Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lies, Damn Lies and British Reporters

Pay no attention to the bureaucrat behind the curtain. Be content. . . fear change. That’s the message to Britons in a propaganda piece written by Guy Adams of The (UK) Independent called “The brutal truth about America’s healthcare.” Adams’ article is intended to console and distract ordinary Britons from the poor state of their own health care system, by trying to convince them of the horrors of the American system.

Adams centers his article on a recent event at the Los Angeles Forum, an event he wants his readers to believe is now common in America. The forum which "once hosted Madonna concerts," and apparently never will again, was offering a free medical clinic over the past eight days. Or, as Adams describes this spectacle of Americana, the Forum has become “a makeshift medical centre,” a “vast field hospital” offering something “so rare” that lines of desperate Americans “snake around the venue for the chance of getting everyday treatments that many British people take for granted.” He tells us:
They came in their thousands, queuing through the night to secure one of the coveted wristbands offering entry into a strange parallel universe where medical care is a free and basic right and not an expensive luxury. Some of these Americans had walked miles simply to have their blood pressure checked, some had slept in their cars in the hope of getting an eye-test or a mammogram, others had brought their children for immunisations that could end up saving their life.
Really? Americans walk? In L.A.? How horrible things must have become. Adams must be on to something!

Apparently, all of 1,500 people showed up on the first two days, with as many as 10,000 expected before the event is over! Of course, if you do some basic math, 750 per day for eight days works out to only 6,000 people. But never mind that, it’s the image that counts in propaganda. . . and weak minds love round numbers.

But you know, if you think about it, 10,000 people in LA isn’t that many. Indeed, this weeping line of humanity held down by the jackboot of capitalism represents only 0.08% of the 12.9 million people in the area. That’s only 1 in 1,300 people. That’s hardly the flood one would expect if our system is what Adams claims.

I wonder how many would have shown up if the offer was “free televisions”? Good question. More than 30,000 people showed up for an auto show the year before. Perhaps there is a shortage of automobiles in the US? RoadbamaCare where are you?!!

Ok, so we're not impressed with this weak crowd. But Adams doesn’t rely on this alone. No sir:
Although the Americans spend more on medicine than any nation on earth, there are an estimated 50 million with no health insurance at all. Many of those who have jobs can't afford coverage, and even those with standard policies often find it doesn't cover commonplace procedures. California's unemployed – who rely on Medicaid – had their dental care axed last month.
Wow, all wrong. First, no one uses the 50 million estimate, even the far left. Most on the left use the 46 million figure, which is really only 37 million when you exclude illegal aliens. Moreover, as we discussed, this figure falls to only 7.3 million when you exclude people who can already get government coverage but don’t and people who can afford coverage by choose not to. Of course, 7.3 million (2.4% of the population) isn’t as scary a statistic as 50 million (16% of the population). . . though it does have the benefit of being true.

Further, Mr. Adams, when you say that many of those who have jobs can’t afford coverage, you seem to be forgetting that 84% of Americans have coverage, with the vast majority getting it through their jobs. Can the British not access Google? Did you not think to look this up?

And another thing, Adams, ObamaCare doesn’t cover dental. . . or eye care, so you might want to stop talking about it. Not to mention that, frankly, no Brit should ever talk about anyone else’s teeth.

But talk about teeth Adams does. Indeed, one of the two women whose sad, sad stories Adams uses to make his propaganda feel real to his simple-minded readers is at the LA event because she needs dental work. The other, an employed grocery store worker, points out that she can’t afford the $200 a month it will cost to get the insurance that her employer provides. It’s a good thing ObamaCare won’t increase the cost of her insurance or her taxes well beyond $200 a month to cover the costs of the plan! No siree. Just ignore the fact that the cost can’t even be fully estimated yet, but is already optimistically estimated to require an additional $460 per month in taxes from every American just to cover existing costs, not even counting the cost of the premiums. Clearly, she'll be better off under ObamaCare.

So with hordes of people huddling together for free dental and eye tests in LA, why can't Obama get traction for his plan? The writing must be on the wall right? Well, according to Adams, it's those evil Republicans who have “seized on public hesitancy over ‘socialised medicine’”. Indeed:
Most damaging of all has been the tide of vociferous right-wing opponents whipping up scepticism at town hall meetings that were supposed to soothe doubts. In Pennsylvania this week, Senator Arlen Specter was greeted by a crowd of 1,000 at a venue designed to accommodate only 250, and of the 30 selected speakers at the event, almost all were hostile.
Those dirty right-wing monsters! They had the nerve to brave union thugs to come ask pointed questions that disrupted what was supposed to be a smooth town hall meeting? OMG! Hide under your beds my binge-drunk British friends, the neo-Nazis are coming to take away your blessed National Health Service!! Dick Cheney knows where you live!

Of course, you’d have to be a fool not to wonder how those far, far right extremists managed to get only their agents chosen as speakers, but that’s not the point. The point of propaganda is merely to elicit emotion from the weak minded, like readers of The Independent. And emotion is what you get. The 1000 people who savaged the angelic Mr. Specter are just jackbooted thugs, and they don't represent America. So ignore these 1000 people, because they mean nothing -- 1000 people is too small a number to mean anything.

And how do we know that those 1000 people don't represent the rest of America? Well, Adams tells us, “the packed bleachers in the LA Forum tell a different story.” That’s right, the 750 people in LA, the 1 in 1,300, should be considered representative, but the 1000 in Pennsylvania that tortured and probably sodomized Arlen Specter should not.

But don’t just take Adam’s word for it, he’s got an expert: Stan Brock, the man who put on the little medical shin-dig in Los Angeles, despite the danger that Republican military units might shut him down and make him disappear. Says Brock:
"Back in 1944, the UK government knew there was a serious problem with lack of healthcare for 49.7 million British citizens, of which I was one, so they said 'Hey Mr Nye Bevan, you're the Minister for Health... go fix it'. And so came the NHS. Well, fast forward now 66 years, and we've got about the same number of people, about 49 million people, here in the US, who don't have access to healthcare."
Wow! I never knew the problem was so big in the UK in 1944. Indeed, 49.7 million unemployed British citizens today would account for 81% of the current population of the UK. In 1944, it would have accounted for more than 100% of the UK population. You know you’ve got a serious problem when more than 100% of your population lacks health care! I guess that means gangs of doctors were roaming the streets hurting people?

Oh, and don’t worry about bias from Mr. Brock, because he assures us that he is “anxious not to interfere in the potent healthcare debate . . . though he and many other professionals, believe the NHS (Britain’s “health care” system) should provide a benchmark for the future of US healthcare.” Not to mention that he describes himself as “very conservative in my outlook for the whole of my life. I've been described as being about 90,000 miles to the right of Attila the Hun.” What a relief! Clearly, he’s an unbiased observer who can fairly criticize the evil American right.

Did I mention that Brock has no money, no income and no bank account. He spends every day working at charity events, “sleeping on a small rolled-up mat on the floor and living on a diet made up entirely of porridge and fresh fruit.” Some have described him “as a living saint,” which is not the word I would choose.

False religious imagery aside -- ever so popular in propaganda, Adams does finally toss in some statistics to prove. . . something.

Did you know that the US spends 16% of its GDP on health care? The UK only spends 8.4%. And we spend $7,290 per person, whereas the UK only spends $2,992 (which is of course the same statistic repeated differently). Further. . . wait a minute, don't liberals view spending more as a good thing? Are we not thus better than our cheapskate cousins in the UK?

What else has he got? The US has 2.4 doctors per every 1000 people? The UK has 2.5, which is better. Of course, we have 10.6 nurses and they only have 10. Hmmm. Sounds like a wash.

How about this. . . life expectancy in the US is 78 compared to 80 for the UK! The UK wins! The UK wins! And the infant mortality is only 4.8 per 1000, compared to 6.7 for the US. Gooaaaaaaaaal! Thus, ergo facto smuglorem, the UK must be better, right? Well, no. If Adams had read our article on these statistics, or if he understood the concept of research, he would have known that countries like the UK don’t include certain factors in their numbers -- like dead babies. When those are added back in, these figures all become remarkably similar.

Yet, what isn’t similar, and what Adams’ doesn’t seem to mention for reasons that I can’t possibly explain, are the following facts:
• Breast cancer mortality is 88% higher in the UK than in the US.

• Prostate cancer mortality is 604% higher in the UK than in the US.

• Colorectal mortality is 40% higher in the UK than in the US.

• Americans have better access to treatment for chronic diseases like heart disease. For example, 56% of Americans who could benefit from statin drugs receive them. This compares to 23% of the Britons.

• British patients face waits that are twice as long as those in America.

• The US has 34 CT machines and 27 MRI machines for every million Americans, whereas Britain has only 8 CT machines and 6 MRI machines.

• US consumers get generic drugs at a cost that is 24% less than the average Briton.

• Nor are the Brits all that happy with their system. Just like Americans, more than 70% of Britons report that their health care systems need either “fundamental change” or “complete rebuilding.”
Sounds like the UK has a great system, unless you're sick. So if you live in Britain, keep calling the BBC demanding new seasons of Top Gear, oh, and don’t listen to the ridiculous Mr. Adams.

* All misspellings are Adams'.


HamiltonsGhost said...

Andrew Price--My friends George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and I were all part of the British Health Care System. We all died waiting to see a doctor. Your friend, Alex H.

StlDan said...

Seems to me, if I remember the stories I was told by my Grandparents, We kicked the British and their health care out of the US a few years back. I have lived in Europe and have a German Daughter-in-law and Grandchild who still live there, with my son. Who works in the German economy and pays exorbitant taxes to pay for their health care. The Democrats control the White house, the Senate and the House and they can not pass this obnoxious bill. You would think that would tell them something.

AndrewPrice said...

Dan, You're right. It's very telling that they can't pass this thing despite having an overwhelming majority in Congress. I think you also see it in their need to slander and attack the average people who are raising questions at the Town Halls. Everyone knows when it's professional doing the protests, and these aren't professional.

I suspect that Adams' piece was aim more at getting the Brits to passively accept their system than it was to affect us -- after all, when was the list time Americans listened to foreigners about how we should handle our affairs?

Writer X said...

Aren't there enough things (good and bad) in the UK to write about? I think Guy Adams needs a hobby. Badly. And someone at THE INDEPENDENT should show him how to use fact checker. And spell checker.

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Of course they're not professionals. They're demagogues. I thought I had made that clear.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Adams' piece is full of falsehoods, illogic, and fake imagery on its face, but I'm pretty sure Adams and The Independent know this. They are providing propaganda here, something designed to reinforce all of the fears the British have about America. And as long as no one bothers to think about what they read, that's exactly what it will do.

AndrewPrice said...

No demagogues here Lawhawk, "vociferous right-wing opponents."

Writer X said...

Andrew, do the Brits distrust their MSM as much as we do?

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I don't honestly know, though I get the impression that the Brits have slowly become "less demanding" as a people over the past two decades. Maybe one of our English readers -- if we still have any after that teeth crack -- can fill us in.

I do know that British papers are much more upfront about their politics than American papers, which continue the myth that they are unbiased.

I also know that at one point, the BBC was considered THE source of reliable truth and news the world over, but few people around the world believe that now. I don't know what they really think of the BBC in Britain.

I can tell you though, as someone with German relatives, that the Euros have massive misconceptions about us, and their news feeds that rather than dispelling it.

Skinners 2 Cents said...

Great article, I'm getting tired of saying that so perhaps you could do a half a$$ job next time ;)

Andrew - "I can tell you though, as someone with German relatives, that the Euros have massive misconceptions about us, and their news feeds that rather than dispelling it."

That is an incredibly accurate assessment of Europe. Well perhaps not all of Europe I can only speak of my experiences in Spain but they were the same.

Idiot from Spain says, "I know all about how you treat black people in your country, your such a racist country." I laughed at the stupidity of the statement at first, then I realized how far the great racism lie had spread. Mind you they hate with a passion, and a lot of Spanish words I didn't understand, Moroccans in Spain. I wish I had been in Spain when the Spanish Olympic team was called racist for stretching their eye sockets out to look like Chinese citizens. Celia my Spanish friend now you understand the backwards thinking involved when the word racism is used in the US. If I had enough money I would have flown back over there when it happened to better explain this incredible falsehood... and laugh at her.

The next great Spanish piece of wisdom I picked up was how awful Americans were to native Americans. "I know all about the way that you treated native Americans."

I responded, "well I guess we learned that from your conquistadors." She shut up at that point because I had hit two out of the park, disproving two great Spaniard perspectives false for the price of one. Here is the other perspective that I slapped out of her mouth, "Americans know nothing of world history they only know American history."

Needless to say that ended her baseless assault on my country.

She did try to push one more fantasy on me. "Our medical system in Spain is so good that famous people and political dignitaries travel to Spain for medical treatment." That one only got a roll of the eyes. She knew the gig was up at that point.

The family that I was staying with at the time in Spain was wealthy wealthy, I was not speaking to an uneducated Spaniard. I was, however, dealing with a pill popping culture...not much different than ours, except they can just mention how they feel to a pharmacist 24 hrs a day and the pharmacist will prescribe and give medicine to anyone regardless of any medical history. I referred to it as the 7/11 for hypochondriacs from that point on. Another little note, this family had their own private doctor. No public medicine for them unless they needed a pill.

AndrewPrice said...

Skinner, I am amazed how much hypocritical self-righteousness there is overseas.

You probably said things to your friend that not only had she never thought about, but no one around her had ever thought about. Sadly, I doubt it sunk in. After you left, she probably rejoined the collective.

P.S. Next time, I'll try to mess the article up. :-)

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