Can someone explain to me why so many Americans seem to think a "European-style welfare state" is such a terrible thing? They seem to think that it's somehow cheating if there's no chance of someone starving. I live in a European-style welfare state here in England (at least, until the ConDems dismantle it but that's a seperate rant) and here's a couple of noteworthy things about it. Now, different European nations do things slightly differently but I'm English so I'm doing this about England.
- Healthcare is free at point of delivery. It's funded through general taxation. There is no such thing as a medical bankruptcy here. No-one ever has to skip healthcare for the sake of cost. There's a small fee for filling a prescription (about $15) that's mainly designed to stop you bugging your doctor with stupid stuff that only needs a couple of asprin but the poor, old and disabled are exempt from that. Is the NHS perfect? Hell no but it is better than the US system. We still have private insurers here and people still use them for all kinds of reasons. Some like luxury hospitals, some want to skip waiting lists (or, as they should be called, availability lists), some just want the status symbol but because the NHS provides a bottom level of service, private insurers have to offer a better service at a decent price. I always thought that was the essence of capitalism.
- Very few people starve or become homeless because they can't find a job. The system we have set up here keeps paying you unemployment benefits for as long as you're honestly looking for a job. Doesn't matter if it takes six months or five years, if you're making an honest effort to find work, you get unemployment benefits (which aren't much but enough to keep body and soul together). If the only work you can find pays a pittance, the system will make up the difference between that and unemployment benefits.