26 June 2010


Because the National Health Service is by far the biggest totem in British society, the creation of something similar in the USA was greeted over here as a great social accomplishment. Most Brits neither knew nor cared that the act was several thousand pages long, had not even been read through by its sponsors and was larded with every 'pork barrel' scheme the Democratic Party had been unable to piggyback onto previous legislation.

One vignette: the act create 159 new boards and commissions across the country, a vast extension of federal employment for the middle class; oh, and $24 million for new electronic medical records processing for elected representatives and senators. Forget for a moment that act only passed because the Democratic Party has a majority in both chambers of the federal legislature - what politician, of any party, is ever going to relinquish a source of patronage or an occupational perk? 

When the British NHS was created, there was a sincere belief that the prophylactic approach would reduce the incidence of illness and its cost to society. That hope was rapidly dashed, and the system has been struggling with rising demand and costs ever since. Nonetheless, it is treasured because it continues to express the basic ideal of social solidarity that animated the immediately post-war British governments.

Obamacare was not created in the blissful ignorance of inexorably rising future costs that accompanied the birth of the British NHS. It was founded on the ruthless manipulation of statistics, its main purpose has been to increase the power of the federal government, and it has been built brick by brick with sordid pay-offs to politicians and special interests.

And it will, without a shadow of doubt, rapidly increase the already astronomical cost of medical care to American society; at a time when levels of public and private debt are already unsustainably high, and facing the fiscal overhang of the baby boom generation entering the most medically expensive phase of its life cycle.

The road to hell may indeed be paved with good intentions - but when the intentions are cynically corrupt to begin with, it is lubricated with the thickest layer of grease that other people's money can buy.

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