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Damn Europeans, What’ll They Think of Next?

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In the raucous debate over health care reform and the adoption of a government option for people who are less than thrilled by private insurance companies, the forces of the status quo are quick to label reformers as being socialists. You know, like they have over there in Europe.

The name of the continent is often accompanied by a sneer and a shudder.

But, really, despite all the stand-up jokes, is Europe such an awful a place? Quite a few of us Americans trace our heritage back to the Old World. Plenty of us vacation over there when given the opportunity. Some of us have actually studied European languages, and a few of those Liberal Arts elitists can even speak some of them.

Yeah, but Europeans are still socialists, aren’t they? Meaning they think their governments have a responsibility for, oh, keeping their people happy. Okay, that’s true. But Europe still has enough cutthroat capitalists within its borders that for the first nine months of 2009 the U.S. is running a $42 billion trade deficit with the European Union.

At the same time, the World Health Organization rates the “socialist” health care systems of France, Italy, San Marino, Andorra, Malta, Spain, Austria, Norway, Portugal, Monaco, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Finland, and Denmark superior to that of the capitalist U.S.

And while those countries are giving their people better health care they’re also making sure Europeans get more paid vacation days to enjoy their good health. To cite just a few examples: Italy guarantees 42 days of paid vacation; France, 37 days; Germany, 35 days; UK, 28 days. The U.S. guarantees zero days of paid vacation, and we average only thirteen.

Yeah, but they’re still socialists. First cousins to communists.

You think so? Let’s look at a highlight reel of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

Article 1: Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected.

Article 2: Everyone has the right to life. No one shall be condemned to death or executed.

Article 4: No one shall be subject to torture…

Article 5: No one shall be held in slavery or servitude…

Article 7: Everyone has the right to respect for his or her private and family life…

Article 9: The right to marry and the right to found a family shall be guaranteed…

Article 11: Everyone has the right to freedom of expression…

Article 13: The arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint. Academic freedom shall be respected.

Article 14: Everyone has the right to (an) education…

Article 20: Everyone is equal before the law.

Article 29: Everyone has the right of access to a free (job) placement service.

Article 33: The family shall enjoy legal, economic, and social protection.

Article 35: Everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment…

And that brings us back to where we started with the public option.

So the next time someone hisses at Europe and its socialist ways, take out this little list and tell them: “You know, they have some pretty good ideas over there.”

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About Joseph Flynn

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You paint a very pretty picture, Joseph. It’s a pity you overlook so much of how things really stand in Europe. How about the swelling class of unelected bureaucrats, or the nations struggling to free themselves from the stifling policies of the EU. Or the higher rates of death for virtually every cause of death than in the US? Or the massive levels of unemployment? Or the huge and restless immigrant underclass? Or the dramatically rising crime rate?

    Hell, I could go on and on.

    Dave

  • Roger B

    I’ve found that everyday life is more comfortable in Europe. Family life and socializing is better, people don’t live under the threat of imminent health collapse and financial ruin.

    Business is prospering. Consumer goods are just as available and just as good as here. And travel is SO much better, what with highspeed trains and airlines that provide good service, it’s almost miraculous, especially with the borderless internationalism that has developed.

    We in the USA are falling behind. Europe is passing us.

  • ann uk

    to Dave Nalle, Yes, you do go on and on and most of what you say is blind prejudice or quarter truths at the most. Europe isn’t paradise, but nor is it the hell hole you paint. On the real issue of health care you are being conned by the massive private medicine business of the USA. Your health industry costs you twice as much as our National Health service and leaves some forty thousand of your fellow citizens with little or no health care at all.I have personal experience of the NHS and have always had the best of care free. With such a big institution as the NHS there are bound to be failures but, unlike your private insurance services , it is subject to constant scrutiny and reform.
    Most people in the UK are proud of the NHS and certainly wouln’t exchange it for your system.

  • Arch Conservative

    Comparing Europe to the USA?

    One is a continent while the other is a nation.

    Yes we Americans sometimes vacation there, we marvel at the old buildings and the musems, snap some pictures, and then come home. We always come home.

    If Europe is such an elightened, advanced, paragon of mankind’s potential why is it that far more Europeans emigrate to the USA than Americans emigrate to Europe?

    Oh, you forgot the rise of rampant radical Islam and the capitulation of the natives Dave.

  • zingzing

    yes, archie, one is a continent. and the other is a nation. so why then do you compare the emigration patterns of a nation to a continent, one with different economies and different types of government?

    oh, and did you see that the swiss, of all people, banned the building of minarets? what the hell is that? it’s a useless slap in the face. i’d really like to know what they thought this would accomplish… racists are dumb. even the vatican thinks it’s stupid. and so do people trying to make money. and surely it’s unconstitutional.

  • STM

    Arch Conservative #4 why is it that far more Europeans emigrate to the USA than Americans emigrate to Europe?

    Do they anymore?

    I’d say if so, it’s because more Europeans hold a passport, are curious about other places, want to experience new things and other cultures and many tend to be inveterate travellers.

    Whereas, my experience is that the vast majority of Americans will never get a passport, couldn’t even point to Europe (you might be one of the few Arch that actually knows it’s a continent, not a country) on a map (actually, most of your countrymen couldn’t find Canada on a map unless it was marked in giant letters), and won’t ever leave the small towns or counties they grew up in.

    Sad, but true …

    And you’re giving them lectures. Give me a f.ckin’ break.

  • Aussie

    Actually, Arch, there is one group of Americans that likes to travel: the rapidly expanding Mexican community.

    Millions and millions of ‘em.

    They only like to travel one way, though, I’m told, and one would assume without a passport.

    I probably wouldn’t recognise much of modern America if I visited now from what I’ve heard about the recent mass migration from the south. I don’t speak Spanish either so getting my head around the lingo would be a hard ask.

    Press 1 for English.

    Keep going and that North American Union is looking a sure thing. But Canada probably won’t join it as they won’t speak the language.

  • Joseph Flynn

    Dave, thanks for the kind words on my painting ability. Thanks to all the others for taking the time to comment and defending your home teams.

    What I was getting at, or hoping to, with my post was that the opponents of the public option in health care reform legislation are using European health care systems, and Europe in general, as negative examples when there is much to be said for them. To put it bluntly: I don’t like it when people lie to advance their causes.

    Neither the U.S. nor Europe is paradise. I never made any claim that either place is. What’s true is, each side can learn lessons from the other, and both should be happy to do so.

    When it comes to making a point on the health care reform issue, I think full disclosure of your personal situation is a good idea. I’m self-employed; I’m liberal on social issues; I’m conservative on financial issues; I vote for candidates not parties. I have an individual health insurance policy with a $10K deductible and a premium that goes up every six months. I’d dearly like to get better coverage for less money, i.e. the government option.

    I’m truly pissed off that some people want to keep me from having a choice, which I feel is un-American. That’s where I’m coming from.

    How about you, Dave, and any other U.S. commentors? What’s your situation?

  • Baronius

    The WHO ratings are based on five factors: overall responsiveness and distribution of responsiveness, overall health and distribution of health, and fairness of health costs. According to the statistics I found, the US is #1 in overall responsiveness. Our lowest ranking is in fairness of costs. In other words, we lose points because we are the least socialistic. If that’s how you want to measure things, fine. It’s valid to consider who’s paying how much when rating a health care system. But let’s be honest about it.

  • Portuguese

    Yes, my country has a nice health system, and I am happy with it. Even though we always complain: things can always be better.
    We also have full access to private medicine and health insurance. I actually use it. I can afford it and there is no sense in loading the National Health System (let’s call it NHS). The reference, however, remains this NHS as it is recognized as better quality than private, and more important, they will look to no expense to keep me alive and healthy. It literally does not matter if I can afford or not, they will treat me. This makes me comfortable and helps me to live life. So I do prefer this “socialist” way rather than risk the other option.

  • http://www.nationalbroadside.com Dave Nalle


    I’m truly pissed off that some people want to keep me from having a choice, which I feel is un-American. That’s where I’m coming from.

    The public option doesn’t create choices, it takes away choices.

    Do people in Europe have a choice? Not in most cases. All they have is their national health service and the option to go somewhere else and pay for services if they need them quickly or if they are considered too low priority.

    In the US the introduction of a public option will cause insurance companies to focus more on high-end policies and eventually stop serving most lower income and higher risk customers, leaving them only the public option and its minimal service level and rationing.

    An intelligent solution, which was abandonned early on, would have been to adopt a single payer solution instead of a public option, and have the government underwrite insurance at a set level which would provide basic coverage from private sources, and then leave additional and specialized coverage up to the individual and what they could afford to add on.

    Unlike the current proposal this would provide 100% coverage and would also lower costs. The current proposal leaves 20-25 million still uninsured and will increase costs for everyone.

    Dave

  • Joseph Flynn

    Dave, I’m all for a single-payer health system, but it’s not in the cards right now. That’s why I favor the public option; it’s the best we can get at the moment.

    The attrition you describe in your recent post is going full blast already. That’s why there are more and more uninsured Americans with each passing year. That’s why the number of Americans dying each year for lack of access to medical care is increasing.

    If you look at the posting directly preceding yours, no. 10, you’ll see that Portugal, for example, has both public and private options. So do other countries. No reason why we can’t, too.

    If you don’t mind, tell us a little about your situation. Who provides your health insurance? Is it subsidized by an employer or do you pay the whole premium yourself? What’s the deductible? How often does your share of the premiums increase? Does your insurance offer preventive care and a good range of benefits? This is important to know, if we’re going to understand the arguments you offer.

  • http://www.nationalbroadside.com Dave Nalle

    Joseph, my insurance situation is utterly irrelevant. The fact that you think it matters shows that you don’t understand the implications of insurance reform. If we base our decisions on our personal circumstances then we are acting out of self-interest, rather than in the best interests of the nation and the people.

    What we are talking about here is a new approach to health insurance for an entire nation. IMO it is only justifiable to implement a new system if it will improve care for the majority of Americans without increasing costs. That clearly does not describe any of the current proposals, which are a cobbled-together mess of bad ideas written by the trial lawyers and the insurance lobby.

    As for countries with both public and private options, in Portugal as in most of the others, public insurance fails to provide timely and comprehensive service, so they allow a private option for those who can afford to pay for it. So the majority of the population gets barely adequate and heavily rationed care and the elite get decent care.

    The difference between this and the current system in America is that instead of providing minimal care to all and superior care to a tiny minority, we provide far more people with superior care, and a small number with no care, largely at their choice.

    Dave

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave says:

    we provide far more people with superior care, and a small number with no care, largely at their choice.

    Of course, of COURSE! 45 million Americans is a SMALL number! And surely that’s because they just don’t want health insurance!

    And thousands of foreigners do indeed come to America every year to get top-notch care that they can’t get at home…but according to CNN, in 2010 an estimated six million unpatriotic, scum-of-the-earth Americans will go to other countries to get health care that they can’t get or can’t afford here. How dare they!?!? Don’t they know that truly patriotic Americans follow the Republican health care plan? “Don’t get sick, or if you do, then die quickly”!

    Now look at my brother, a libertarian from WAY back. Among other things he’s diabetic, so of course he didn’t want health insurance from the health insurance agencies who refused to insure him anyway because of his pre-existing conditions…and of course he was very happy to skip paying thousands of dollars that he didn’t have to fix his infected big toe…because then when his toe turned gangrenous, the TAXPAYERS got to pay for the amputation of his lower leg!

    Gee, such a deal for the taxpayers! Why pay for the not-so-expensive little things…just wait till they become REALLY expensive big things and THEN pay for them! Not only that, but look at all the additional tax revenue the government doesn’t get because of the time my libertarian brother couldn’t work!

    Yes, yes, such a deal for the taxpayers and the government!

  • Joseph Flynn

    Sorry, Dave, maybe it’s just my suspicious nature, but when someone says something is utterly irrelevant that makes me all the more curious. I read quite a bit about insurance reform, your assertion otherwise notwithstanding.

    I know that the big insurance companies are spending a million dollars a day to keep the obscene, monopolistic deal they have going. I know they’ve enlisted lobbyists by the dozens and even their own employees to advance their point of view.

    I also know it’s human nature for anyone to want to keep a privileged position. That’s why I asked. I like to know with whom I’m conversing. But I understand you want to keep those details to yourself so I won’t ask again.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    “a small number, mostly at their choice” is classic [and awful, and ridiculous] Nalle-ism. He has repeated his false caricature of European health services many, many times. It still isn’t true.

  • zingzing

    “If we base our decisions on our personal circumstances then we are acting out of self-interest, rather than in the best interests of the nation and the people.”

    dave, you can afford good health care. millions upon millions can’t. you seem to be quite willing to forget about them. is it because they don’t matter?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Joseph, it’s not that I want to keep the details to myself. I’ve posted them before when it was appropriate. It’s just that I don’t think it’s germane to the discussion. If it was then all of the people in Congress with their cadillac plans would have to be disqualified from the debate.

    At various times in my life I have had no insurance and I have had reasonably good insurance. I required no more healthcare when uninsured than when insured. That may change at some time in the future, but thus far, the 20-some years of premiums I’ve paid have been largely wasted except as a bet against my own health.

    Interestingly, the entire cost of all medical care received by my family (me, wife and 2 kids) including 3 operations, doctor visits, shots and 2 baby deliveries, would have been a fraction of the cost — had we paid it ourselves in cash — that we’ve paid for health insurance in the last 20 years.

    I’m not sure how I feel about that, or how it fits into the current discussion, but it raises concerns. For most people I suspect that health insurance really isn’t a very good investment.

    Dave

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    dave, you can afford good health care. millions upon millions can’t. you seem to be quite willing to forget about them. is it because they don’t matter?

    Zing, this kind of thinking is why we have to avoid talking in terms of our personal circumstances. I went uninsured for more than a decade. During that period I was just as much against national healthcare as I am now.

    And if my opinion is invalidated because I’m currnetly covered by health insurance, then that of anyone who is uninsured should also be discounted because of their self interest, and that seems unfair.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    but dave, there are 45 million people uninsured in this country. to say that they are “unemployed by choice” is just ridiculous. those people walk out the door every day with a chance that they might become impoverished for life (not that many of them aren’t now) because they have an accident. nobody wants that.

    people want insurance. i’m willing to bet that you’d like to see as many people as possible covered, because that would only be human. but your choice of words makes that rather unclear.

  • http://www.nationalbroadside.com Dave Nalle

    You’re not listening, Zing. If I had taken the money my family has paid into insurance int he last 20 years, the $300,000 plus we’d have in the bank would have more than paid for every need we’ve had in that period, plus a college education for both kids. With those numbers it is an understandable choice to opt against insurance.

    Now most people don’t do it on that scale. But when I was 25 I was not a bit concerned about getting health insurance. My biggest realistic health threat was a broken bone, something I could pay for myself on a payment plan. So I didn’t have health insurance. There are 20 million people in the 18-30 year age range who make that same choice.

    Dave

  • zingzing

    but you were young and stupid and your biggest worry wasn’t a broken bone. your biggest worry (should have been) a brain injury or a cancer diagnosis. something that could ruin your parents, who would end up having to pay for it. many of the people you mention are uninsured “by choice,” but they’re not stupid enough to think it’s not a risk. and their parents would be furious. that said, insurance is fucking expensive. if it’s “by choice,” sometimes it’s because they don’t want to eat raman noodles.

  • zingzing

    (and eating raman noodles for 12 years will just give you heart disease, so someone pays for it one way or another.)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Dave talks out of several sides of his mouth:

    Supporting a single-payer system but warning of the ‘dangers’ of a public option [even though a while back he called it irrelevant and a red herring].

    We have better health care than Yurrup but it’s fine if millions of people are left out [or stupidly opt out, thus distorting the risk pool].

    Obama is stomping on my ‘liberty,’ so I don’t have to make any sense, apparently — just shout about how ‘dangerous’ all these ‘socialist’ ideas are.

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    zing. why are you bothering? dave will go so far as to argue that water isn’t really wet.

    then, when you present facts to the contrary, he will change the definition of wet. after that is pointed out, and you ask him what wet really means, he will say that:

    a) he’s working on an article about it or
    b) that’s what his articles are all about

    rinse…repeat…etc.

  • zingzing

    i like arguing?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Mark’s #25, along with Chris Rose’s recent tirades on another thread, are dead-on accurate about DN’s methods and madness. Also, they are funny, which I don’t always manage.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    You’ve spent 300 grand on health insurance over the past 20 years? That’s a lot of money…so I decided to check to see how much just ONE case of cancer can cost (since one out of four Americans will be getting cancer, IIRC). Askimet didn’t like the Wikianswers link, so I’ll just post the answer here:

    “No one but your doctor or insurance company can answer this precisely. It really depends on the type of Cancer and treatment that will be received. My personal experience included 3 surgeries, 10 months of Chemotherapy, 2 months of Radiation, 3 PET Scans, and more medications, CT Scans and Xrays than I care to count. I had good insurance so didn’t pay alot out of pocket. If I had not had insurance, the cost would have been well over $300,000.00 for everything. Not to mention followup care for the next 5 years which includes regular PETs, CTs, Xrays and blood tests.”

    This guy would have spent over 300K for his illness ALONE.

    So Dave…all it would have taken is you (or one of your family) to get cancer, and that 300K would have gone *poof*, with nothing left over for covering any illnesses of the rest of your family over that twenty-year period.

    THIS, Dave, is why medical costs are a major factor in half of ALL bankruptcies…and this is why, just as it is irresponsible to drive a car without auto insurance, it is even more irresponsible to have a family without health insurance.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    I think Mr Flynn is referring to the European Union, which is on its way to becoming some kind of country, rather than Europe, which is indeed a continent, or at least part of one.

    The European Union has twice as many people as the USA in half the land mass, which makes it four times as crowded.

    It is managing its challenges of balancing liberty and political control quite well for a young un, although there is a lot more to be done yet.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Chris,

    Since you are a European (we’ll leave out all the condemnatory snide remarks for this comment) maybe you should write an article on the European Union and its structure and how it affects a bloke like you.

    You’ve seem it grow, and obviously you can give a view that no American or Australian can really give.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Ruvy –

    Wow, nice suggestion, but it’s such an incredibly complicated topic that it would take a bit more than a single article to do it justice.

    I’d try it myself, except that since I’ve lived away from the place for over eight years – during which time most of the crucial new developments have been happening – I don’t feel qualified.

    Chris has lived in at least two EU countries during that same time period and would have a good perspective on the matter. And indeed it has been touched upon, both by himself and other contributors, on his own Eurocritics website if you’d care to peruse.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    As for some of the responses to the article – particularly Archie’s #4 – they’re a nice illustration of a uniquely American attitude. Most nationalities have some form of national pride, which usually takes the form of one’s own country and/or nation being superior to all others (viz. the French and, until their Empire went down the Swannee, the English), but it’s only Americans who take this conceit so far as to assume that every non-American agrees that America is the best place on Earth and is clamouring to get into the place, and who can’t understand why anybody would voluntarily live anywhere else.

  • STM

    “and who can’t understand why anybody would voluntarily live anywhere else”.

    I’ve had Americans nearly fall over in shock when I’ve told them that while I like visiting, I have no desire to live in the US because I’m as happy as Larry where I live.

    I think some Americans who haven’t travelled much or lived elsewhere have no concept that there are places on this planet as good, or better, and with the same or (in the case of Australia for example) even better living standards than the US.

    Then there’s that oft-cited view that they’re “the only ones with freedom”.

    Sad indictment on the nation.

    They ought to teach more world history and geography in their schools.

  • Irene Wagner

    STM and Dr. Dreadful. You’re right! We ARE like that. I’m wondering if it’s because hardly any white or Asian American (or and of the very dark newly arrived Africans) need to go back very far on their ancestral trees to find folks who really were DESPERATE to get here, to escape religious or political persecution or famine. You know, “..your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore…”

    That image of America as the Promised Land drawing people from comparatively hellish places all over the world was retained through the generations, and had–and to an extent still has, because of the preponderance of hellish places–a basis in reality.

  • Irene Wagner

    Beggin yer pardon. Not braggin’ here. Dammin her with faint praise I am.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    That’s quite all right, Irene. You’re very probably right. (Why the Irish accent, though?)

    I do know, though, that (for example) first-generation members of the Hmong immigrant population here in California (and presumably in Minnesota, Michigan and other places) dream of and make plans for returning to their homes in Laos one day.

    The snag is that the problems which bring such immigrants to the US rarely get solved in a single generation, and I suspect that the last thing the offspring of said immigrants, who were born and raised in the US and know no other home, would want is to up sticks and move to a poorer country they’d be foreigners in.

  • Joseph Flynn

    The U.S. population is 300+ million and rising; the diversity here is mind-boggling. Whatever your concept of an American is, it’s sure to be both confirmed and confounded.

    Good night, all.

  • Irene Wagner

    Learned the brogue at me Máthair’s knee, Dr. D.
    She was born in Co. Clare and moved to the US before I was born.

    Oh! I’ve read about the Hmong in a book by Don Richardson. It’s little wonder they’d want to go back when the situation in their homeland improves. There are treasures in their heritage, all bound up with the land and their identity as a people. I think Jews are the major chosen people, but I think there are lots of other ones, too, and the Hmong is one of them. (By chosen people, I don’t mean “ethnic group that has the right to do whatever it wants to any other ethnic group” but rather, “ethnic group through which something beautiful was given to the world.”

  • Irene Wagner

    Night Joseph Flynn. I’ve got to go read your article now. LOL, I’m sure I’ll learn something.
    Glad you’re still here, Dr. D. I hadn’t seen you ’round. OK, bye!

  • STM

    “the diversity here is mind-boggling”

    It’s no different in my experience to Australia, where one out of every four people was born somewhere else, and about a third of the population are children of people born somewhere else.

  • STM

    Except, of course, that in America only the state flag of Hawaii still proudly has a Union Jack in the corner, the cars have their steering wheels on the wrong side because Americans drive on the wrong side of the road, and for the life of me, I can’t understand a bloody word anyone’s saying because everyone speaks funny over there.

    Apart from that, it’s all good.

  • STM

    Hey Irene, my mum was Irish too … Colleen Bridget McKenna.

    Can’t get much more Irish than Colleen.

    And here I am, then, livin’ the life of Reilly down here in the Great Southern Land.

    Second best thing she ever did, coming here.

  • STM

    Doc, glad you enjoyed the Cape Panwa! Best holiday destination in Thailand if you are the kind of person who doesn’t like too much fuss and fluff (which is obviously you to a tee).

    Did the missus like it too.

    And did you get up to the restaurant over the hill, on the corner opposite the navy barracks heading back into town? (My daughter and I used to walk up over the hill and have a giant seafood lunch there for a few bucks, with fresh young coconuts iced and cut open for a drink. Yum)

    If so, you doubtless have also been chased the suit guy, who runs along next to you measuring you up for a cheap suit as you walk.

    There’s something rather disturbing about that.

    The folks that do that aren’t Thais, as Thais are a bit more laidback.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Yeah, mate, I’m all for the quiet life while the missus (who claimed she wanted to finish the holiday in Phuket so she could lay on the beach) was the one who wanted to cram every moment with activities. A combination of myself and circumstances talked her out of Fantasea and the Phuket Zoo (she wanted to see the one-armed tiger trainer).

    She loved it though.

    We missed that particular restaurant, but we found one called Sawasdee just up the street, next to the Kantary Bay Hotel. The owner was grumpy but the food was heaven – and cheap: Mrs Dreadful and I got two main courses, two helpings of steamed rice and two beers for about $10.

    Thankfully we missed the suit guy. There were enough of those in Patong. The main drag at Patong Beach is so crazy with hawkers pestering you at every step that some enterprising store owners were selling t-shirts that said, ‘No, I don’t want a f@#!ing suit, tuk-tuk or massage, thank you very much’. LOL.

    Not sure whether those guys were Thai or not, but Phuket as a whole (except for the north-east) didn’t feel like Thailand to us.

    Thais certainly are laid back. They need to be, especially if they’re driving in Bangkok. :-)

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Irene,

    If you’ve read that Don Richardson book you’d probably like The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, by Anne Fadiman, which deals with the culture clash between Western medicine and traditional Hmong beliefs and the tragic result of one such collision.

    The book is centered on the Hmong community here in the San Joaquin Valley. It was quite an odd feeling to be reading the book and suddenly realise that I’d once worked with one of the people in it!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Second best thing she ever did, coming here.

    What was the first best?

    [runs off to bed before Stan can retaliate]

  • STM

    Glad you liked it anyhow Doc. We loved the restaurant down on the beach at the Panwa, in the old colonial house. Beautiful.

    As for what was my mum’s first best thing, perhaps it has to do with very existence itself (as you well know Doc), although others might perhaps be the best judge of how good that is in relation to me :)

  • STM

    ‘No, I don’t want a f@#!ing suit, tuk-tuk or massage, thank you very much’

    I put my hand up on that one. Couldn’t resist, although we only went twice to Patong so the girls could go on a couple of shopping expeditions of epic, even biblical, proportions. Under sufferance in my case, of course.

    I did somehow end up getting dragged down a lane full of market stalls, down some dodgy looking alleyways, up four flights of steps and into a couple of back rooms to look at fake watches.

    Then there was the dodgy DVD/fake designer handbags shop. How much dodgy Dolce and Gabbana gear can one woman/girl/wife’s girlfriend/and her three daughters/ buy??

    My wife’s friend’s husband, who is also a mate of mine, managed to disappear early on by claiming over and over again that he had a dreadful dose of bangkok belly (accompanied by just the right kind of mournful look), which I couldn’t use as an excuse because I’d already been hoeing into the banana pancakes.

    As he left, he said: “Sorry mate, but I just had to”, then disappeared into the night, leaving me to carry all the sheilas’ bags. All I got was five-buck T-shirt.

    So much for the concept of Aussie mateship. Fair enough though …

  • STM

    I spose

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Apart from the breakfast place we didn’t patronise any of the hotel restaurants, Stan – they seemed to be fully booked most of the time anyway and we were put off by their no-shorts-or-flipflops/thongs dress code (“out of consideration for other diners”). The only other footwear we had were Keen’s walking sandals – great for clambering around temples but boy do they make your feet stink! Now there’s consideration for other diners for you…

    The breakfast restaurant was great, though (shame about the view of the oil storage depot, but you can’t have everything). It was the only hotel we stayed at in Thailand which served genuine British bangers for breakfast. Lovely. Mrs Dreadful wasn’t so impressed: she’d discovered roti (Thai pancakes) at our hotel in Chiang Mai and was devouring them every chance she got, but they didn’t do them at the Cape Panwa.

    Weren’t many other Aussies staying there or in Thailand generally, which was a bit surprising – by the sound of things I’d have thought your compadres would be going there in droves right now to cool off! Mostly Brits, but there was also a conspicuous and surprising number of Russian tourists, especially in Phuket – I think there’s a direct flight there from Moscow or St Petersburg.

    I should probably write an article about the trip rather than gabbling on here – but blimey, we did so much it’s hard to know where to begin!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    My only other comment about Patong is that it makes Las Vegas look like Fresno.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    He ‘disappeared into the night’ in a resort town in Thailand? Because he ‘just had to’?

    *chuckle*

    Yes, I can relate to that….

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    So can I, Glenn.

    I hated Patong so much that I almost forewent going back there for my Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt (I collect them). On our first visit to Patong we found out that the HRC was brand new and wouldn’t actually be opening its doors for another two days.

    Fortunately, we got ourselves a pet taxi driver by the name of Mr Big (he’s based outside the Kantary Bay Hotel, Stan, if you ever go back – hangs out with the other cabbies on the sea wall, has a shaved head and a white baseball cap and comes with our recommendation – friendly, accommodating, an excellent driver and willing to meet his competitors’ rates) who agreed to stop in Patong for five minutes on the way to the airport.

    We asked him why he was called Mr Big, but all he would say was ‘I’m big’. Whatever that means…

  • zingzing

    “He ‘disappeared into the night’ in a resort town in Thailand? Because he ‘just had to’? ”

    yesssss! gettin’ him some man-boy action…

  • Irene Wagner

    Spirit Catches you then you Fall is exactly the sort of book I’d be interested in reading, Dr.D.: Hmong, refugees, alternative, and western medicine. (I got through Lewis’ Space Trilogy last summer, so now that I have some free reading time coming up its time to consider another of your recommendations.) Monsieur Wagner has recently been accupunctured…
    Top o’ the mornin’ to you, STM, then.

  • Irene Wagner

    This is no place for a lady of my exquisite refinement! I’m off to compliment Baronius’ limmerick.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Monsieur Wagner has recently been accupunctured…

    Does he have to stand in a bathtub when he takes a drink now?

    :-D

  • Glenn Contrarian

    zing –

    I would be quite hesitant to make that assumption. While many men are gay or bi, most are straight…and it is a very small (and sick) minority that are into ‘man-boy’ stuff.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    yesssss! gettin’ him some man-boy action…

    Believe me, zing, in Patong you don’t know what sort of action you’ll be getting…

    …Let’s just say the packaging is not necessarily an indicator of the contents.

  • Irene Wagner

    Zing where’s yo dang mind at? he was going on about inflatable dolls in the thread I fled to for refuge.

    Dr. D — LOL. No, I don’t even think blood comes out. He is a scientist and was skeptical for a long time, but after Rolfing healed a problem he’d had for about 10 years, more forrays into the land of Alt med ensued.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Let’s just say the packaging is not necessarily an indicator of the contents.

    LOL! All sailors are so warned before we hit the beach…!

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Well, folks, England have been drawn in the same group as the United States for the World Cup and could potentially meet Australia in the knockout phase. Looks like the debate over which country’s best could finally be settled next summer! ;-)