SEPTEMBER 17, 1948
EN ROUTE TO PARIS, Thursday—I am told that there are two schools of thought in Great Britain regarding the medical bill under which British doctors are now caring for the nation's health.
One school feels that with the loss of incentive for more personal remuneration there is bound to be a slump in the research and experimentation carried on by the medical profession.
The other school feels, especially among the younger men, that the new plan has given them a greater security. A man who was making a fair income, but who had to pay for his own office, a secretary, equipment, etc., now has these things provided for him. He does get less actual salary and he pays proportionately the same income tax that he paid before, but his expenses have vastly decreased. He now has his holidays assured and on the whole the younger men probably find themselves in a better position than they did before.
The opposition comes from the more or less conservative side, which would disapprove of the Labor government in any case. All seem to agree that there is not yet enough conclusive evidence on either side to make a final evaluation.
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I listened last year to a long panegyric delivered by the Russian representative to the Human Rights Commission detailing the perfection of their system. In the Soviet Union medical care is free to all citizens he said, paid for by the government. Of course, since we are not free to come and go and to exchange knowledge with the Russians, it is a little difficult to evaluate their accomplishments or their failures. But the shortage of certain supplies undoubtedly has made it impossible for them to hold to certain standards or to produce certain drugs successfully.
The one question that they might answer for us is whether human nature, under their system, can be given sufficient stimulus to bring out the greatest effort on the part of an individual or whether they also suffer in deterioration on the experimental scientific side.
I feel sure that since there is a political control of the arts and of education and of medicine, the Russian people, do suffer to a considerable extent, since any kind of control must injure the impetus to curiosity. Research and curiosity are, of course, at the base of all new discovery.
Teaching, if it is not free, also will suffer, because people must be really without fear of outside interference if they are going to do creative work.
In shaping our own program we should look very carefully at the shortcomings that have shown themselves under the socialized methods of Great Britain. We must try to avoid the same mistakes, but we must not be afraid to accept something that may bring good results merely because it bears the stigma of the word "socialized."