Monday, 4 February 2008

They died of it

Three Hawkes Bay people have died waiting for coronary bypass surgery, and Health Minister David Cunliffe is calling for an "independent inquiry."  It doesn't require another viewing of 'Yes Minister' to realise that the chief reason for such an inquiry is not to uncover anything, but to divert attention from those truly culpable.

"There is no need for an independent inquiry into the deaths of the three Hawkes Bay people waiting for coronary bypass operations," says Libertarianz deputy and Wairarapa candidate Dr McGrath. The root cause is obvious.

Mr Cunliffe already knows the root cause of long surgical waiting lists.   It is the Sovietization of health care [in New Zealand] and the failure of subsequent governments to allow New Zealanders to fully fund and manage their health requirements...

Unless he publicly renounces socialism and moves to urgently deregulate and privatise the health industry, says McGrath, the incumbent minister of health must be held accountable for the die-while-you-wait health 'care,' and resign immediately.  It's not like it hasn't been obvious for some time.  Politicians take billions from NZers every year, and deliver in return a socialised system in which health care is rationed. 

These three people just died of it.

Twelve years ago, former Libertarianz Party leader Lindsay Perigo spoke of the die-while-you-wait health system. Since then, nothing has changed. There is still a shortage of qualified specialist staff in cardiac surgery and other services.

Under a private system, market forces mean hospitals would have to offer higher rates of pay and better conditions in order to attract staff - and rapidly - or risk financial ruin. Under a socialized system, hospitals respond to the demands of their customers with the trademark bureaucratic inertia we have come to expect in our public hospitals and health ministry.

As three Hawkes Bay families have now been made aware, this bureaucratic inertia is fatal. Or as Don Watkins says: "socialized medicine kills."


  1. I knew a guy that was playing basketball in his neighborhood and some gang took offense because he was on their turf, so they shot him. He got took to the hospital, pretty near-by. But he had no health insurance (too skint), so they "stabilized" him (i.e. bandaged him up), and turned him away. He died right in front of the hospital of that gun wound.

    Gee, isn't capitalism swell!

  2. Nah it's coming up to the full moon...come on every one know its the full moons fault

  3. Daniel, you offer the story about your friend of a friend unattributed, unsourced and unsupported -- that may work in your local, but I like to think we have higher standards here.

    You appear to offer it as some sort of a refutation of "capitalism" in medicine. You offer it in opposition to direct evidence that socialist medicine kills, and the more socialist the more fatal.

    You're wrong on at least two counts.

    1) Contract cancer in Eastern Europe or the UK, where more socialist health systems are the rule, and your chances of survival are less than fifty/fifty. Contract cancer in the US however -- the most evil, greedy, selfish nation on the planet -- and your chances vault up to nearly two-thirds. The reason that Brits are more likely to die than Yanks? "Cancer experts blamed late diagnosis and long waiting lists [in Britain]."

    See 'UK Survival Rate Lowest in Europe' - Telegraph. The new study mentioned in the Telegraph "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 failed ideology.

    2) But wait! There's more.

    Let's assume that despite your story being unattributed, un-sourced and unsupported that your friend of a friend's condition wasn't such that the stabilisation appeared to have worked. Let's assume that he was simply ejected, as you seem to suggest, rather than being observed for some time to ensure stability.

    You seem to suggest on the basis of your story that the US system is heartless, and that it is heartless due to it being largely capitalist.

    You couldn't be more wrong.

    Yes, the US system is more capitalist than the health systems of Britain, Eastern Europe or here in NZ (for which several hundred thousand Americans can breathe a sigh of thanks. In fact, they can breathe.)

    However, it would be wrong to say that the American health system is wholly capitalist.

    For evidence on this score, you might care to read, Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh's survey of "the history of government interference in health insurance and medicine in America, specifying the rights violations and economic problems caused thereby; they enumerate the failed attempts to solve those economic problems by means of further government interference; and show that the only viable solution to the debacle at hand is to gradually and systematically transition to a rights-respecting, fully free market in these industries."

    See 'Moral Health Care vs Universal Health Care' - Lin Zinser & Paul Hsieh, OBJECTIVE STANDARD

    3) But you might object, Daniel, that you don't care about any of that. You don't care about the evidence, you simply insist that your friend of a friend had a 'right' to whatever health care you insist he should have -- that he was 'entitled' to demand health care from whatever health provider he cared to name, without wanting to pay a cent for it.

    Is there any reason you shouldn't be called goddamn immoral vicious bastard?

    Just think what your supposed 'right' to health care does to health providers; just consider what your claimed 'entitlement' to being looked after does to those who need to service you so called entitlement.

    For you to have a 'right' to health care means that those who are tasked to fulfil your care have no rights. You are asking for them to be made your slaves. You see that?

    If you insist they care for you without payment, you're either insisting that they slave without payment, or you're insisting that other people be enslaved to pay for you to enslave your health care workers.

    You goddam immoral vicious bastard.

    You have no more 'right' to free health care than you do to free pizza. Neither come as gifts from heaven -- both pizza and health care must be paid for by someone.

    As Yaron Brook points out, it is the 'entitlement mentality' (along with the cooperation of spineless politicians) that is destroying health care in America:

    "In a system in which someone else is footing the bill, consumers, encouraged to regard health care as a 'right,' demand medical services without having to consider their real price. When, through the 1970s and 1980s [in America], this artificially inflated consumer demand sent expenditures soaring out of control, the government cracked down by enacting further coercive measures: price controls on medical services, cuts to medical benefits, and a crushing burden of regulations on every aspect of the health care system.

    "As each new intervention further distorted the health care market, driving up costs and lowering quality, belligerent voices demanded still further interventions to preserve the "right" to health care. And Republican politicians—not daring to challenge the notion of such a "right"—have, like Romney, Schwarzenegger and Bush, outdone even the Democrats in expanding government health care.

    "The solution to this ongoing crisis is to recognize that the very idea of a 'right' to health care is a perversion. There can be no such thing as a 'right' to products or services created by the effort of others, and this most definitely includes medical products and services. Rights, as [the U.S.] founding fathers conceived them, are not claims to economic goods, but to freedoms of action.

    "You are free to see a doctor and pay him for his services—no one may forcibly prevent you from doing so. But you do not have a 'right' to force the doctor to treat you without charge or to force others to pay for your treatment. The rights of some cannot require the coercion and sacrifice of others."

    See 'The Right Vision of Health Care' by Yaron Brook, FORBES MAGAZINE

  4. Quite right, Peter.

    Daniel seems unable to grasp a fairly simple logic...that had his friend engaged in Capitalist activities he would not have been 'skint' and would be alive today (presumably).

    Private medicine, poverty, unaffordable home ownership, electricity blackouts...the problem is not too much Capitalism, but too little

  5. hail to the busdriver4 Feb 2008, 16:18:00

    you offer the story about your friend of a friend unattributed, unsourced and unsupported -- that may work in your local, but I like to think we have higher standards here.

    What, like your evidence of near empty buses on the new bus-lane in another post?

    I also like this:
    "your chances vault up to nearly two-thirds".
    Clever - It looks good, but of course 50/50 is "nearly two thirds" (50% versus nearly 60%), so that evidence is utterly meaningless.

    ps, how are you enjoying that "Lying with Statistics" book?

  6. "your chances vault up to nearly two-thirds".
    Clever - It looks good, but of course 50/50 is "nearly two thirds" (50% versus nearly 60%), so that evidence is utterly meaningless.

    Well my calculations suggest that "nearly two thirds" is actually "nearly 66%" which when compared to 50% is most certainly statistically relevant. It is a 16% difference which when calculated against the 1.2million who are diagnosed with cancer each year in the US means that more than 190,000 people in the US survive their cancer in the US who would die in Britain's socialist system.

    So perhaps you should go back to worshiping your bus driver - because you are not dazzeling anyone with your brilliance here.

  7. This is an interesting story of what kills people in the UK health system. (hint: centrally determined pay)

  8. We have just returned from an extended stay in Auckland due to my better half's below par health. We have the super duper southern cross policy and after a year of waiting (on the public system)decided to go private to enable her relief from a chronic (but not life threatening) illness.
    Two weeks after first specialist meeting the surgery is complete and recovery is well underway.
    We saved the public health system close to 30k by going private. Do we gt any sort of relief on our lightening the load on the public purse? Do we fuck as like.
    At the very least all senior members of the public health system should be barred from having private medical insurance. I would include the health minister, PM, deputy PM and all the Health ministers staff. Let them rely on the public system. it may help to focus their minds on the waiting lists.

  9. Daniel Owen said; "Gee, isn't capitalism swell!"

    Agreed, Daniel, it is indeed swell--it allows some of us to buy private health cover and bypass the statist bastard bureaucrats who ration it.

  10. Richard McGrath5 Feb 2008, 13:00:00

    Daniel, under a privatised health system there would be nothing to stop you and other like minded people from banding together and purchasing medical insurance for all the uninsured people out there. Or, you could notify all hospitals that anyone could present for treatment and you or your insurer would cover the cost.

    The beauty of privatised health is that I can be as generous as I like to other people, e.g. I might want to purchase medical insurance for my extended family, my local iwi, or any other group of people small or large. But I wouldn't have to subsidise care for people who actively sabotage their own health, e.g. recidivist smokers, alcoholics, intravenous drug users, etc., who are over-represented in our hospitals.

    Barnsley Bill - I like your idea of stopping the statist politicians and health bureaucrats from having private medical insurance. Of course, there would have to be safeguards in place to ensure that they didn't abuse their positions of power by demanding preferential treatment in the public hospital system.

  11. Richard McGrath5 Feb 2008, 13:10:00

    We need some context to your story Daniel. Was your friend trespassing on some property that really was the "turf" of some "gang" (e.g. a lawn bowling club). Was he tanked up on methamphetamine and did he pull a knife on someone when asked to leave? Was he then shot by a security guard in an act of self-defence?

    Let me guess - I bet this incident occurred in a place like LA, NYC, Boston or Washington DC where a person can't legally carry a concealed weapon.

  12. Some of the responses to Daniel's post take a rather hysterical and dogmatic tone. Daniel raises a point not very well addressed on this site and it is one of the few areas I find NotPC's reasoning is lacking.

    It really doesn't matter that this story is unsourced, the point is that in an entirely private healthcare system, this scenario would be the norm for people without health insurance who suffer an accident or whatever and need emergency care.

    So, if some 19 year old from the ghetto isn't forward thinking enough to buy health insurance and gets stabbed and needs emergency surgery, what should happen to him? Should he die laying in the street outside the hospital? This seems to be what PC is advocating. I don't want to live in a society like that, and as a doctor I would not want to work in that kind of system.

    Medical care of acutely unwell people is an interesting ethical area that I have thought a lot about. As a doctor if I am going for a walk and someone in front of me collapses and needs first aid, I feel some sense of duty in caring for them, over and above the "duty" of an untrained person walking by. It would be unethical for me to keep walking.

    This is not altruism or selflessness - it is a unique characteristic of my profession, in dealing with people at their most vulnerable. I am not a doctor for altruistic reasons, and see this "duty" to others as a part of my profession, and it is in my own rational self-interest to maintain my professional integrity and live up to my own standards.

    The poorest, least-educated people in any society are also the sickest, and this will always be the case. So what should happen the the child of an impoverished family who is diagnosed with leukemia? "Too bad, they should have been better at 'capitalist acitivities'"?

    The statistics that NotPC uses re: cancer rates in different countries are so obviously meaningless, and I wonder if his calling Daniel a 'vicious goddamn bastard' for his post betrays a hint of uneasiness with his own argument.

    I don't think of health-care as a right in general, and see as moral and correct the idea of providing health-care on a contractual basis where the real cost and value of health-care is acknowledged. I don't like the idea of subsidising health care for those who actively sabotage their own health. But I don't think requiring health-care is morally as straightforward as wanting pizza.

    I am not sure what the answer is to "what is the best health care system for NZ", but it is hard for me to imagine a completely private system that functions in reality. I think a mostly private system would be ideal, where private insurance plays a greater role, with a much smaller and less unwieldly public system.


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