Prager “University” Plays Politics With Alfie Evans

How do you take a sad story with honorable points on both sides from which a legitimate debate could be had, and completely ruin this potential with just two sentences?  Politicization!   Learn about this and so much more when you enroll this summer at Prager University.

They begin by explaining the circumstances around a suffering 23-month old infant named Alfie Evans, who exists in a semi-vegetative state with little brain function and no chance of recovery.  With dramatic music supplementing the on-screen text, the video inexplicably concludes with the following lines:

“This horrifying treatment is common in socialized medicine.  Is this the kind of healthcare we want for America?”

This is neither a common treatment, nor even a distinct trait of socialized medicine.  Just witnessing the attention this story has drawn should indicate that these types of difficult life-or-death circumstances between government and citizen are rare.

Prager U should have first make the distinction that the United Kingdom implements a true socialized health care system in which the doctors are employees of the government and do not operate their own private practice.  Nobody in the States is proposing a system like this.

And where in the ideological construct or definition of “socialized medicine” is it stated that the government chooses if a child lives or dies rather than the individual or parent?  This just happens to be a nuance contained in the British system rather than a core component of socialized medicine.  British government officials have even stated that the same treatment for private insurance would apply.  This hierarchy of decision-making that is present in the British system is not necessarily present in other socialist countries.

Take the headline from the New York Times: “Fight Over Alfie Evans, a Brain-Damaged Baby, Divides U.K.”

Does anyone actually think the article is referring to the United Kingdoms general disdain for their socialized medical system as the issue “divides” them?  There is not an industrialized country in the world that is envious of our health care system.

Instead they’re protesting is the specific ruling of the British court.

If Prager U wants to adhere to the simple definition of “socialized medicine” as simply being government paying for the health-care of it’s citizens, they should realize that a large part of our health-care system is already socialized, with taxpayer dollars going to non-profit hospitals to offset losses by those who received treatment but couldn’t pay.  There are also veterans who receive treatment through the VA, as well as government programs such as Medicaid which provide treatment for the poor.

Yet in this spectrum of our health-care system that is socialized, government power over the will of the guardian simply does not exist, contrary to Prager U’s claim that this is a trait of the socialized system.

The ultimate irony here is it is the government, not private insurance, that would help keep Alfie alive here in the U.S. if his parents couldn’t afford insurance, by offsetting losses as mentioned above so the hospital can continue treatment.  Even if the family was insured in the years prior to the Affordable Care Act, lifetime limits would add up very fast and the insurance would cease to pay.

In essence, the video avoids what the rest of the industrialized world has already figured out – an insurance company with a profit motive has, and will always will continue to pay as little as possible regardless of the patient’s needs, and charge us an expensive premium as an added insult.  This is only natural when your only goal is to make as much money as possible.

Instead of shameless political posturing with ridiculous implications, perhaps Prager U could have instead produced a video that advocates for a law that affords any British citizen the right to extradite their child beyond the U.K. borders for medical care when domestic doctors deem the child is without hope.  Yes, a law like that can function regardless of the health care system it’s implemented in.

That is how you start a meaningful and constructive dialogue to actually address problems on a domestic and international scale.

I would say the professors at Prager University have a lot to learn, but honesty was never part of their curriculum anyway.  Instead they take the low road which leads to a failed effort to make a cheap political point.

It might be time to cancel classes. ■


Prager U Conflates Canadian Single-Payer System with Socialized Medicine

Pete Hegseth, former executive director for “Vets For Freedom,” warns against a Canadian-style system and asks us the following question:

“Would a government-run, Canadian-style healthcare system work here in the United States, a nation of 320 million people? Well, we already know the answer – just ask America’s veterans. They’ve had government-run healthcare for decades.”

See the Prager U video here.

He will go on and use the duration of the video to condemn the Veterans Administration, conveying it as completely inefficient, corrupt, and wildly unpopular.

To do this, Hegseth goes through the motions of the usual Prager U song-and-dance numbers, waltzing to selective sources followed by an encore of a tango underneath a cherry-tree, with the fruit at arms reach.

But let’s put all of that aside and enter his fictitious world. Let’s pretend he is correct and the VA is every bit as inept as he claims. However there is a fatal problem..

Even if he’s being truthful about the current state of the VA, it’s completely irrelevant as it pertains to the single-payer system that is being proposed here in the U.S.

The Canadian system (and the system proposed by Bernie Sanders and others) from which he draws the VA comparison to, differs greatly from the VA. The VA is a pure example of socialized medicine, in which the doctors are employees of the government. The Canadian system is a single-payer system in which the doctors retain their private practice.

There is no politician anywhere calling for a VA-style socialist medicine healthcare program. Not Elizabeth Warren, not Keith Ellison, not Bernie Sanders.

Usually, the misinformation and propaganda contained within Prager U videos are more subtle or cryptic. But this one does us a favor and invalidates the video early, showing it to be a straw-man in its very first couple of sentences. ■