The Spectacle Blog

A Warning From Our Future

By on 8.6.09 | 2:47PM

Conservatives in their teens and early twenties, who will continue to confer over at George Washington University through Friday, took a break from exhortations from the likes of Sen. Jim DeMint and Stephen Moore to entertain a cautionary missive carried from a looming socialist future. The emissary was English Member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan, a rugged and outspoken advocate of limited government perhaps best known for his screed in March castigating UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown for reckless spending in the precise and devastating way that only a British parliamentarian could manage.

Hannan appealed to history, heritage, and global interests in his apologetic against nationalized health care, delivered, as he put it, from the vantage point of a decade down the road that the U.S. Congress is now on. NHS, the British socialized health care system, is the third largest employer on earth, following the Chinese Army and Indian Railways. Established following World War II in 1948, Hannan said the British system demonstrates a timeless truth of governent: "When government adopts a system, it is very hard to get rid of it. I don't want anyone in this room to think you can experimentally adopt a state option in health care."

Hannan's recommendation for healthcare? Adopt a system like that of Singapore, with a limited pay-in and a number of incentives to keep prices low.

Much of Hannan's talk was easy on American ears, as he waxed eloquent about the vision and high ideals of the Founders and encouraged students to respect the freedoms guaranteed by the "most sublime constitution ever drafted by human intelligence."

Of Britain and the European Union, Hannan was less flattering. His talk of the EU in particular, with its bulky 567-page constitution granting power upon power to the state, its legislative "democratic deficit," and its drive to centralize power, made it clear that he'd be delighted to put himself out of a job.

But he held out hope for the UK, citing its first fully open primary, held on Wednesday. That vote, he said, signaled a way British politics has changed "utterly, irrevocably, and benignly."

You can find the rest of Hannan's talk, including anecdotes about Churchill and a fresh perspective on Che Guevara as a fashion statement, recorded here.

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