When I came across the above sign outside a local branch of Lidl this morning I didn’t know what to make of it at first. Initially I didn’t quite believe my eyes, but then I thought, or rather hoped, that some enterprising bunch of anarchist pranksters had splashed out their entire annual publicity budget on a spectacular piece of morbidly tongue-in-cheek Borgesian street furniture. Only when I googled it did I find out to my considerable distaste that there is an actual health lottery, brainchild of Private Eye’s favourite pornographer/downmarket media mogul Richard Desmond, and the winner is to be announced every week during the X-Factor, whose creator has already hailed it as ‘a great idea’.
I feel the need at this point to emphasise that I am not making this up.
I was surprised and perturbed to find that google did not turn up much of a reaction to the initiative, beyond an article in the Droitwitch Advertiser which details the response of local hospices which are concerned about the effects on their own lottery schemes. Others have accused Desmond of profiteering on the back of charities and undermining more ‘generous’ lotteries. But so far I have not managed to find any blogs dealing with the bigger and more troubling issues raised by the very notion of a ‘health lottery’.
The money raised through the scheme will go to things the NHS does not cover, which, according to this very indepth and deeply harrowing piece in the LRB, will shortly include each and every kind of medical service, given that the NHS increasingly exists in name only.
Clearly in any kind of civiilised sociey the people responsible for conceiving of any sort of health lottery should be securely confined well away from all other members of society, lest their insane sociopathic ideas shoud gain any sort of influence. But I fear that this alone may not be enough, that millions who have already been infected by such catastrophically dangerous thinking, who do not respond to the sight of the words ‘health’ and ‘lottery’ in such close and deadly juxtaposition with the churning visceral mixture of revulsion, terror and rage such an encounter provokes in anyone who truly aspires to the status of human, that such people in all their legions may be harbouring the sentiment that a lottery is an appropriate way to resolve the question of differential life chances of different groups of people in an abysmally unequal society.
How can such a destructive idea be extirpated? Clearly we are in dire need of some sort of system of gulags, internment camps, abandoned mental institutions, where such people can be forcibly gathered and obliged to undergo a process of reeducation, to be adequately instructed in the most fundamental principles of human coexistence.
This may sound like mindlessly extreme invective, but I challenge you: read the LRB article, tune in to X-Factor on Saturday night to watch the live draw, and then see if you still feel like writing to me and telling me I’m wrong.