I Hate Bullies!

I hate bullies and I’m willing to bet most of you do too.

We tend to think of bullying as something that occurs with children on the playground or at school events, but what happens when bullies grow up and words become fists designed to demean and devalue your opinions as soon as they leave your mouth.

I recently had a multi-commented exchange with someone on a friend’s Facebook page after I commented on a video she’d posted. The exchange got became heated when I got into a back and forth bit with someone listed as a friend of hers. Even though I discerned fairly quickly that he needed to have the last word, I could not help responding to the misinformation and high-handed way he was twisting the truth to suit his argument.

That he tossed the word ‘Rape’ into what he assumed would be the final death-blow to the exchange was no surprise. Having seen the image below on a website bearing his name, I think I can see what he thinks about women and their role.

The name of his website has been removed from the top of the door. (No need to give him anymore attention by sending you there and there’s so little to see that it would be a waste of your time.)

Name Calling

As you can see below, he defaulted to accusing me of name calling when I identified a list of bad behaviors he shared with a few other people who communicated in the same way.

Bullies like MF always try to deflect in conversations they want to win and will say whatever to put you on the defensive or try shock you into speechlessness. Tossing out comments like ” What’s going to happen to health care when your people finally rape the last wealthy citizen?” tell me all I need to know about him.

And let me say this, if I had been in a name calling mood I could have easily come up with a few ugly and insulting ones beginning with his initials, but you know how I hate to swear on my blog so I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blanks after you read the exchange below.

My friend Kimberly posted a George Carlin video on her Facebook page that sparked the drama below.

  • MF :This one always makes me chuckle. He will go down in history as one of the greatest observers of mankind and the human condition, and I loved him for it. BUT, when I hear this rant, all I can do is smile and say, that rigged, tilted table worked out pretty good for you, George!
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  • EH: I just had a bookstore owner here in Cornwall tell me that one of the biggest problems America had was with the election process. He was amazed by how much money can be ‘donated’ to political campaigns and the impact of all that backscratching later. He moved on to the lack of access for all to health care in the US and why Americans would continue to make snide comments about the British health care system when at least they have access to care. A standout difference for me is that NO ONE loses their house or life here because they cannot afford to pay.
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  • MF: No one here doesn’t have access to health care. It’s a myth I’m happy to disprove for anyone willing to make a “field trip” with me. As for no one losing their house because they cannot afford to pay…How profane! Then why in the world would anyone actually pay!??? Maybe I’ve got it all wrong…I mean Europe is in such great shape these days, who am I to question how things get done over on that side of the pond. The brat riots of the past Summer were a blast to watch on TV. Never get enough of hearing “I want, I want, I want” in those cute accents!
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  • EH: ‎” No one here doesn’t have access to health care. ” You have got to be kidding! There are plenty of people who fall in between and are not able to have proper health care. Don’t make me spell it out. I too could take you on a “field trip” to disprove what you say. And I see I should have said … those with heath insurance who still lose their homes and everything they have because their co-pay or out of pocket costs exceed everything they’ve saved. Good luck to you or someone you love if you ever need more than you have in your bank account. As for the riots to which you refer, you might wish to read this historical account on London rioting going back to 1189 before you try your hand at humor on the subject. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_riots_in_LondonSee More
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  • MF: Hilarious. I doubt you could spell much of anything out to me, much less this subject. Believe what you want. If anyone doesn’t get health care in this Country, it’s because they choose not to go. Doctors give away hundreds of thousands of dollars in free care every year to patients they are forced to treat, or lose standing in the hospitals they work out of. If you don’t get treatment here, you simply didn’t go. I know that’s hard for the brainwashed left to get their arms around…We’re such a mean place and all, but that’s reality, and I pray that at some point folks like you will make some effort to educate yourselves instead of watching Michael Moore movies.
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  • MF:  And the list of riots and their reasons is really funnier than the brats of last Summer. I’ll give that one to you. Hilarious stuff you all have destroyed property and killed people over. I mean, from wrestling and hookers, to a gin tax and tailors? Wow! Wish we had TV back then!
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  • BBC(Another commenter) I know someone who has private insurance and has paid on-time for all his life. He has AIDS and they changed his prescription co-pay AFTER he renewed his policy. He has to come up with $6000 up front for 3 months of life-saving medication that he only used to have co-pay $200 a month. He can’t afford his mortgage payment or other bills if he buys the drugs. He and his partner are middle class, pay their bills on time and have been screwed by an insurance company they have been loyal to for years. There is a waiting list for the drug assistance program that he does not qualify for because he has private insurance. Their household makes too much money for medicaid and now he is more than 50 days w/o meds that save his life. He could die. Thank you America for your AWESOME health care… This is what happens when corporations are in charge of who lives and dies. They will choose death if it saves them a buck every time…
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  • MF: And government would naturally do it better, Beth? What does government do better? Where do they operate more efficiently. Your friend’s story is quite sad. He should have read his contract. That’s what a “policy” is. They can’t “change” anything that isn’t in the policy upfront, meaning there was a clause applicable to co-pay changes. Maybe he didn’t read it or understand it, but it was there. Public health care plans around the world operate almost completely free of any contract with citizens, meaning you really are at their mercy…No contract whatsoever.
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  • BBC: Marc, In European countries where they have nationalized healthcare, he would get his meds. Of course he read his contract. They sent him his new policy AFTER he paid to renew by phone after being assured he was renewing the same policy with no changes. Even if he did not, it is wrong for companies to kill their clients out of greed. This isn’t an isolated incident many families who have members are falling through the crack just like this. AND my friend doesn’t give a rats ass about your sympathy – he just wants to li by the live. He has a case to sue but he will likely be gone by then…
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  • EH: ‎@ MF~ It depends on the government now doesn’t it. In the UK my drug co-pay is the equivalent of a one time payment of $165 for the year. That’s for any and all meds I might need. Cost of any doctor visits, MRI, CT scans, or whatever else … zero! @ Beth ~ I’m really sorry about the state of things with your friend. Contrary to what MF says insurance companies do find all kinds of ways to cheat people regardless of what’s in their contract with you. It’s a vile industry and they lie! People should not have to die or go bankrupt because they are ill.
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  • MF: Why would he get his meds in European countries, where they DON’T even approve current U.S. drug treatments for something as “common” as CANCER???

    And I’ve seen the UK plan in action, Elizabeth, it’s no where near what you’re telling us. The waiting list, and number of approved treatments isn’t even in the same ballbark as treatments available in the U.S. But if it’s so good, then Beth’s friend should hop a plane and get treated for free…They do that over there, don’t they? You know, like we do for Mexican citizens here.
    OH!!! And BTW…You all are apparently going broke faster than us! What happens to your plan then? Guess you’ll just have to riot some more…
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  • MF:  ‎”People should not have to die or go bankrupt because they are ill.”
    That statement sums up so much…It really says it all.
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  • EH: M ~ You have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to care in the UK! I live here, you don’t, and I’ve seen the plan in action here as well as in the US. I lived with the US healthcare system for 48 years and worked in it as well so I do know a great deal about it. You’re spouting the same crap people like Limbaugh and Beck do to mislead the masses who are too scared or ignorant to discover the truth on their own. You appear to be cut from the same blowhard bullying cloth of misinformation that L & B come from … as least you share the same communication style. Loud, condescending, and obnoxious, with a total lack of empathy or compassion for others … I think that about describes your approach to difficult topics.
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  • MF: And so what do all those insults make you. Stay brainwashed. Here’s an easy way to “prove” which one of us is right.

    Where does the world turn for health care? Cuba, Venezuela, Great Britain…HA! I’ve been in our system 47 years so I’measy qualified to challenge this myth. As for your English system and the bureaucracy of the government system…An oldie but goodie that shows just how these bureaucrats run a system:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1579010/AandE-patients-left-in-ambulances-for-hours.html
    And you still can’t come up with an answer about being broke. What’s going to happen to health care when your people finally rape the last wealthy citizen? What happens to all that “free” stuff then?
    As I said many times…If ignorance is really bliss, the Left hails from Eden.
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  • EH: No insults, just fact … you showed your colors, I called you on it, simple as that. It’s funny how you can say all that you do in the way that you do and tell me I’m insulting to you! Right! The UK is actually in a much better financial position than the US right now, but it’s not just about US versus UK dollars, most of the world’s economy is in a bad way. I didn’t address it because we were discussing healthcare, the insurance industry, and why you were giving misinformation as if it were a fact. As for your link, I could counter with many from the US including all day waits in the ER’s of America where people died waiting to be seen. No system is perfect, but this one works well most of the time. I can also talk of how I’ve seen air ambulances land in fields in our village to take men in their 80’s to the hospital for a heart attack or a teenage girl who fell off her horse … cost to the patient, nothing. We pay taxes here to support the NHS and it’s not the huge tax numbers that Limbaugh, Beck, and others claim. It’s no more than I ever paid in the US, taxes are just allocated differently in the UK. Medical care is not a big money-making enterprise in the UK, it’s designed to take care of the people, not make them slaves to high premiums and a false sense of security. Now, we’ve cluttered Kimberly’s wall with more than I’d like to admit, so feel free to have the last word. I’m done! My apologies to Kimberly for such a public display in her space.
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    MF: No facts; only arrogance. The first defense of the Left for almost a Century. Play it to someone else. You got called, and your refusals answer all I needed to know. Thanks…It was a kick…Don’t break anyone’s windows while enjoying the weekend.

Funny how he keeps bringing up the recent riots over here. Does he have a point or am I just supposed to shut my mouth and concede defeat because he thinks he’s clever?

26 thoughts on “I Hate Bullies!

  1. 1) Five people died in the riots in Britain (none of them was the result of shooting)
    Contrast this with the Los Angeles riots –
    Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred, and property damages topped roughly $1 billion. In all, 53 people died during the riots and thousands more were injured
    America does things so much better – well – bigger.

    2) If the UK economy is so bad, why is its international credit rating AAA whilst that of the USA has been downgraded to AA+ ?

    3) The cost (per capita) of US healthcare is more than twice that of any European country (including Britain) This is mainly because of the administration costs taken by insurance companies.

    4) Despite 3) expectation on life is higher in Britain than in the USA. If healthcare in the USA is so good, why don’t people live longer than in Europe ?
    Infant mortality rates are higher in the USA than in Britain.
    (These are not quoted from some ‘socialist propaganda’ by the way, but figures from the CIA)

    from the CIA factbook for 2011

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2102.html

    United Kingdom
    total population: 80.05 years
    male: 77.95 years
    female: 82.25 years (2011 est.)

    United States
    total population: 78.37 years
    male: 75.92 years
    female: 80.93 years (2011 est.)

  2. what an awful exchange. I can’t believe I actually read through the whole thing! Your blowhard MF really shows his colors… The right in the US seems to have a plan to obstruct democratic government so as to make it appear broken because they want Americans to think that government is the problem. It isn’t that they think government doesn’t work. They just don’t like what democratic government has done. Letting inferior humans have a say in how they should be governed. Gays, Jews, Catholics, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and Blacks: especially Blacks with one of their kind as president have sent them apoplectic with rage. More and more I think that their real aim is to overthrow the democratic government and establish an evangelical theocratic one that would disenfranchise all the “lesser” peoples. America today looks more like the Weimar Republic in Germany before the Nazi’s came to power. Deeply disturbing.

  3. Bravo Elizabeth! I too have had an on-line argument with someone in the US about what he calls Obamacare. I asked him why would Americans not want proper healthcare like the NHS (which by the way has cared for me and mine perfectly all our lives). There will always be horror stories because humans are running things not robots and humans are fallible. The reason such things make the news is because they are shockingly unusual and therefore ‘newsworthy’ – we all like to complain and tut when a system goes wrong.

    The Texan I was arguing with trotted out the old ‘nanny state’ thing and boasted about how ‘free and independent-minded’ they were in the US. I think being free and independent to watch your child die because you can’t afford to keep them alive is not the sort of freedom and independence I want.

    He too sneered that the US care was the best in the world, so good in fact that everyone wanted to go there for treatment. (Despite being 63 I have never known anyone want to go over there for any medical procedure). I had to point out to him that the World Health Organisation statistics show that the best healthcare in the world is in France. America comes way down statistically. At that point he questioned the credibility of WHO – and repeated the independence theme. So, all in all just bluster and no real argument. As he regularly rants against everything done by Obama (who seems to have caused the breakdown of the world’s finances single-handed evidently) I have put it down to something other than ideology. I believe there is a darker force at work there.

    I am very glad you threw your weight behind our poor beleaguered health system – it does its best and I for one am glad.

  4. Your sign says it all, but dont colour all Americans with the same brush, as there are some good people over there, and here, yourself included, be comforted that people like this are not in power for a reason, and that is, that you just met the 1% of America, that most Americans are ashamed of, and give the USA a bad name in certain parts of the world.
    Feel good about yourself for speaking the truth.
    Tony.

  5. It is also interesting that the Daily Telegraph article (from 2008) linked to by MF relies mainly on a quote by an official of the Unison public service union – one of the most left wing (and I mean ‘left wing’ in UK terms, not American – we start of from different centres (even the spelling is different!)) This is, of course an organisation that wishes to have more money spent on the NHS – Strange bedfellows ?
    No one here pretends that the NHS is perfect, but it has been in existence now for over sixty years and there is no clamour to move to a system like that of the USA, indeed the move throughout most of the developed world has been towards systems more like the NHS than that of the USA. We do, by the way, have options for private medical insurance and healthcare here – a fact often ignored by American commentators.
    ‘Where does the world turn to for healthcare’ MF ? well, I’m sorry to contradict you again, but one of the current controversies in the UK is the number of ‘health migrants’ coming to Britain to benefit from the NHS. Check your Daily Telegraph !
    Broadly, we have different cultural systems. We emerged from the second world war in different ways.
    Can we not respect and acknowledge those differences ?

    • I have met people like this before John, and even in this last year, it has contributed to a severe state of depression, And they always turn round at the end and say oh, your just too sensitive, you should just let it go over your head, or if you answer, that is just what they want, But to my minds eye we should not have to take it, My councilor said to me on various issues, whats it got to do with you, why do you care, its got nothing to do with you. It was like saying to me, if I dont agree with something, I should keep my mouth shut say nothing, do nothing, and not care about anything.
      I have been trying to tell them, I have been made by my own experiences in life and to just say change, as if it can be done at the snap of their fingers, well they would have to reprogram me, but then a part of me says, no, I am not going to be any other than the real me, why should I change.
      then of course my voice goes up in volume and they then say I have a rage inside of me.
      I give up, i get angry when I want and I respond the way I see fit and well done girl for standing your ground, And you too John for standing like a rock by her side. Me and the missus are proud of you both.

  6. Oh, Facebook arguments are the worst. You know what they meant, so you counter, and then everyone else thinks you’re overreacting when you tell them about it – I’ve had plenty of them recently with a girl who decided it’s a good idea to bring up the one thing I’m most sensitive about at the moment – my friendships with two of my guy friends.
    *sigh* Why can’t some people just admit that they’re wrong, or shut up and go away? And since the riots are completely irrelevent to healthcare (though a few people may have needed it afterwards!), there was no reason for him to bring them up.

  7. I think the last exchange was most telling. You stated your case in a very calm matter of fact way from your perspective. MF responded with angry namecalling. He’s a bully with zero interest in a conversation, just in believing he’s won. His type seem to get especially wound up when debating women.

  8. As I said in my comment on your Facebook link what strikes me the most about this argument is how much it illuminates the polarization of this country: each “side” thinks that they are absolutely right and that the other is absolutely wrong, there is no dialogue, little listening, mostly shouting at each other.

    Like you I have lived in both systems, actually in four: 23 years Germany, two years Canada, 15 years UK and the last six in the US. What I can say for sure is that I never worried about seeing a doctor or getting treatment in Europe. What I also know is that life in the UK was the most expensive, I always worked hard and I always struggled to make ends meet. Life in the US, where I am on a comparable income, is much more affordable. And I think people over here, no matter their political conviction, would go nuts if the US levied a VAT style tax of 17-20% which is what you have in most European countries. Someone somewhere always pays the price, either through taxes imposed on many, or out of your own pocket. And even though I do not believe that high taxation and/or re-distribution of wealth is the long-term answer I agree with Elizabeth that I prefer a system where I can seek and receive medical care at any time without risking bankruptcy or having to make a choice between putting food on the table or seeing the doctor. Because that DOES happen in America.

    As John points out, the UK also offers private insurance and looking back I am amazed at how reasonable the monthly premium was that I paid at the time, and I can confirm that the care I received when I needed surgery was excellent. And isn’t this indeed where the biggest problem lies when it comes to healthcare in the US, the cost of it? As John said it is twice as high as in comparable western societies. And while insurance companies are one big culprit I am surprised at how little people talk about another significant contributor to the cost of healthcare: the cost of litigation. My husband works for a medial devices company and they have a whole office building filled with lawyers! Every healthcare provider in this country has to carry some form of malpractice insurance and the cost of that is typically much higher than what a European counterpart would pay. In my view the litigation-happy mentality of this country has gone way too far and what is needed more than anything is tort reform.

    Then I look at my home country and I wonder, how do they do it? Germany has high taxes and a decentralized mandatory healthcare system. And its economy is one of the more stable ones. A German friend commented the other day that one of Germany’s biggest advantages is the fact that it still has strong industries and is one of the biggest exporters of goods and services, which in turn contributes to a healthier and more robust middle class. Plus the cost of living is reasonable: the ratio of housing (most people rent rather than own), food, clothing and medical expenses is such that it still leaves most people with enough discretionary income to be comfortable. I know that it is a bit more complex than this but it makes sense.

    So perhaps this is what the US needs more than anything: tort reform and a focus on re-strengthening its own industries.

    Phew. This is a very complex subject and I would love to discuss it with you and John over a glass of wine! Someday perhaps :)

  9. Let me start by joining tonysanders1955 in his plea that you not paint all of us with the same brush as I too am ashamed of the behavior of MF as well as many high profile Americans. (my refrain through the Bush years was “don’t look at me – I’m with the Dixie Chicks!”) Let me also preface the rest of my remarks by telling you that I am both a physician who grew up in the shadow of the Texas Medical Center in Houston,TX and a “bleeding heart liberal”/proud progressive so that my potential biases are right out up front. I need to correct a few misconceptions amongst your commenters above – who I don’t necessarily disagree with but used arguments that only told half the facts. I’m a firm believer that you have to look at a thing from all sides if there is any hope of solving a problem.
    @ angiejardine while you may never have met anyone who has done so people really do come to the US from all over the world to receive healthcare. From the rich in the Middle East and Europe who come the Texas Medical Center for the best cardiac artery bypass teams – to people in Canada who tire of the waiting lists and cross the border to get joint replacement surgery for just 2 examples. Ironically, MF uses Cuba as an example of a place people wouldn’t go for care when in truth many people from South America and the Caribbean travel to Cuba for specialized procedures not available in their home countries. Additionally the medical education system is so good in Cuba that many South American physicians were trained there. As to the WHO rankings – it is important to remember what the criteria are for ranking. You and my fellow statesman with whom you were arguing were talking about “apples and oranges”. While I could not lay my hands on the data to verify it I seem to recall that the ranking system includes access to care (which is of course appalling in the US if you have no money). That does not mean that if you were looking at the absolute best quality program for delivering care (when money is not an issue) for most medical problems that the program would not be found somewhere in the US….that is why people like MF get to “honestly” say that we have the “best care in the world”…..what they don’t admit is that this care might not be uniformly available across the country. And indeed if you do not have money it might not be available to you even if you lived right next door to the center where it is performed.
    @John. Our poorer life expectancy numbers are a red herring in the argument about healthcare and whether we should modify our current system or have a universal plan like the most of the developed world. Our life expectancy is poor because we live an unhealthy lifestyle and has very little to do with quality of healthcare or lack of access to it. We eat crap, don’t exercise, work too many hours a week and don’t know what a real vacation is. Where this matters in the healthcare debate is that we are obsessed with “fixing” the system because it costs too much – but no one is willing to admit that NO system will ever control healthcare costs in this country because we are an unhealthy society. The infant mortality numbers on the other hand are a more clear indictment of poor access to quality prenatal care and family planning services.
    Elizabeth – good for you in not backing down to a bully AND not joining him in his tactics. It’s very difficult not to stoop to the level of an unworthy opponent. What a great example to those of us who have a difficult time in a fight not “yelling back”.

  10. Well said Kerstin. I find the polarisation in the USA very sad. It is all the more perplexing for Europeans since there are in effect only two political parties and from here they both appear to be right of centre. As someone here said recently, ‘if Obama was British, he would be in the Conservative party’ ! The USA seems to have so much internal anger. Maybe it’s because there is nowhere obvious to go politically ? Most European countries have had hybrid Socialist (or at least Social Democrat) / capitalist systems for the past sixty years. These have evolved and the best elements of both retained,(in general terms). I also admire the fact that Germany has retained a core of quality manufacturing. Britain should have done the same, but with a few honourable exceptions (like Rolls Royce aero engines, for example) those industries were dumped in favour of financial services. The reasons for this may be found in the social divisions of our education system, but that is another topic for a glass (or two) of wine !
    At least we can discuss it without hurling insults :)

  11. Dearest sweet Elizabeth, i don’t like bullies too! That is such an awful event and i totally agree with hotsaucemama that he is not worth your time, effort and thought! Have a lovely merry happy weekend! Love to you!

  12. Some interesting points raised here. Without protracting the thread too much, may I add a few more thoughts ?
    Kerstin – I take your point about high consumer taxation, but would point out, for those not aware, that there are subtleties in the ways VAT is used. For example, children’s clothes and food are VAT free in the UK and the rate applied to heating fuel is 5%. From comparison with Elizabeth’s property in Atlanta, it also seems that state and city taxes are considerably higher than here and utility charges like water and sewage are not only more expensive there but much more difficult to challenge. It is also one of the differences in general between Europe and the USA that government is seen here as more benign than intrusive (a huge generalisation, I know!)

    Angel – I don’t think life expectancy is entirely a red herring. For one think healthcare should be about prevention as well as cure ? There are differences in how invasive advertising is allowed to be in broadcasting, for example, which may affect eating habits ?
    I also realise that life expectancy figures for the USA are skewed by accident and homicide figures. The number of firearm homicides in the USA annually is around 11,000, the number in the UK has remained around 200 for many years. Even taking into account our population difference, that is a huge statistic and must impact on death rate amongst younger people.
    Road deaths in the USA are roughly twice those in the UK per 100.000 population.
    My point really in quoting life expectancy figures was more to counter the claim by MF that our system was much WORSE in terms of treating people. This would surely be reflected in a lower expectancy in the UK and Europe if it was the case ?

    • My deep thanks to everyone who took time to comment on this post. I never imagined it would receive so many well thought out responses. The variety of life comments based on career, geographic location, research, and personal experience, gave real bones to a post that began primarily as an indignant rant.

      As you might imagine, John and I have had more than a few conversations regarding the differences in our two countries with politics and healthcare being just two areas. He focuses on the facts in more detail than I generally tend to and I’m always grateful to have his perspective and support.

      It’s always affirming to hear from people when I have my say here and I wanted to be sure each of you knew how much I appreciated your time and thoughts.

      I’m not sure that there are any clear answers when it comes to fixing what ails us, but kindness and civility ought not to be forgotten when looking for solutions.

      I never heard from MF directly on this post, but I did want to include what followed on the final bit of the Facebook exchange after two more people joined the thread. There’s been no comment since the last one you see here so one can only assume that it took a comment from a male acquaintance to silence the offensive MF.
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      PE: ….. …. …. …. …. a most entertaining interlude. Thanks to all for sharing and sorry to hear about your friend Brian, that is horrible and does not surprise me at all.
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      EH: P ~ I’ve moved this topic, sans MF over to my blog. Have a look if you’re interested in seeing some facts presented by a mix of Brits & Americans in response.
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      PE: I read the whole thing Elizabeth. That’s what brought me back here. You two really went tit for tat. It reminds me of the divisiveness between democrats and republicans in this country. No polite debate anymore. The gloves are off.

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      MF: Sweet! A Socialist hen party for the indoctrinated that can’t handle the heat. THAT’s always how an adult earns any credibility. If you figure out an answer for what you’re afraid of here, I hope you’ll let the world know! Now you see why we laugh at the Left…
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      PE: If you are calling me a hen, then I can, in turn, call you a rooster. I raised roosters and quite frankly, they smell and so do you.
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      MF: That says it all…The mind of a third grader. Well as a famous old rooster once said, “Your money’s on the dresser, I’m through with you…”
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      PE: Too bad UGA didn’t take the opportunity to knock some sense into that head of yours when that grand institution had you.
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      PB: ‎@Marc: play nicely with the girls-don’t make Roger and me come looking for you

  13. While MF was very arrogant and a “know-it-all”, I find some of the comments above to be just as offensive (specifically Michael G). I have also lived in both countries. I wouldn’t trade the US healthcare system for any other countries healthcare. No way, no how, not ever. There is no denying that there are problems within in the US system, but every system has problems. Sad that there can’t be a civilized debate (complete with facts) without illogical statements thrown out there like “America today looks more like the Weimar Republic in Germany before the Nazi’s came to power. Deeply disturbing”. Talk about disturbing.

    • @ Wendy ~ Thanks for your comment and I appreciate your thoughts. I want to be clear that my biggest issue when I engaged in the comment exchange with MF was his insistence that no one need go without medical care in America because they could not afford it and that if you lost everything trying to pay for care then that was okay.

      The quality of care is not at the top of my list and only becomes a topic when used by some folks in America who have no real idea what care is like in the UK now and drag out comparisons as a scare tactic. Frankly, when one has a choice between having lovely speciality bread available, but with no way to pay for it or less fancy, but filling and nutritious bread because it’s budgeted for through your taxes, I’d rather have the latter. Having access to care is very freeing especially if you’ve had a major health issue as I have in the past with cancer.

      MF made remarks that made me leap to defend the NHS and while the hospital I’ve been in for tests was not as posh as those in America, the medical staff were very good. I’m not sure when you lived here or just what you experienced with the NHS, but I do understand that that some major changes in the NHS occurred after 1997. Perhaps you were here before then.

      There’s no denying that care in America is very good … for those who can afford it. I’ve been on both ends of that spectrum in America and it is a terrible place to be if you have no money or have just enough to keep you from accessing help from programs like the person with AIDS mentioned below who makes too much money for ADAP, but not enough to meet the $6,000 co-pay for his meds.

      As for Michael G’s comment about the Weimar Republic in Germany before the Nazi’s came to power, I can’t say exactly what he meant by that since it’s not my comment, but I did a bit of research and I think he may be making comparisons based on some similar issues (in bold print from a Wikipedia excerpt) being faced by Americans now. I don’t think his aim was to be offensive and I think he was actually offering a reference that fits the first part of his comment … I just needed to read more about it before it made sense to me.

      That said, I may have a slightly different perspective on anything he says, as having had the benefit of working with him in the past, I know that he is passionate about human rights and vocal about his beliefs. And as an American now living in Scotland for the last few years, he’s had a chance to see the NHS in action and compare it with our American system. I asked John for his opinion to be sure I wasn’t giving Michael latitude just because I know him personally, and John said he felt as I did that Michael was neither uncivil or illogical.

      ” The Weimar Republic had some of the most serious economic problems ever experienced by any Western democracy in history. Rampant hyperinflation, massive unemployment, and a large drop in living standards were primary factors. From 1923–1929, there was a short period of economic recovery, but the Great Depression of the 1930s led to a worldwide recession. Germany was particularly affected because it depended heavily on American loans. In 1926, about 2 million Germans were unemployed — this rose to around 6 million in 1932. Many blamed the Weimar Republic. This was made apparent when political parties on both right and left wanting to disband the Republic altogether made any democratic majority in Parliament impossible.”

      I always appreciate an opportunity to learn a bit more and your comment prompted me to go back and dig deeper into a period in history that I had not remembered clearly from my school days. Thank you.

  14. Hi Elizabeth,
    Just so you know (and I should have been clear in my earlier comment), I wasn’t saying that you were being illogical or uncivilized in your debate with MF. You stated your side with both intelligence and elegance. My issue with Michael G. was a direct reaction to him bringing race and the Weimar Republic into the mix. Perhaps the same reaction you had when MF dropped the word “rape” in his comments. Words meant to inflame, instead of bring understanding to the issue. I did remember certain things about the Weimar Republic, but I should have researched it more in depth before making a comment (my excuse…when I read your blog last night, I was taking a mental break from Monday Night Football where my beloved team was getting a national trouncing). I did look it up this morning. While I can see where parallels can be made, I still feel bringing it up was just for shock value. I won’t even get in to the race card being thrown out on the table. That is a whole other kettle of fish!

    I did live in Scotland and England in the ’80’s. During that time, my Grandpa died as a direct result of NHS inadequacies. There are many more incidents during this time that I experienced, but I won’t bore you with those details. Fast forward 25 years and my dear Scottish Grandma (and other relatives) also had (and have) to deal with the problems of the NHS. While these are just my experiences, I do think the issues faced by my relatives are faced on a national level. I agree totally with you that everyone should have healthcare and no one should go bankrupt in saving their life, but it shouldn’t be provided by the government (at least not across the board). I lived with government healthcare for 10 years (husband was AF officer) and while it was “free”, it was also extremely inadequate in so many ways. While huge adjustments need to be made to the current healthcare sytem, this country it too vast and varied to implement a system that resembles the NHS.

    I really appreciate you taking the time to respond back to me. I enjoy your blog immensely. Like you, I enjoy doing research on topics that I don’t remember clearly or haven’t heard of. Your pictures are beautiful, as is your life. Have a wonderful day!

  15. @Wendy, I’m unsure how you could construe my comment as offensive. It seems possible that you may be a little sensitive about the use of the word “Nazi.” I was not engaged in name calling or intending to shock. It is however a truism is that those who don’t know the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it and sadly history is not generally a subject to which Americans show sufficient aptitude. I could have chosen any depression era democracy, including the United States which flirted with fascism during the 1930’s, as an example because all of them were under the same pressures as we face today. The reality is that more of them dumped democracy than preserved them. I did pick Weimar Republic Germany as an example specifically because of the reasons Elizabeth noted above and in particular of the political polarization that affects conversation thread like the one she was involved in. I will admit that from my perspective absolute certainty and unwillingness to negotiate or compromise are far more typical on the right than on the left. Bearing in mind that in the US there is no such thing as the “left” only the “right” (= Republican) and “center” (= Democrats) which is quite different than in the UK or Europe. The other thing about the Weimar Republic Germany example is what came next. Weimar Republic Germany became Nazi Germany and the whole series of horrific events came to pass which are much more widely known. The far right wing Nazi’s came to power. They were democratically elected; Chancellor Hitler and the Nazi majority parliament. Then in the interests of “National Security,” (remember that supposed “communist” arsonists set fire to the Reichstag building) the majority Nazi parliament dissolved itself and handed absolute power over to Chancellor Hitler. It happened. And while it is shocking, I used the example specifically not to shock but hopefully so that readers would think about how precious and fragile democracy is. If it could happen once it could happen again. While America can boast to be the oldest democracy on earth, in the grand scheme of things it is still a delicate newborn and in the end the Constitution is just a piece of paper if society decides to move in another direction. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. That the right in the US seems to embrace that other alternative is to me deeply disturbing.

    As for race being an issue in America I do hope that you wake up and smell the coffee. And I say that without anger or malice and I won’t belabor the point.

    As the original post was about Healthcare I feel I should throw my two cents in too. About a decade ago I had an acute case of diabetes which required a stay in the hospital of days. I had no family history of diabetes and my doctor ran tests but it was bad enough that I had to go to the emergency room for treatment. I was very sick. Fortunately I had employer provided insurance so when the bill came ($25,000) they paid it. Six months later I was dropped from the company plan for failing to disclose a pre-existing condition. Seriously! So I have a great deal of respect for healthcare in the US. What I have problems with is health care finance, particularly the profit motive. Insurance companies are for profit businesses and as such their motivations are not and cannot be in synch with the best interests of the patient. As for the NHS, I love it. Obviously I have medical issues. Not life threatening ones but treatable with good preventative care which I receive here. Are the doctor’s better here that in the US? I can’t tell. Do I worry about my health should something major happen? Being dropped again? Getting a bill that would destroy everything I’ve achieved? Nope. I believe that the best course of action in the US would be two pronged. One is to remove profit from the equation. I find it ethically unsound for investors to make money through the illness’s of others. Two is to initiate tort reform to end the spiraling cost of litigation and malpractice insurance. Republicans block one and Democrats block the other so neither is likely to happen. You may be aware that the present conservative led coalition government here in the UK which in it’s election manifesto (there is a commie word you wouldn’t hear in the US) promised no changed to the NHS caused a firestorm of protest when it announce major changes to the NHS bringing in American style for profit privatization. The public’s overwhelming response was “hands off my NHS” and I wholeheartedly agree.

    Thanks for the lively discussion and I hope this further clarifies what I was trying to say. Cheers!

  16. Good post Michael. You have echoed my comments about the range of political opinion in the US and Europe.
    With regard to David Cameron and proposed health service changes here, Gerry Robinson produced a lovely line in a BBC documentary recently.
    ” The NHS is about as close as the British get to religion”
    Cameron needs to be careful – he could be burned as a heretic :)

  17. Hi!
    I am one of your readers from across the pond who is drowning in medical debt. Our baby was born with craniosynostosis (premature fusion of the skull/no soft spot), and he will need a third surgery in the summer. He wears hearing aids in both ears, and he has had other procedures and therapies during his 6-1/2 years on this earth so far. I have a solid job as a math professor at a community college, and I do have a “good” health insurance plan. In some ways, though, my benefits come at a great cost. I pay $300 a month to have my son on my insurance, and then I face the co-pay and co-insurance and deductible amounts. Each specialist is $40 a visit, and he sees 4 of them on a regular basis. The hearing aids are not covered, to the tune of $185 for each new set of molds as he grows and $2,800 for the aids this summer. Hubby and I have our own health issues that cost as well, but I have to be selective about doctor visits. Next year’s skull surgery will cost us $10,000 after insurance.
    With all of that, I definitely feel that the American system needs major changes. I am just not sure what sorts of changes, though. Paying taxes for a good medical care system does not bother me in the slightest, but I do wonder about the choices. Right now, if I do not agree with how my son’s surgeons want to treat his bone defects, I can easily go to a different team of surgeons. Some of my online friends in the UK have not been so lucky, though. (Maybe you can help me to understand what happened here.) The first time Simon was going through surgery, one lady on our support boards had to fly here to the States because her doctor refused to refer them to a neurosurgeon. The doctor believed that nothing was wrong, and the mom’s hands were tied without that doctor’s referral. Since then, I have encountered another lady with a similar problem. Craniosynostosis is a condition that is frequently missed by doctors because it is not common and they are not well-informed. Way too often, the parents see that something is wrong and have to seek out the help without a pediatrician acknowledging it. The thought of having a doctor who refuses to acknowledge and grant the referral is pretty scary. Is that a sort of loophole in the system, or did these moms not fully understand the process?
    Their stories have bothered me for a while, and I do not know nearly enough about your system to know how much truth was there. Our welfare system does a good job of treating these kids without questions, but you do have to be living near poverty to access it. Something definitely has to change here, but I am not sure how.

  18. Well, I stand corrected, Michael G. does not seem offensive at all…very well informed and passionate about the subject. I very much appreciate that he took the time to express his viewpoint more clearly and gave me a history lesson in the process. I hope that he continues to have good health.

    Just one point for him….I am not blind to the fact that racism exists (as do a whole host of other “isms”), but when race is brought in to every controversial conversation (whatever the subject), to me, it nullifies its significance. Those of us, a little right of center, are not racists, not cold-hearted to the plight of the under or non-insured, not uneducated, not gun wielding, not religious nut cases and not wanting the downfall of democracy and this government just because we have a president that is of a different color. The media does a great job of portraying Republicans as such and it just isn’t true.

  19. Elizabeth,
    I think that the climate of online debate leaves a lot to be desired. People say things in public online forums or posts that they would never say if they were standing in front of you. I enjoy a healthy debate and any one worth his/her salt or smidge of decorum will refrain from schoolyard bullying. I do not think people realize that once they cross that line, they lose all credibility and even if they have a valid point, no one cares because of the manner in which the person put it out there for all to see. There are some that like to just antagonize and stir the pot – they don’t really have any stake in the debate other than to rile people up.
    Ignoring a bully takes away their power whether online or on the school yard.
    That being said –
    I just wanted to comment that sometimes health care here in the US is very good for the poor. As you can imagine, working in child care does not afford me great health care, so when my husband became very sick with diverticulosis, I had to take him to the County hospital. They cannot refuse treat anyone based on income or lack of insurance. He was in the hospital for three weeks following major surgery. The staff and surgeons treated me and my family with more respect that private hospitals I have experienced in the past. All the rooms in this “welfare” hospital are private and the staff is first-rate. The bill was over 280k and was covered my medi-cal. Just last month he had to return to the same hospital for another major surgery related to the first one and I am sure that the cost was high for that procedure too. I was thankful that our experience was positive and he is ok. He is going back to work next week and will be back to paying taxes…taxes that go to support this hospital and other public works in our county, state and nation.
    I don’t know how Obamacare will turn out, but I think that a country so blessed and wealthy should make sure everyone has the best health care money can buy. I pray this is the future for our country and political games do not inhibit the plan to move forward so that no one in this country has to worry about whether they can afford to go to the doctor or not.

  20. Hi Elizabeth, there are ignorant people everywhere. Like you, I find it hard to turn away from a loudmouth, and end up feeling shaken by an encounter . Truth is, we change nothing by locking horns. Some things/ people never change. This is a critical time for our own NHS. Our energies need to be focused on making our population aware of the worrying changes this govt is considering. You are right about fear, that is what this govt is using to suggest the dismantling of a brilliant, working NHS. Please add your voice to the growing opposition to these plans.You are very articulate in your blog. I am glad you gave him a run for his money! Smug git. UYOu touched a nerve on your blog about harassment in the work place too. I had some in the early nineties, and didnt complain, who would have cared. It has changed here to some degree I am told. Trying to explain to my young sons that there is a need for legislation to protect women in the work place is like rowing uphill. They think girls hold all the cards. Their experience of the world is very different from mine at their age. Take care, and good luck with the Doc Martin thing. Lucky you. I love where you are. Green with envy!!!

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