“I find it offensive that one in four of the livers donated, go to alcoholics. If there are two people side by side wanting a liver, and both have the right tissue match, and one is an alcoholic, there’s no contest -you take the one who’s not an alcoholic, they are more entitled.” - Eunice Booker, The Observer, front page, 15/02/09
It would appear that we, as a Nation are taking steps to punish people for being flawed. Unlike Eunice, I do not believe that the non-alcoholic in that scenario is more entitled to a liver transplant. I don’t believe anyone is “more entitled“. According to The Observer today, 151 liver transplants out of the 623 administered, were the result of alcohol abuse. As a non-drinker myself, I recognise that if I were in the situation where a drinker was given a liver transplant over myself, I would be annoyed. I accept that. However, without logical thought one could end up distraught at all medical problems.
The man who takes too long in the dentist chair causing you to miss work; because he hasn’t brushed his teeth enough; The woman who is taking up a bed in intensive care because she was txting whilst driving; The man taking up NHS time and money having his tummy tucked because he ate too many chips; The woman taking up Surgeon’s time because she smoked too much and contracted Cancer. Where does it end?
I get the feeling we’re becoming a society hell-bent on attacking anyone who is not like us. Anyone we consider to be less than perfect, we instantly take a dislike toward. On the train to Nottingham on Thursday last week, on my way to go for a lovely meal with my beautiful Girlfriend, I was sat behind a homeless man. He was old and worn out. He had a huge scar running from the top of his forehead to the tip of his left cheek. He kept walking up to the bathroom to hide, so that the ticket inspector didn’t catch him. It was snowing outside. He was wearing incredibly thin clothing. He asked a man passing by on the train if he could spare some change. The man, with his hair slicked back, wearing an incredible posh pin-stripe suit said “fuck off”. I looked at the man as he passed by and shook my head at him complete with a disgusted look.
The homeless man turned round to face me and said “What do you say when homeless people ask for money?” I told him I usually give them the odd pound if I can spare it. He went on “…I’ve got nowhere to sleep tonight, or anything to eat, do you have any change you could perhaps spare?” .. so naturally, I gave him the £2 I had left in my pocket and a packet of crisps I had in my bag. He got up and left to go try his luck elsewhere, but not before thanking me, and getting up with a smile on his face.
As we came to Nottingham station. The very kind lady sat behind me, asked if she could give me back the £2 i’d given to that homeless man, because she didn’t want me to now be short of money. It was only £2 so I wasn’t that fussed; thanked her for her kindness and politely turned it down.
That particular situation has had me thinking all weekend. The diversity of social responsibility was incredible in that brief thirty minute journey. A homeless man who clearly wasn’t completely sane. I’d guess years of living on the street, with no family, perhaps a rough childhood and the appalling conditions he’s had to live with, which inevitably included that scarred face. Then there was me, a typical young man worrying about money, what he wants from life, how he’s going to be able to afford posh holidays and a big house when he’s older who’s also happy to talk to and help the homeless because I do not see them as worthless animals, but as human beings who have simply been unable to cope with the money making side of life, like a cog that has fallen out of the machinery. Then there was the business man, who metaphorically pissed all over the tramp, whose only sense of responsibility is himself. As if money made him a better species of human. And then of course, there was the kind lady sat behind me who was willing to help the person who helped the homeless person.
The beauty of the NHS is it encourages social responsibility. It is the last calling card of the socialist. It says that regardless of who you are, and how much you earn, you are not entitled to a better standard of healthcare than anyone else. It is largely humanist in it’s approach to life. It takes the idea that healthcare should not be withheld from you, if there isn’t a profit to be made, and instead puts you and I on equal stepping. And rightfully so. I am not more or less important than a homeless man who has never worked a day in his life. Because healthcare should not be a commodity. The NHS, is a national treasure.
John McCain during the 2008 Presidential race referred to the British NHS as “undesirable“. Undoubtedly, as many Conservatives like to do, he focused on those who were not pleased with their level of healthcare from the NHS, the disgruntled few. Which accounts for such a small percentage, it’s an insult to those of us who need the NHS; such my dad, who had a heart attack a few years back, and who the NHS saved the life of.
John McCain must be blissfully unaware that according to the World Health Organisation, whilst over 45million Americans cannot afford adequate Health Insurance, the American Government pays 15.2% of GDP toward Health. However, over here in the UK, we’re all covered. Whether we’re worth billions of pounds, or the homeless man I met on the train; and it still costs less of our GDP (8.2% in fact) than the USA. We are in fact, healthier as a nation on the whole, than the U.S.A. And that can be strongly attributed to such a World class Health Service. If that is “undesirable” or “socialist“, then we should be damn proud to be undesirable and socialist, because it works. When the system currently in place in America allows 47 million people to be incapable of receiving adequate health care, and when health insurance costs are rising faster than wages or inflation, you have to really start choosing your words with much more care and attention before you start attacking the system of another Nation.
According to the NCHCA Third of U.S Firms in 2007 did not offer healthcare insurance. 8.1 million children in the U.S were uninsured. Almost 90 million people between 2006 and 2007 spent a period of time without healthcare insurance. And our system is undesirable? It would appear that we have the right system with creases that need to be ironed out, whereas the U.S, has the wrong system entirely. You cannot run away from all ideas born out of Socialist ideals. Some do work!
I’ve always wondered why Healthcare in America, if universal, would be “Socialist” yet police and fire coverage aren’t? Perhaps that question can be answered by what Professor Brendan McSweeney from the Holloway School of Management referred to as “market-failure denial“. The same people who seem to think that Stalin’s Centralised Government in which the guys at the top exploited the guys below, is any different from the guys at the top of a bank or the top of a Corporation exploiting those below them. The only difference of course being, that one is called “Government” the other is called “Company“. It’s a bunch of Eastern bloc Communists scattered across the place hiding under the name ‘Capitalism’, whose Corporate central planning is more costly than that of most developing nations, and whose central planners (management – the guys a million miles away from the workers) earn hundreds of thousands more than those who work for them, who have never seen them before since working there and yet insist on devising targets and procedures. Central planning, is of course, “Communist“. The same people more happy to bail out bankers, than offer healthcare to those who need it most. The same people who are more than happy to yell “I’m pro life!!!“….. until the baby is born into a poor family, in which case, it suddenly isn’t as deserving of life as a rich child.
As for the Observer story from this morning, the moment we start questioning who is more deserving of healthcare, is the moment we start down the slippery slope toward total privatised healthcare.