Jan Brewer Can Solve Mental-Health Crisis By Looking to Bedlam

So, a new batch of thousands of mentally ill Arizonans are going to lose most, if not all of their current benefits (counseling, transportation, etc.), ostensibly because of the state's ongoing fiscal crisis.


We wrote about the dire situation a few weeks ago in "Hindsight," and would rather leave a rant about how this state's leaders consider priorities for another time.


Instead, we thought to scan the history books to see how other nations, specifically our brethren over in England, have dealt with the "mad" over time.

And, alas, not only was it informative, but it provided us with a possible partial solution to the current fiscal malaise. 



We're talking big money, guys!

It may be about as popular at first as lion tacos and illegal immigrants, but here goes:

Bedlam, which is what everyone called the Bethlem Royal Hospital, was the first asylum for the mentally ill in England. It became infamous for the brutal treatment of its patients (whom they viewed as uncontrollable wild animals) in the 17th and 18the centuries, but those who ran the joint devised a clever money-making scheme.

They opened Bedlam on weekends to paying customers--a penny apiece, whatever that added up to back then--to about 400 pounds or about 100,000 visitors annually.

From a history of the "hospital."

"It became the custom for the idle classes to visit Bedlam and observe the antics of the insane patients as a novel form of amusement. This was done even by the nobility and their friends.

Let's see. Say we charge ten bucks per for those who want to gawk at the folks who still live at the Arizona State Hospital or any of the other psychiatric facilities around the Valley.

That's $1 million right there, if 100,000 people drop by over the course of a year. Not much in the big scheme of things, but a start, right?

We'll keep the onlookers out of the wing that has housed Governor Brewer's son for most of the past two decades or so. Wait, on second thought let's charge double for entry over there--after all, this is for the greater good of us all, right?

As for Bedlam, it's still open for business.

According to one account, that after an investigation in 1851, "the hospital came under regular government inspection, and has since been noted for its model care of the insane...The management is so good that each year more than one-half of the patients are returned as cured."

Sure they are.



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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin