Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spherical objects and propaganda

click photo to enlarge
The UK press is currently full of reports of the lies that U.S. right-wing politicians, fanatics and apologists for the American health-care industry are propagating about our National Health Service (NHS), as they seek to derail President Obama's very modest proposals for reform.

Many Britons, looking at the T.V. adverts and written comments that have spewed out of the propaganda machines have laughed out loud at the lurid fabrications, falsehoods and misrepresentations that are being peddled as fact. Others have become angry that a cherished institution that most people feel does an excellent job should be traduced in this way. However, the ire of British supporters of the NHS has been raised most by the utterances of one of our own MEPs, Daniel Hannan, a man the "Guardian" newspaper describes as a "darling of the U.S. right", who has been happy to appear on TV talking down the NHS and agreeing with those who oppose Obama's proposals. The leader of Conservatives, the party that Hannan represents, has described this man as "eccentric" and unrepresentative of their views about Britain's health care system, but that hasn't stooped him from seeking the cameras or prevented his American bed-fellows from using him as evidence that "socialised" medicine is awful.

My experience of the NHS has been good. It's not a perfect system, none is, but by most indicators it provides efficient and effective health care that is (in the main) free to all, and entirely free to those on low incomes. The concern in Britain is that U.S.-style private health care is seeking a greater foothold here, because, and this hasn't be mentioned much by the American critics, for those who want something different, private medical care can be bought in the UK too. That it provides only a small part of the total provision says much about the quality of the free offering that is paid for through taxation.

However, I will concede that sometimes when you live with a system all your life you don't see it in quite the way that an outsider does. Today's newspaper carries an article by an American professor who has worked in Britain for a number of years and has experience of the NHS for himself and his family. He identifies a benefit of "socialised medicine" that had never occurred to me because I take it for granted. In a supportive statement about his dealings with the NHS he says, "Perhaps it is the absence of fear of becoming ill that is the most important aspect of the system."

What has today's photograph of a door at Grimsthorpe Castle, Lincolnshire, to do with the self-serving anti-NHS propaganda of the American right? Well, both depend for their effect on spherical objects!

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 86mm (172mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f4.8
Shutter Speed: 1/640
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On