Friday, 7 September 2007

Britain's die-while-you-wait health system

Contract cancer in Eastern Europe or the UK, and your chances of survival are less than half. Contract cancer in the US -- the most evil, greedy, selfish nation on the planet -- and your chances vault up to nearly two-thirds. The reason Brits are more likely to die?
Cancer experts blamed late diagnosis and long waiting lists.
Looks like the UK has the same die-while you wait health system we do. The new study "demonstrates what opponents of socialized medicine have been saying for years," says Don Watkins: "socialized medicine kills." Consider that in the US alone, 1.4 million people will be diagnosed this year, and you realise the numbers involved. As Watkins makes plain, people are dying for the sake of the failed ideology that is destroying Venezuela:
Researchers attribute Britain's dismal numbers primarily to late diagnoses and lengthy waiting lists for treatment. But long lines and waiting lists are necessarily endemic under socialized medicine. Just as a "free" grocery store would not be able to keep its shelves stocked, a "free" health care system necessarily lacks sufficient resources to adequately treat all those seeking care. The result is thousands of unnecessary deaths—and millions of grief-stricken families.
See: UK Survival Rate Lowest in Europe - Telegraph,
and: Socialized Medicine Kills - Principles in Practice blog.


  1. I wonder if those US survival rates were partitioned into income demographics if we would see that it is the people who can afford health insurance who are surviving cancer. Whilst public health is obviously failing currently, I'm also not sure that privatizing everything under the sun is the answer. If somebody can explain to me how private health care would work for the those who cannot afford health insurance without invoking the libertarian crutches of...

    A. The magic 'private charity' pixes
    B. Generalizing about free market completion making everything affordable
    C. Calling me a communist

    Then I'm all ears.

  2. Easy. Give them a flat tax rate of 0%. Health insurance becomes easily affordable then.

  3. Do you really think a flat tax rate of 0% is actually a reality? who is going to pay for things like roading?
    Don't tell's B right?

  4. It amazes me that people still defend the socialized health model when both empirical evidence and everyday personal experiences confirm that it just does not work.

    The reason the UK has higher death rates from cancer is that the resources are spread so thinly, and will continue to be.

    It is immoral to fund varicose vein operations in a public health service if you are at the same time underfunding cancer care.

    Sean is right, lower taxes, medicare, insurance subsidies/tax relief are all geared to give those less well off the opportunity to take responsibility for their own health

  5. arrgghhhhh!!!! read the fucking post, I'm not defending it!!!! What I'm trying to do is explore the ramifications of the libertarian approach.

  6. aaarrrgh I wasn't talking about you. Read the fucking post. I was talking about the myriad of people that do defend it.

  7. whatever - in New Zealand roading is paid for by road users through hypothecated taxes (road user charges, fuel taxes and motor vehicle registration/licence fees), you don't need general tax for that. The US is behind NZ on that front.

    Private citizens afford food, housing (by and large) and other necessities of life now. A recent article in the Times outlined how if the average UK taxpayer was returned in income tax the proportion spent on the NHS, it could more than afford a premium health insurance plan typically bought in Beverley Hills.

    Funnily enough many GPs now (certainly several I know) give treatment free in NZ, because it is what they do - they don't get money for it, but for some GPs as many as 20% of patients get this because they can't afford it.

    It's clear the current approach fails miserably except for emergency care. A relative of mine was recently cleared of cancer and the chemo was stopped, she shortly thereafter died of a blood clot and was found to still have extensive growing tumours. Of course in NZ you can't sue for that, and dead people can't claim ACC.

  8. I'm not altogether sure what a hypothecated tax is, but it still sounds like a tax, somebody always has to pay no matter what you call it.

    Let's take the idea from a different angle, a Gedankenexperiment, let us suppose that all taxes and public health systems are gone over night.

    Even if you take away all tax, people will still have differing spending power, I would contend that health providers will want to take advantage of this stratification in the market by offering different grades of care based on what you can afford.

    One can make the parallel with the motor industry, a socialized automotive industry has everyone driving around in lowest common denominator Ladas, where as here we have a choice, if we work hard enough maybe we can afford a great car, but many still have to partake in the budget ranges.

    So in the end, those who could afford good health care still can, those that couldn't will still probably have to settle for less. So will anything actually change? Note: I make no moral judgment on this.

    It seems that libertarians take a somewhat simple approach i.e. that freeing something up will make it better though competition, but what they don't tend to discuss is freeing something up also results in diversification & stratification and in the end you might just end up with roughly the same situation.

    Another point, is it the 'socializing' of medical care that's making it bad, or is it simply badly executed? It seems to me there is no reason why our taxes are not vast enough to produce first rate health care, maybe libertarians are punching the straw man here, I personally tend to think the current situation is more a product of adversarial popularism in politics.

    Libertarians are obviously the antithesis of Communists, but it seems that somebody always comes off second best no matter if you socialize everything or free up everything.

    The real question, to me, is how can the voting public be so stupid as let our governments get away with taxing at the level they do yet providing such poor infrastructure, I think this is the real problem.

  9. Whatever

    Regarding your pre-conditions a/.b/.

    You appear to be asking Libetarians to solve the problems of socialism without employing Libertarian means.

    Consider. It is impossible to solve the problems of socialism (or any form of collectivism for that matter) by applying yet more socialism. All that achieves is to introduce more trouble and make existing problems far worse. Reasons include the fact that the socialist planners and commanders are not omniscient, omnipotent or all good.

    They do not know what people want. They can't control everything that occurs and everything that people do (much as they lust to). They are interested in an ideology that is inherantly evil. In the end, they commit evil acts to preserve the ideology and it's "systems." Too bad about the casualties. As was so eloquently explained by a famous leader of theirs, "To make an ommlette, one must break a few eggs."

    Libertarians argue that the method to employ to solve socialist problems is to reject socialism outright and apply Libertarianism instead. They are not going to tell you how to fix socialism since it can't be fixed. It's faulty right from initial premise and shot throughout with falsehood and fraud!

    By asking Libertarians to solve the problem of socialism without applying Libertarianism you are demanding Libertarians be socialists. That is something a Libertarian cannot and will not do.

    That leads me to ponder whether you are seriously interested in the Libertarian approach or merely seeking ways to protect a socialist perspective.

    Regarding your pre-condition c/.

    You're not a communist are you? What about socialism? Is that your position?

    Just interested to know, I be.

    Re the car industry.
    That's not a good analogy to pick, as it is an industry controlled by gocvernment regulation at every turn. One can't design a car as it should be, only design down to arbitrary government regulation. Every part is controlled, even the styling. You even have to put the headlights exactly where regulated. How bad is that?

    One reason I exited the industry is that I know we can design far better cars than presently (eg. far faster with much better handling, better safety and more comfort) but the industry must design down to the level of the regulations. The consumer is paying far too much for something that is not as good as what he could expect to achieve in the absence of the ineptitudes of govt interference. Who can seriously be bothered working under limitations like that?

    That said, the car industry is segmented. There are still some of the features of private ownership present (so far). There are different strata. Ferrari does not build models to compete with Toyota's Corolla. Nor does Hyundai compete with BMW's Rolls Royce. They are in different areas of the market and appeal to different customers.

    The interesting thing is that there are many models and makes of cars built to tighter budgets than a Rolls Royce or Bently or Maybach. They achieve similar utility. For example, a Corolla will transport its passengers and driver as competantly as the Roller. For the extra NZ$990,000.oo the owner of the Rolls does not get 33 times the utility of the Corolla. He can argue he has a better car, one more amenable to his tastes, wealth, style, status and intellectual interests, but the Corolla is reliable and safe and will get its payload to destination just as the Rolls will. It'll not have the same type of style, luxury or status, but it WILL achieve the task reliably (more reliably some would claim) and it'd cost a whole lot less.

    Similarly, a non-socialised health sector will feature segments, specialisations and strata that will offer solutions suited to market demand. One can imagine there'd be a lot more demand for cost effective care as opposed to the gold plated stuff. The providers will respond to the demand, as it is a huge opportunity with massive reward. Over time services & technology would get better and they would be available at ever decreasing cost to the patient.

    I recall an well known eye surgeon setting up surgeries in Vietnam to undertake simple operations on local people and restore their sight. Those operations were charged at around Au$20.00 a shot. They cost about ten times that to actually do (there was charity involved). Later on the surgeries became self-sufficient and even profitable. They ended up manufacturing their own lenses for a fraction of the price those were charged out at in the West. They got so goo that these days many of the lenses used in the West are sourced from so-called "third-world manufaturers".

    Even so, the cost of the same procedures done in Australia exceeds Au$3k! Now why do you suppose that would be? Read the regs and you'll soon see where all the costs are being imposed. Clue: govt mandated socialism.

    In the end, if you went to a 100% privatised health care system, there would be providers at all levels offering various options to patients. What you choose is a matter for yourself.

    BTW since you are contributing to a Libertarian site and, assuming you are seriously interested in the Libertarian perspective, why not read some of the explanatory works on the subject? That way you can get a far better explanation than you could on a necessarily limited medium such as a web form.


  10. Thanks for the answer, FYI I think the the level of socialism in this country is disgusting, and I certainly do not look to defend the socialist position.

    My problem with libertarianism is that I don't think there is any point in replacing one extreme with another. Any extreme will engender its own problems, regardless of the best or worst intentions of the people involved.

    I am red hot on the ideas of liberty and small government, and was initial quite excited as I read though the libertarian web site. But as I did more research I came under the distinct impression that the NZ libertarian party is actually the NZ objectivist party and I find objectivist doctrine repugnant. I also think questions like my original post are not adequately answered, though I take your point that this may be impossible from the current libertarian position.

    So I think the basic ideas are good, but carried to the 'all faders on max' extremes that I find here and in other associated sites it just becomes another extreme ideology, I think this is in fact, somewhat of a tragedy for freedom, because its going to keep the whole movement firmly below the margin of error.

    On the automotive analogy, sure regulation might currently limit what is possible in term of design, but to assert that this is the one and only cause of the industry not reaching its full potential is somewhat over simplifying matters?

  11. Whatever

    Do not regard having principles and sticking to them as taking an extreme position. Either one has principles and is consistant and true to them or one does not (in which case oine is dishonest). Either a person is a Libertarian (or Objectivist or Capitalist etc.) or not.

    If a person is willing to trade away his principles, diluting them for reasons of convenience or easy pragmatism, then that person is merely an unprincipled pragmatist- dishonest to himself and just as dishonest with everyone else.

    While there are disagreements between Objectivists, Libertarians/z, Capitalists and anarcho-Capitalists etc., they each hold freedom of the individual as an absolute and as an ideal. That means moral parasitism is unacceptable- no stealing money/property from one for the welfare of another. People must be left free to organise their own lives as they see fit.

    It is difficult to see a problem with holding to those principle on a consistant basis. The term extremist is little more than an imprecise smear and offers little clarification to the discussion.

    Having said that, it is interesting to note that there are indeed some Objectivists who are unpleasant to deal with. You probably meet people who are not likable every day. I know I do. Not all of them are Objectivists though. And I've met many Objectivists who are erudite, pleasant company; well mannered and a pleasure to be around.

    The deal is to realise that while some may not be nice, that does not invalidate the actual ideals they may profess to adhere to. The question I usually consider is whether each individual actually does stick to his or her stated principles in reality or is it all just hypocracy and talk, talk, talk,...

    Re car industry.
    Yup, government IS indeed the reason that the potential of that industry is not being attained.

    The best, most creative minds remaining there are idle or busy dealing with regulation or lobbying governments. The really clever ones bugger off and retire to the racing game or even some other activity entirely.

    I recall driving on an Italian autostrada at 322km/hr one morning and realising that, while this activity was deemed illegal, it would not take a huge tehnical effort to make it common place and safe. Too bad. You can go line up at an airport and suffer the indignities of semi-socialised public transport aviation style instead!

    Oh well!

    On that sad note I say enjoy your weekend and have a nice red wine.


  12. Your points are well made and I shall take time to think on them.

    Maybe 'extreme' is a bad term. It is more a suspicion of systems of thought whose basic premises never seem to be questioned, to me this is barely differentiable from a belief and this seems to be what is getting us into trouble in the first place.

    Once a person is in this place they stop evaluating situations at face value and start looking for ways to fit the facts into their own personal belief systems.

    Compromise is not a dirty word, its a fact of life, it is possible to compromise without violation of ones principals. It is of course important to have principals, but people who simply use them to build castles whose only function is from which to launch attacks on other castles does not seem to serve any purpose to me.

    But anyway, thx for replies & enjoy your weekend.

  13. Whatever

    I wonder if those US survival rates were partitioned into income demographics if we would see that it is the people who can afford health insurance who are surviving cancer.

    This is an interesting question only if you accept that letting several thousand more people die each year is an acceptable price for greater equality in healthcare outcomes (or at least could be acceptable).

    Anyone who accepts that tradeoff either places a very low value on other peoples' lives or a very high value on equality in the statistical rate at which people survive illness.

    For anyone who accepts that tradeoff, and i think your question indicates you do, it indicates a willingness to spend the lives of others (and probably not your own) in pursuit of your own personal desire to see society look how you think it ought to.

    What is wrong with demanding the whichever system that saves the most lives?

  14. Whatever,

    There are 45 million in the US who are uninsured, but that is a much bigger number than would exist if the market in the US were subject to fewer regulations.

    Example: you cannot sell health insurance in the US without a minimum coverage, which means if you want insurance you have to buy a plan which includes a lot of things you may not want. You also can't buy health insurance out of state in the US. Both of those things raise costs and make it harder, particularly for the poor, to buy health insurance.

    Do not mistake the mess that is US healthcare for what a market-based system would look like.

  15. For anyone who accepts that tradeoff, and i think your question indicates you do, it indicates a willingness to spend the lives of others (and probably not your own) in pursuit of your own personal desire to see society look how you think it ought to.

    Thank you for your input, but if you read my posts again, I state repeatedly I don't support the current system, I'm just not sure what you guys want to do is going leave us with the situation much different from a high level.

    Everybody here has to accept that somebody who questions libertarian policy is not automatically a communist, its OK to think.

  16. It's not just okay to think, but highly desirable! I think you are earnest in your efforts here, which is very pleasing.

    What some of the posters are suggesting is, not that you are a closet communist, but rather that you may have some mixed premises. That is, a libertarian would question the standard by which you judge a particular health care system.

    Hope that helps.

  17. Whatever

    ...if you read my posts again, I state repeatedly I don't support the current system, I'm just not sure what you guys want to do is going leave us with the situation much different from a high level.

    Everybody here has to accept that somebody who questions libertarian policy is not automatically a communist, its OK to think.

    I haven't suggested you're a communist.

    But your question does suggest resistance to moving to a system that saves lives. Your question suggests a view that the lives lost under the present system are worth it for greater equality.

    This isn't a debate about libertarianism. Research indicates there is another system that saves more lives. Period. It happens to be a system nearer to market provision, but that is incidental. Your question implies resistance to adopting an alternative that saves many lives.

    Of course, you may not believe the premise implied by your question, but many many people do and I think it is useful to explain the murderous tradeoff that view implies.


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.