USA versus UK healthcare – eat shit and die
I played backgammon with a friend from Tel Aviv in NYC, then had a very drunken night out with the nephew of Wallis Simpson, before touring Pennsylvania with a gang of bikers, finishing with a very drunken week of secret gambling in South Carolina a few years back. I was just as shy then, I just played a lot of backgammon.
The bikers wanted to know how I liked America, wouldn’t I want to live there?
“Definitely could not live in a country where people die from lack of healthcare because they are poor.” was my response. I was as surprised as they were.
It is amazing how many Americans are indoctrinated into the idea that nothing bad will ever happen to them, if you are poor it is your own fault, and everybody else’s comparatively civilised system of public healthcare is daylight robbery. It beggars belief at times, the lengths they will go to to justify a clearly rotten system.
So, from the perspective of a lady who failed to complete writing a very comprehensive book for Wolfe a few years back – here is how the system works, and I believe Wolfe may actually agree with me, for a change:
The USA is set up on the principle that money tops anything. People are not very important compared to dollars. Hence we see a government with a full complement of lobbyists who hand out money to dictate public policy. ie. Coconut oil bad, because it is produced elsewhere, vegetable oil good, because it is produced in America, even though twenty minutes of research would tell you the opposite is the case.
This nurturing of corporations worked for a few decades, but companies are so large now that the system has entirely broken down. It was not until I saw the Eli Lilly/Walmart deal to supply cut-price, reduced quality diabetes medication for the victims of the American diet, that I realised quite how rotten it had become. ie. you shop at Walmart for food, buy your frosted flakes and your doughnuts etc. Then, when you discover that your shitty diet has given you diabetes, you simply go back to Walmart to pick up your meds. Win-win, as long as you happen to be a corporation rather than a person.
In the UK, we have a parallel copycat system where we have doctors who are paid by major food companies to sit on the Board of Nutrition – Hannah Sutter’s book Big, fat lies is a nice short introduction to how this works. Again, you are given shitty nutrition advice so that large food companies can continue to sell you food.
The difference in the UK, is that the public pays for this corporate domination of judgements that we are told are gospel. The so-called obesity crisis has also been invoked to attract yet more funding to the NHS. If you had complained to your doctor that you were fat in the nineties, they would have told you to go raffle yourself, but now you have a wealth of useless advice to ensure that you spend your life worrying, or dieting, or both between enjoying your increasingly large portions of standard British fare, approved by corporate interests on the Board of Nutrition.
Of course, in America this situation is amplified by the fact that there are more middle men with interests in the eat shit/get sick/ die market. Large insurance companies also want to ensure that private medicine stays private. Providers want to make money by providing lots and lots of care etc etc. In short, no interest in served in America by your being healthy. Therefore, let us have McDonalds provide school lunches to get the ball rolling. Go forth and get nice and sick.
The public interest in the UK would be served far better if people were actually healthy, so we see a relatively small quango style operation shyly asking us to maybe, sometime manage five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. However, the large number of medical staff would prefer to see money endlessly pumped into the NHS, so even the five a day message is pretty quiet. I had quite an argument with a senior pathologist several years ago. He wanted more money for doctors. My response was that what we really needed was better health.
So, from a British perspective, we are copying a corrupt and mad system for the benefit of some food companies and a few thousand doctors, at the expense of public health. Nobody gives a shit about this. Nobody cares about nutritional research, nobody cares about the numbers of people becoming ill. All they care about is more money to pay more staff ad infinitum.
So, stemming from this, we have this idea that science is good, nature is bad. If a man in a white coat said it was so, therefore it must be so. I have news for you, that man in a white suit was paid by a drug company to say so, just like the people telling you what to eat are paid by the food industry. An eminent professor of nutrition from an American university was once asked what we should really be eating. She readily admitted that she did not have a clue.
The WHO recommends 9-15 portions of fruit and vegetables every day, not five. Statistics suggest that the benefits tail off after 7, but you can see from this that reading the newspaper does not cut it when it comes to staying healthy. You really have to put the work in yourself. Trusting in your government’s idea of what is good is not likely to provide you with a winning formula.
In terms of the harshness of the American healthcare system, Americans are fucked over in numerous ways, especially if shock, horror anything bad happens to them. These people who scream about personal responsibility and not paying for other people’s healthcare clearly have no social conscience, and they will defend this to the death if you bother to engage them in conversation. God forbid they should have a child with an expensive health issue. God forbid they should realise that other people deserve to live, even if they disagree with them. I am sure it makes perfect sense for a militarist country, but in terms of common decency it represents a very peculiar degree of poverty of spirit.
In the UK, meanwhile, we are looking at greed and stupidity. Nobody genuinely cares about your health when they are handing out this incorrect advice that they have accepted from the USA. As a peachy example of this, John Yudkin’s Pure, white and deadly, a book which identified sugar as being a source of heart disease, was ignored in favour of Ancell Key’s study showing that saturated fat was the culprit. The noisy Yank must be correct, we were told, because we were processing about half of the world’s sugar at the time to flatten the prices and benefit our colonies.
So, now that you know this, please accept two things:
You are not important to capitalism. You are a unit, and you are entirely expendable as long as someone else is in work and someone else is taking the money.
You are being lied to. Every day, to maintain a system that will fail you throughout your life.