Hard News by Russell Brown


Public health: the new terror threat

Just when you think Fox News can't surprise you any more, they come up with National Healthcare: Breeding Ground for Terror? The interview at that link, in which National Review Online's Jerry Bowyer explains to Fox's Neil Cavuto how the National Health Service puts the British at risk of terrorism because of its reliance on foreign-trained doctors, is astonishing on any number of grounds: not least that Bowyer doesn't seem to have a clue what he's talking about.

About 28% of NHS doctors are foreign-trained - but so are 25%, and rising, of American doctors. That's hundreds of thousands of potential terrorists right there, surely? Yet oddly, only 23% of doctors in Canada's socialised medical system are foreign-trained (New Zealand, with 41% of its doctors trained elsewhere, is clearly the most dangerous place in the world). And the US takes 60% of its foreign doctors from lower-income countries, which any fool knows are hotbeds of terror. So, surely some mistake?

Ah, but no: the American health system was also safer, Bowyer explained, because instead of being "civil servants", doctors in the US work in small practices, so "if one of your guys is a jihadist, if one of your doctors is spending all the time online reading Osama bin Laden fatwas, someone’s going to notice that. But the National Health Service is more like the Post Office, you know there’s a lot of anonymity, it’s easy to hide in the bureaucracy."

Amazingly, this line of argument has gained legs in wingnut circles; where it fills both the need to respond, somehow, to Michael Moore's Sicko and to perpetually perceive threat.

Meanwhile, on the podcast today, Craig Ranapia finds the Herald relying on anecdote for its story on an alleged local backlash against foreign doctors after the foiled bombings in Britain. And Australian Opposition leader Kevin Rudd clearly isn't above talking about terrorism and foreign doctors in the same breath.

Frankly, there are valid reasons for concern about having to constantly import doctors doctors trained in other systems. I don't think the fact that they might be secret jihadis is among them.

PS: We got to go to the cast and crew screening of The Devil Dared Me To last night. It's great: very funny, and bursting with character. And it looks astonishingly good for a movie made on such a small budget. Those guys know how to make films.

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