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Thursday, 10 September 2009

Saving the Americans

Still on the holiday theme, Canada is such a polite and benign country, with such a marvellous health care system (it saved the life of my sister-in-law and host, the generous, loving and lovely Marianne) with an egalitarian education system (compared to the UK) and diverse migrant communities that get on much better than just about everywhere in the world. Ok, so the prime-minister looks like he's got Fisher Price Man Hair, but still, it's a large and wonderful country.

So heading down to the border and looking across at the US is a strange and fearful thing, especially at the height of the "Giving Poor People Health Care Will Kill Us All" hysteria which extremist factions in the US were engaged in this August. The lack of logic, sense, compassion or reason made it feel like looking across at North Korea, an alien land filled with drugs and guns and Detroit and Buffalo, where public health is a bad things and the millions who suffer every year due to the greed of the vocal few is seen as a cause of celebration. So when I got to Niagara and saw the Maids of the Mist and the hordes of sorrowful Americans in their yellow macs on the American side, it did look like a rescue mission. Then again, it was probably the other way round - the Canadians who elected Harper longing for a place of low taxes, where you can live rich and die young and never know there is another place in the world.

Thank God I'm back in Blighty where the only thing to look forward to an old Etonian as Prime-Minister. Rule Brittania, God Save the Queen, Tally Ho and all that.


Unknown said...

Hey Colin,

I enjoy reading your blogs and love the photos. Thomas Friedman in the NYT has an
interesting take on all the noise around the American Health Care Debate. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/opinion/09friedman.html?_r=1&em
And for a first hand account of how badly the USA needs health care reform check out Bill Moyers on PBS and his interview with former Insurance industry executive Wendell Potter who quit his job to advocate for health care reform. http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/07102009/watch2.html
Obama revived my spirits with his address to congress last night.
The thing about the States is even when things are getting worse, Americans have always demonstrated the ability to make changes for the better.
I'm hoping their better side comes through again.

Tom Grand

colin pantall said...

Hi Tom - good to hear from you and thanks for the links. It was heartwarming to watch Obama. I like this article from the Independent.

The brutal truth about US health care.


Kurt Shoens said...

Fearful though you might be of America, you wouldn't believe how much we scare ourselves. We don't consider our political opponents to be wrong or misguided. We think they're actually dangerous.

You'd think the US was poised on a knife-edge, about to descend into either a fascist totalitarian state (the liberal nightmare) or a torpid, uninspired dictatorship of mediocrity (the conservative nightmare). Notice the common nightmare factor: loss of freedom.

The coverage in the US about health care reform emphasizes controlling cost more than extending care to everyone. Oops! Controlling cost means that someone making money now would be making less if things change. So that will keep things entertaining as we all scurry.

Wish us luck in finding a better way in all this. Given our worries about individual freedom, you know what levers the movers and shakers will be pulling.

colin pantall said...

I definitely wish you luck in finding a better way, Kurt, though (from an English perspective at least) there might be some slippage between controlling cost and extending care to everyone - but that might just be the Anglo-endency to hate anyone less fortunate getting something.