Monday, October 18, 2004
Argh! So much to say...
Have been busy as hell for a week so have not had time to post. That's the way it goes...

1. The girlfriend has been ill this week; some kind of rather nasty virus, coupled with her weakened immune system (vegetarian, you see - if she'd been a red meat eater she'd have shrugged the damned virus off in days), means that the poor thing has been bed-ridden for five days with no signs of recovery. Bless. Still, it gave me a good insight into the Belgian medical system.

Firstly, we had to pay for hospital treatment. I would have been fine with that, had the "you pay for better service" myth been true; alas not in this instance. There's a major external factor at play here, however; I suspect that the poor service was simply because the hospital staff were Belgian. A Belgian in a service-based industry has one prime concern with regard to a customer: to get rid of them as soon as possible. We approached the casualty desk, with my poor girlfriend half-conscious in a wheelchair, and I waited patiently for the woman behind the desk to finish what she was doing and take my details. Sixty seconds later, she hasn't even looked up. I tap the window. "I'm busy!" she snaps, and storms off!

Still, once we had got past the front desk the staff were brisk and efficient, and all things considered I think the private sector (once again) outperforms the British public sector health service. I'm confirmed in my resolution that the NHS should be privatised as soon as possible, with the burden of payment placed on private health insurance and, ideally, employer-based insurance deals (with a state-funded safety net only for those who genuinely can't afford it). The Belgian system, with Belgian staff removed and replaced with British ones, would work excellently. Having seen how easy it is out here, I'm almost embarrassed at the way British NHS workers have to suffer with a cumbersome, outdated and overstretched public sector. They, and their patients, deserve better.

2. A quick post on the US Presidential election. Up until the TV debates, I was fairly undecided - I thought that both candidates were a waste of space. Post-debates (I stayed up to watch them, political geek that I am), in my view, Kerry towered over Bush in eloquence, demeanour, and policy. He argued Bush into the ground; Dubya seemed incoherent, peevish, small-minded, and completely unable to defend his own domestic policies, instead resorting to petty attacks on Kerry and an obsession with his "War on Terr'r". Kerry seemed like a statesman. Kerry all the way!

3. UKIP have finally realised what they've done in unleashing Kilroy. They sold their soul to the devil in exchange for increased publicity, and now Kilroy's ego is tearing their party in two. He's demanding the leadership of UKIP, he's alienating their core support with comments about "killing" the Tories, and he's generally stirring up dissent and trouble at every turn. I give it a matter of weeks before he has the whip removed...

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