There is some dismaying news coming out of England, that land often held up as a socialized medicine success story.

Falling numbers of state dentists in England has led to some people taking extreme measures, including extracting their own teeth, according to a new study released Monday.

Others have used superglue to stick crowns back on, rather than stumping up for private treatment, said the study. One person spoke of carrying out 14 separate extractions on himself with pliers.

More typically, a lack of publicly-funded dentists means that growing numbers go private: 78 percent of private patients said they were there because they could not find a National Health Service (NHS) dentist, and only 15 percent because of better treatment.

Scarcity is what you get with socialized medicine. When there is no obvious cost to visiting the dentist or doctor, people will seek out medical care for stuff fixed with an aspirin. Miss V has twice complained about her head hurting just before she went to bed. And in both times she said she wanted to visit the doctor. Doctors have the same magical property as bandages. For Miss V, any owie can be made better with a bandage, and just visiting the doctor will make any pain or illness go away better than aspirin. It’s magic! And speaking of flights of fantasy, she has no understanding of the costs of visiting the doctor because she doesn’t pay anything for it. Because she doesn’t pay for it, she’d be willing to visit the doctor for every headache and stomach upset she gets.

And that’s what you get whenever the cost is hidden from the people using the service. If the out-of-pocket cost of visiting the hospital’s emergency room were $100, people would go only when there is an emergency. If the out-of-pocket costs were reduced to zero, people would visit for every sniffle, headache, and skinned knee. The increased use of the emergency room would increase the hospital’s costs of supplying health care to the people. That bill will be passed to the government who turns around and taxes the people. At some point the government will push back to the hospital and refuse to increase funding. The hospital will then turn around and refuse services to the people, commonly in the form of slower processing of patients. That is why we hear of long waiting times for patients in Canada. Are you anxious to have 5+ week waiting times to see your doctor only to spend another 6+ weeks waiting for the specialist? Long lines are what you get with Socialism.

But in addition to the way socialized medicine slows down service to hold down costs, socialized medicine also places a cap on medical salaries. When you limit the pay for a job, you discourage people from entering that field. Why would someone spend the years of medical training to become a dentist or a doctor when there is a limit on the salary people could earn? The end result is “[f]alling numbers of state dentists in England.”

Socialism sucks, and socialized medicine is Socialism. It’s no wonder that socialized medicine sucks.

The good news is that Iran has announced it will release the 15 British sailors and Marines captured over a week ago by Iranian forces. Britain says it was performing its duty in Iraqi waters, but Iran claims British forces were in Iranian waters. Frankly, I don’t trust anything coming out of Iran, knowing that they have admitted to lying before. This reminds me of another time when Iran held Westerners as hostage. I’m old enough to remember hearing the nightly news reporters count the number of days that Americans had been held hostage by the Iranian government. After 444 days, Iran released these hostages as President Reagan stepped into office. Their release came because of actions taken by President Carter on the eve of leaving office. And President Carter pretty much gave Iran everything it wanted in the Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981. Iran was paid, and Iran released the hostages. So what did Iran get in exchange for their current British hostages? We may never know, but I do know that once you start paying the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

Again I am struck by the way history appears to be repeating itself. Back in the early months of 1936, Hitler remilitarized the Rhineland in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. But here’s the interesting thing that we didn’t realize until many years and millions of dead later: Hitler could have been stopped easily at that point, as outlined in the following snippet from Wikipedia:

Heinz Guderian, a German general interviewed by French officers after the Second World War, claimed: “If you French had intervened in the Rhineland in 1936 we should have been sunk and Hitler would have fallen”. Hitler himself later said:

“The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance.”

Had France squawked about the re-arming of the Rhineland, Hitler would have been forced to retreat, and that retreat would have caused him to lose power. But France had no backbone, so Hitler proceeded, and millions died. Merci beaucoup, France.

Did we just miss the equivalent event this time around? I am afraid that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — the same man who is thought to have been involved in the U.S. Embassy overthrow in 1979 — received his Danegeld to negotiate the release of the British hostages. This makes me wonder whether we just missed the opportunity to use a little force now in order to stop a greater threat later. And make no mistake: Iran poses a threat to the Middle East and the world right now with its support and funding of terrorism, and it will become an even worse threat when the country gets nuclear weapons.

In 1936, Hitler could have been overthrown easily with a show of force at the right time. Have we missed the opportunity to do the same in 2007 with Ahmadinejad in Iran? I hope not.

In the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell, the Ministry of Truth — or Minitrue in Newspeak — spent its time revising history to make it conform to the “truth” of the day. If Big Brother made a prediction that chocolate rations would be increased from 5 to 6 oz. a week, but then production fell, causing a reduction from 5 to 4 oz. of chocolate a week, Minitrue would spend its time changing all the previous documents to bring them in line with the new truth: chocolate rations have been increased to 4 oz. each week. If Oceania changed from fighting Eastasia to fighting Eurasia, all documentation everywhere would be edited to reflect the new truth, as explained in chapter 3 of the novel:

Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

…The Party said that Oceania had never been in alliance with Eurasia. He, Winston Smith, knew that Oceania had been in alliance with Eurasia as short a time as four years ago. But where did that knowledge exist? Only in his own consciousness, which in any case must soon be annihilated. And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed — if all records told the same tale — then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’

Which brings me to a very interesting report coming out of England today. The Daily Mail reports that British educators are dropping the Holocaust and the Crusades from their history lessons:

Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed.

It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

There is also resistance to tackling the 11th century Crusades — where Christians fought Muslim armies for control of Jerusalem — because lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques.

There goes history down the memory hole, thanks to the Minitrue-like actions of these teachers. To them, not giving offense is more important than teaching history. Not challenging the religious education that students get at home or elsewhere is more important than teaching history. Perhaps most amazing of all, this is occurring in a nation which until relatively recently had an official state religion, and where religious education is part of the national school curriculum. (By comparison, imagine American teachers voluntarily choosing not to teach evolutionary theory in science classes because it might conflict with the religious education their students receive at home. As our friends the Brits would say, “Not bloody likely.”)

I believe this squeamishness over teaching truth and the squishiness regarding facts and history come from the multi-cultural idea that there are no absolute truths in life. This can be clearly seen in a comment attached to the Daily Mail news article which stated, “There is more than one truth, there are many truths, each version is true to the individual.”

What complete and utter bunk!

History is, or should be, the study of past events. What happened? When did it happen? Who was involved? These questions will lead you to facts. History can also deal with issues that are harder to prove, such as answering the question “Why did it happen?”. But asking “why” more often than not leads to the teaching of opinion rather than fact, and I prefer history classes based more on fact and less on opinion. I like what Lazarus Long said about facts:

What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!

When you are afraid to teach facts for fear of offending or contradicting someone else, you shouldn’t be a teacher. And if you avoid facts because they offend or contradict someone else, you really shouldn’t be a teacher. Ignoring or circumventing the facts is a surefire recipe for sub-standard education, and sub-standard education is what is happening in England:

The researchers also warned that a lack of subject knowledge among teachers — particularly at primary level — was leading to history being taught in a ‘shallow way leading to routine and superficial learning’.

Lessons in difficult topics were too often ‘bland, simplistic and unproblematic’ and bored pupils.

If you don’t teach the facts, don’t be surprised if your students grow up to believe that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia — or anything else they are told.