Thursday, 13 August 2009


I've got my dander up again about American Politics: the rabid Right through lies, misinformation and praying on ignorance, have been trying to scupper any reform. They are also trying to discredit the UK's National Health Service to try and add weight to their argument against "socialised health care" . Here is an article from BBC news:

BBC article on US attack on NHS

Bloggers debate British healthcare

As the US healthcare debate hots up during Congress's summer recess, anti-reform campaigners have been directing criticisms across the Atlantic at the UK healthcare system.

The most recent row erupted after an editorial at the Investors Business Daily (IBD) launched an attack on the British National Health Service (NHS), as a warning against what could happen if the US adopted such a model.

"The controlling of medical costs in countries such as Britain through rationing, and the health consequences thereof are legendary," the article said. "The stories of people dying on a waiting list or being denied altogether read like a horror movie script."

The article's author went on to assert that "people such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless."

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman quickly pointed out, Prof Hawking was born in the UK, and has lived and worked there for his entire life.

And UK newspapers the Guardian and Daily Telegraph reported Prof Hawking as saying that he "wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS".

Basic stupidity

Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein said the IBD article was an example of conservatives "lying" about healthcare.

"It's not just that they didn't know that Stephen Hawking was born in England. It's that the underlying point was wrong, as you'll note from the continued existence of Stephen Hawking. They didn't choose an unfortunate example for an accurate point. They simply lied."

The New Republic's Jason Zengerle - while endorsing Mr Klein's objections to the IBD's article - was not convinced that the article's author should be given the credit for a conscious lie.

"The point the IBD writer was trying to make would have at least been theoretically plausible if, as the writer believed, Hawking was not British," Mr Zengerle wrote.

It's worth emphasizing, for those who remain confused and misled, that Democratic reform proposals would not create a British system

Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

"I'm just reluctant to credit the IBD writer with the sufficient smarts to concoct such a lie. Seems like basic stupidity is the easier explanation here."

The IBD's fundamental charge was that President Obama's healthcare plans would lead to the rationing of healthcare, and that rationing is a feature of the British system.

This point was echoed by conservative blogger Michelle Malkin , who warned that "the effects of socialised medicine in Britain - engineered by government-run cost-cutting panels on which Obamacare would be modelled - continue to wreak havoc on the elderly and infirm."

In making this point, Ms Malkin was explicitly re-affirming the assertion made by former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, that Mr Obama wanted to create a "death panel" to decide whether the elderly or disabled are "worthy of health care".

Top topic

Liberal bloggers in the US have rejected the accusations made by these prominent conservatives.

Washington Monthly's Steve Benen argued that the healthcare plans put forward by Mr Obama and his fellow Democrats bore no resemblance to the UK system.

"It's worth emphasizing, for those who remain confused and misled, that Democratic reform proposals would not create a British system. The comparison doesn't even make sense in any substantive way, and the very premise of the IBD attack, which has been widely parroted by the far-right, reflects a fundamental lack of intellectual honesty and seriousness."

Matthew Yglesias, blogger for the liberal Centre for American Progress, lamented the fact that Mr Obama was not planning to follow the British example.

"The NHS is a pretty great model and the British are on to something... if you were actually able to get British levels of care for British price levels [in the US] you could redirect [the savings] to trying to improve the social circumstances of the poor, trying to reduce exposure to health hazards, and building infrastructure (trains, sidewalks, bike paths, even the dread parks) suited to less sedentary lifestyles. We'd be much better off that way."

The American conservatives' criticisms of the NHS, and an appearance by British Conservative MEP Dan Hannan on Fox News, in which he bemoaned the state of healthcare in the UK, has prompted thousands of British Twitter users to rush to its defence.

By early Wednesday evening UK time, the #WeLoveTheNHS hashtag had become one of the top trending topics on the global site.

Some Twitter users, like Luke Richards, offered general words of support.

"I'm proud of our health service. It's one of this country's best achievements of the past century," he wrote.

Others, like Claire Thompson of Reading, highlighted the life-saving treatment that they or their friends and relatives have received.

"My father had heart surgery last year, and my husband's life was saved after a fall - not perfect, but great when it matters," she tweeted.

Most seemed to reflect the feeling that despite its shortcomings, the British remain defiantly proud of the health service in the face of transatlantic criticism.

Matthew Yglesias, above, makes a very good point if you were actually able to get British levels of care for British price levels [in the US] you could redirect [the savings] to trying to improve the social circumstances of the poor.

Maybe even something would be done about the US appalling infant mortality rate.

Ronni Bennett on Time Goes By, HERE is calling all elder bloggers to post something on 20th August to dispel the lies and misinformation circulating. Do read her article and add you weight if you agree.


Paul said...

It’s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want “faceless bureaucrats” making medical decisions but they have no problem with “private sector” “faceless bureaucrats” daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people (honestly where can they go with a pre-condition). And who says that the “private sector” is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait, Medicare and Medicaid and our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that’s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a “lynch mob” advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types AKA “screamers” are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It’s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that’s all I been seeing, they hate and can’t debate. Too bad.

LadyLuz said...

Thanks Paul for your visit and relevant comments about the madness going on in your country about this topic. If you've got a blog, maybe you could put something on yours and link it to Ronni's Time Goes By on 20 August.

Music Food and Love said...

I don't even know what to say... Stupidity, ignorance and false info are dangerous weapons, I just hope that when this mass hysteria, calms down people will realize that what is coming is a indeed a good thing.