Breaking Bad (Anywhere But America Edition)

Breaking Bad (Anywhere But America Edition) September 15, 2013

Via Rachel Held Evans on Facebook, who got it ultimately from someone who said “We're pretty smug up here in Soviet Canuckistan”! 🙂 I should say that I have not watched the series “Breaking Bad,” but I am aware of the premise, and so am able to understand that this cartoon makes an important point about the way the United States, by being unwilling to adopt legislation, principles, and practices that other developed nations take for granted, forces people into dilemmas that could be avoided, with results that arguably ultimately are at greater cost at the personal and social level.

Presumably readers have seen some of the other maps, charts, and infographics which indicate other ways in which America compares unfavorably to most of the rest of the world. Here is one of them:


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  • Bradley Robert Compton

    So to take this out of the fictional realm… I had a friend who truly did turn to growing marijuana to pay for his cancer bills.

  • guest

    God bless America?
    I can’t believe you don’t have paid maternity leave. What a strange country.

  • MouchWesley

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, the Breaking Bad protagonist was a high school teacher, part of a class of Americans that are not known for having anything but first-rate medical benefits. To that extent, the Canadian clucking is misplaced.

  • I know here in Ireland you certainly get these kinds of bills paid for. My father suffered and ultimately died from cancer and as soon as he was diagnosed the state handles all the bills. There’s no question of someone not receiving medical care unless it is through choice.

    The maternity issue is interesting as well. Here they are soon to be brining in paid paternity leave for about 8 weeks I think and extending maternity leave to a period of a year. As it is now, even after a mother’s 26 weeks are up there are various job shares and a extensions that are available if needed.

  • For a continental European like myself, the most shameful aspect of American exceptionalism as championed by neocons is their refusal to strive towards a society where the quality of healthcare will no longer depend on the wealth of the person.

    I have even read a conservative Christian writing that it would be catastrophic for the “providence state” to cover the costs of cancer treatment for the needy.

    He wasn’t troubled at all by that for he said that such personal “hardship” could lead many people to God or back to God.

    Words fail me…

    Lovely greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

  • WillBell

    Canada, where the man who got us universal health care (Tommy Douglas) is a national hero. 🙂

    • arcseconds

      Apparently Americans who don’t like the idea are more receptive to it if you tell them Tommy Douglas was Kiefer Sutherland’s grandfather 🙂

  • Bob

    I wonder what you think of this rebuttal of the cartoon:

    I don’t know enough about the american system myself to argue with it. I know that in England, you can go private if you can afford it, and some people will buy cancer treatments that aren’t available on the NHS from private hospitals.

    • I lived in England and so am appreciative of the British healthcare system. It is by no means perfect, but it does seem to me far more just than the American one. It is incredible to be a student and not have to think about paying for health care. A society can decide that healthcare is something that everyone ought to have access to, as Americans have decided with regard to education up to a certain level.

      The post you linked to does address that there are other social issues, such as one’s family’s well being if you die, that are more to the fore in the show. But those can be addressed on a national level too, if a society considers it important to do so in the interest of justice.

      EDIT: Also, talking about “Obamacare” as though that is the same thing as socialized medicine along the lines of the British model is problematic, and the post you linked to does that. I would rather have the NHS than Obamacare.

    • Ian

      Going private in England isn’t quite the same thing though.

      Private hospitals in the UK don’t tend to have the comprehensive treatment options available, particularly for acute care. Acute care, even for ‘private’ patients tends to be done in NHS hospitals, where the facilities are. One of the disingenuous uses of the UK system in American political rhetoric, is that there simply aren’t two complete parallel systems. In fact, one of the problems with the ‘private’ sector of medicine in the UK is its propensity to handle easy cases, and dump complex cases on the NHS when they get too difficult.

      Where ‘private’ medicine is used to a large extent is in routine surgeries, convalescent care, and health management.

      It is common for people in the UK to ‘go private’ for a specific consultation, particularly for chronic non-acute conditions where waiting lists can be long. Also for non-emergency scans and tests, where likewise, you have to wait your turn. But the vast majority of people who do so, are not on any health insurance program, they spend the money, on a one off. So if I have some chronic pain, I might pay $500 for tests to have them done that week, the results of which can then be given to my NHS doctor to guide treatment.

      I’m not saying the NHS is great, just that the ‘rebuttal’ post fundamentally misunderstands what social healthcare looks like, in the UK.

      As for ‘buying cancer treatments’ – the cancer treatments that aren’t generally available are those with low evidence efficacy, or treatments with extremely high cost and margin impact on outcomes. Such treatments are also typically not available from most health insurers either. It is important to compare apples to apples. There’s no point comparing the NHS against a kind of US health insurance policy that only the 1% can afford. The fair comparison is against the policy you’re ordinarily expect to get in your job. From living on both sides of the atlantic, I can’t see that the NHS is any worse than the insurance I had, and is much better than some HMOs that people I knew were on.

      That there are some people with the money to go everywhere by helicopter is not a good argument that the government shouldn’t provide good quality roads.