RatsPatootieIn theory, socialism sounds wonderful. “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” A recent survey reveals that many college grads in the U.S. attribute this statement to the Constitution rather than to Karl Marx. Tells you a lot about the state of the union.

In practice, however, socialism with its policies of redistribution and “social justice” falls far short of its promises. Take socialized health care. Britain has lived under it for quite a number of years while America is still girding itself for “Obamacare.”

My girlfriend at the time and I were touring the British Isles on a 500 Honda motorcycle, driving on the “wrong side” of the road, exploring Stonehenge and Shakespeare’s old homestead, and staying in village “bed and breakfasts” along the way to Ireland and Scotland. Hotels in England are prohibitively expensive, while staying with the “folks” in their spare rooms is not only much cheaper but also a delightful experience full of stimulating conversation and stewed tomatoes, tea, and marmalade for breakfast.

One night, a lawyer who shared his house with us gave enlightening insight into how the British government health care system functions. In addition to being a barrister, he bred and raised Weimaraner dogs.

One of his dogs developed a skin condition. He took it to the vet; veterinarians are not part of socialized health care. The vet referred the dog to a specialist that very day, who diagnosed and treated it promptly. The dog was soon healthy again.

When the lawyer developed a similar skin condition, he called his designated area health care specialist, who granted him an appointment three weeks away. So he waited.

After three weeks, the doctor for his region referred him to a specialist, again with a waiting period of three weeks. So he waited some more.

In the meantime, a colleague of his suffered a heart attack. An ambulance was dispatched, mistakenly, as it turned out, since the victim’s home was outside his allowed jurisdiction and he was not permitted to make the pickup. Almost an hour passed before another ambulance arrived to transport the man to the hospital. He died en route.

“Happens all the time,” the lawyer said. “It’s government, so nobody gives a rat’s patootie.”

“What did you do about your rash?” I asked

He shrugged. “Treated it myself. Your patootie is safer that way.”

Since Earth was perceived as warlike and hostile, a not altogether unfair assessment, judging from its history, only descendants of Earth colonists were sent there as pioneer emissaries. It was assumed we would be better received, but no one could say for sure since not a single voyager had ever returned.

From Sanctuary, SciFi by Charles W. Sasser. Available in paperback from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.