One of the worst parts of this whole debate has been the scare-mongering that has occurred wherein people who have never ever lived abroad invoke Canada or Britain's health care system and are like, "OMG IN BRITAIN EVERYONE DIES BEFORE THEY ARE 40 BECAUSE GORDON BROWN KILLS THEM ALL WITH HIS DEATH GAVEL TO SAVE ON HEALTH CARE COSTS!!!"
It's irritating to me as an American, and it's even more irritating to Brits, who ... okay. Here's the thing about Brits, and I don't claim to be an expert, but after living here for a year, I have learned a little about the people.
They aren't a very patriotic people. Not like Americans. Once when I told a group of Brits about the Pledge of Allegiance they kind of freaked out about how all Americans are obviously brainwashed. Brits don't natter on about how they're proud to be British. There isn't a Union Jack flying from every corner. They aren't obsessed with being number one. In fact, the Brits are charmingly self-deprecating about how they lost the empire.
Brits save their patriotism for football and tennis when Andy Murray is winning. (When he is losing, Murray mysteriously goes from being "British" to "that Scot.") Outside of sport, the Brits are pretty mild-mannered.
Until you attack the NHS.
Let me try and explain this in American terms. Britain doesn't have a constitution. But the NHS does. To attack the NHS, is in a sense, to attack Britain at its core. It's like attacking the Bill of Rights. And the NHS continues to be one of the most popular institutions in Britain. One of the studies I read for my exams rated its popularity at 80%.
I can't think of anything with an 80% popularity rate in the United States.
Institutions are not so beloved if they are crap. The NHS has its faults, no doubt, but many of the charges being levied against the NHS in America are beyond ludicrous. Which makes the Brits angry, which makes them attack us, and it becomes a vicious trans-Atlantic cycle that is REALLY, REALLY annoying for those of us Americans living in the UK who might want to do something that doesn't involve arguing about healthcare in the pub and whether or not the Pledge of Allegiance has turned Americans into zombies.
So, please. I implore everyone. Stop the madness. Nye Bevan did not kill Stephen Hawking. Stephen Hawking, is, by the way, BRITISH, not American. The Queen does not preside over a death panel. Even waiting times have been greatly reduced.
I don't think, ultimately, the NHS is the right system for America for various reasons. But just because it's not the right system for the United States doesn't mean we need to hurl unnecessarily invectives at a system that has done a damn good job in Britain for the past 50 years.
God Bless the Queen, the NHS, and the inventor of Pimms. I'm gonna miss you all.