean shit. eg in Australia, the conservative, right wing party is called the Liberal Party but are in no way "liberal" in the way that American's have corrupted the term. They are "Republican lite" politically.

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Welcome

@AC - Socialists

You are aware that Hitler was a Nazi, not a socialist? He was quite famous for that, as it happens... he made quite a point of exterminating socialists (his opponents) in concentration camps. He was the loony right wing guy from Germany, not the loony left wing guy from Russia.

You are also aware that we are talking about the NHS, a UK system? That was put in place by a left wing government, but has support from everyone (although most can find faults).

You are also aware that the UK is a democracy, has been for a long time, fought Hitler from the start, did fewer deals with Stalin than the US did, and was in NATO not the Warsaw Pact the whole way through?

Exactly where is this obsessive "all my opponents are socialists" and "only socialists like public health care" thing coming from?

@ Some of the other comments - this seems to really boil down to (a) Obama isn't suggesting the NHS, but some other sheme which may, or may not work, (b) but everyone is using the NHS as a reference point while (c) not understanding it or how it fits into the private system. Typically though there is lot of waffle around that and only a couple of posters actually asking whether the thing proposed is workable or advisable. Politics in action, as per usual.

The Welcome Mat, for health tourists (they do exist whether we like it or not) and because its probably the most underused graphic.. AC because I'm at work...

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Unhappy

People seem to forget

People seem to forget oh so easily that the US report was a true reflection of the NHS some years ago.

People also seem to forget that some of our European neighbours (France & Germany?) about the same time were recommending that their citizens should return home for health treatment rather than rely on NHS under travel health arrangements.

That has changed in the last few years due mainly if not singularly to - shock! horror! - an elected Labour government.

The comments are likely to return truthful should an alternative party be elected to power especially one that is misanthropic in nature.

On the other hand I am given to understand that there are orders of magnitude differences between US and UK health care providers.

Where costs in the US might be in region of 2,000 USD a similar procedure in UK weighs in about 20,000 GBP.

Also, levels of service.

In the UK we might think that "canteen mentality" is the only solution (sleep through breakfast time = no breakfast mate!) in the US one may order meals at any time delivered to your roon along with a nice chianti if permissible.

Where one is user centric the other is admin centric?

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@Bruce 9 & Prostate Cancer

I suggest you do a bit more reading around the reasons for the difference in prostate cancer stats in the US and the UK as you clearly haven't any real idea what you are talking about in this respect. Scientific American carried an article on it.

Essentially the difference is dued to the (controversial) practice in the US of regular PSA screening for prostate cancer. What this leads to is the US having far and away the highest measured incidence of prostate cancer in the world. This leads to early diagnosis, although the evidence that this actually makes much difference to mortality is rather poor. What does happen is that a large number of men are subject to unpleasant and, potentially dangerous treatments for a condition that would not have killed them (prostate cancer is usually a slowly progressing disease, and very often men will die of something else first).

When you start looking at the age-adjusted mortality figures for the US and UK they are reasonably comparable. Slightly in favour of the US, but only by a very small margin. Quite simply, if you diagnose a slowly developing disease early, you will, of course, have a higher 5 year survival rate, but you might well just get an extra few years of worry, unpleasant treatment and very likely die of something completely different.

http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/types/prostate/incidence/

PSA screening is medically controversial, but in a system driven by maximising the incomes for medical businesses and riddled with eager lawyers vast sums get spent with very little return and, arguably lost of unplesant treatments being inflicted on people. I'd also add, that if men want to go for PSA screening in the UK, then there are lots of doctors that will do it.

Just to show that this is not a UK argument, here's an article in the Chicago Tribune on the subject. The National Cancer Institute concluded that for men with life expectancies of under 10 years, then they should not do a PSA test as they are unlikely to benefit.

http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/triage/2009/03/the-prostate-cancer-screening-controversy-continues.html

In the meantime, it's fairly clear that the US, like the UK, contains a large number of people easily swayed by headline statistics who either lack the ability or interest in actually understanding what the hell they are quoting, just as long as it sounds as if it supports their argument...

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Anonymous Coward

what nonsense

But what can we expect from the American right

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Anonymous Coward

To Bruce 9

Where did you get those idiotic statistics from - your arse?

And last time I checked, the US had a LOWER life expectancy than the UK.

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@The problem with socialists and their misunderstanding of history

>> Hitler was a socialist

Hitler was centrist. National socialism has less to do with socialism than Thatcherism has to do with supporting people who make roofs from straw.

On the standard 2-dimensional political scale, Hitler comes around 2% right of center and 100% authoritarian.

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WTF?

@Jake

"Instead, you worry about when you can get fit in for whatever procedure you need to survive ... and if you can get fit in on time. I once lived with a very painful molar, to the point of being unable to drive (or sleep!) for several weeks. This was in Yorkshire. In this country (USA), Emergency would take me in even without insurance without notice on my part"

Well, funnily enough, I live in Yorkshire.

I also can visit 'Emergency', or 'A&E' and I'd be seen without the need for insurance or notice. Almost every A&E department has a 'maxilofacial' unit, or a dental school which acts as the emergency dental department.

Methinks you ought to research a little more before using such (incorrect) examples.

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"Worse, it'll be a GOVERNMENTAL bureaucracy"

Personally I'd rather take my chances with a governmental health bureacracy whose purpose is to give me the health care I need, but occasionally faile, than with a private sector health bureacracy whose purpose is to keep profits as high as possible, and usually succeeds.

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Grenade

@AC

"Iraq war $1T - 4330 Americans Dead - over 30,000 wounded. Reason: catch-Osama-but-he's-to-smart-for-you-dumb-shits-so-mission-waste-of-time."

Er, wrong war.

IRAQ is supposedly about weapons of mass destruction, or Saddam Hussein being a genocidal loon with a crap moustache and simply shocking taste in interior décor, and not at all about the world's second largest oil reserves, no sirree. Also, it's unwinnable.

AFGHANISTAN is supposedly about wiping out Moslem insaniacs who "we" would never in a million years approach with suitcases full of money in exchange for building pipelines from assorted former Soviet republics or supply with weapons to fight the Formidable Red Army. Also, it's unwinnable.

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Big Brother

I hate -isms, but...

@The problem with socialists and their misunderstanding of history

>> Hitler was a Socialist

Hitler was a fascist. His party may have been called the National Socialists, but that means about as much as 'Labour' or 'Conservative'.

>> Stalin was a Socialist

>> Eastern Europe was enslaved by Socialists

Stalin was a Communist, and Eastern Europe was enslaved by Communists. It is the single party state that is the most dangerous aspect of communism and fascism, not their economic policies.

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FAIL

Idiots Among US

Neither of the major US political parties (or their supporters and followers) have a corner on the idiot market; there's plenty to go around on both sides. And that seems to be a common thread worldwide in fact.

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MASH

I was reading an article in either the Observer or Graun a week or so ago about a board level former employee of a major health insurance company in the US. He saw what can only be described as a field hospital that was being run by a charity in a poor area of Carolina - south presumably becase people were coming from Georgia for treatment. The "hospital" was pictured and basically looked like MASH. He went on to describe a young girl *with* health insurance disallowed a life saving transplant because the insurance comapny designated transplants as her age as experimental, the fact that it would save them a whole bunch of cash was by the by. The article went on to discuss the needless procedures and medications that many insurance companies carry out 'just in case' in order to avoid lawsuits.

This is no way for the richest nation on earth to behave.

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NHS: Better long term care and incurable conditions

As a Brit living in Germany for coming up to ten years, I have some experience of both NHS and privately insured healthcare popular in both Germany and the USA. One of the big snags with private healthcare is that insurance companies will bend over backwards to avoid or dump patients with long term or incurable conditions. The NHS is actually quite good at long term care (because they don't look at everything in terms of individual insurance claims) and because they don't have thresholds for types of treatment per patient or shareholders to satisfy.

I know a few Germans who have looked at moving the the UK specifically because they or their partner needed dialysis or simlar treatments for incurable conditions that were no longer covered by their private insurer.

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FAIL

To our friends across the pond

Socialism and communism are not one and the same.

Got it yet?

No, thought not.

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Thumb Down

Laggard?

Heres a nice editorial summarising many findings on the USA though it is 2 years old:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/12/opinion/12sun1.html?_r=2&oref=slogin

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FAIL

ah the Yank loons

Hitler the Socialist. Nope. In fact the Nazis used the word Socialist in their name to confuse real Socialists. Nazi Germany gave a lot of power to Private Enterprise and had fruitful relations with Americans inc GW's grandfather.

Stalin was a totalitarian monster whose Soviet state had fuck all to do with Socualism, not much to do with Marxism either to be honest

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I don't understand the US at all

For all the criticism it gets, the NHS is an excellent service and is nothing any country should be ashamed of aspiring to. If somebody is allergic to receiving treatment from a relatively good free service, they are entirely free to augment or replace it with their own private plan such as BUPA. This is as true in Britain as it is in the US.

It's not even an either / or situation. Countries like Ireland demonstrate a half-way house where private health insurance pays for medical treatment, but if you can't afford private health insurance, the state pays. Whether you go private or not you will usually still be seeing the same doctors in the same hospitals and receiving exactly the same treatment. Private does offer clear advantages but people are not left out in the cold if they can't afford it.

It should be patently clear that the US system is a shambles by comparison and needs reform. All this blabbering about "socialized medicine" is just absurd hyperbole.

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Pint

UK and USA have much in common

Overpaid doctors in the most powerful unions ever.

An electorate that's too fucking lazy to think and vote coupled with an apathetic attitude to democracy and a propensity to borrow money with an expectation not to have to pay it back.

If ever there are two nations on this Earth that demonstrate that democracies don't work then the US and the UK are them.

Let's face it, the bible and the koran don't mention the word 'democracy' or the illustrate the concept; God doesn't bless the US or any other democracy.

However, the bible does mention that Christ tells the good Samaritan story. Ah, socialism begins with an action of one person, ends up with the NHS. Good.

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Which is worse?

The UK post code lottery where you may or may not get the best treatment, but you will at least get treatment.

Or the USA one where unless you have massive health insurance and pay mega-premiums you will be left to die or have to spend the rest of your life in penury to cover the charges.

Oh my yes. The UK is soooo backward. Hmmm.

Not.

That said, there are many things the NHS could do better. Not spunking millions on managers and business consultants would be a good start!

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NICE

Seems they are complaining about the fact that the NSH basis treament on clyincal need not welth of the person. In America, as far as I can tell, the health care insurence dose the same, but the Drs can go "meh not my fault".

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Paris Hilton

@dgp

The gun is metaphoric. Taxation is allowed under the Constitution for what is permitted within the powers prescribed by the Constitution, which does not include punishment nor charity. The death penalty is a punishment for taking another life -- not for opposing political ideals (oh, that was Iraq, pre-liberation, right?) And the invasion of Iraq removed a blood-thirsty and power-hungry dictator who ruled his country with fear, propagandist techniques, and tortured and killed his own people.

Oh, but we allowed him to come to power? That would be 1963 under Lyndon Johnson when the US effectively allowed the Ba'ath party to come to power. After he assumed the presidency in 1979, he was an ally against Iran before violating world moral order and invading a neighboring country. Frankly, we should have dusted his ass in the Gulf War. He was already killing plenty of his own people by then, but we timidly supported a toothless UN resolution.

Our involvement in the Gulf War will always be transmuted to "blood for oil," but seriously: is it not in any country's interest to ensure the safety of its assets? If the economy of Britain was dependent largely upon a country invaded by an aggressor, should Britain not work to ensure the liberation of its asset country? We tried isolationism, and we got the shit bombed out of us for our effort -- not going to happen again, so long as those who have keen hind-sight have anything to do about it.

What would you have done, ignore Hussein? What would you do, capitulate with Ackmadenmahadjidad? Just like Europe ignored and tried to capitulate with Hitler?

Moving on.

Just because one country lets itself get fucked by sick foreigners does not mean that other countries should allow it. I know, we should be fair -- one country gets screwed, we should all let ourselves get screwed so you do not feel stupid, right? Sorry, no go here, mate.

Here is a thought: if you (any country) want to allow your people to come over here to get their medical treatment illegitimately, then we can stop providing you (said country) assistance. Back in the 80s we bitched and moaned about how much money we sent to other countries when we have so many people living in poverty in our own country. "Fix things at home first," they cried out. Where is that concern, now?

Paris, meh, indeed.

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FAIL

@AC 4:30

"Americans spent a half century shedding their money & blood because of European love for Socialism"

You mean the 14 months in 1917-18 and the three and a half years from 42-45? I didn't realise that qualified as half a century; on that basis, the Canadians (you know, the ones north of the 49th) spent a century and a bit doing their part. And as others have pointed out, the USA actually made a profit from WWII unlike any other country.

It's also worth remembering that at the beginning of WWII, the USA was still supplying Germany and a number of US companies continued to trade with Germany thoughout the war thru intermediaries. In fact the US ambassador in GB during the first months of the war advised Roosevelt that we would fall to the Nazis in a matter of 6 weeks, and continued to maintain that position until Dec 7th 1941.

"The Socialist mindset is just sick to the Common American - their ancestors fled Socialism at the muzzle of guns"

I would suggest it was more about totalianarianism than socialism - and that's been happening since the 1600s

"Socialists are just too ill-educated to understand history & modern facts - just can't figure it out the American mindset"

It was your own president Truman that called the USA "the best half-educated country in the world". Most Americans have no knowledge of any historical event other than what they see on TV / Movies, which is why they have so little real understanding. Most Americans can't even identify countries on a map that they share a border with, let alone one that is a couple of thousand miles away.

It's also worth noting that UNICEF did some surveys about 10 years ago, and it showed that most children in the "third world" had a better understanding of the economic problems and the operations of the IMF than did any equivalent group of children in the USA.

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FAIL

its all the UKs fault in the end

The fact is if the UK hadn't ran off all the religious nut jobs (ie Puritans, Plymouth Rock) and all the make a million don' t care who dies (ie Jamestown) to America then we would not have these problems. But alas many generations later America is still largely ran by the descendants of these right wing nutjobs. I believe this occurred largely because ignorance and stupidity are heredity as well as very thorough generation after generation brainwashing through careful select home schooling, church that also tells you how to vote, and peer groups that do not allow others that are different (golf club memberships, fraternities, secret societies). The end result is you watch Nascar, listen to Rush, believe natural selection (evolution is only a theory) is work of the devil to test you, vote for W cause he is a real American, and believe them dirty liberals is out to take your guns away. North America is the most beautiful place on earth imho but our politics is embarassing and again its all cause we got stuck with the belly button lint the UK and rest of Europe tossed to the new world.

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Anonymous Coward

NI Payments

A note to those who aren't aware:

NI payments are supposed to cover much more than just the NHS, including state pensions and assorted benefits (unemployment, illness, mobility, carer's etc.) so it is not reasonable to take the absolute NI figures and extrapolate out to being a cost on the NHS.

Conversely, although the NHS is supposed to be funded primarily from NI the realities are that there is no provision in the UK to ring-fence any monies raised. Basically we pay income tax, NI, VAT, various duties and other assorted wodges of cash to the government who then pool it together, pay themselves huge salaries, benefits, expenses, pensions and allowances and then dole out what is left to some or all of the entities that ask for it.

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NHS saves lives

I would be interested to hear from our American readers whether or not this could happen in the US.

My wife and I had a baby on Feb 2nd this year. The Brits here will remember the day. The country was shut down due to snow. He was fine for a while but, after a couple of hours, developed problems requiring an operation. Operations on new-borns require 2 specialist paediatric anaesthetists - the nearest setup was many miles away at Alder Hay, Liverpool. Our son was placed in a specialist incubator and we were collected by ambulance and driven, with Blues and Twos, through the snow to our local airport. We were placed in an air-ambulance and flown (at very low altitude, to protect the baby) to Liverpool airport - which was closed. They opened the airport for us to land (in thick snow) where another ambulance collected us and drove us to Alder Hay. It was now midnight. The surgical team operated on him from 01:30 to 03:00. We were put up in Ronald McDonald house for two nights and were taken home by the same combination of Ambulance-Air Ambulance-Ambulance that Wednesday.

We were never asked for insurance or payment. Ronald McDonald (a charity) asked us if we could pay for the cost of our room - we were more than happy to - but that was the only money we paid out over the whole thing. He's fine now, by the way.

Could that happen to two ordinary people in the US without health insurance? I'd be really interested to know.

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