(The third time’s a charm as they say. Again, from the tone of many of my emails, not all of them as polite as you would imagine coming as they do from people who make it their business to be compassionate, I can see that many of you are still not getting it. Let us try one more time to show those of you who worship at the altar of public policy, any public policy, that your gods are mererly hollow brass castings which, although they make mystical noises when the wind blows a certain way, are as empty as a French Army recruiting office after the Germans have invaded.-PB)
Potemkin Health Care
Before the United States can have anything approaching the obvious perfection of European-style universal health care, our people are going to have to learn some good manners. While I am a fierce patriot and love America before all other countries, I cannot help but to admire the urbanity and the insouciance with which Europeans obligingly die before they can become a burden to their nanny states.
In truth, I am ashamed to report that where Americans, in a typically boorish fashion, will insist on hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical care to preserve their shameless lives beyond the point where it would be convenient for society, in Europe not only are many procedures and medications unavailable to patients over a certain age but some of those elegant continentals have even hit on the money-saving idea of offering a couple of hundred guilders worth of euthanasia drugs to politely eliminate those who might otherwise become a burden.
The problem with offering universal access to health care, which should be obvious to anyone with good manners, is that there is an almost inexhaustible demand for it. Maybe you, oh loyal and patient reader, don’t think about this as you are no doubt a veritable Hector or Andromache, in the prime of your life and about to conquer the medical world, but the old and the infirm, with stunning bad manners, do want their hips replaced, their coronary arteries vigorously scrubbed, and their expensive sojourns in the intensive care unit. Sadly, there is no end to their demands as they clamour for more and more precious health care, grimly hanging on just for spite until at around 90, eighty if we’re lucky, their bad manners finally catch up to them like their mothers from the turn of the last century said they would.
It’s shameful. The demand may be inexhaustible but the supply cannot possible keep pace. Certainly not now where, with typical American insensivity, we structure our society around merit and allocate services to those who earn them and certainly not under a single payer system where there is no restraint on demand whatsoever…except that it is to be hoped we learn some European style-good manners.
And quickly, too, because lurking in the demographic shadows is a huge bolus of rapidly aging baby-boomers, perhaps the most self-centered generation our country has ever produced, and they, of all people, will not go quietly into that good night…at least not unless shuffling off of your mortal coil becomes a hip-and-trendy lifestyle choice. It will be the largest eat-and-run the nation has ever seen and somebody is going to have to pick up the tab.
So, it may come to pass that our country adopts a single payer system in our impossible quest to provide high quality health care for all. The result will be pretty much what anybody who thinks about it could predict. We will have a lovely little health care system that looks nice, sounds nice, and finally wins us the adulation of our charming European friends that many of us so ferverently desire. But please don’t have the bad manners, the unmitigated gall, to get sick and require anything that can’t be provided at a simple visit to your barefoot doctor. You will find your marvelous access is nothing more than a creaky rationing scheme and your shining medical city on a hill is really a Potemkin Village.