As TheBlaze’s Liz Klimas has already chronicled, the Olympic opening ceremonies in London are likely to include more than a few references to cultural tropes with which Americans are not familiar. And as she mentioned there, one large part of the opening ceremonies includes a celebration of something that many Americans – especially conservatives – would probably find nauseating:
[Organizer Danny] Boyle recruited real nurses working for the National Health Service to take part, a tribute to a treasured national institution that started in 1948 amid the ruins of war-devastated Britain. The state-funded NHS provides free health treatment to all Britons, and is embraced by all political parties. While grumbling about its perceived slow service is widespread – and planned government reforms are controversial – its egalitarian ethos is a matter of national pride. When U.S. Republicans criticized the NHS in 2009, a Twitter campaign in its defense became so popular it crashed the NHS website.
Yes, that’s right, all healthcare in the UK is socialized, and in case you’ve forgotten, they want you to know how proud they are of it. Below is the portion of the ceremony involving the dancing nurses. Be warned: It’s far weirder than you think.
So should the National Health Service be celebrated? Not so, says the Heritage Foundation:
To understand the dangers of a government takeover of health care, America should study Britain’s system, which exemplifies the shortcomings of heavily regulated, nationalized health care. A recent report by Robin Harris of the Heritage Foundation outlines the deterioration of Britain’s health care system due to years of liberal health policy marked by heavy concentration of power, higher taxes and the proliferation of rules and restrictions by the National Health Service (NHS).
The NHS is Britain’s government-run health care system. It acts as a single-payer system which originated with the nationalization of thousands of Britain’s hospitals. According to Harris, this “centralized, single-payer health service, free at the point of consumption, was an ideal prescription for waste, rationing by queues, and inordinate public expenditure.”
The woes caused by the NHS are multitudinous. As a result of the long waits to receive care, patients have instead begun to purchase treatment themselves, even going abroad to receive care. Access and quality of care are low, and rationing of services has led to discrimination against the elderly. As with any government-run system, more wealthy citizens have a higher level of mobility within the system, and are more able to obtain a higher quality of care than others. It is thus that the NHS has led to increased inequality in care received by Britons.
Not exactly Olympic opening ceremony fodder, if this is true. However, evidence notwithstanding, the institution is apparently still beloved by the British, and it thus makes sense that they’d choose to pinpoint it at this critical juncture. After all, even conservative giant Margaret Thatcher didn’t dare touch the National Health Service while Prime Minister, so one supposes that the British simply operate within a much less libertarian Overton Window than Americans.