May 09, 2005

Government-run Hospitals, Armies, and Schools In a recent column in the Wall Street Journal on Britain's current political campaigns, the writer was discussing what dominated the news when it was being preempted by the Pope's funeral or Prince Charles' wedding. He mentioned unemployment, the high cost of "petrol", and then appeared the phrase "the usual media blather about 'killer hospitals.'" That's not part of the usual media blather in the United States, though "failing schools" is. Just as I think the "failing schools" is not a completely accurate portrayal of our school system, I also suspect that "killer hospitals" isn't completely accurate for Britain. But, I'd argue that our public schools could be much better. And Britain's hospitals could be much better -- they could be like ours. Of course, we put WAY more money into health care than Britain, and we get better care. All those who think tax increases for health care are going to be easier to sell than tax increases for schools, please raise your hands. So, I find Kevin Drum's suggestion that national health care would be "good for the middle class" pretty weird. But what about schools? There are certain dynamics that go with public services, whether those services are schools, hospitals, or the military. Right now we seem to have the best-in-the-world military, in personnel, equipment, training, and leadership. We've got best-in-the-world hospitals and health care in general. In both cases, though through different funding mechanisms, we are putting significantly greater resources than the rest of the world...

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