14 Responses to The ever prolific Stephen Pollard

  1. Andrew says:

    Natalie, drivel was Stephen Pollard’s term for Webb’s piece rather than my own – don’t shoot the messenger (unless it’s the BBC :-))!


  2. richard says:

    “will the american social and economic system……”

    justin webb uses the tragedy to take a free punch at the united states.it costs him nothing.


  3. Roxana Cooper says:

    What Webb doesn’t seem to understand is America is based of equality of opportunity, not equality of result. Clearly he prefers the latter but we like to leave our options open.

    Remember America was founded by people looking to make their fortunes in a New World. Genes tell.

    And we had our revolution two hundred plus years ago – been there done that, got the T-shirt!


  4. Susan says:

    We definitely don’t want European-style class warfare here. We’re just not interested.

    It’s funny how the Beeb despite its hollow “respect diversity” claptrap is not the least bit interested in respecting that Americans prefer a different way of life to Scandinavian social democratism.

    “Respect for diversity” doesn’t seem to apply to Americans.


  5. Roxana Cooper says:

    Voodoo is very popular with the PC crowd, being a black ‘religion’. Never mind it includes animal sacrifices and is used to terrorize its followers.


  6. Jim Miller says:

    FWIW, the United States spends enormous amounts on social welfare.

    Here’s simple example: The anuual federal spending on Medicaid, which provides medical services to poor people, is about 184 billion dollars. (There is a separate program for the elderly, Medicare, which also has an enormous budget.) The Medicare aid goes to more than 40 million poor people, about two-thirds of the population of Great Britain.

    (I would be interested to know how that compares with the total NHS budget in Britain.)

    And besides this program, there are many, many other programs directed at poor people, some with massive expenditures. The idea that the United States has ignored and neglected the poor is absurd.

    How long to it take me to find those numbers? About 30 seconds. And I use a dial-up connection. So why don’t BBC correspondents know about such expenditures?

    (I am no defender of our current welfare system — in fact, I think it has caused many problems for our poor. But the problem is not that we are not spending enough money on our poor, but that we are spending it in often counterproductive ways.)


  7. Natalie Solent says:


    Oops! I shall go into Blogger and pull the arrow out of the poor messenger forthwith.

    Actually, though, my taking issue with you OR Stephen Pollard was mostly an opening conversational gambit.

    The Webb piece wasn’t actually “drivel” but it had a high proportion of jejune political reflections to actual content.


  8. paul reynolds says:

    Natalie has picked up a very good point about Justin Webb.

    I have pointed this trait out to both The American Expatriate and USS Neverdock, both of which use the same quote from Justin at the top of their sites — as a kind of warning abot thw awfulness of the BBC I suppose.

    The piece from they take this quote uses the same device as the one quoted by Natalie.

    In the piece, Jutsin sets himself up — and then knocks himself down. He says that America os often portrayed as a wierd place and he admits to having played his part.

    But he then goes on to say that this is not the real story and praises the virtues of Jeffersonian democracy.

    Needless to say, neither TAE or USSN thought fit to chnage their mottos, which are far too good to be sullied by any wider context! I don’t really blame them. Why ruin a good quote?

    with regards

    Paul Reynolds
    BBC ONline.


  9. Susan says:

    Indeed Jim, I think we have well-established here that al-Beeb thinks Googling for information is beneath them. (They’d rather just lie and hope they don’t get caught.)

    If Paul Reynolds would care to direct his colleagues to the offical US government website for the Federal Budget FY 2006, they would find that the total budget for federal healthcare programs is $642 billion — including Medicare, Medicaid, public vaccinations, etc. and all the rest.

    Note that medical care for veterans and military personnel and their dependents are not included in the total — that’s handled seperately under the VA and the DOD.


    That total also of course doesn’t include what the individual States lay out on their own healthcare programs out of their own state revenues.

    (Not that the Beeb is capable of understanding that each US state has its own legislature which levies its own taxes outside of federal tax collection and has the power to legislate things like health-care programs and other social spending if they so choose. But what canyou expect from people who think that Houston has a Governor.)


  10. Natalie Solent says:

    Mr Reynolds,

    Well, I do sort of see your point: I always wince when Mrs Thatcher’s “There is no such thing as society” is quoted out of context, which the BBC has done rather often (not getting at you personally). Mrs T did not advocate an atomistic social Darwinism but rather argued against setting up the good of a construct such as “society” as coming above the good of actual humans.

    However in defence of USS Neverdock and AmEx the Justin Webb quote does contain within itself a “gotcha” moment, when he says he has played his part in portraying America thus.


  11. uth says:

    The BBC and other Euro-media do like to portray certain things about America:

    1) We don’t have a welfare safety net
    2) Only the rich have healthcare
    3) We don’t have mass transportation.

    The truth is 1) we do have a welfare safety net, it might not be as generous as some European countries, but it looks like the Euros are finding that they can’t afford to maintain theirs at the current levels. It would be interesting to compare the US system with European ones to see how they compare.

    2) The government has healthcare programs for the poor and elderly (Medicaid and Medicare, respectively). Everyone else can get private plans, usually through their employer. Now it is true that there is a problem with uninsured people, the problem is greatly exagerated by the oft-quoted statistic. (40 million uninsured!) Guess what? If due to job change, you go without coverage for only a week, you are counted as one of those 40 million. If you are a welfare child of drug-addict parents who don’t bother to sign you up for the medicaid coverage you are entitled to, you are also one of those 40 million. If you are young and healthy, and decide that health insurance is too expensive vs the benefits you receive from it, and opt out. You are also counted. All three of these cases are a significant portion of the 40 million number.

    3) We do have Mass transit, maybe not as extensive as european countries, but most cities have at least bus service, larger cities have subway, light-rail and commuter rail service. We even have a nationalized railroad, Amtrak, that provides long-distance train service, all without anything that comes close to the gas tax rates Euros pay. We even have our version of the European bullet-train, the Acela Express– of course with the typical government-owned corporation boondoggle. Instead of buying a proven high-speed train design like the Swedish X12. We decided to pay domestic companies who bid lower to build their own US-made trains– even though they hadn’t built a tilt-train before. As a result, the brakes aren’t very good and sometimes the Acelas have to be pulled from service to remedy it.


  12. Roxana says:

    And Amtrak is notoriously unreliable, as far as getting where you’re going on time. My brother on a cross country visit was a full twenty hours late.


  13. James G. says:

    And Amtrak is notoriously unreliable, as far as getting where you’re going on time.
    So not that different from the former British Rail? 😉


  14. RB says:

    James – you talk like things have improved!!

    A 20 hour delay sounds positively punctual compared to my commuter service these days.