Those opposed to market-based health care reform do their best to scare Canadians. Reality, however, is considerably different. International experience suggests that private competition is a fundamental feature of a high-performing, universal access health care system. For evidence, consider the Dutch health care system where private (and even for-profit) insurance companies, private providers, activity-based funding and cost sharing combine to provide more timely access to high (if not higher) quality care than Canada's system for similar cost.
A somewhat awkward, bespectacled Chinese man by the name of Xiao Wang wandered onto the stage of Holland's Got Talent. The PhD student announced he would perform a rendition of "La donna è mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto. And that's when Judge Cornelis Willem Heuckeroth, who goes by the nickname Gordon, cracked his first joke: "Which number are you singing? Number 39 with rice?"
The Dutch have a secret, and that secret's name is jenever. A precursor to modern gin, it has been drunk as "medicine" in the Netherlands since the Middle Ages. And what better way to pay homage to this historic liquor than to celebrate it with a festival, in a deconsecrated church, on a Saturday afternoon in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is a city of almost 800,000 inhabitants, and 600,000 bicycles. They're everywhere. But as a North American traveling to Amsterdam, I was simultaneously impressed by their pedal power while surprised to discover that not one single cyclist owned an essential piece of biking equipment from our part of the world: the bike helmet.