All of us who can recall our childhood and have had to deal with children ourselves know the scenario. Child whines because everybody has something or other, does something or other, is going somewhere or other. Eventually, the parent, irritated beyond rationality says: “And if all those others told you to jump out of the window would you do it?”. Or words to that effect.
I thought of that again when I read Lex’s links to Megan McArdle and her extremely sensible comment about not wanting the state acquiring a bigger role in healthcare. “Nay, not even if all the other countries . . . well, all the cool countries, anyway . . . are doing it.” Clearly, I cannot intervene in the heated debate about American healthcare and the changes proposed by what seems to be known more and more widely as Obamacare. I do not live in the United States and, therefore, my knowledge is second hand, therefore, inadequate. (Though, I notice that a similar handicap with regards to Britain does not stop various people from commenting with … ahem … varying degrees of accuracy.)
However, I do know something about that argument of all the other countries … well, all the cool countries having something and, therefore, we must as well. In Britain we have had to put up with that inane argument over and over again as step by step we surrendered all that made the British legal, political and constitutional system not only different (not unique because other Anglospheric countries have developed along very similar lines) but much better.
Adversarial parliamentary democracy where debates are out in the open and subjects are, indeed, kicked about? No, no, no, must not turn health/education/name-your-subject into a political football. Look how they do it on the Continent. Well, how they do it is to make decisions behind closed doors and call it a consensus.
Adversarial legal system? Not what they have in other countries. Well, not in the cool other countries where we like going on holidays. We should have a procuratorial system, too. Don’t want to be left out of the game.
And so on, and so on. Yet the answer is so simple: our system is different from those other cool countries’ because it has grown differently over many centuries; it also happens to be considerably better. That’s it.