Sunday, February 10, 2013

Don't Get Sick in Great Britain

Coming soon to a hospital near you.

When Great Britain hosted the Summer Olympics in 2012 it screwed up its national pride and touted one of its greatest post-was achievements: its National Health Service.

When we Americans were debating Obamacare,  no less a propagandist than Paul Krugman assured us that the stories of substandard medical care in England were untrue.

In Krugman’s immortal words:

In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We've all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.

Last Wednesday, The New York Times reported on the true conditions in Staffordshire, England:

Shockingly bad care and inhumane treatment at a hospital in the Midlands led to hundreds of unnecessary deaths and stripped countless patients of their dignity and self-respect, according to a scathing report published on Wednesday.

The report, which examined conditions at Stafford Hospital in Staffordshire over a 50-month period between 2005 and 2009, cites example after example of horrific treatment: patients left unbathed and lying in their own urine and excrement; patients left so thirsty that they drank water from vases; patients denied medication, pain relief and food by callous and overworked staff members; patients who contracted infections due to filthy conditions; and patients sent home to die after being given the wrong diagnoses.

This proves definitively that Krugman’s words do not correlate with reality. To be charitable, I imagine that Krugman does not believe what he said either.

The moral of the story: if you buy what Paul Krugman is selling you need some serious health care. But, please try to avoid a government run health care facility.


Mark said...

This horror story is extreme and a-typical, tho no doubt not unique. The bigger horror story is the same story of most government-run activities - the NHS is run for the benefit of its employees, with benefits flowing in proportion to power. Its existence has promoted the pandemic of lifestyle diseases because consequences seem to be transferable at no cost.

When a free-marketeer like me uses the NHS, I can come away surprised by how good it is - for example the birth at Pembury Hospital, Kent, of my 5th child was a superlative piece of laid-back, non-threatening, mother-oriented common sense. Yet in my 60 years my family has experienced 2, maybe 4, unexplained deaths in hospital (3 neo-natal, 1 of a healthy 85yo who became infected) and several cases of serious iatrogenic complications.

I am certainly not a fan of the US system either which is crippled by federal and state interventions. Eg the intra-state insurance rules stop me getting catastrophe insurance. False but lucrative diagnoses seem rife. Medicare and Medicaid simply feed the beast. raise costs and promote pill-popping.

It's a tribute to mass self-delusion that the risk in iatrogenics isn't a central idea in modern thought, (using the term 'iatrogenics' as Taleb in Antifragility).

Government should get out of the health area altogether except in relation to needy children, combat or pandemic disease. A stepping stone to that may be individual savings accounts per Ben Carson.

Dennis said...

Unfortunately the government is not going to get out of the healthcare area. Ask yourself if I wanted to control people's actions what areas of expertise would I want to control? Healthcare is one of the best places to exert influence. One literally control who lives and who dies.
There is no area of one's life that does not have healthcare ramifications to the foods one eats to the sports one plays to the drinks one consumes. Question: Why does NYC put up with a petty tyrant like Bloomberg?
Government can control births and it can control deaths just by providing or not providing the drugs requisite in these areas. Name an area of life that is not touched by healthcare? It can be utilized like the Interstate Commerce clause to apply to almost everything.
Once government gets people used to the idea of "free," actually not so free, healthcare it becomes easy to justify not providing it to those who might not meet the governments idea of the perfect citizen. NOTE: Krugman, in a way, admitted that "death panels and higher taxes are a part of Obamacare.
It is somewhat like providing welfare to people. The more government can get on the rolls the more the people on those rolls are afraid of challenging the government. The more they allow government to control their freedoms. NOTE: Homeland Security now classifies anyone who thinks as an individual as a domestic threat. Spend some time looking into what they are informing their people of as threats. Question: Why the need for 1.6 billion bullets?
Finally, ask yourself, what areas of expertise would I want control over to control vast segments of the population? I don't think I want to thank the British for what they have added to our growing lack of freedom. If one trades too much freedom for security one will have less of both.

Mark said...

Dennis, I agree with all this except the defeatist tone. My motto is 'Things change'. Woodrow Wilson led to Calvin Coolidge led to FDR led to Obama. Next up - Hillary? Cuomo? Paul? Cruz? Carson? Note that libertarianism is very much a young person's creed in America. Freedom of speech is a killer app that has made America anti fragile (Taleb again). I expect that to continue.

I'll pass over the jibe at the end. Britons can afford to be smug as American women seem to prefer our accents. Beats me, but there you go. Too bad they're all crazy though.

Dennis said...


Not being defeatist at all. For one to fight back one has to understand the reasons and how we got there. One has to get people to think more strategically and I see more signs that is happening. Carson, et al is an example of that.
I thought you might enjoy the little jibe from your prior comments and I heartily agree on American women though I would put more emphasis on feminists who have little reason to feel smug. If one cannot do well when they have turned the education system into a girls school and still act as a victim then just maybe there is no reason to feel smug.
I will reiterate a question I made previously. Ever notice that at about the time when one reaches the apex of their power is the time when the bottom begins to fall out?

Mark said...

Thinking strategically then:

1. Balanced budget amendment.
2. End universal suffrage - only taxpayers get to vote.
3. Flat tax. I don't mean flat tax a la Carson and Forbes. I mean everyone pays the same tax, say $10k per year. No tax, no vote. Enforcement is simply a matter of a public electoral roll. Shame and exclusion does the rest.
4. Prohibit almost all abortion. A society cannot be sane which murders the next generation.
5. No pay for politicians. Politics must be a matter of public service + federal term limits.
6. Constitutional amendment that no bill may exceed 10 pages.

Utopian, you may think, but I think not. Such a scheme could happen within a state and spread outwards from there (once Roe v Wade is reversed).

Apexes are turning points by definition. Is America at a nadir? I thought so in 2010, but I was wrong. Here's a couple of left-field ideas:

1. Obama turns conservative by virtue of the weight of authority. That would be natural, but for one thing - the man has no good character, he's a coward. But I may be wrong. One of the thrills of life is being proved wrong about a person's courage or honor.
2. A non-politician such as Carson emerges to sell America on 2 or 3 transformative ideas ('flat tax', re-discovery of history...)
3. An early loss of confidence in America's credit.
4. The progressives push so hard that a state defies federal authority or a serious secession movement gets going.

But as Macmillan replied when asked what blows governments off course…"Events, dear boy, events".

Sam L. said...

Oh, Doctor, Please don't tell me Paullie "The Beard" Krugman is lying to us! Tell me he's an idiot, tell me he's crazy, but not that he's a liar. I. Can't. Cope. With. THAT!

Dennis said...

Give me a book title for Taleb that you find interesting. I will add it to my reading list.
You won't get much disagreement from me for most of the ideas you have posited. The Founding Fathers were always worried about the electorate beginning to vote itself the results of other people's work, which would be called theft in any other example.
Though I would rather get women to actually take responsibility for their bodies. That in itself would do away with the vast majority of abortions. It is no secret that I think abortion has lead to the current culture of death we now see happening. When you start justifying the taking of life at one end of life it becomes easier to take life at the other end of life. It follows that any imminent threat to the government is reason enough for death.
I would also add that no lawyer would be allowed to run for political office because of the conflict of interest of creating the laws they would adjudicate and the horizontal and vertical integration involved. And there is the idea that some how they are "the best and brightest" that seems to denote that maybe it would be best if they did not get close to the levers of power. Can anyone say Obama. People who think they are better human beings that others bother me.
Limited government does not mean weak government. There is reason enough to have a strong limited government that has defined responsibilities. Oh, that is already in the Constitution and one wonders why the Constitution is under assault.
Here it might be better to end the popular election of Senators and have them appointed by the various states. That would devolve some of the tendency to centralized power to where it actually belongs.
As a great man once said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything.
I suspect if you removed universal suffrage you would see a very quick improvement in the number of people wanting, creating, and getting jobs. Then the makers would outnumber the takers.
Charity is mean to be something where people are personally involved. They can best see what needs to be done at the local level.
A great place to start Mark.

Mark said...

Taleb book: Antifragility, but you get the ideas from this interview:

Just to endorse 1 of your points in particular. As sad as any other sickness from Big Government is the perversion of charity into bureaucratic hand-outs via legalised theft.

Dennis said...

Thanks Mark. Just added Taleb's book. You might find Frederic Bastiat's book "The Economics of Freedom: What Your Professors Won't Tell You" interesting and informative.

Mark said...

Bastiat should be a compulsory school text. You'd think all those énarques would have been straightened out by him, but of course by Bastiat's way there's no channel for énarquiste advancement unless they produce something that somebody wants to buy..

Dennis said...

It is interesting how time and technology changes, but people still do the same things that have failed a thousand times before. The French enarques were making the same poor arguments in Bastiat's time as Obama is now.