Lincoln Steffens was an early Twentieth Century reporter and journalist who, among other things, was an unapologetic advocate of the Soviet Union and the world-wide revolution towards an era of collectivism. Upon his return from a journalistic visit to the USSR in 1919, Steffens famously wrote: “I have seen the future, and it works.”
He was speaking of the collectivist efforts toward socialized medicine, public works, and labor reforms. To say that the American (and European) media during that era was not swept by the utopian visions of socialist paradise would be a lie. Of course, some members of the media and “educrats” throughout society still love these things, but, since the atrocities of “Red Russia” and its fall in the 80’s, they would have to be more careful about how they pushed a socialist agenda.
Steffens saw “the future” and loved every bit of it. If socialism is the future, I want no part in it. For I too have seen it, experienced it firsthand. In fact, I just got back from London, where my sick wife was subject to the full wrath of a collectivist medical system, against both her will and mine. For those who have been through our increasingly bureaucratic medical system and are already disgusted by its development, I must make myself plain: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Because she was not allowed to continue on the plane from London back to the United States, without doctor’s approval, we were forced to stay in London for the night. She needed rest. More than anything, she needed a good night’s sleep if she was to continue on the long flight home. But rest was not to come. No, rather, we took a taxi to the “better of the two hospitals nearby” so that we could “pick-up” a note from the doctor.
And we thus entered one of the most painstaking and frustrating experiences of our life: State-sponsored medical services.
My wife, pregnant, had spent the entire flight from our vacation spot in Vienna, Austria to London in and out of consciousness, full of seizures, and with a considerable amount of throwing up during her moments of unconsciousness. All this preceding an immediate trip to the London hospital, where, completely unsympathetic to her condition or our circumstances we were forced to sit in the so-called emergency room with all the other victims of the utopian system.
For four hours we sat there, me trying to keep her awake and breathing smoothly, her trying not to pass out. I was aggravated: All we need is a measly note that says we’ve been here, and then we can finally be on our way so my wife can have a bed and some food. She needed rest, not tests, exams, questionnaires, and drugs. Unfortunately for us, the regulatory system was such that we could not even pay to get out. We have good insurance, but what help is that in a system wherein everyone is on the same social level and no one can ever use their means to escape the cell?
Four hours of pain and frustration, and then we were finally seen. We were shuttled off toward the cold concrete rooms. Along the hallway to the right were the “X-Ray” rooms, situated like uninviting bathroom stalls all in a row and all reminiscent of a concentration camp. It was certainly frightening and a bit eerie.
The room with the bed where she sat and waited for the “doctor” was no better. Dirty and hectic, not a physician in sight, only a collection of bureaucratic paper-pushers who “had no clue where the doctor was,” had no idea “how long these tests take,” and (I quote) were not sure “what to do in situations like these.” I was livid. Just sign a note that says we were here. My pleas were countered: “If we don’t run the mandated tests, we could lose our licenses.” I see. But what if it is our choice to leave, without the note? “Sorry, that is illegal.”
Slaves to a system.
She was punctured multiple times in each arm. She was in tears. What tests are you giving her? What are you doing now? Please explain what you are doing. We don’t want your drugs. The doctor was silent.
She was lightheaded again and close to passing out. I need to give her food. Can she have some water? Are you almost done? “Please don’t distract us or I will have a guard take you out of here.”
Fantastic! Can my wife come too?
The doctor needed some needles. She went off to find the cart of needles. Twenty minutes. She couldn’t find her gloves. Twenty minutes. A new doctor showed up. “So what do we have going on here?” She had no notes, no communication. Her guess was as good as mine. After two hours in the hospital room, after handfuls of tests, all of which came back (unsurprisingly) fine, we were allowed to leave.
One of the (many) reasons socialist hospitals are so hectic, slow, and full of confusion and awful services is because the demand is subsidized and the supply is always unprepared and underfunded. The emergency rooms would be stacked full of non-emergencies like splinters, aching stomachs, and sprained ankles. Doctor shortages and drone-workers that hate their jobs. That is economic theory. But for my wife and I, this was the socialist trial that turned economic theory into a miserable and gut-wrenching reality.
If I could say one thing to Mr. Steffens, that advocate of the wretched system I just faced, I would say this: “I have seen the other side of ‘the future,’ and Oh! the magnificent misery!”Published in