My libertarian friends and I used to joke that it would be nice to reach the day when we could disagree again. Reading Andrew Sullivan's reply to my post on the United Kingdom's National Health Service, I think we're there. "One reason I'm a conservative is the British National Health Service," he says. "Until you have lived under socialism, it sounds like a great idea."
This would seem a testable hypothesis. The contention of folks like Andrew is that socialist health care systems are terrible and people hate them. Importantly, the misery is upfront. Bad health care and high taxes and whatnot. It's hard to "see" sugar subsidies, and so nations rarely rebel against them. It's easy to see waiting lines and impatient doctors and high medical bills. And the resulting frustration should be visible in surveys. But it's not. The Commonwealth Fund has the data:
About a quarter of Britons are satisfied with their health care system. Less than a fifth of Americans can say the same. Similarly, a mere 15 percent of Britons want to dynamite the awful beast and start over. More than a third -- a third! -- of Americans feel the same way. Indeed, none of the socialized systems have even half as many of their residents calling for a totally new direction. Germany, where a robust 26 percent want to start over, is the least nationalized of the lot, using semi-private insurance pools known as "sickness funds," and sure enough, they're the system that's closest to ours on total dissatisfaction. I guess you could say that private health care sounds like a great idea unless you live under it.