View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 22 March 2010

Healthcare debate

Over in the States, the House of Representatives has passed a Bill, aimed to alter the way people in the US can access healthcare. Until now, about 20% of US citizens did not have access to healthcare insurance for various reasons. President Obama has fought hard to get this legislation passed, and it has proven to be a seriously divisive issue in America.

I was absolutely stunned to note the ferocity of the opposition to this law, and (to my untutored mind) appears to centre on the average American's distrust of the state and unwillingness to pay tax. There is also an attitude, going back to the 19th century, that everybody has to stand up for themselves (as nobody else would do so), and people who will not or cannot are just lazy lay-abouts. The S-word has also come up (socialism), and the fact that some fear the prospect that the USA will become like a European nanny state.

I am heavily biased, as living in one of those European nanny states, where you can access healthcare without it costing you an arm and a leg. The only contributions (at point of uptake) that you can be expected to make in primary care are for medicines and dentistry. Otherwise, you make national insurance contributions, as employer as well as employees, which pays in large measure for healthcare in the UK.

Over in Holland, there is a system where people pay a compulsory premium to the healthcare system (not in tax, but directly). In addition, depending on income, you may be compelled to take out private healthcare insurance. In the UK, private healthcare insurance is optional and often seen to be the prerogative of the rich.

Generally speaking, it is a government's duty to look after the wellfare of its citizens, and to make sure that mechanisms are in place which will enable said citizens to access healthcare. Those that are financially unable to do so, should be offered a way to get the healthcare they need. To deny a full 20% of the population access to healthcare insurance is neglectful (and I'm deliberately omitting choice adjectives before neglectful) and a dereliction of duty.

It is time for America to move out of the pioneer era, out of the wagons, the period of the Injuns and the US Cavalry. Out of the McCarthy era, with its shameful persecutions of people who were deemed to be holding left-wing sympathies. It is time for everybody to take responsibility for those who are less fortunate, through no fault of their own. Join the 21st century.

Monday 22 March

A brightish day with strong winds and the odd light shower. Nice rainbows, but because the sun is now higher in the sky, the rainbows remain low in the sky. When the sun is higher than 46° (halfway up) in the sky, a rainbow cannot be seen as it will be "below the horizon".

I am not a happy bunny today, because my laptop has decided to revert to its old, bad ways of giving me an aberrant colour display. It is not quite as bad as before, but it is very tiring to be subjected to abnormal colours.
Like so:

A frightening incident has taken more than 2 months to come to public attention. A motorist was trapped in her car as it was stuck under the bumper of a lorry on the A1 near Wetherby, Yorkshire. It took a full minute for the lorry driver to finally notice something was wrong. Someone took video footage of the incident (see the BBC link). The company has said that since the footage emerged, a week ago, they have taken the driver involved off the road. The police are considering what action to take.