July 9, 2007


The Wrong Direction (MARK STEYN, July 9, 2007, NY Sun)

When the President talks about needing immigrants to do "the jobs Americans won't do," most of us assume he means seasonal fruit pickers and the maid who turns down your hotel bed and leaves the little chocolate on it. But in the United Kingdom the jobs Britons won't do has somehow come to encompass the medical profession. Aneurin Bevan, the socialist who created the National Health Service after the Second World War, was once asked to explain how he'd talked the country's doctors into agreeing to become state employees: "I stuffed their mouths with gold," he crowed. Sixty years ago, no amount of gold can persuade Britons to spend their working lives in the country's dirty decrepit hospitals (they spend enough of their non-working lives there, waiting to be seen, waiting for beds, waiting for operations). According to a report in The British Medical Journal, white males comprise 43.5% of the population but now account for less than a quarter of students at U.K. medical schools: in other words, being a doctor is no longer an attractive middle-class career proposition. That's quite a monument to six decades of Michael Moore-style socialist health care. [...]

The NHS is the biggest employer in Europe, and it's utterly dependent on imported staff such as Dr. Asha and Dr. Abdulla. In the west, we look on mass immigration as a testament to our generosity, to our multicultural bona fides. But it's not: A dependence on mass immigration is always a structural weakness and should be understood as such.

Can be, not "is." Indeed, you'd have to use rather creative reasoning to construct an argument that a society so wealthy it has rendered medicine from a profession to menial labor is structurally weak.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 9, 2007 6:19 PM

Have you explained to Dr. Mrs. Judd that she is a menial laborer? And if you have, have you been sleeping well out in the car?

Posted by: Foos at July 9, 2007 8:39 PM

We rendered our teachers to the same status, and we appear to be doing just fine.

Why not just cut to the chase and invent machines to treat us. They can already do a better job than an union education drone. We can even program a better bedside manner.

Posted by: Bruno at July 9, 2007 9:12 PM

Not wealth, but uncharitableness and selfishness.

Every doctor and nurse I know personally became one to help people, not to get rich. Nursing, especially, is a nasty business.

Posted by: Randall Voth at July 9, 2007 10:50 PM

How hard is it? It's been more than a century and we're still not there yet.

Posted by: Ibid at July 10, 2007 9:03 AM

you'd have to use rather creative reasoning to construct an argument that a society so wealthy it has rendered medicine from a profession to menial labor is structurally weak.

Perhaps, but it's a fairly simple argument if the modifier is changed from "structurally" to "spiritually."

Posted by: Paul J Cella at July 10, 2007 9:28 AM

Provided one has a rather fascistic notion of "spirit," and requires a component of struggle. Making medicine rather rudimentary is quite an accomplishment.

Posted by: oj at July 10, 2007 9:58 AM

No one's been trying because energy is so cheap. We'll have to boost its cost to force innovation.

Posted by: oj at July 10, 2007 10:00 AM

It is not possible to make the health of the human being "rudimentary." Our attempt to reduce it to the sheer mechanism of technical science is evidence of our spiritual impoverishment.

Posted by: Paul J Cella at July 10, 2007 10:30 AM

To the contrary, the entire gain in health over the past two hundred years traces to sanitation and nutrition. It was indeed rudimentary, as should have been expected. The notion that medicine need be complex is a mere residue of intellectual pretense and lack of faith.

Posted by: oj at July 10, 2007 11:34 AM

oj, I agree that immense strides were made through rudimentary hygiene, but modern medicine is indeed performing miracles. My husband had bladder cancer and after a series of treatments with Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), a biopsy taken last week shows cancer is gone.

Posted by: erp at July 10, 2007 11:55 AM

Medicine is complex because man is complex.

Posted by: Paul J Cella at July 10, 2007 12:10 PM


Yes, we identify lots of cancers and do wild stuff to them. There's no scientific evidence that it's improved our health much. Deadly cancers kill people. Non-lethal ones are "cured."

Posted by: oj at July 10, 2007 4:06 PM

Hasn't improved our health much? Define health.

A very lethal tumor was removed and the surrounding tissue was rendered inhospitable to any remaining deadly cancer cells. Score: Cancer - Dead /My roomie - Not dead.

I'd say that's a very big improvement.

Posted by: erp at July 11, 2007 9:30 AM

A tumor was removed.

Posted by: oj at July 11, 2007 11:19 AM