Karl Lauterbach, the health expert of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) of Germany, has proposed cutting costs by removing homoepathic remedies (g) from the list of medications that Germany's public health-insurance scheme will compensate patients for.
'Good God', I said to myself, 'Lauterbach has really screwed the pooch.' Homeopathy is big business and a national pastime here in Germany. Oh sure, haters call it quackery -- yet it was invented by a German!* And homeopathy is nowhere more popular than in the ranks of folk-medicine grandmas, stressed-out menopausal schoolteachers, retired factory workers, tie-dyed liberal-arts graduates, and provincial civil servants.
In other words, the Social Democratic Party's core constituency.
During the local public radio call-in show this morning, the invited guest from center-right CDU reacted with outrage! to Lauterbach's suggestion, and every single caller from the public-radio audience (a classic SPD/green demographic if there ever was one) praised homeopathy to the skies. The moderator, desperate to start some kind of debate, couldn't find a single doubter. Even when he mentioned that the discussion was not about banning homeopathic remedies but only removing them from the publicly subsidized list, he was met with the argument that this would only create a "two-tier" medication system in which "only the rich" would have access to homeopathic remedies. All of the callers had positive personal experiences with homeopathic remedies, many of which sounded like conversion narratives ("I was once a scientists and laughed at homeopathy, until...")
The lesson is: As is apple pie to Americans, so is homeopathy to Germans. Don't. Fuck. With. It.
While we're on the subject, here's an amusing web comic describing the basic principles of homeopathy, why it can't work as advertised, and what it might nevertheless be good for.
* This non-sequitur presented to you in honor of the Firesign Theatre, who described a crazy general thus: "They think he's insane. Yet, he outranks them!"