There are many things wrong with U.S. health care, as there inevitably are with any health care system. The question is whether America wants to go down the British-Canadian-Cuban route, to name three government medical systems that Michael Moore admires in his new film "Sicko." Cuba, of course, is a totalitarian state, and even Hollywood celebrities, though they like to visit, wouldn't want to live there. (Incidentally, the best health treatment available on Cuba is at Gitmo.) The United Kingdom, by contrast, is a free society, but last week's incendiary Jeep Cherokee at Glasgow Airport has shone a rare light on the curious character of its government health system.
Of the eight persons arrested as of Friday in the terrorist plot, seven are doctors with the National Health Service (the eighth is the wife of one, and a lab technician at the same hospital). The bombs failed to go off because a medical syringe malfunctioned. I don't mean it malfunctioned as a syringe (even in the crumbling NHS, the syringes usually work) but as a triggering mechanism, to which it had been adapted, though evidently not too efficiently.
Does government health care inevitably lead to homicidal doctors who can't wait to leap into a flaming SUV and drive it through the check-in counter? No. But government health care does lead to a dependence on medical staff imported from other countries.
Some 40 percent of Britain's practicing doctors were trained overseas – and that percentage will increase, as older native doctors retire, and younger immigrant doctors take their place.
When the president talks about needing immigrants to do "the jobs Americans won't do," most of us assume he means seasonal fruit pickers and the maid who turns down your hotel bed and leaves the little chocolate on it. But in the United Kingdom the jobs Britons won't do has somehow come to encompass the medical profession.
Back at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, three doctors were under arrest, and the bomb squad performed a controlled explosion on a vehicle in the parking lot. Pulled from the flaming Cherokee, Dr. Kafeel Ahmed is now being treated for 90 percent burns in his own hospital by the very colleagues he sought to kill. But at one level he and Dr. Asha and Dr. Abdulla don't need to blow up anything at all. The fact that the National Health Service – the "envy of the world" in every British politician's absurdly parochial cliché – has to hire Wahhabist doctors with no background checks tells you everything about where the country's heading.