27 August 2009


With a lot going on (the new academic year looms, and all the other commitments which get packed into the summer break are, of course, still incomplete!) I seem to have posted very little recently. And to have even been remiss in responding to interesting posts by others. This will have to be a very quick token effort over a rushed breakfast...

That doesn't mean I'm not reading and listening to the world. In my immediate blog circle, see "Slow pleasures", for instance. I've enjoyed Ray Girvan's piece on fossil ink (in both JSBlog ad The apothecary's drawer), Julie Heywood's prolific and always thought provoking (too prolific and thought provoking to keep up with even in quiet times!) output at Unreal nature, and Dr C.

In the mainstream media, one of the strands is the US health care funding controversy. I am reluctant to get too involved in this one because it's an area where entrenched views, knee jerk responses and anecdote drown out reasoned argument. All my own experiences of the US medical system have been frightening, while those everywhere else have been good; that is, of course, anecdotal, and I know with my rational mind that it cannot possibly be representative. It's mainly on the nature of the argument that I feel competent to comment.

Somewhere in the past few weeks I heard a BBC Today programme discussion between US and UK individuals of the perceived differences between US and UK systems. Both tried hard to put aside their preconceptions and discuss it dispassionately. I noted that the US participant managed this slightly better than his UK counterpart – particularly interesting because he was from the Cato Institute, which tends to what is, in UK terms, a rightward libertarian outlook with which the British NHS (National Health Service) is, of course, at odds.

This is, of course, at heart, currently an internal US debate over proposed changes there. One of the more bizarre and shrill strands within that debate has been use of UK and Canadian system scare stories to suggest that national funding systems produce charnel houses where people die needlessly. One which I heard suggested that Edward Kennedy would not have been treated if he had been a Briton. The propagators of such stories seem entirely untroubled by the fact that private medicine exists in the UK just as it does in the US for those who can afford it. So do private and corporate medical insurance. The NHS is an addition, not a replacement.

To risk a personal comment ... I (for what it's worth) second Jim Putnam's TTMF plea that "Caring must become a human right. We are, every one of us, a part of one another."

That's it, folks ... breakfast is over, time to rush off ... busy, busy, busy...

No comments: