28 August 2006

No Room At The Inn

From London's Sunday Times comes word that one in five Brits is seriously considering emigrating due to high taxes and crime. One of the taxes that people apparently don't like is the estate tax. In NRO's Corner, they seem to think that a wave of British immigrants will be good news for the US. Apparently, they've forgotten that time long ago (July, wasn't it?) when the US couldn't possibly take in any more immigrants. Guess we'll have to turn them all away...

But enough about us. What do the British think of us? The most interesting thing about this poll is that it is another indication -- as was the suggestion by a Labour minister that the inheritance tax should be ended -- that the post-war British settlement is coming apart. The settlement is being pulled apart by forces that should be familiar; Britain half wants to be us and half wants to be France. They can't decide between the free market and socialism. Each beckons, neither wins.

An American, looking across the Atlantic, suspects that it all comes down to the National Health Service. The British don't love their government run medicine the way the Canadians do (the Canadians venerate socialist medicine like Americans venerate the Declaration of Independence) but can't imagine giving it up. The NHS, though, is not just the NHS, it presupposes an entire cradle to grave welfare state. Will the whole thing crumble or will the last Brit turn off the last light in the last NHS surgery? Someone be sure to let us know, we'll be too busy looking west to notice.

8 comments:

Susan's Husband said...

The benefits of an English migration depends on the scale. I doubt even the more unrealistic would expect more than a few tens of thousands per year, instead of tens of millions. I know we've disagreed on that, but I still think that 3 or more orders of magnitude in the rate can have a qualitative difference.

Peter Burnet said...

You are going to be a very smart man some day. I never thought of this before, but you are right and it also explains why I couldn't figure out what was wrong with Orrin's harangues about Canadian statism during the dark days. Canadians are indeed almost mystical about medicare, which is a minefield for Harper, who knows he probably couldn't carry even Alberta on a straight vote to unravel it. But it is a stand-alone issue and we merrily chop away at unemployment insurance, welfare, etc. without much fuss. No Lord Beveridge here, and anyone who promised "cradle to grave security" wouldn't get to first base these days.

That may explain why, in a very weird and counterintuitive way, while although statist countries like Britain and Sweden allow a parallel private system, we've decided to go the pure Cuban and North Korean route.

David said...

In a nation of 300 million, how much difference could even 10 million Brits make?

joe shropshire said...

One Brit is quite sufficient, thank you. This brings to mind an old Steve Martin bit, in which the wild and crazy guy gives thanks for the Atlantic Ocean: I'm thankful for the Atlantic Ocean...because without it, there would be lots of Portugese, trying to walk into this country.

M Ali said...

(the Canadians venerate socialist medicine like Americans venerate the Declaration of Independence)

That's true. I think the guy who came top in the greatest Canadian of all time was the founder of the country's nationalised healthcare system.

cjm said...

500k brits moving to montana gives the uk two senators and one congressman :)

David said...

There's good comedy lurking somewhere in Montanashire.

Brit said...

In Britain it is understood that you can reform the NHS but you mustn't make it look like you are.

Incrementally, always incrementally.