Ted Yarbrough is studying law, and blogs as Texan Tory. He has written a thesis on Thatcherism’s effect on British culture.
After reading the first installment of Lucky You!, many of the more cynical conservative British readers might be thinking: “so what if the UK is in slightly better shape than the US economically? The British culture is going to rot and the Americans still hold family values!” That may be what US conservatives or UK left-wingers want you to think (the latter seeing moral decline as a plus), but again the facts don’t actually paint that picture. In fact, it shows just the opposite. Here are again some bullet point formatted facts to keep in mind:
• Crime: The US has higher crime, including violent crime, than the UK. The US crime rate fits comfortably between Russia (which is slightly lower) and Columbia (which is slightly higher). The UK crime rates fits between the Netherlands (slightly lower) and Belgium (slightly higher).
• Abortion: The US has a much higher abortion rate than the UK, and has some of the most liberal abortion laws in the world.
• Education: The education system is better and is ranked higher globally (6th to 17th) in the UK than the US. The UK system is also much more pioneering, particularly because, amongst other innovations, of the superb free school plan of Michael Gove. US schools, in contrast, remain mired in government and teaching union control and continue their decades-long decline. Another example of the positive direction of UK education, and the decline of America’s, is the teaching of national history. Michael Gove is having young Britons learn the great ballad of British history (unlike under New Labour), while in America most of history is no longer being taught in favour of a politically correct story.
• Healthcare: The US Healthcare system is undergoing a possibly fatal transition. Before “Obamacare” (the Affordable Care Act) no American conservative would ever say the NHS was a better alternative than the quasi-free market American system. Yes, the American system had flaws and was expensive, but it was innovative and allowed better quality of care without the long waiting lines of the NHS. Now the NHS seems simpler and more cost-effective than Obamacare.
The universal mandate of the programme significantly raises costs for people who would normally pay out of pocket, because now it is either buy expensive insurance or pay a fine/tax to the IRS. Employers of 50 or more full time employees will be required (Obama by executive fiat delayed implementation of the employer mandate until after the 2014 mid-term elections) to provide health insurance to all its full time employees leading to employers cutting jobs and hiring employees part time. Unlike the NHS, (which though outdated. and not a particularly good provider of care, is a fairly simple system), Obamacare is a bureaucratic zoo, with tens of thousands of pages of regulations to comply with. Last of all, while the NHS is paid for with taxes, Obamacare is paid for with taxes and higher insurance premiums, making it the unaffordable act. Health insurance companies, to use the words of British ex-pat and conservative columnist Mark Steyn, have been reduced to government regulation enforcers, their only weapon being to raise prices on all rather than by what the market requires they do.
• Young People: Lastly, the young find themselves more open to Conservatives ideas in the UK, whereas in the US the young have become enthusiastic, overwhelming supporters of the left and the Democratic Party. Recent polls show Britons between the ages of 18-25 favour the Conservatives by four percentage points over Labour as well as generally holding more free market viewpoints. American youths of the same age group however were twice wooed by the nothing words of “hope and change”, voting 60-36 for Obama in 2012.
Both the US and the UK continue to be mired in a cultural crisis. Traditional systems of morality are declining and being replaced by a politically correct orthodoxy. Gay marriage, now in effect in the UK and one third of the US (and growing, likely to be the law of the land by the Supreme Court decree soon), represents well how modern mores has supplanted traditional morality. However, in recent years, the UK appears to be moving back toward support for traditional institutions: confidence in the monarchy is at all time high, support for the EU is at all time low, and patriotism, which stands in stark contrast to New Labour’s PC multiculturalism, is on the rise to new heights that a few years ago would have been considered too un-PC to present in public.
While the UK, like the US, is becoming more liberal on many social issues, culturally Britain is seeing a resurgence of appreciation for its great past. I thought the Prime Minister’s “small island” speech to be particularly refreshing, inspiring and nothing a New Labour politician would utter, even when threatened with death.
America, in contrast, is undergoing a decline in patriotism (which peaked mightily after the 9/11 attacks) that is very apparent when talking to Americans of all political stripes (see these examples of op-eds on the right and the left). Americans, unlike Britons, are moving left on almost every major cultural issue, including even issues where Britain has been moving right on, such as illegal immigration and climate change. Overall, the UK is in many ways becoming a more conservative nation while America is becoming more left wing.