‘Socialized’ Medicine : It Works all Over the World

British Conservative leader David Cameron, certainly no “socialist,” calls the National Health Service (NHS), “one of the wonderful things about living in (England).”

[The Republicans have] told so many lies about the government health care in other countries, that some of those countries are starting to get angry.

By Ted McLaughlin / The Rag Blog / August 16, 2009

As the health care reform debate heats up, we’ve heard all sorts of ridiculous things from the Republicans and right-wingers about “socialized medicine” — the name they give to the government-run health care systems adopted by almost all industrialized countries. They call it “evil” and tell all kind of horror stories about how bad it is.

In fact, they’ve told so many lies about the government health care in other countries, that some of those countries are starting to get angry. When the right-wing put Canadian Shana Holmes on American TV to lie about the Canadian system, tens of thousands of Canadians were incensed, and let it be known they don’t appreciate Americans lying and spreading falsehoods about their system.

The English are starting to react also. They have started a Twitter group expressing pride in their National Health System (NHS), and tens of thousands of people have expressed their support for the NHS. Prime Minister Gordon Brown even joined the fray, twittering, “PM: NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there.” His wife then added, “#welovetheNHS — more than words can say.”

An American business magazine recently said under the British system, scientist Stephen Hawking would be dead. Evidently they didn’t know he was born and lived all his life in Great Britain. Hawking himself says, “I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.”

You might say those are the liberal views, but what do the conservatives think? Well, here’s what Conservative Party leader David Cameron has to say, “Millions of people are grateful for the care they have received from the NHS — including my own family. One of the wonderful things about living in this country is that the moment you’re injured or fall ill — no matter who you are, where you are from, or how much money you’ve got — you know that the NHS will look after you.”

In Canada, Great Britain, France, Sweden and most other industrialized nations, the people like their “socialist” health care that gives all citizens decent health care. Some politicians might like to tweak the system to make it even better, but none would dare suggest doing away with it and going to a system like ours. If they did, they’d be voted out of power in a heartbeat (and they know it).

That poses a question. Since all of these countries love their government-run systems that covers all their citizens, and most Americans agree that our own system is badly broken, why is health care reform so difficult in America? Why are we so sure none of the systems used by other nations would not work here? And why are we so terrified of the word “socialism” — especially since most Americans don’t even know what it is?

MediCare is socialist, and it has done a pretty good job of providing health care for our elderly. The fact is that there are some things government can do better than private industry (regardless of what Republicans may tell you).

Would you want the police or military to be private and only work for those who can pay? How about the fire department — should they let your house burn because you can’t meet their profit expectations? The same is true of health care. The government can eliminate the profit and the overhead and provide cheaper and better health insurance. That’s a fact even the private companies recognize (which is why they’re fighting it so hard).

Government-run health insurance is not evil. It’s just the fairest and least expensive way to give all citizens decent health care. And that’s what we should be trying to do.

[Rag Blog contributor Ted McLaughlin also posts at jobsanger, an excellent Texas political blog.]

The Rag Blog

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10 Responses to ‘Socialized’ Medicine : It Works all Over the World

  1. Fed Up says:

    I LOVE this article and agree with it 100%! Thank you so much!

  2. dospesentas says:


    What we have here is; 1) a sprinkle of partisan left/right criticism, 2) that some with government healthcare like it and 3) that some have misled and distorted (of which both sides are guilty) – SO?

    What does any of this have to do with the U.S.; healthcare reform, insurance reform, Obamacare, Socialized medicine, or what ever the current name is?

  3. "Another aspect of sustainability concerns the introduction of new drugs and the creation of new markets for those drugs. Of the 1035 new drugs that were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between 1989 and 2000, over 75% were classed as having no therapeutic advantage over drugs already on the market, and a Canadian study showed that these drugs were responsible for 80% of the

  4. While I could add a bit more, I think I’ll just stick with Mariann’s terrific comments; she’s on the right track!

  5. Oh yes, one more thing:

    Have you noticed they’re now calling obesity a disease? They started calling alcoholism a disease a number of years ago, and boy was my drunken father happy about that!

    My dad was so damned happy, he figured out how to get onto the SSI system; how to mooch from the clinics that let him take 6 weeks off each time he had a ‘bad spell’, and then he’d write letters to family, telling how he loved the food and the ‘vacation’ from work.

    I even read a woman’s summary about how her obese father had all these ailments, and that had the health-care system done ya-da-ya-da, he’d never had to have by-pass surgery at a huge expense.

    Strange thing: Those that are drunks, are drunks, but they ‘invent those diseases’ just as Mariann said, and lo’ and behold, an ‘industry is born’ to cure that problem.

    Those people who eat until they are ready to burst, can now engorge themselves; show no self-control (just like the drunks), and now they fill up the hospitals and waiting rooms with a myriad of obese-related ‘diseases’, as they waddle out with their prescriptions and promptly show up at McDonald’s.

    We had a coffee at Wendy’s the other day; we couldn’t reach the tables of the booths, and wondered why. I asked the manager why all the booths were built this way; we had to lean forward and put our arms on the table in order to reach the napkins we’d put in the center.

    The man said the booths all have to be built this ‘distance apart’, bcause of all the fat people who can’t squeeze into a standard booth.

    Hospitals dealing with having to install large bed for the fatties; stretchers are being made larger – even the ambulances are now having to accommodate the ‘wider-bodied piggies’ – for goodness sake, health-care is about THE INDIVIDUAL TAKING CARE OF THEIR HEALTH FIRST; if everyone did that, we’d see such a change of occupancy in hospitals; there’d be no difficulty getting a doctor’s appointment, and we’d put a lot of people out of the business of cashing in on the lack of willpower and self-control, of those people who indulge in food, drink, and habits, that create 90% of the illnesses they have.

    My doctor told me on Friday (I have to take thyroid supplement since I lost my thyroid gland to cancer), that #1 – most patients see the doctor for pain. #2 – next come those with insomnia. #3 – next are the ones with ‘anxiety’, and out comes the Xanas. #4 – he finally hit on those with uncontrollable illnesses; the flu – broken bones, heart murmurs (which I was born with), and those kind of ailments that are not brought about by neglect of the patient to care for themselves properly. #5 – he said obesity (directly), and all the weight-loss pills and treatments/programs to help the patient take control of their weight.

    If you look at those complaints, we see nothing but anxiety and insominia related to people’s inability to deal with life; to handle stress – to basically ‘cope’. Obesity; most brought on by improper eating and exercise habits.

    Diseases indeed – the disease that’s called ‘LACK OF SELF-CONTROL AND SELF-DISCIPLINE’ – let’s make a pill that fixed that one, and we’ll eliminate billions of pills and dollars from health-care costs.

  6. ……sorry – typo’ – XANAX is what I should have written.

  7. Happy In Nevada: You are certainly not the first person I have heard (or read) who suggested that problems, such as the obesity epidemic in America (and working its way into other industrialized nations) is the result of a lack of personal responsibility. But please consider this: why are we having such a rash of irresponsible habits with regard to diet and exercise?

    Personal responsibility is important in all aspects of life, and shifting blame is often some sort of cop-out, but in this case, the facts seem to point somewhere else. Yes, greater proliferation of digital TVs, personal computers and cars may be contributing to increased tendencies to avoid exercise, but people are just people, and I think there is something else at work here.

    I am not prepared to lay out all the facts and figures, but I lay the bulk of the problem at the feet of our corporatized agriculture, with the consequent shift to processed foods (most of what we can get at the grocery stores is the same crap we’d get at a fast food joint), the ubiquitous infiltration of high fructose corn syrup, the increase in consumption/marketing of meats, corn, soybeans, and by-products thereof due to lower prices, in turn due to farm subsidies lowering costs for producing them.

    For a better understanding of the problem, you could start by going to see Food, Inc., and if you want an even more in-depth explanation, look for Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.

  8. dospesentas,

    You are not incorrect in pointing out that countries like Russia and China, while ostensibly universal and government supported, have seen declines in quality in the last decade or two, but consider that the decline in quality has been roughly commensurate in time with their transition toward capitalist economies. The reasons for their declines are not the same, and it would be an oversimplification to say that capitalism was entirely to blame, but the fact that both countries’ health care systems were more effective when they were more socialist detracts from your attempt to use them as examples of how a socialized approach to health care, or health insurance, is the problem.



  9. Mariann says:

    Happy — the situation you describe with regard to health care also applies, I believe, to the “War Against Terror”, and in both cases all the reasons both you and Scott allude to. The underlying unifier is the systematic excision of SELF-RELIANCE from the US population.

    We have come to expect the government, or someone, to protect us from ourselves and from all outward harm — and we increasingly, as a nation, take the (limited and pathetically few) protections that do exist as the birthright of all. That’s not how it’s supposed to work, is it? Government assistance should be available to people who need it, but it’s primary goal should be to get those people BACK ON THEIR FEET, not to perpetuate generations of welfare recipients, housed in buildings that are slums the first day they open.

    Our government doesn’t seem to know how to help anyone without first setting up a monstrous bureaucracy, and in part I believe this is due to the degree to which such programs have been delegated to the federal level, rather than handled at local, state, and regional levels as needed and only calling upon federal assistance when widespread disaster strikes.

    Because we can drive or walk past homeless women on the streets with no awareness of where they could get some help right here at home, nor feeling of community with them, there are hundreds of thousands of homeless families all over America.

    Sorry for the gloomy outlook — I am feeling pretty down about our prospects for ever seeing the kind of change we’ve worked for. We so far don’t seem to be able to change ourselves.

  10. Richard says:

    Marianne, be careful about making fun of “restless leg syndrome.”
    Poor Sen. Larry Craig was himself afflicted with it.

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