BELFAST, Northern Ireland -- The extinct political slogan "As Maine goes, so goes the nation," may be supplanted by what is happening in the United Kingdom. There is a form of functional political illiteracy here that does not bode well for the United States should it follow Britain's very bad example, particularly on matters involving immigration and health care.
For several years, the British media have been full of horror stories about failures in the National Health Service (NHS). "Thousands of Elderly at Risk in Care Crisis" screamed the front-page headline in the Times of London last week. This is nothing new, because a headline in The Daily Telegraph nearly two years ago warned, "Cruel and Neglectful Care of One Million NHS Patients Exposed." Is anyone listening?
"Specialist NHS Clinics Are 20 Times More Likely to Botch Hip Operations," reported The Daily Mail in 2009. It gets worse. "Standards of Care in Some Wards Would Shame a Third World Country," reported the Telegraph that same year, along with "NHS Spends Thousands on Climate Change Handbook" and "Patients More Likely to Go Hungry Than Prisoners."
The Telegraph now reports that the "terminally ill" will be asked by their doctors how they would like to die and to write it down so the NHS will know. Will government then assist them to stop the care meter from running? Death panels, anyone?
Last November The Daily Mail reported, "Britain has fewer doctors per head of population than most countries in the Western World -- and owns far less hi-tech equipment such as cancer scanners because it cannot afford them." That's because, said the newspaper, while "UK health spending is on a par with other prosperous countries ... its people are less healthy because too much of the money goes towards GPs' and consultants' pay packets." Waiting times to see a specialist are legion.
This meltdown in the NHS is approaching a crisis moment. Last week, The Telegraph ran a story headlined "Reform or Die, Lansley Tells NHS." Health Secretary Andrew Lansley says the NHS is facing a £20 billion per year (about $32 billion USD) black hole unless controversial reforms are implemented (meaning people will have to do more for themselves or taxes will be raised in an already heavily taxed nation).
In an interview with the newspaper, Lansley said the "financial crisis" in the NHS "would see annual health spending double to £230 billion ($375 billion USD) a year without urgent reform."
And then there is the disappearance of Britain's once proud work ethic, thanks to the expansion of the welfare state under the Labour Party. The Daily Mail reports that between 1997 and 2010, under Labour, "the number of households in which no one has ever had a job almost doubled from 184,000 to 352,000." Quoting the Office for National Health Statistics, The Mail notes, "This equates to more than 550,000 people for whom worklessness has become a way of life." Worse, "seven out of 10 adults in those households admit they have no intention of ever going to work." This is the triumph of the entitlement mentality. America, beware!
A dysfunctional British immigration system has allowed 256,000 asylum-seekers over the past 20 years to be granted "amnesty," according to the Daily Mail. "74,500 cases have been put in storage because the applicants simply cannot be found."
Add to these concerns the huge number of Muslim immigrants who display no desire to be assimilated into British life, the high abortion rate among the British, and the increasing secularization of culture and you have predictors of where America may be headed if it does not turn back on these attitudes and behavior patterns.
The spread of infection from an E. coli outbreak in the UK does not appear as threatening to the nation's future as the numerous infections of another kind.
As Britain goes...