There’s a big row going on about President Obama’s proposed healthcare reforms in the US at the moment. It’s US politics, so holds little interest for me.
But then the Republicans – taking hyperbole and wilful disinformation to whole new levels – started bringing the British National Health Service into the debate (despite the NHS being nothing like what Obama’s proposing for the US). Sarah Palin (remember her?) has described the health service that my grandfather helped set up – turning down a very lucrative job in the private sector in the process – as “evil”. Various US right-wing rabble-rousers have repeated her hyperbolic description of the decision-making process of what drugs and treatments to offer on the NHS as being “death panels”, implying that the NHS is little more than a National Euthanasia Service – all in the name of smearing Obama’s planned reforms. It’s all sparked a major internet outcry from Brits disgusted at the sheer ignorance of some of these comments, slagging off a service that is, in more ways than one, a national institution.
I still didn’t really care, to be honest. It’s America. They do things differently there, and what they do has been up to them pretty much ever since that incident with the tea in Boston Harbour. (Well, bar us burning down the White House in 1814, but sssshhh…)
But then up stepped our old favourite Dan Hannan, blogging Tory MEP for South East England, and one of the most Eurosceptic (and, seemingly, out-of-touch) Conservative politicians going. He’s repeatedly been going on Fox News to slate the NHS in the most ridiculous terms – revealing either a complete ignorance of its services and functions or a desire to fellate the American right’s prejudices in a desperate attempt to revive his surprise YouTube success of earlier this year, which went down a storm in the States.
And so I got interested – because I’m increasingly coming to the opinion that Hannan (whom I previously regarded as intelligent and articulate, though with a disappointing tendency to play to the gallery) is a dangerous moron.
I’ve always slagged off the NHS as being wasteful, over-managed and unreliable – while still, please note, never for a moment thinking that it would be a good idea to get rid of it. But Hannan’s hyperbole, backed up with hugely out-of-date statistics, was just ridiculous – even more so than his bullshit claim that 84% of laws come from the EU.
So, over at Liberal Conspiracy, I’ve done a post in the only language right-wingers seem to understand: a US healthcare vs UK NHS cost/benefit analysis.
The results surprised me enough that I’m considering revising my previous preference for part-privatisation of the NHS…