Nicolas Sarkozy elected French President

With a reported turnout of 85% to match the first round vote, and with three-quarters of the votes counted putting support for Sarkozy at 53%, the socialist candidate Segolene Royal conceded defeat. Whether the televised debate, or her comments on Sarkozy – She said she had a “responsibility to sound the alarm about the risks of this candidacy and the violence and brutality that will be spawned in the country.” – influenced the result isn’t clear, but the polls gave him a lead ahead of today’s second round vote. The Guardian claims that his first 100 days in office are already mapped out.. after a three-day retreat to, perhaps, a monastry.. hmm.. the BBC profile and expectations of what happens next is here. There have been reports of some skirmishes at the Bastille..

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  • Garibaldy

    Putain

  • ?

    Pete Baker,

    As you are here maybe you’ll look at the ‘Tables turned?’ blog it only has eleven comments.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Allons enfants de la Patrie le jour de gloire est arrive!”

    Vive la France! Thank God they finally did the right thing (pun intended), just sit back and have fun as the BBC and Guardianistas’ heads melt.

  • Prince Eoghan

    Merde!

  • Comrade Stalin

    Vive la France! Thank God they finally did the right thing (pun intended),just sit back and have fun as the BBC and Guardianistas’ heads melt.

    In the interests of trying to have a bit of a debate, would you care to explain the above comment? What do the Guardian and/or the BBC have to do with it ?

  • Philip

    Nice to see a high turn-out. Bets on the first strikes …
    It has occurred to me that France has a neo-Thatcherite.

  • foreign correspondent

    Apres la victoire de Sarko, le deluge…
    In any case I didn´t care much for Royal either. Jose Bove should have won.

  • Paulo Vencenze

    “The polls give him a lead” must rank as one of the understatements of the year. On Friday afternoon the market on Betfair was predicting that he had a 91% chance of being elected. His election was a veritable sure thing;

    http://www.bettingmarket.com/frabetelesa419540.htm

  • Harry Flashman

    **In the interests of trying to have a bit of a debate, would you care to explain the above comment? What do the Guardian and/or the BBC have to do with it ?**

    Rather obvious I’d have thought both news organisations have been spinning Sarkozy as some form of Atila the Hun who likes to eat black babies lightly barbequed. (Why did the Beeb always refer to Sarkozy as the ‘right wing’ candidate but Royal was never the ‘left wing’ candidate but rather the nice soft focus “socialist” candidate?)

    To them France, with its massive social spending, sclerotic economy, gee whizz trains (I’ve never understood the left’s obsession with trains), 35 hour week, statist mentality, elitist disdain for Anglo-America, nihilism, bolshie unions, protectionism etc etc has been a beacon of hope for a generation.

    Now the evil goblin has got the keys to the magic kingdom and is going to sweep out the Augean stables that exist there and the libs can only sit and weep. Oh sure the lefties can whip up mobs to riot against the French people’s democratic choice (can you imagine the outrage of the Guardianistas if Sarko or heaven forfend Le Pen had warned of skinheads rioting if the French people elected Royal? Her statement was one of the most despicable I have ever heard a candidate in a major European democracy ever made and I reckon cost her the job) but in the end the good guys won.

    Just watch now how the BBC and the Guardian report on France in the coming years gone will be the utopia they have described for the past thirty years instead all we’ll hear about will be the nasty dirty underbelly stories of French life, in just the same way they spin the USA when a Republican president is elected.

    Ah who cares now is a time for all Francophiles to crack open bottles of Moet & Chandon, it’s been long overdue.

    “Aux armes citoyens, formez vos bataillons, marchons, marchons. . .”

  • Wilde Rover

    “I’ve never understood the left’s obsession with trains”

    Because modern trains are non-polluting, smooth running, the fast ones are faster than a plane for journeys less than 400 km, you are less likely to be killed in one than a car, you know exactly when you are going to reach your destination (in the more socialist countries), and when commuting you can spend your time catching up on sleep or work instead of battling through rush hour traffic.

  • It never ceases to amaze me just how gullible and greedy the middle class electorate are, Sarkozy has sold himself as a outsider coming in to clean the stables [as someone put it above.] Yet he and his political friends have owned the stables and have had responsibility for keeping them clean for the past 14 years.

    Indeed when Sarkozy announces his first government, from the PM down it will be made up of ministers who are responsible for making France what it is today, whether good or bad. To blame the socialists who have not had a president for 14 years is silly to say the least.

    For poor old Harry to claim that these creeps have something new to offer just about takes the biscuit, for the truth of the matter is that neither candidates had a new thought in their heads. Thus the French middle classes being the cautious forelock tugging people their are simply voted for who they know.

    As to the BBC after the Kelly affair it is completely in the UK governments pocket, one only has to watch and listen to its program content to understand that. Indeed if anything the beeb has once again become the English middle classes very own broadcast corporation and you will be hard placed to even hear a regional accent these days.

    To appear front of camera at the Beeb one can be black, white, asian or chinese, the only criteria that is demanded is that you are middle class. As far as front of camera is concerned the BBC is not that different today than it was in the 1950s early 60s and the same is increasingly true of the media as a whole. It will not be long before middle class actors are once again playing cockneys and geordies [cor blimey me lord, away lad ;]

    With his hatred of railways it seems Flash Harry is not yet doing his bit against global warming 😉 I wonder if Harry hates them because private business has found it is unable to run railways effectively and competently and make a profit. As a good rail and public transport system is needed within a successful 21st century nation, it must be partly state owned. Which would allow it to be a beacon for future nationalization, for example in the supply of water, health care,
    etc.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “It never ceases to amaze me just how gullible and greedy the middle class electorate are.”

    Why, because they vote for their interests and beliefs, rather rather than be co-opted views you find palatable? It is an odd premise, that the product you play barker for is perfect, there is simply something wrong with the customers…

    Whilst the third place candidate did not endorse either Royal or Sarkozy, the next tier down in his group were near unanimous for Sarkozy.

    The short form is that Royal ran a middlin’ poor campaign, replete with errors, a seeming running ideological conflict with her hubby and the small matter than even the socialist parties seemed to lack enthusiasm for her candidacy. One can rarely in the 24/7 news cycle try to claim to be all things to all people and carry it off.

  • Tori

    I’m sorry for french people.Sarkozy’s win is a worst news for them.They chose to vote an aggressive,strict,authoritarian,militarist leader,who opposes to Turkey in Europe,who supportes the russian massacres in Chechnya,or the american carnages in Iraq and Afghanistan,or the murders in Palestine.It’s a dark day for France and Europe.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    FC: “In any case I didn´t care much for Royal either. Jose Bove should have won. ”

    Making the transition from longshots to sheer flights of fancy…

  • Philip

    80% odd voted compared to our poor 40% or so in the election so i guess the victory is more representative.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Harry Flashman: “gee whizz trains (I’ve never understood the left’s obsession with trains)”

    Mayhap because theay are a perfect metaphor for leftist vision of the perfect government — riders are wholly dependent upon the whimsies of the system. They may choose to take the least inconvenient train, as there is no guarantee of a truly convenient one. Once aboard, the rider is wholly in the control of the powers-that-be and has little control over their own destiny. If things do not work out as promised, the riders has little to no recourse against the operators of the train. Just sit down, shut up and hang on.

  • Dread

    You have a very outdate and if I may say so failed vision of the left, I suppose one can hardly blame you as some on the left do still stick to ridged authoritarian versions of socialism, but that is more of a generational thing. The problem with the neo-liberal right is they base
    all freedoms on economics, in that if you make enough money you have the freedoms to do what you like and the cash to put it into practice, good health care and education for ones self and family is the best example of this.

    We on the left realize that this is an unrealistic formula for the majority, whether working or middle class, thus we must work collectively to provide the nations infrastructure, whether it be pensions, health care, public transport, law and order, basic infrastructure such as highways and water supply, education and national defense. For almost all of these things are to expensive for the majority of us to provide them for ourselves and families on an individual bases.

    Up until comparatively recently post WW2 European conservatives also believed that the State should provide the aforementioned social wage, it is really only since Reganism that the respectable right came under the doleful influence of what we now call neo-liberal economics, but when they were the point men of the Chilean nazi Pinochet, [may he rot in hell] we called them the Chicago school of economics that they have turned away from this. One only has to look at the USA and to a lesser degree the UK to see what a disaster this has been for those who live under such a government.

    A chaotic foreign policy that benefits only those who can get there snouts in the government trough [see Iraq and US multi nationals] the middle classes holding down two jobs to provide decent schooling and health care for their families and enormous level of personal debt and this is without the crime that has come in the wake of neo-liberalism which has filled the prisons to the benefit of once again of the multi nationals who now run many of these jails.

    It really is a bit much for the neo-cons to condemn socialist for their wish to use the state when the main beneficiaries of neo liberal economics are individuals and companies who have enriched themselves via the largess of central government.

  • foreign correspondent

    The French train network is excellent. The trains are punctual and fast: Paris to Marseille in three hours for example – a journey of 800 km or almost twice as far as Derry to Cork. As far as I know there has not been one death in a TGV train-accident since the service started in the 1980s, in any case it is surely a thousand times safer than travelling in the shiny metal boxes. I mean, what is not to like about the TGV?
    Hopefully Sarko doesnt try and emulate her royal hagness, Mrs T, and screw up the system like she did in the UK with her privatization frenzy.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “You have a very outdate and if I may say so failed vision of the left, I suppose one can hardly blame you as some on the left do still stick to ridged authoritarian versions of socialism, but that is more of a generational thing.”

    They are still extant and I distrust this whole “kinder, gentler” language — been burned once, not enthusiastic about trusting it again.

    mickhall: “We on the left realize that this is an unrealistic formula for the majority, whether working or middle class, thus we must work collectively to provide the nations infrastructure, whether it be pensions, health care, public transport, law and order, basic infrastructure such as highways and water supply, education and national defense.”

    Pensions, in the main, should not be the perview of the state, not because it isn’t a good idea, but because they is the incessant urge to tinker. Likewise, government, esp. under leftists, tend to suffer mission drift, such that what was created as a “supplemental program” is, when politically convenient, cast as being someone’s sole support, leading to sweeteners and enhancements. Likewise, the left likes to pay folks who never paid in, creating additional drains.

    Healthcare — again, a decent base-line is one thing, total care another, for largely the same reasons — mission drift and tinkering. Likewise, when cancer patients see an airline ticket as a integral component of their operation, be it Manhatten or Mumbai bound, I have to question the efficacy of a gov’t based solution.

    The rest we would have little to disagree in concept, merely where to draw lines.

    mickhall: “One only has to look at the USA and to a lesser degree the UK to see what a disaster this has been for those who live under such a government. ”

    Job growth, economic expansion, sub 5% unemployment… yeah, mick, its been hell.

    mickhall: “A chaotic foreign policy that benefits only those who can get there snouts in the government trough [see Iraq and US multi nationals] the middle classes holding down two jobs to provide decent schooling and health care for their families and enormous level of personal debt and this is without the crime that has come in the wake of neo-liberalism which has filled the prisons to the benefit of once again of the multi nationals who now run many of these jails. ”

    Hyperbole, in the main — you seem to forget that this is gravy for the gander, as opposed to gravy for the goose. To paraphrase Ecclesiates, there is nothing new under the sun and it has all happened before. You main gripe seems to be it’s not your side sticking it to the public.

    Again, the short form is that Royal lost. The public was not buying what she was selling. For you to tell me the product is perfect and the customers are broken seems a trifle… naive is perhaps the best word.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    F_C: “The French train network is excellent. The trains are punctual and fast: Paris to Marseille in three hours for example – a journey of 800 km or almost twice as far as Derry to Cork.”

    Which does nothing to address my comments.

    F_C: “I mean, what is not to like about the TGV? ”

    Does it always go where I want to go, when I want to go? It is personally convenient for me?

    One size does not always fit all.

  • FC

    TVG train is cheap too, especially if you can be flexible about date and time. I paid 29 euros from Paris to Nice last year and no fuel surcharge or airport security taxes, I think the line has now been extended eastwards to Strasbourg etc. I read last week that a non discount fare London to Edinburgh is over 200 pound on the UK railway and they claim private is always more efficient and cheaper.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “TVG train is cheap too, especially if you can be flexible about date and time.”

    In other words, no, it does not go where I want to go, when I need to go there…

    A product is useless if it does not do what I need it to do.

  • Dread

    I would never suggest any political product is perfect, as I spend much of my life finding holes in what politicians sell, and attempting to get the info out there, whether they are of the left or right. At heart I am a libertarian socialist and distrust all governments, although this was not always so.

    All government and political systems are fallible because it is us humans who run them. I would like to believe come the revolution I would still be sitting here raging against that government to. It is just that having experenced a host of government, who have been of differing political persuasion, I tend to feel the best so far has been social democracy, although of course were such a government to come to power they would be far to conservative for me 😉

    On a more serious issue, I take your point about drift, one of the tragedies of political life in the last two decades or so in the UK, has been that under both Thatcher and Blair there has not been an opposition worthy of the name to keep her/him and their administrations in check. Thus the media has played this role to a degree, but the down side of this has inevitably been the contempt many people now have for politicians.

    Labour failed to check Thatcher in parliament and the tories failed likewise with Blair, indeed it has often been left to the unelected House of Lords to turn back government bills that should never have seen the light of day.

    The outcome of this lack of real opposition in pariament is that government try and solve problems by administrative means alone, they continuously pass laws, often contradicting a previous law not long placed on the statues book.

    In a democracy it takes at least two parties to make an effective parliamentary system, otherwise we end up with an elective dictatorship, no clearer example of the disaster that can occur when this occurs was Blairs WMDs war on Iraq. A good opposition would have picked up on this and done their job and opposed the government, war or no war, as the country was under no viable threat. Instead fearful and lacking both knowledge and confidence the tory oppostion voted with Blair and disaster struck us all.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “I would never suggest any political product is perfect, as I spend much of my life finding holes in what politicians sell, and attempting to get the info out there, whether they are of the left or right.”

    And, yet, seem incensed when the tables are turned…

    mickhall: “At heart I am a libertarian socialist and distrust all governments, although this was not always so. ”

    You keep using that word — “libertarian” — in a fashion that I am unfamiliar with. The essence of a socialist state is its intrusiveness, both social and economic, sticking their noses into a variety of areas where the government has no business.

    mickhall: “On a more serious issue, I take your point about drift, one of the tragedies of political life in the last two decades or so in the UK, has been that under both Thatcher and Blair there has not been an opposition worthy of the name to keep her/him and their administrations in check.”

    The problem is that people vote parties as institutions, rather than collections of interests. Ergo, reliable voting blocs are created and ignored. The other half of the problem is that institutions eventually end up running on momentum, whilst the opposition, as number two, continues to try harder.

    Actually, I think a vigorous opposition is a useful thing. I think Bush’s greatest problem is that he was as successful as he was at the start of his first term vis-a-vis his agenda… tick too many things off the list and you end up with idle hands…

    mickhall: “Labour failed to check Thatcher in parliament and the tories failed likewise with Blair, indeed it has often been left to the unelected House of Lords to turn back government bills that should never have seen the light of day. ”

    Any system where a party gets less than 40% of the national vote and a majority of the elected representatives, you have the makings of a problem. Throw in the lack of checks on Parliment and you start to have a recipe for disaster.

    mickhall: “In a democracy it takes at least two parties to make an effective parliamentary system, otherwise we end up with an elective dictatorship, no clearer example of the disaster that can occur when this occurs was Blairs WMDs war on Iraq. A good opposition would have picked up on this and done their job and opposed the government, war or no war, as the country was under no viable threat. Instead fearful and lacking both knowledge and confidence the tory oppostion voted with Blair and disaster struck us all. ”

    It was a political calculation — the American Dems did the same — the made the political calculation — they have a reputation of being weak on defense and security issues and decided that an “us, too!” vote would help change that image. In both sides defense, Saddam had been playing silly buggers, trying to create enough questions to keep Iran from getting ambitious.

  • J McConnell

    Mickhall

    I love the TGV too. In fact I’ll be taking one next week. But there again, I’m not a French taxpayer, who will be subsidizing almost two thirds of the true cost of my rail trip.

    If I were a French taxpayer I would be very angry at just how much the taxpayer has to subsidize the grossly overmanned and incredibly expensive system, both through (in)direct subsidies to SNCF and through having to pick up the tab for the RFF’s (the French equivalent of RailTrack) $20B+ debt. The UK rail companies could charge SNCF level fares if they too could engage in the Enronesque accounting practices that the French government use for both SNCF and RFF.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry:

    Rather obvious I’d have thought both news organisations have been spinning Sarkozy as some form of Atila the Hun who likes to eat black babies lightly barbequed. (Why did the Beeb always refer to Sarkozy as the ‘right wing’ candidate but Royal was never the ‘left wing’ candidate but rather the nice soft focus “socialist” candidate?)

    Why specifically do you think that using the term “left wing” rather than “socialist” conveys bias ? To my mind, “left wing” can range from anyone slightly left of centre through to a die hard Trot.

    Sarkozy has a tough guy image that he has cultivated himself quite deliberately, f.ex over Turkey’s admission to the EU. I don’t see how you can blame the BBC for reporting this.

    To them France, with its massive social spending,

    What’s wrong with social spending ?

    sclerotic economy,

    People in France seem to be reasonably happy. I think the cap on the working week was a stupid idea, but they generally work less hours and have high rates of productivity. What’s the problem ? The country isn’t bankrupt – GNP is higher than in Germany – and is major world economy, equivalent to the UK.

    gee whizz trains (I’ve never understood the left’s obsession with trains),

    Trains are a great way to travel the appropriate distance, without all of the security, legroom and other problems associated with planes; and you’ve got that environment thing as well. In business terms, they are more financially sustainable and less volatile than other equivalent modes – compare with the massive tax subsidies granted to airlines for example. I don’t think people should get religious about any means of transport though.

    35 hour week, statist mentality, elitist disdain for Anglo-America,

    Sounds like it’s mutal to me. Though keep the “Anglo” bit out, the Brits have the Entente Cordiale.

    nihilism,

    Eh ?

    bolshie unions,

    For sure, these exist in other places too. What gives ?

    protectionism etc etc

    As practiced by all the major countries in the West. We could start with the view taken by the USA on the operation of online casinos.

    Now the evil goblin has got the keys to the magic kingdom and is going to sweep out the Augean stables that exist there and the libs can only sit and weep.

    Yeah. I remember people saying this when Chirac was elected – he defeated the socialist candidate during both of the Presidential elections prior to this one, twice. The first time out, people said he’d turn the place upside down and shake out all the bad stuff. In practice, not a lot changed, and people don’t remember that much other than his resumption of nuclear testing in the Pacific, which reminds me very much of Sarkozy’s tough talk on foreign policy right now.

    Oh sure the lefties can whip up mobs to riot against the French people’s democratic choice (can you imagine the outrage of the Guardianistas if Sarko or heaven forfend Le Pen had warned of skinheads rioting if the French people elected Royal? Her statement was one of the most despicable I have ever heard a candidate in a major European democracy ever made and I reckon cost her the job) but in the end the good guys won.

    It appears that you’ve forgotten how Chirac got elected by using scare tactics, telling people to support him in order to keep Le Pen out.

    Royal’s statement was indeed despicable, and reminded me of statements made during the 2004 elections in the USA about how supporting the wrong candidate would weaken the country and leave it open to terrorist attack.

    Just watch now how the BBC and the Guardian report on France in the coming years gone will be the utopia they have described for the past thirty years instead all we’ll hear about will be the nasty dirty underbelly stories of French life, in just the same way they spin the USA when a Republican president is elected.

    Your rant belies your appalling ignorance. This is the third time in a row that the socialists have been defeated, and represents more or less a continuation of the existing order. Sarkozy is on pretty much the same page as Chirac, except with a distinctly more, shall we say, “American” foreign policy.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Dread:

    Mayhap because theay are a perfect metaphor for leftist vision of the perfect government—riders are wholly dependent upon the whimsies of the system. They may choose to take the least inconvenient train, as there is no guarantee of a truly convenient one. Once aboard, the rider is wholly in the control of the powers-that-be and has little control over their own destiny. If things do not work out as promised, the riders has little to no recourse against the operators of the train. Just sit down, shut up and hang on.

    I am not sure what you meant by this, but consider that the TGV (the famous French long distance train) has, as it’s competitor, the short-haul flight. Everything that you have said above applies even more to planes than to trains. At least with a train you can pull the emergency stop and jump off. You do not have to be considered a potential terrorist and made to remove your shoes and belt to be checked before boarding one. On a plane you are lawfully required to obey the captain and flight crew, who may detain/restrain you while in flight. This legal matter doesn’t apply on trains.

    I regularly have to use flights to go on business visits, and I have to tell you that I’d take the train any day if such a route existed. The flight staff won’t let me use my laptop on the plane for over half the trip (for any destination within the UK). Airports are stuffy, stressful places full of rushing people, overpriced restaurants serving terrible food and bad coffee, and continuous security and identity checks that in and of themselves make you constantly concerned about missing your flight – which is regularly late or even cancelled. While you’re flying, the view outside is rather limited and boring; the noise in the cabin often prevents conversation; you may get sick, dizzy or have a sore head due to the pressure changes on your ascent.

    You do not have to be a leftie to see that there is nothing exciting or enjoyable about travelling on a plane.

    On healthcare:

    Healthcare—again, a decent base-line is one thing, total care another, for largely the same reasons—mission drift and tinkering. Likewise, when cancer patients see an airline ticket as a integral component of their operation, be it Manhatten or Mumbai bound, I have to question the efficacy of a gov’t based solution.

    What do you do if you’re on minimum wage in the USA and you find you have cancer ?

    I know that in the USA, there are places where you can go to get treated if you have a serious injury or illness, eg a broken leg. If there are people who get treated and cannot pay the bill, and subsequently are forced to declare bankruptcy, it follows that somebody somewhere is paying for that treatment – and that would have to be the people or employers who are paying the insurance premiums to start with. To me the principle difference in practice between the USA and the UK over medicine is that the system in the USA actively tries to deny poorer people healthcare that they would probably get anyway.

    The essence of a socialist state is its intrusiveness, both social and economic, sticking their noses into a variety of areas where the government has no business.

    Government intervention is required for the smooth running of all capitalist economies. As such governments are required to intrude all the time; capitalism requires a leash in order to operate effectively. If capitalism is not sufficiently restrained, massive poverty, famine, and war may result. F.ex, the recall of loans to Germany by Western governments following the Wall St Crash created the economic circumstances in that country which contributed to the rise of the Nazis. In other words, the operation of unrestrained capitalism leads to the same conclusions as unrestricted socialism.

    J McConnell:

    I love the TGV too. In fact I’ll be taking one next week. But there again, I’m not a French taxpayer, who will be subsidizing almost two thirds of the true cost of my rail trip.

    There is no transport mode which is not subsidized. It is recognized everywhere that subsidizing transport can lead to considerable economic benefits. Well-run subsidized transport systems exist in the United States – for example, the “Deuce” bus that runs along the Las Vegas Strip costs $5 for a 24-hour ticket, with which you can take as many journeys as you like within that period; the buses go up every 5-10 minutes. A day ticket on Translink $7 and the buses are nowhere near as frequent or reliable.

  • Harry Flashman

    I had just logged off typing my last entry about how the media would spin the nasty underbelly of French life and went down to get the M&C out of the cooler. Now I figured the “nasty underbelly” stuff would start slowly but when I turned on BBC World I was stunned to see how quickly they had started.

    They were doing a piece from Marseilles I think. Now previously when the Beeb wanted to do reports on French life they always went with the usual formula, you know attractive, glamorous well dressed woman sitting outside at a pavement cafe table earnestly discussing politics (being the BBC of course they didn’t show her smoking) or bucolic peasants sipping pastis at their solid Provencal farmhouses.

    See how perfect life was in France? See how they had escaped the crabbed, hateful, dog eat dog selfishness of Thatcherite Reaganomics? What a blissful country with its feather bedded public sector and all inclusive social welfare system and government protected egalitarianism. What’s not to love about France?

    So last night we saw that suddenly there were soup kitchens in Marseiles for the destitute homeless. Young people were desperate, they had no jobs, they had no homes they had no future all they faced was a bleak life of poverty stricken hopelessness. What, in the paradise of France? Say it ain’t so Joe, say it ain’t so.

    Did these soup kitchens spring up in the hours following Sarko’s victory? Unlikely, so this appalling poverty and desperate inequality has always existed in France has it? So how the feck did the Beeb’s journos never mention it before? Why did the Guardianistas always insist life across the Channel was blissful with their marvellous trains etc (I knew my train comment would rile the lefties, I don’t hate trains Michkhall I just don’t get all onanistic about them)?

    Look as I recall after half a century of municipal misrule by the Labour party Liverpool was pretty much a dysfunctional society by the early 1980’s which led to massive riots (blamed of course on Maggie whose party had diddly squat to do with the problem). Last time I checked Liverpool out it was a model of how business and enterprise can re-energise a run down area, lovely new apartment blocks, great restaurants, tourists flocking in a very pleasant place to visit in fact. Compare that with its French equivalent, Marseilles, I didn’t see too many soup kitchens on Merseyside.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Comrade Stalin: “I regularly have to use flights to go on business visits, and I have to tell you that I’d take the train any day if such a route existed.”

    In other words, it is about what I said — you take the least inconvenient route.

    Comrade Stalin: “What do you do if you’re on minimum wage in the USA and you find you have cancer ?”

    Ah, whataboutery… no defense, so distract.

    Comrade Stalin: “To me the principle difference in practice between the USA and the UK over medicine is that the system in the USA actively tries to deny poorer people healthcare that they would probably get anyway. ”

    You really are ignorant of the system over here, aren’t you?

    For one, minimum wage likely qualifies for federally funded Medicaid, so the gov’t picksup the tab and the hospital eats the difference between the gov’t payment and their charges. Second, most states and most hospitals have their own general assistance and free care options that the patient take advantage of. Third, not paying is always a popular option. Bad debt fills hospital ledgers — no provider that receives federal monies can turn away a patient in need, regardless of their ability to pay. Lastly, there is the option to get used by Michael Moore for his latest bit of propaganda, as were the cancer patients in his latest project.

    The biggest difference between the American and British systems is that in the US, you are expected to pay in specie and have the option to stiff the provider. In the UK, you have to pay in time and suffering through the bureaucracy and, unless you have the money to go elsewhere, you have to sit and wait, hoping that your appointment comes in time.

    Comrade Stalin: “Government intervention is required for the smooth running of all capitalist economies. As such governments are required to intrude all the time; capitalism requires a leash in order to operate effectively. ”

    There is a difference between accepted minimums and central planning. Wage controls, rent controls, price controls — all supposed to protect the little guy, all have the result of actually harming the little guy.

    I mean, look at what your policies in the Ukraine wrought…

  • Comrade Stalin

    Harry Flashman, it’s noticeable that instead of addressing my questions you opted for the simpler path of another silly rant about the BBC. I guess you do what you have to to make it in this world.

    Dread:

    You really are ignorant of the system over here, aren’t you?

    Yes. I didn’t actually know you were “over there” though.

    For one, minimum wage likely qualifies for federally funded Medicaid,

    What’s the cutoff for medicaid ?

    so the gov’t picksup the tab and the hospital eats the difference between the gov’t payment and their charges.

    In other words, higher bills for people who are able to afford them, and higher taxes. In practice, not that far away from a national health system.

    Bad debt fills hospital ledgers—no provider that receives federal monies can turn away a patient in need, regardless of their ability to pay.

    That is what I thought. My point is that Americans tend to wax lyrical about the benefits of their privately operated system as opposed to the run-down, underfunded “socialized” systems. In practice, Americans have a “socialized” system by the back door – the medical costs of people who cannot afford to pay them are underwritten by those who can, either through their insurance premiums, or through the tax system. From each according to his means, to each according to his need.

    There is a difference between accepted minimums and central planning. Wage controls, rent controls, price controls—all supposed to protect the little guy, all have the result of actually harming the little guy.

    I wouldn’t advocate central planning, but I think that price controls and a minimum wage are right in very specific circumstances.

  • J McConnell

    Mr Dzhugashvili

    > There is no transport mode which is not subsidized.

    Not true at all. Only public transport runs at a loss with large taxpayer subsidies. True in the US, true in Europe.

    Car users pay net tax. Air-travel users pay net tax. Public tranport user recieve large net tax payer subsidies.

    If I was to drive from Paris to the west coast of France next week the several hundred euros it would cost me reflects the true economic cost of the trip. The 50%+ direct and indirect taxes that I would pay on petrol, car running costs etc, not to mention the tolls, not only pays for the infrastructure I’d use but is used to cross subsidize the public transport system whose main purpose, in my experience, is purely political. Jobs for the boys, a pool of dependent and dependable client voters, social engineering etc. Outside the viable core inner city corridors, and the major intercity routes, public transport is just a tax scam to support the political status quo, and particular politcal special interests groups.

  • Europeam Bob

    Ignoring the train analogy (as fun as it is).

    As Sarkozy commented on the French social model, it aint social if 1 in 10 dont have a job, and it aint a model if no one is copying it.

    What the left hasn’t figured out is that the big bad Sarko won mainly down to the sheer incompetence of the Royal, their chosen hero.

    Chirac got in as the left was that split it got left with a choice between Chirac and Le Pen.

    Sarko got in because Royal was useless, she had no coherent policies.

    For a quick example of her sheer incompetence she did not even know how much of France energy was generated by Nuclear power, she guessed at around 10% FFS, the real figure is around 80%. (sarko faire marginally better guessing 50%, worrying that someone who wants to run the country know so little about it)

    If the left (in France,or anywhere else) want to be taken seriously they have to realise without a strong economy you cant deliver diddle squat. They wont get any votes or be able to deliver their social program until they get this ismple fact. Happy thoughts dont pay bills.

  • Comrade,

    People in France seem to be reasonably happy.

    You really think so? So why were all those people rioting a couple of years ago? Was it because their heavily subsidised TGV didn’t arrive on time? Yes, sure, France is a great place if you’re white, well educated, middle-class and have a well paid public-sector job with all the attendant perks. But it has chronic unemployment, much less visible integration of its ethnic minorities than the UK or, say, Holland, and a socially fossilised education system that ensures that the children of the élite become the next generation’s élite.

    More than half a million Britons live in France – mostly old, rich and taking advantage of low French property prices. And more than half a million French live in Britain – mostly young, some successful entrepreneurs, others young ethnic minority Frenchpeople taking advantage of the jobs and open economy creates. That says an awful lot.

    Sarkozy is programmatically quite different to Chirac, who was a shameless old-style corporatist, whereas Sarkozy has openly professed his admiration for the British economic model. Sarkozy also has a considerably more sovereigntist approach to the EU than has been traditional among Gaulists.

    Despite all that, I agree entirely that planes are dreary dull, the cattle trucks of the 21st Century, that trains are great and that US healthcare is crap. Not so much because it’s a privately funded one per se (because, in fact, around half of US health spending comes from the state), but because American primary care is appallingly poor, tending to overprescribe for minor or imaginary ailments and underdiagnose serious conditions. In fact it’s pretty much licensed hypochondria set up to help pharmaceutical companies and physicians fleece the taxpayer.

    French primary care is much better and so are the TGVs. But then again, it’s been a while since there have been big race riots in the States which might not be disconnected from the fact that it’s a lot easier to find a job. There ain’t no such thing as a perfect system.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Comrade Stalin: “Yes. I didn’t actually know you were “over there” though. ”

    I’ll take that as a compliment. 🙂

    I also happen to work in the field of healthcare finance / auditing. I apologize if I seem snappish, but you were stepping on my corns, you see…

    Comrade Stalin: “In other words, higher bills for people who are able to afford them, and higher taxes. In practice, not that far away from a national health system. ”

    No, the bills are the same, the seed of which is in the Medicare program. Back in the day when reimbursement was a simple percentage of charges. Medicare decreed that there shall be one schedule of charges. As a result, hospitals have no discretion on charges. There is another mechanism — contractual allowances — which keep the books balanced — in many respects, it does amount to the same thing, except in this one facet. There is a hole — if you make more than the cut-off for the low-income programs and don’t have insurance, then the full force of the “one size fits all” charge system fall squarely upon the patient, unalloyed by any “contractual allowance.”

    However, the surge in charges has its root in the old Medicare / Medicaid reimbursement systems — providers were paid a percentage of charges, so, canny creatures they, they upped their charges. The biggest problem is that parts of the system have changed and others have not, creating some bureaucratic and financial mismatches.

    Comrade Stalin: “I wouldn’t advocate central planning, but I think that price controls and a minimum wage are right in very specific circumstances.”

    Price controls don’t work — the structural problems in the California energy market — an unregulated wholesale market and a regulated retail market — proved that. It is irrational to expect a supplier to continue selling product at a loss — in one sense, Enron was inevitable.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Sammy: “Despite all that, I agree entirely that planes are dreary dull, the cattle trucks of the 21st Century, that trains are great and that US healthcare is crap. Not so much because it’s a privately funded one per se (because, in fact, around half of US health spending comes from the state), but because American primary care is appallingly poor, tending to overprescribe for minor or imaginary ailments and underdiagnose serious conditions.”

    Which, obviously, explains why patients hop the border from Canada and even fly in from Britain for treatment here in the United States, although some costs conscious Britons have taken to India as a viable alternative. Both of these facts would suggest that there is something wrong with the vaunted British and Canadian models. When patients with means flee the system, paying full freight for treatments they could get heavily subsidized in their native countries, I would say that is a fair indication of which system is “crap,” Sammy.

  • Which, obviously, explains why patients hop the border from Canada and even fly in from Britain for treatment here in the United States

    We are talking about tiny numbers of people travelling from the UK to the US for medical treatment. And no (that’s zero) people travelling from the UK to the USA for primary care, which is what I was talking about.

    If you’re unfortunate enough to have an extremely rare condition which will kill you without some cutting-edge, experimental technique and you have a lot of money to pay for it, the US leads the world.

    However, if you’re most people, the US healthcare system is expensive and crap. US primary care is laughably bad. With weak to non-existent conflict of interest rules in most states, general practitioners in the US seem to spend their time encouraging their patients to take medication for minor ailments and fantasy ailments, which the GPs get a kickback for prescribing.

    Meanwhile, those same GPs are piss-poor at detecting early signs of big killer vascular diseases and cancers. Which is why too many Americans die too young.

    When patients with means flee the system, paying full freight for treatments they could get heavily subsidized in their native countries, I would say that is a fair indication of which system is “crap,” Sammy.

    I’d say a system that costs its citizens more than that in any other developed country, while at the same time seeing those same citizens die younger than in any other developed country can fairly count as crap. That’s not to say the NHS is perfect, but I don’t see how the US model is any recipe for improvement.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Sammy: “If you’re unfortunate enough to have an extremely rare condition which will kill you without some cutting-edge, experimental technique and you have a lot of money to pay for it, the US leads the world. ”

    No, if you’re unfortunate to have a condition such that your expected lifespan is shorter than the waiting list, you start looking about for other options, cutting edge / experiment treatment not being a part of the equations.

    Besides, your premise is false on the face — the US healthcare industry isn’t a “system” to begin with, so all you efforts to treat it a some monolithic, homogenous entity begins with a false assumption.

    Sammy: “However, if you’re most people, the US healthcare system is expensive and crap.”

    **Dread pulls out and checks insurance card**

    $5 co-pays… I’m crushed.

    Likewise, in one sense, the US healthcare industry subsidizes the rest of the world, in the form of research, developing new treatments, educating foreign doctors in our intern and residents programs and the like.

    Sammy: “Meanwhile, those same GPs are piss-poor at detecting early signs of big killer vascular diseases and cancers. Which is why too many Americans die too young. ”

    I would like to see some support for this, as this flies in the face of all of my experiences, both personally and professionally. This sounds more like a broad sweeping generalization out a Chick comic-book.

    Sammy: “I’d say a system that costs its citizens more than that in any other developed country, while at the same time seeing those same citizens die younger than in any other developed country can fairly count as crap.”

    Life expectancies, from the World factbook, 2007 est. Columns are overall, male, female, in that order.

    United Kingdom 78.7 76.23 81.3
    European Union 78.7 75.6 82
    United States 78 75.15 80.97
    Republic of Ireland 77.9 75.27 80.7

    Not a whole hell of a lot of difference, in partical terms. Were Americans dropping like flies, as you imply, I would expect to see a far greater difference in life expectancies, beyond a year, give or take. The numbers don’t bear out your spin, Sammy.

  • J McConnell

    Dread Cthulhu

    I’m always amused by these ‘experts’ on the various failings of the US who have not the slightest real life experience of the US. Or those who go on about how wonderful the French system is without ever having lived under it. Well having direct personal experience of the US, UK and Irish health care systems, and my immediate family having experienced the French system in all its glory, I’ll take the US system any day.

    I may add I have had to deal with the US system in all its varieties, insured, partially-insured, HMO, VA, uninsured etc. and in my many years of dealing with the US system, and hearing the stories of people I know in the US dealing with it, I have yet to hear any stories like those that seem to be a regular occurrence to people I know when dealing with the UK, Irish and French health care systems.

    And having lived in the first big US city south of the border on the West Coast I can confirm that quite a few Canadians cross the border to get urgent medical treatment. They tend to be the second biggest group out of town patients, after those from Alaska.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    J McConnell: “I’m always amused by these ‘experts’ on the various failings of the US who have not the slightest real life experience of the US.”

    Why let fact get in the way of a good anti-American rant? Facts and support, apparently, only get in the way of a good sneer.

    Somehow, despite having grossly incompetant diagnosticians, per Sammy Morse, US life expectancy is nearly the same as that of those systems most posters on this blog would have direct experience with and the EU blended expectancy. Now, I would be curious just how Sammy would rationalize this apparent paradox — if “too many Americans die too young,” why doesn’t it impact life expectancy?

    J McConnell: “I may add I have had to deal with the US system in all its varieties, insured, partially-insured, HMO, VA, uninsured etc. and in my many years of dealing with the US system, and hearing the stories of people I know in the US dealing with it, I have yet to hear any stories like those that seem to be a regular occurrence to people I know when dealing with the UK, Irish and French health care systems. ”

    Most of what I know about UK and ROI healthcare comes from ROI and UK news sources — If I can’t believe the folks who have to muddle through those systems, who *SHOULD* I believe? Sammy, whose information sounds like it comes from a Jack Chick cartoon?

    J McConnell: “And having lived in the first big US city south of the border on the West Coast I can confirm that quite a few Canadians cross the border to get urgent medical treatment. They tend to be the second biggest group out of town patients, after those from Alaska. ”

    I’ve audited a number of facilities just north of the Border and its much the same — perhaps more so, given the attraction among some to drop their “anchor babies” within the United States.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Whilst on the subject of diagnosticians, a timely piece from the news…

    “LONDON (May 7) – A man who spent his life savings after being told he had months to live is seeking compensation after doctors in Britain conceded they had got the diagnosis wrong.

    John Brandrick, 62, was told two years ago that he had terminal pancreatic cancer. He decided to spend his remaining time in style, quitting his job and spending his savings on hotels, restaurants and holidays.

    A year later, doctors at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in southwest England revised their diagnosis: Brandrick was suffering from pancreatitis, a nonfatal ailment. “

  • “Most of what I know about UK and ROI healthcare comes from ROI and UK news sources”

    Dread,
    If you do this you are making an error of judgement as many stories in the UK press on the NHS suffer from political bias and of course the press does not report the millions of operations and births that go to plan. Most of the faults in the system are due to the NHS having been used as a political football by governments of left and right, which has resulted in the administration of the system being all over the place, and many administrative staff not knowing if they are coming or going.

    However the NHS really does have some very dedicated workers, if I god forbid suddenly became seriously ill whilst writing this post I would, from the time my partner made an emergency call, be in a hospital being treated within 1 hour if not less. The NHS works well in most departments, cancer treatment, due to Blairs funding input is now prompt and improving, the same goes for most serous illness and diseases. [It is especially excellent in treating aids patients etc]

    But it is a massive system that covers every town and village in the UK, ambulance personal and their vehicles and paramedics, general practitioners who are based in all towns and most villages [and now also do small operations]. There are also NHS dentists, children under 16 get free dentistry under the NHS when they need it, as to do some vulnerable adults and people on low incomes. chiropody and similar treatments also come under the NHS, especially for the disabled and old folk.
    The NHS also treats drug and alcohol addicts , to get some idea of the scale of the NHS, it is the largest employer in Europe.

    Yes it has problems still, but due to the importance of the NHS in the average persons psyche here, it is now impossible to sweep them under the carpet. Yes tragedies and misadministration and malpractice still go on within the NHS, as they do within the US system, but despite this it is still worth its wait in gold to most of us.

    It is late and I have not done the NHS and those who work in it justice, but I have tried because I did not wish our cousins across the pond to get a distorted picture and no I do not work in the NHS 😉

  • Harry Flashman

    **if I god forbid suddenly became seriously ill whilst writing this post I would, from the time my partner made an emergency call, be in a hospital being treated within 1 hour if not less.**

    Mickhall it may come as complete shock to you but that happens to be the system in every developed country on the planet(where I happen to live which has minimal state health care I’d be in the hospital in ten minutes), yet most of the other nations seem to get by perfectly well without having state monopoly health care systems.

    I have no doubt that many NHS staff are truly dedicated individuals but I also happen to know that many of them are lazy incompetent deadbeats who if they weren’t employed by a state run monopoly would have been sacked decades ago.

    If the NHS is so marvellous why has no other country copied it?

  • Harry

    Your really are the pits, you throw out childlike insults without backing them with facts. No where did I write that the NHS was marvelous, I stated clearly the “it has problems.” What I was trying to point out to Dread is that it has a special place in the psyche of most people who live in the UK, including those who live in the north of Ireland/NI.

    In my opinion you totally discredited yourself on Iraq, when you hectored us in much the same ill-informed manner as you have now done on the NHS, which is clearly an institution that you understand absolutely nothing about. You are also a liar, as you known full well whilst in the US you may well be taken by emergency services to a hospital, however unless it is publicly funded or operates a charity system you will not get treatment beyond a sticking plaster, without providing details of your insurance, employers insurance program or visa card.

    Finally read what I write and then critique it by all means, but do not fabricate, not once have I suggested the UK health system is better than any other EU country, as it is not, but what I do know is it is far superior to that of the USA in that all citizens have first rate health care for all diseases and illnesses at the point of need, where-as, the USA, the richest nation in the world seems unable to provide this for its people.

    Still as long as their are brown nosers and uncaring creeps like you about, a health care system which benefits the rich and discriminates against the less so, will carry on ripping the American people off.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “If you do this you are making an error of judgement as many stories in the UK press on the NHS suffer from political bias and of course the press does not report the millions of operations and births that go to plan.”

    So does the American press to the American healthcare industry, mickhall, so its a push on that front. That said, they also do provide an local eye and report accurately enough on things when they go poorly. Likewise, given our previous discussion, I wonder how much of your perceived “bias” in the press is the simple fact they are reporting news that does not support your political wants and desires.

    mickhall: “The NHS works well in most departments, cancer treatment, due to Blairs funding input is now prompt and improving, the same goes for most serous illness and diseases.”

    I am sure that is of great comfort to those who have had to seek treatment elsewhere due to long waiting lists and, in the case of Mr. Brandrick, those who have been harmed by their occasional incompetence.

    mickhall: “There are also NHS dentists, children under 16 get free dentistry under the NHS when they need it, as to do some vulnerable adults and people on low incomes. chiropody and similar treatments also come under the NHS, especially for the disabled and old folk. ”

    Which is why each and every British smile is a glory to behold, right, Mick? I would not tout the NHS’ successes at dentistry, insofar as the empirical / anecdotal evidence — that what I know I’ve seen with mine own eyes –tells me you’re full of malarky on this point.

    mickhall: “Yes it has problems still, but due to the importance of the NHS in the average persons psyche here, it is now impossible to sweep them under the carpet.”

    It does, however, lead to grandly delusional bits of misinformation as to the programs relative efficacy, as evidenced by Sammy’s misinformed screed.

    mickhall: “Yes tragedies and misadministration and malpractice still go on within the NHS, as they do within the US system, but despite this it is still worth its wait in gold to most of us. ”

    Freudian slip, mickhall?

    mickhall: “It is late and I have not done the NHS and those who work in it justice, but I have tried because I did not wish our cousins across the pond to get a distorted picture”

    It can’t be any worse than the cartoon vision some have of US healthcare.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “Your really are the pits, you throw out childlike insults without backing them with facts.”

    Actually, mickhall, has hasn’t. What he has done is express his perceptions of the topic at hand, just as Sammy did, yet you see fit to let his unsupported sweeping generalities slide…

    mickhall: “You are also a liar, as you known full well whilst in the US you may well be taken by emergency services to a hospital, however unless it is publicly funded or operates a charity system you will not get treatment beyond a sticking plaster, without providing details of your insurance, employers insurance program or visa card. ”

    Patently false, mickhall… So, in the spirit of the topic, I would commend you to “physician, heal thyself.” Your knowledge is woefully inaccurate.

    mickhall: “but what I do know is it is far superior to that of the USA in that all citizens have first rate health care for all diseases and illnesses at the point of need, where-as, the USA, the richest nation in the world seems unable to provide this for its people. ”

    Which, strangely enough, seems to have no significant impact in the life expectancy rates…

    mickhall: “Still as long as their are brown nosers and uncaring creeps like you about, a health care system which benefits the rich and discriminates against the less so, will carry on ripping the American people off.”

    As I said, physician, heal thyself. Your one-eyed view of the issue at hand is showing. I know, as a matter of fact — audit results, as a matter of fact, that things are not as you describe.

  • Dread,

    Just a couple of quick points, I used the NHS dentistry example simply to point out how far the reach of the NHS stretches in the UK, in fact most people see a non NHS, private dentist if they are of working age, although the legacy of poor teeth had as much to do with diet and a lack of fluoride in the water over here until the 1970s and later, or so it is claimed.

    Your partially wrong about the news not supporting my politics here, as I oppose the Blair government and one of his main platforms has been support for the NHS, but I will give credit where it is due rather than join the heard, as he has imo a very poor record against him without having to make additional failures up.

    I am aware of the short comings in the NHS having been involved in a number of campaigns to keep hospitals and emergency service departments open down the years, but I belong to that generation who were born just as the NHS was founded by my parents generation; and understand the sheer hardships they faced before it came into being.

    I just feel that the state does run some things better than the private sector, not many but some, although today the NHS is moving over to something similar to its European counterpart with the state proving the infrastructure and the private sector much of the detail. [so to speak] Although free at point of need is still sacrosanct

    As to the US health system, I am sure you are correct in that it is not as bleak as it is sometimes painted in the EU press, and in truth the lack of a public health care system in the US does give European lefties like me an opportunity to put the boot in.

    Hell we are only human 😉

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “As to the US health system, I am sure you are correct in that it is not as bleak as it is sometimes painted in the EU press, and in truth the lack of a public health care system in the US does give European lefties like me an opportunity to put the boot in. ”

    All it does is highlight the level of ignorance some European lefties posses on matters outside their own states, mickhall.

    As I mentioned to Comrade Stalin, I work in healthcare finance. Specifically, I audit hospitals as a part the Federal government’s (mostly) old age national healthcare system. I say mostly becase, as I also noted previously, the gov’t has a bad habit of tinkering — Medicare covers a few other things, such as ESRD treatments, regardless of the patient’s age.

    As an auditor, I review both financial and service related reports. One includes Medicaid days (yes, I know I audit MediCARE, but somehow MediCAID numbers were made a part of MediCARE reimbursement formulas… again, politicians tinker… ). I know, as a matter of fact, that your ignorant smear vis-a-vis American emergency rooms is just precisely that, an ignorant smear.

    A facility received a patient via the Emergency room, specifially an illegal alien. Patient was admitted inpatient, comatose and unresponsive, but alive. Patient has been on a respirator FIVE YEARS, with intermittant (at best) Medicaid coverage (politician’s tinker, waivers come in and out of favor…). Patient cannot legally be discharged, even to a nursing facility, which is really all this patient really needs at this point.

    The next time you feel the need to “put the boot in,” check your facts. It saves those who know better a great deal of typing.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Oh, Sammy and mickhall — if I seem particularly cross, it is simply that people who don’t know what they are talking about are presuming to correct me about what I know, as a matter of professional knowledge and direct, repeated experience, to be fact.

  • Dread Cthulhu – 15% of GDP spent on healthcare in the US as opposed to 9&#xis;h in Britain and France. Three times the rate of people on kidney dialysis in the US than the UK, around twice the level of diabetes. And your US-EU comparison on life expectancy includes Bulgaria, Romania and Poland and still the EU comes up trumps. Why not, given the subject of the article, compare the US with ‘failing’, ‘sclerotic’ France with a life expectancy of 80.59 years despite plenty of wine, fags and paté de fois gras?

    I work in a similar field to you and am not ignorant of the strengths and weaknesses of the US model. In general, the US produces relatively poor health outcomes despite mammoth expenditure and primary care is (sorry) crap leaving a efficient and often world-beating but expensive tertiary care providers to pick up the pieces.

    I’m neither a knee-jerk anti-American nor opposed to free markets (quite the reverse) but no country which is even moderately developed operates a free healthcare market and the American model is no Claudia Schiffer. Canadians may travel to the US for hospital treatment, but Americans buy their drugs from Canada in massive numbers. Hardly a sign of the world’s best system.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Sammy: “15% of GDP spent on healthcare in the US as opposed to 9&#xis;h in Britain and France. Three times the rate of people on kidney dialysis in the US than the UK, around twice the level of diabetes.”

    and what is the impact that the government in the UK is in a position to “control” the cost of healthcare via decree? As for the latter, you are attributing to doctors matters which include a personal component (diet, excercise, etc.) You attribute to a single variable without considering alternate hypothesis, such as differences in diet, excercise, etc. Likewise, you want to compare small (UK, France) systems to a healthcare appartus that is not properly a system. These are just the immediate flaws in your comparison.

    Sammy: “And your US-EU comparison on life expectancy includes Bulgaria, Romania and Poland and still the EU comes up trumps.”

    It is very likely statistically insignificant and disproves your thesis, Sammy. To claim that a variance of less than a year is somehow proof that the European system is superior is a bold claim on a mighty thin difference.

    Sammy: “Why not, given the subject of the article, compare the US with ‘failing’, ‘sclerotic’ France with a life expectancy of 80.59 years despite plenty of wine, fags and paté de fois gras?”

    A) Because by the time we got around to arguing healthcare, we had begun drifting away from France and into socialism in general, B) to the best of my knowledge, you’re not French, and C) Better comparability on size, broader acknowledgement of regional variables (EU has Eastern Europe, US has the South…)

    To ask you your question of you, why does not the UK adopt the French model if it is so demonstrably superior?

    Sammy: “In general, the US produces relatively poor health outcomes despite mammoth expenditure and primary care is (sorry) crap leaving a efficient and often world-beating but expensive tertiary care providers to pick up the pieces. ”

    A thesis not borne out by the facts and statistics, Sammy. If outcomes are so poor, why are life expectancies so similar? Likewise, I would caution you that a great many things beyond simple primary care “roll-up” into healthcare costs.

    Sammy: “I’m neither a knee-jerk anti-American nor opposed to free markets (quite the reverse) but no country which is even moderately developed operates a free healthcare market and the American model is no Claudia Schiffer.”

    Never claimed it was… I merely point out that it’s not Phyllis Diller or Dame Edna, as you seem to be claiming.

    Sammy: “Canadians may travel to the US for hospital treatment, but Americans buy their drugs from Canada in massive numbers. Hardly a sign of the world’s best system. ”

    Which is more a function of the fact that drug companies, as a rule, charge different nations different prices. The United States, as a rule, pays full freight, whilst other nations pay a lesser price on a per pill basis. As a result of this policy on the part of the drug companies, yes, Americans pay more. That said, drug prices are not a function of the state in the United States, since the state does not produce drugs nor, as a rule, market them. There is also some bargaining power when, presumably, you’re buying for a nation, rather than a hospital or even hospital system.

    You’re logic is fuzzy and your attributing results to single variables that are likely to have a casual, rather than causal, relationship. Also, point of fact, I have not chest thumped and said the US system is the ultimate in healthcare. I have merely stated it is not the Dickens-esque ogre that some ignoramuses would paint it as.

  • Stiofán de Buit

    Unlike, I imagine, most people here, I have direct experience of both the US and UK health systems, having lived in the US for the past 8 years,

    Neither system is perfect, but given the choice I would take the NHS, warts and all, any day of the week.

    No one in the UK, so far as I’m aware, has to make a choice between taking their sick child to the doctor or buying food to feed them. There are people in the US who regularly have to make that decision, mostly those categorized as the ‘working uninsured’ – people who earn just too much to qualify for medicaid, but who cannot afford to take out health insurance. I have been in that position myself. It was not a pleasant experience.

    Medicaid itself is a ridiculously convoluted and inefficient system. Large numbers of clinics do not accept it and in rural areas people may have to travel large distances just to see a medical professional who takes medicaid. Of course, to make matters worse, most parts of the country have a non-existent system of public transport, so if they don’t have access to a car they’re completely buggered.

    It is, as many in America now seem to be realizing, a national disgrace. Some states are making moves to set up their own systems of universal healthcare, and there is a chance that come the next Presidential the US may finally elect a President with the cajones (or ovaries, if it’s the fragrant Hillary) to take on the Medibusiness lobby.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SdB: “Medicaid itself is a ridiculously convoluted and inefficient system. Large numbers of clinics do not accept it and in rural areas people may have to travel large distances just to see a medical professional who takes medicaid.”

    In my decade auditing healthcare providers, I have not come across one that didn’t take Medicaid. As a point of information, I have audited facilities in most regions and across all governmentally defined categories of facility. As for geography, there are no few “rural areas” where a patient of *ANY* stripe has to travel long distances to see a medical professional,” regardless of their payment mechanism. Likewise, the differences in geography have to be taken into account… Great Britain is 88,787 sq. mi. Compare that to, say, Texas at 261,797 sq. mi. Apples and Bananas, SdB.

    SdB: “Of course, to make matters worse, most parts of the country have a non-existent system of public transport, so if they don’t have access to a car they’re completely buggered.”

    And what public entity would you propose to build a subway for, say, the Great Plains?

    SdB: ” Some states are making moves to set up their own systems of universal healthcare, and there is a chance that come the next Presidential the US may finally elect a President with the cajones (or ovaries, if it’s the fragrant Hillary) to take on the Medibusiness lobby. ”

    Most Americans do not favor nationalizing one eighth of the economy and the thought of having the same people who brought them the IRS and the Post Office deliverying their healthcare makes them tremble, but not with anticipation. Throw in the fact that the Bar association will go completely ape-shit when the notion of soverign immunity is extended to the newly nationalized medical profession (about the only way this would work, given the litigious nature of the US) and this notion is an icicle in a blast furnace… particularly when Middle America gets the price-tag.

  • Dread

    So let me get this clear, you are against a US version of the NHS due to there being powerful forces opposed to it? or is it for ideological reasons. You see what I do not understand is why you believe a national health service is a socialistic entity, because few over here would regard it as such, viewing it as a human and political necessity.

    Drug companies for example are private in the UK and doctors if they wish can work outside the NHS [I am using the term NHS to describe most of the EU systems of health care despite their differences]

    When for example the NHS was first set up in the UK it to was opposed by conservative politicians, the medical profession and big business but the majority as expressed at the ballot box prevailed, and they quickly came around to supporting it. The conservatives politicos due to its popularity and business as it both saved them a fortune in workers health insurance and provided a far healthier work force and the medics who quickly saw its benefits.

    By the way I feel you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned a single health care provider is able to negotiate cheaper prices from the extremely greedy drug companies. That is one of the main reasons to have one surly. I really cannot see a down side it is a win win thing as those who oppose will still be able to go to the private health care sector.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    mickhall: “So let me get this clear, you are against a US version of the NHS due to there being powerful forces opposed to it? or is it for ideological reasons.”

    Egads — an actual question??!

    In all honesty, I am mostly resigned to the eventuality of some approximation of the NHS — politicians will find creating one, piecemeal or otherwise, easier than actually buckling down and doing the hard work of fixing the problem. It is a lazy solution of the sort that politicians love. They will sell it as being free, up the taxes, nationalize an eighth of the economy and the sheep will love them for it.

    I am personally against it because I see what a mess the current example of the government’s work-product it, from the inside out. That said, I am saying that the PEOPLE, based on prior efforts at a National Health Service (aka as “Clinton-Care”, are unlikely to support it, based on prior responses.. maybe this has changed, but my feeling is that the US is not there yet.

    mickhall: “You see what I do not understand is why you believe a national health service is a socialistic entity, because few over here would regard it as such, viewing it as a human and political necessity. ”

    Ah, but do those who believe it a necessity do so out of reasoned consideration or because they know no other way? Likewise, there are systemic, geographic and demographic differences between the US in the now and the UK in the then when the NHS was created. A socialist (please note, small “s”) program is an easier sell the more homogenous the population. The UK of then, in other words, and not the US of now. The underlying “we’re all in this together” mentality does not exist here, for a variety of reasons.

    mickhall: “When for example the NHS was first set up in the UK it to was opposed by conservative politicians, the medical profession and big business but the majority as expressed at the ballot box prevailed, and they quickly came around to supporting it.”

    Lemonade from lemons — besides, once the population gets it in their head that the service is “free,” regardless of the bill they pay for it, they will embrace it. I am against it the same way I am against tax witholding from a paycheck. By never seeing that money, the people now believe that that is the government’s money by right, as opposed to *THEIR* money paid to support the government.

    mickhall: “By the way I feel you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned a single health care provider is able to negotiate cheaper prices from the extremely greedy drug companies. That is one of the main reasons to have one surly. I really cannot see a down side it is a win win thing as those who oppose will still be able to go to the private health care sector. ”

    Is it? And what will happen to those poorer states, with smaller populations, once the US begins to negotiate their own deep discounts? All you will have done cause a shift who pays the freight. Instead of richer Western states, in varying degrees, the price will be shifted to those states with weaker negotiating positions, who will then “nationalize” medical formula and eventually weaken the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. Research will eventually become a wholly governmental affair, with states concentrating on local issues to leave the third world to stew in their own problems, since tax-payers will want local diseases and conditions to have priorty.

    Do you really consider this a desirable outcome?

    Likewise, I know Canada all but forbids private insurance, although that is weakening — apparently, the Supreme Court in the great white north decided that access to a waiting list was not access to healthcare… In reality, most entities that offer healthcare to employees would slash those offerings to save money — especially in light of the enhanced tax bills they will be paying to support the NHS – equivalent.

  • Stiofán de Buit

    Dread

    In my decade auditing healthcare providers, I have not come across one that didn’t take Medicaid.

    Can I ask when this was? There are many providers in the area I live (northern Mississippi) which do not accept Medicaid. This is something I have found from personal experience.

    And what public entity would you propose to build a subway for, say, the Great Plains?

    A subway might be a bit much to hope for, but the occaisonal bus between the larger towns surely isn’t too much to ask for. Here in Mississippi (not a partlicularly large or sparsely populated state) it’s totally impossible to travel from one town to another without a car, unless you’re lucky enough to live on a Greyhound or Amtrak route.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SdB: “Can I ask when this was? There are many providers in the area I live (northern Mississippi) which do not accept Medicaid. This is something I have found from personal experience.”

    Been an auditor since 1997. I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of auditing a facility in Mississippi, but have several in each of the surrounding states. As a matter of curiousity, where are you — I spent several years in Oxford, MS.

    SdB: “A subway might be a bit much to hope for, but the occaisonal bus between the larger towns surely isn’t too much to ask for. Here in Mississippi (not a partlicularly large or sparsely populated state) it’s totally impossible to travel from one town to another without a car, unless you’re lucky enough to live on a Greyhound or Amtrak route. ”

    Actually, Mississippi is 48,434 sq mi., making it about roughly half the size of Great Britian, but with about one twentieth the population (2.84 million vs. 58 million for England, Wales and Scotland), which to my mind, would seemingly make it fairly sparsely populated — probably, the state lacks the economic and popular support to create and maintain such an entity, outside of those economic centers that need such a system.

  • Stiofán de Buit

    Been an auditor since 1997. I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of auditing a facility in Mississippi, but have several in each of the surrounding states. As a matter of curiousity, where are you—I spent several years in Oxford, MS.

    God bless us it’s a small world. I’m halfway between Oxford and Pontotoc, and not, incidentally, on a bus route! 😉

    I think comparing Mississippi to the UK is a bit of an apples and oranges thing, and I wouldn’t say Mississippi is sparsely poulated – certainly compared to most of the western states. There are other European nations with much similar population densities. Ireland would be somewhat closer and it manages Bus Eireann. The Scandinavian countries (with the exception of Denmark) are sparsely populated too, but I’ll wager they all have terribly efficient public transport systems.

    Of course, they may not be profitable, which is perhaps the problem. Mississippi isn’t the wealthiest of places and probably couldn’t afford to subsidize an extensive system. I still think though that if the will was there it could manage some sort of network between the major towns – pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland managed it.

    Political will may the thing. They’re terribly anti anything vaguely leftish down here. My wife tells me that she remembers as a child hearing church sermons denouncing the evils of Trades Unions.

  • Forgive my ignorance, but why can the central government in Washington not finance an adequate public transport infrastructure if the state is unable to afford one? The success or not of public transport should be judged on more than what is collected via fares surly.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SdB: “God bless us it’s a small world. I’m halfway between Oxford and Pontotoc, and not, incidentally, on a bus route! 😉 ”

    A relief, although I knew you weren’t in Starkville, which was a good start!! 😉

    SdB: “I think comparing Mississippi to the UK is a bit of an apples and oranges thing”

    Yeah, but logic and consistency hasn’t exactly been the hallmark of the *rest* of this conversation, so when in Belfast…

    SdB: “I wouldn’t say Mississippi is sparsely poulated – certainly compared to most of the western states. There are other European nations with much similar population densities. Ireland would be somewhat closer and it manages Bus Eireann.”

    The Republic has an area of 27,133 Sq. Mi, a population of ~4.25 million, or a density of ~147 per sq mi., with a per capita income of 43,600 in 2006. On the other hand, Mississippi has an area of 48,434 sq mi, a population of about 2.85 million, or a density of about 60.66 per sq mi, with a per capita income of $33,569 in 2005. Assuming arguendo that the gap would close a bit were 2006 data available for Mississippi, it is still about a 20% gap between the two.

    I’d say it is you who are comparing apples to oranges… Ireland has twice the density and a higher per capita income to work with, hence it can support the bus-line.

    SdB: “Political will may the thing. They’re terribly anti anything vaguely leftish down here. My wife tells me that she remembers as a child hearing church sermons denouncing the evils of Trades Unions. ”

    Why do you think the European and Japanese car companies prefer the South over the North??

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SdB: That should be *aren’t* comparing apples to oranges…

    mickhall: “Forgive my ignorance, but why can the central government in Washington not finance an adequate public transport infrastructure if the state is unable to afford one?”

    Lesee… Constitutional issues, getting the notion through Congress intact and without bloating into a budget buster and, oh, yeah — look up the demographics of Wyoming if you want to see an extreme example… How many Irelands fit into a map of the US? The smaller the nation, the easier a “one size fits all” solution.

    mickhall: “The success or not of public transport should be judged on more than what is collected via fares surly. ”

    The word, mick, is SURELY. “Surly” is how a hard-core DUP supporter felt yesterday, looking at MMcG smiling mug in the paper…

    AMTRACK is federally subsidized, btw. Trust me, its lack of success has been judged on more than what it has collected in fares.

  • Stiofán de Buit

    I’d say it is you who are comparing apples to oranges… Ireland has twice the density and a higher per capita income to work with, hence it can support the bus-line.

    It can certainly support a better bus system – but surely Mississippi isn’t so poor that it couldn’t afford to subsidize a basic public transport system?

    SdB: “Political will may the thing. They’re terribly anti anything vaguely leftish down here. My wife tells me that she remembers as a child hearing church sermons denouncing the evils of Trades Unions. “

    Why do you think the European and Japanese car companies prefer the South over the North??

    Probably because they can treat their employees like pieces of shit and get away with it more easily. It’s certainly not due to a highly-educated workforce, I can tell you that much! 🙂

    Actually, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the arrival of more international companies in the South forces local employers to treat their employees rather more humanely. No-one’s going to want to work for $6 an hour and no benefits at Hicksville Furniture Industries when they can earn double that at the new Toyota plant just up the road. Maybe Toyota will even help subsidize a bus service!!

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SdB: “It can certainly support a better bus system – but surely Mississippi isn’t so poor that it couldn’t afford to subsidize a basic public transport system? ”

    Is it even a priority to the general populace? If its not an issue, don’t expect the politicians to bring it up.

    SdB: “Probably because they can treat their employees like pieces of shit and get away with it more easily.”

    Not according to the workers, but I would believe that “right to work” legislation is a part of the equation.

    That said, there are less hassles since the UAW is not a part of the equation. I’m not sure how a Japanese automaker would react to this bunch — the role of unions in Japan is very different than in Detroit. Not that the US automakers don’t deserve a portion of the blame, either.

    SdB: “Actually, to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if the arrival of more international companies in the South forces local employers to treat their employees rather more humanely. No-one’s going to want to work for $6 an hour and no benefits at Hicksville Furniture Industries when they can earn double that at the new Toyota plant just up the road. Maybe Toyota will even help subsidize a bus service!! ”

    I wouldn’t disagree, at least in the main. That said, Toyota will do what it needs to get enough people to and from the plant, period. I wouldn’t expect too much beyong that. The Japanese take care of their employees — which, generally, is why American plants that make Japanese cars don’t have the same problems as “Big Three” plants.

  • Comrade Stalin

    There’s a lot of bollocks going about the place. J McConnell:

    Car users pay net tax. Air-travel users pay net tax. Public tranport user recieve large net tax payer subsidies.

    Rubbish. Air travel gets a very large tax break on fuel, a tax break denied to public transport. If it didn’t, it would not be viable as a business. Did you notice how all the major airlines in the USA are either in, or recently out of, Chapter 11 ? Car users are not net tax payers either. True they pay lots of tax on fuel duty and VED – but nowhere near enough to cover the costs of policing the roads, building and maintaining the roads and highways, etc. That is all topped up by general taxation.

    If I was to drive from Paris to the west coast of France next week the several hundred euros it would cost me reflects the true economic cost of the trip. The 50%+ direct and indirect taxes that I would pay on petrol, car running costs etc, not to mention the tolls, not only pays for the infrastructure I’d use but is used to cross subsidize the public transport system whose main purpose, in my experience, is purely political.

    Absolute nonsense. Close the New York Subway one day and let’s see how the roads cope. There are plenty of cases where public transport works well. In the UK, city and nationwide buses are run by private companies. The nationwide buses are not subsidized and they turn a profit – not sure about the city ones.

    Jobs for the boys, a pool of dependent and dependable client voters, social engineering etc.

    You’ve no opinion then on the considerable number of people on low incomes who aren’t able to run a car then ?

    Dread : have you got any numbers of life expectancy against income levels ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Most Americans do not favor nationalizing one eighth of the economy and the thought of having the same people who brought them the IRS and the Post Office deliverying their healthcare makes them tremble, but not with anticipation.

    As opposed to the people who brought us Enron or Worldcom ? That’s a silly argument.

    AMTRACK is federally subsidized, btw. Trust me, its lack of success has been judged on more than what it has collected in fares.

    Amtrak’s annual subsidy of ~$1.6bn doesn’t even come vaguely close to the level of funding afforded to the airlines by tax breaks, or the level spent by the Feds on (say) the Interstate. That said, they’re relatively good at making a little go a long way.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Comrade Stalin: “As opposed to the people who brought us Enron or Worldcom ? That’s a silly argument. ”

    Is it? The folks at Enron are subject to the courts — what recourse do you have against the government where their servants screw up? The IRS is specifically held harmless when their agents provide wrong information.

    Comrade Stalin: “That said, they’re relatively good at making a little go a long way. ”

    But not on time…