Friday, June 29, 2007

The 15,000 dead that Michael Moore forgot about.

In 2003 France experienced a heat wave and the result was almost 15,000 deaths. USA Today reported that most the victims “died during the height of the heat wave, which brought suffocating temperatures of up to 104 degrees.”

Not long ago I spent half a year in Phoenix. And Phoenix is a very hot city. That region of the world has been hot long before we started blaming everything on CO2. Just outside Phoenix is a retirement community known as Sun City. It is a town of around 33,000 elderly people. The median age in Sun City is just over 72 years of age. And the average high temperature in Sun City is 106 degrees summer after summer.

So 33,000 elderly people thrive in temperatures higher than those that hit France where 15,000 people died. And according to USA Today many of the victims in France were elderly. What are some of the reasons that elderly people in America flock to a climate that routinely exceeds the temperatures of France’s heat wave without the dire consequences that France experienced?

Like most issues there are numerous causes involved. One is that the elderly in Sun City know that the temperatures will go above 100 degrees every day during the summer. Knowing this means they are prepared.

For instance every home and business in the Phoenix area will have air conditioning. Very few homes and business in Europe have this sort of decadent luxury. On a hot day shopping in Europe is often a horrid experience since the shops are stuffy and temperatures inside often are warmer than outside.

The reality is that Europeans have a much lower standard of living. They don’t like to admit it but it’s true. They have regulated and taxed themselves to such an extent that they live much less comfortably than do their counterparts in the United States. Average income in Europe is below average income in the United States. Then the welfare states in Europe gobble up vast amounts of the income that is earned. So the average European not just earns less but pays more in taxes. And then costs for virtually everything is much higher. I suspect something in Europe has to be cheaper than in the US but I don’t know what it is.

With lower levels of income the average home is much smaller in Europe. People don’t drive as much but walk, ride bicycles or take public transit. Cars are discouraged by the Green fanatics. Of course when heat waves hit that means old people are trying to bicycle to the store. Actually I should say stores.

In the US an older person heads to one grocery market and picks up everything they need. Such large stores go against the European mentality. So there are mostly smaller stores with minimal selections. So this means going from store to store. When it is hot out this extra exertion doesn’t help the elderly.

If the elderly in Sun City had to walk from store to store to store to buy their groceries and ride their bicycles in the 106 degree temperatures, instead of driving, they would probably be dropping dead in massive numbers as well. Luckily for them they don’t live in a town that is as “eco-friendly”.

Germany has a sales tax of about 20%. And energy is especially expensive so they can meet their Kyoto requirements. Of course they don’t meet their Kyoto requirements but they do heavily tax energy. With energy being expensive the result is that people can’t afford to air condition. It’s the same across Europe.

When the heat wave hit France people died because the cost of air conditioning is above what most people can afford. The welfare state reduces living standards and people can’t afford “luxuries” like air conditioning.

So what happened what that socialized health care? Docufraud producer Michael Moore is harping on about the benefits of the French socialized health system. He says: “The French system is the best in the world.” So why the 15,000 deaths there? How did the French system respond?

Much of it didn’t react at all. France has long mandated holiday periods for workers. The French brag about them. They pride themselves as to how little work they do, which is one reason they have chronic high unemployment. And August is the big holiday month when many French workers take the entire month off. That includes physicians, nurses, etc.

Again the news report stated: “The heat wave hit during the August vacation period, when doctors, hospital staff and many others take leave.” Of course France has a union for physicians, since every special interest group must have a union or they get screwed by the other union groups. And the National General Practitioners Union denies that vacations had anything to do with it since only 20% of all physicians were off on holiday. Only 20%! That’s one out of five physicians being gone for an entire month.

Apparently it wasn’t just the physicians and their extended holidays that were the problem. “...[T]he French Parliament released a harshly worded report blaming the deaths on a complex health system, widespread failure among agencies and health services to co-ordinate efforts, and chronically insufficient care for the elderly.” So the health system in France is complex and has “chronically insufficient care for the elderly.”

But this is one of the systems that Moore drools over when he advocates a socialist system for the United States.

It was this excellent health care that explained why 15,000 French old people died from temperatures that in Sun City would be just average. It is the excellent health care that caused the French Parliament to report that their own health system provides “chronically insufficient care for the elderly.” I suspect Mr. Moore will never mention that parliamentary report

Photo: The photo was taken in a French hospital showing elderly victims of the heat wave waiting for care. One fifth of all physicians were on holiday that day.

Postscript. I have added a post script on this matter here.

The Knee-jerk Left went into hysterics and stopped worshiping Michael Moore just long enough to express their dislike of America (actually for some it was raw hatred of a rather bigoted nature). They particularly didn't like my off-hand remark that the average American is more prosperous than the average European. They have rather bizarre views on life in America. So I have laid out my arguments for the off hand remark here.

Labels: , ,