Annals of Government Medicine

The Rolling Stones are still touring after all these years. But a week ago, they announced a postponement of their upcoming North American concert series because of a heart condition suffered by Mick Jagger. Then, only days later, it was announced that Jagger had undergone a successful transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure. Jagger tweeted his thanks to hospital personnel:


Wow, you might think. That’s impressive! We keep hearing about long delays and antiquated care in the National Health Service, and here Jagger is able to get cutting-edge surgery in a matter of days!

Oops, never mind. Jagger flew to New York for the operation, a fact that his press representatives don’t seem eager to emphasize.

I think it was Robert Conquest who said that everyone is a conservative about what he knows best. Likewise, the more you really care, the less wedded you are to liberal shibboleths. I need heart surgery? Goodbye, NHS. Some years ago, there was a woman who was a member of Canada’s Parliament. She was a fierce opponent of private medical care on the ground that the people should share health risks equally. Then she came down with a rare form of cancer. She was on the next airplane to the U.S.

The Rolling Stones have always had a good appreciation of the virtues of free enterprise. John Phelan, the British economist who works for my organization, likes to quote Keith Richards:

The whole business thing is predicated a lot on the tax laws…It’s why we rehearse in Canada and not in the U.S. A lot of our astute moves have been basically keeping up with tax laws, where to go, where not to put it. Whether to sit on it or not. We left England because we’d be paying 98 cents on the dollar. We left, and they lost out. No taxes at all.

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