Free universal healthcare. Only with a gun to our heads.

Here in America we believe in democracy.

But we’re not quite so sure that we’re happy if everyone can get everything.

That sounds to us a little like that communism thing. Not that we’ve ever really had any communism here- well, except in 1950s Hollywood- but George Clooney got rid of that for us. Or was it Michael Douglas?

Anyway, we feel a little shimmer of joy when we hear Rudy Giuliani rail and rage against “socialized medicine.” Way to go, Rudolf. Hold on, isn’t that a German first name and an Italian last name? If only he looked good in uniform.

We Americans feel strongly about socialized education too. It isn’t the clever children who should go to college. It’s the ones whose mummies and daddies are prepared to pay for it. It is almost British in its quaint snobbiness.

Here in the Pond, we have been considering this dilemma for some time. Occasionally, rabied people come and lie down by our banks when they cannot get treatment in hospitals. Or when they cannot get into the right school. Or, indeed, junior college.

And we sense there is an undercurrent in favor of people caring for other people, of teamwork, of collaboration, of the whole being bigger than any single entity.

Why, we even have professional basketball players currently trying to downplay their egos and up-play as a team. They even beat Uruguay and Puerto Rico last week.

Hello, progress.

I would therefore offer an idea- I don’t have many, so please listen closely- which will be far less expensive than free universal healthcare, and far easier to implement than free universal education.

Free universal gun ownership.

I was stimulated in the direction of this gem when I read last week that in the US there are 90 guns for every 100 people.

This must mean that Condi Rice might be the only member of the Cabinet who isn’t packing. I am not sure whether to be more or less afraid about that.

So we are very well on the way to this momentous achievement.

We could eliminate gun certification. We could eliminate the nuisance of having to check whether some people are allowed guns and others not. And we could eliminate the need to place gun stores far away from malls and movie theaters.

Guns could be obtained at any pharmacy.

We would simply say: “One person, one gun.”

There, in four neat words, a simple slogan that would empower every single US citizen.

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Suddenly, there would be no weak and no strong. And, perhaps in time, no rich and no poor. Just people with quicker and not so quick reactions. That, truly, is allowing culture to develop along the lines of a genetic imperative.

If everyone had a gun, we would all respect each other. For we would all know that if we piss someone off, they might shoot us in the head. Which is, as Ronald Reagan might have said, a fine deterrent.

For once, the poor could be heard, the weak would find strength. (The blind would be exempt.)

Politicians would be able to speak freely, as no one would dare heckle for fear of a bullet before a ballot.

You could use your gun to get a job.

Or even, perhaps, to intimidate a doctor to operate on you when they try to refuse you on the grounds of insufficient credit facility.

A gun would help us all stand up for ourselves. Because, so often, no one is prepared to stand up for us.

Of course, there might be slight hiccups along the way. Folks in their 80s might have a few problems holding their Smith and Wessons steady, but perhaps we would give them extra shooting lessons as part of the Universal Gun Ownership Plan.

Folks with Alzheimer’s might forget where they put their gun, but then we might give them a magnetic belt which would automatically pick the gun up for them.

We could have shooting galleries in our drugstores. I mean, no one develops films any more, so we could take that space over.

And we would make the age at which you automatically qualified 15. Which would give you a year before you can join the army. And, um, get married.

I know there are those who might think my plan a little risky.

But, people, we are almost there with this one.

And it’s so much cheaper than an infinity of repeat prescriptions for Prozac.

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