You may have read recently how noted British health care industry specialist (what? he isn't?) Paul Krugman, and others have been trashing IBD Editorials for suggesting that the NHS would not be a bed of roses for someone suffering from ALS like Stephen Hawking. Oh, the temerity!
Know who else thought such "fascistic" thoughts? Well, Stephen Hawking's biographers, parents and his wife for starters:
Hawking biographers Michael White and John Gribben, in the second edition of their 2003 book, "Stephen Hawking, A Life In Science," found that back when Hawking was less well-known, NHS wasn't nearly as good to him.
In the mid-1960s, Hawking's father became disillusioned with the care Hawking was getting from NHS and took over his son's treatment himself, doing his own research and prescribing vitamins.
On his own Web site, Hawking recalls that private help was also critical. "I caught pneumonia in 1985," he says. "I had to have a tracheotomy operation. After this, I had to have 24-hour nursing care. This was made possible by grants from several foundations."
White and Gribben describe what that meant: "The best the National Health Service could offer was seven hours' nursing help a week . . . They would have to pay for private nursing. It was obvious they would have to find financial support from somewhere.
"Jane (his wife) wrote letter after letter to charitable organizations around the world and called upon the help of family friends in approaching institutions that might be interested in assisting them.
"Help arrived from an American foundation aware of Hawking's work and international reputation, which agreed to pay £50,000 a year toward the costs of nursing. Shortly afterward several other charitable organizations on both sides of the Atlantic followed suit with smaller donations.
"Jane feels bitter about the whole affair. She resents the fact that, after paying a lifetime of contributions to the National Health Service, they were offered such meager help when the need arose. She is very aware that if her husband had been an unknown physics teacher he would now be living out his final days in a residential home.
" 'Think of the waste of talent,' she has said of the situation."
Why do I think we will not be seeing a correction from Mr. Krugman?
Oh, that's right. He's a scum bag, that's why.