So what, did Kerry win the 2004 election and I missed it?


Mark Steyn column, Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 24, 2004, just before the Bush-Kerry presidential election:

So this is no time to vote for Europhile delusions. The Continental health and welfare systems John Kerry so admires are, in fact, part of the reason those societies are dying. As for Canada, yes, under socialized health care, prescription drugs are cheaper, medical treatment’s cheaper, life is cheaper. After much stonewalling, the Province of Quebec’s Health Department announced this week that in the last year some 600 Quebecers had died from C. difficile, a bacterium acquired in hospital. In other words, if, say, Bill Clinton had gone for his heart bypass to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, he would have had the surgery, woken up the next day swimming in diarrhea and then died. It’s a bacterium caused by inattention to hygiene – by unionized, unsackable cleaners who don’t clean properly; by harassed overstretched hospital staff who don’t bother washing their hands as often as they should. So 600 people have been killed by the filthy squalor of disease-ridden government hospitals. That’s the official number. Unofficially, if you’re over 65, the hospitals will save face and attribute your death at their hands to “old age” or some such and then “lose” the relevant medical records. Quebec’s health system is a lot less healthy than, for example, Iraq’s.

One thousand Americans are killed in 18 months in Iraq, and it’s a quagmire. One thousand Quebecers are killed by insufficient hand-washing in their filthy, decrepit health care system, and kindly progressive Americans can’t wait to bring it south of the border. If one has to die for a cause, bringing liberty to the Middle East is a nobler venture and a better bet than government health care.

Article on superbugs in current issue of The New Yorker:

“Until about ten years ago,” Moellering told me, “virtually all cases of MRSA were either in hospitals or nursing homes. In the hospital setting, they cause wound infections after surgery, pneumonias, and bloodstream infections from indwelling catheters. But they can cause a variety of other infections, all the way to bacterial meningitis.” The first deaths from MRSA in community settings, reported at the end of the nineteen-nineties, were among children in North Dakota and Minnesota. …”And now it’s basically everybody,” Moellering said. The deadly toxin produced by the strain of MRSA found in U.S. communities, Panton-Valentine leukocidin, is thought to destroy the membranes of white blood cells, damaging the body’s primary defense against the microbe. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded some nineteen thousand deaths and a hundred and five thousand infections from MRSA.

There is much else to intrigue readers in the New Yorker piece, including how Quebec U.S. factory farming is “a perfect petri dish” for hard-to-kill bacteria, and how 30% of soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq are infected with superbugs, a development that has ravaged the U.S. evacuation centres in Germany and VA hospitals back home. I don’t want you to read too much into that, of course; who, after all, would draw extraordinarily tenuous connections between the Iraq war and U.S. hospital hygiene to score political points? Wait, forget I asked.


So what, did Kerry win the 2004 election and I missed it?

  1. That would be worse than Steyn’s (and others too, if I correctly recall some of the discourse of that time) tenuous connection between socialized medicine and hospital diseases.

  2. My first thought was “wait! that doesn’t make any sense!”

    My second was “oh, right, it’s Mark Steyn. My bad.”

  3. More sludge for the fact-checkers, I suppose.

  4. I didn’t know the superbug was a socialist disease – well, well.

    Mark Steyn – what can we say.

  5. Aha, the annual Steyn-bashing post.
    Well, ya gotta give Quebec credit for reaching the crisis four years ago, and if you do the math, the problem is worse in Quebec.
    And ya gotta give Toronto credit for importing the SARS crisis, unlike every other jurisdication in the western world.

  6. It’s interesting to see how blithering neocons become even more wrong with the passage of time. I really think they should stop crowing so loudly about how history will judge them.

    And ya gotta give Toronto credit for importing the SARS crisis, unlike every other jurisdication (sic) in the western world.

    How appalling.

  7. Um Ti Guy, that is one of the things Steyn ewas right about. Nurses in TO didn’t mask sick patients because they hadn’t read warning directives from the Gov’t and the disease established a foothold. Nurses in BC masked and isolated those suspect patients and had no outbreaks. Simple medicine. Both sets of nurses are unionized government workers though so i am not sure where the point goes.

  8. Unionised government workers?

  9. And yet, Macleans still continues to pay Steyn for generating such unmitigated crap.

  10. i’m still trying to figure out what’s wrong with what he wrote.

    maybe it’s because i know 2 people who have got the superbug ion ontario hospitals in the last 2 weeks.

  11. Strange, a sudden increase in superbug infections in BC hospitals came after the provincial gov’t ripped up contracts with unionized employees and steamrolled non-unionized replacements and US-based corporations into the job of cleaning the facility. It’s no doubt a major concern but as usual Steyn’s neo-con conclusions don’t pass the smell test, never mind the facts.
    But keep on defending Iraq invasion. Do you think he could get Harper to come clean on that?

  12. At my local level,the dreaded “superbugs” (there are two-MRSA and VRE) appeared with a patient who had a CVA (stroke) while visiting NYC. He was subsequently transferred back to his home hospital for further treatment and rehab. The sad fact that he was exposed to the bugs wasn’t made known until the full paper chart arrived about two weeks after the patient. And by that time he had been moved to several different units within the hospital. It’s not known whether the patient’s
    “superbug” status was part of the doctor-to-doctor conversation prior to the transfer.

    In any case,when the situation became known it required that all patients within the whole hospital and all discharged patients who might have been exposed directly or indirectly to this one patient be tested for the bugs.Not simple. There were hundreds. Even with one small semi-rural hospital. All who tested positive had to be “isolated” from all others. Again not simple within an institution with close to 100% occupancy on a daily basis. It also required that all patient contact – staff and visitor – be gloved,gowned and masked on each contact.Difficult enough with staff but much more difficult with visitors. Sticking Auntie Maude in a room all by herself with no stimulation was bad enough without demanding that her visitors gown,glove and mask to get in the room and then demanding that they repeat the whole ritual if they wanted to go down the hall to get her a glass of water.

    I could go on but I won’t. Just three points.
    – It’s not simple and easy.
    – The testing couldn’t determine if they were private sector or public sector bugs.
    – Ivan Illich warned of all this forty years ago.But he was a silly lefty and what do they know anyway.

  13. Steyn on the payroll still…..the man who hates Canada? Now, as I understand it, Mclean’s is subsidized by taxpayers…so why do we have to put up with Steyn?

  14. Sandi: “Steyn – the man who hates Canada? … so why do we have to put up with Steyn?”

    Hmm… as far as I know Steyn loves Canada. Ooooooooh, now I get your point.

    You are making that silly old argument that the Liberal party and Canada are the same things. That Canada is not Canada without socialized medicine. That a vote against YOUR ideas and opinions is a vote against CANADA. Got it. It seems to me Canada is a democracy and a nation with free speech (mostly) so I’ll ignore your point.

  15. Clearly Mark Steyn loves Canada. His books are available for sale in said country. This is a key criterion in Mark Steyn’s determinations on country-affection.

  16. One thousand dead Americans in Iraq (in October 2004) and Mr. Steyn points out that is no reason to suggest Iraq has become a quagmire. According to Mr. Steyn, it’s the progressives in the US who want our water. Mr. Steyn thinks it is nobler for the US to send their young men to their deaths on behalf of a war for oil than to develop a universal free health system (American citizens sacrifice so much for ….. nothing). According to me, it is very difficult to respect Mark Steyn. We would lose universal health care in a short time if Harper ever got his majority.

  17. 600 deaths due to C.difficile translates to between 7.9 and 8.2 deaths per 100,000, depending whether you use 2001 or 2006 census figures.
    I didn’t find the 2006 figures on the CDC site but the 2005 numbers were in a study published in JAMA and translate to approx 6.3 deaths per 100,000…so Quebec still seems more dangerous. However comparing C.difficile to MRSA seems to be an apples to oranges comparison, considering that they are different bugs and all that…

  18. I’ve been mailing my relatives all weekend to read this text!

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