Thursday, July 17, 2008

All care, no responsibility -- and no privatisation

acc You'll have heard it reported that National have finally announced a policy that distinguishes the from Labour: if elected, they'll be privatising that bloated bureaucracy ACC.

Sadly, those reports are wholly incorrect. 'Privatise' means "to sell off; to denationalise; to transfer to private ownership."

Unfortunately, National hasn't pledged to privatise ACC at all ... all they've said is that they're willing to open it to competition.

And they haven't even promised to do that; all that they've promised to do is investigate the possibility of opening up ACC to competition ... and this investigation will apparently take three years.

So the reports of a spine are premature.  They're timid even in their timidity.

The latest policy is still replete with timidity.  There's no sign that what is effectively a payroll tax on all employers would be removed -- a payroll tax that is essentially a top-up to the welfare system.  There's no sign that the socialised 'all care, no responsibility' situation would be completely removed.  There's no sign that the compulsion element of workplace insurance would be removed.  There's no sign that victims of incompetence would be able to hold those responsible for their injuries accountable -- incompetence would still be socialised. 

Sure, removing ACC's monopoly over workplace insurance would see premiums plummet, just as they did in the late nineties when the ACC's monopoly was last removed -- and as premiums plummeted so too did the number of workplace accidents, just as rehabilitation and 'customer care' improved markedly. 

Safe employers would no longer need to subsidise the unsafe to the extent they do now, but compulsion is not going to be removed, employers will still be subsidising sporting injuries and the like, and being able to sue those responsible for your injuries will still be illegal.

As long as the ethic of 'no responsibility' and the element of compulsion remains, then even if competition were removed we'd still be the only place in the world with a system that socialises incompetence.

NB: It's worth reminding yourself that the only place in the world that has compulsory 'no fault' insurance is New Zealand.  That's no accident.  No one else wants it.

The shriller opponents of so-called 'no fault insurance' being removed, which it isn't, point to places like the US where the ability to sue those responsible for injuring you has led to outrageous payouts and the enrichment of that class of lawyers known as ambulance chasers.

But as David Littel points out in The Objective Standard, the outrageous payouts and the rewards for ambulance chasing -- the serious problems with the US system -- are not a problem of too much freedom but too little.  American law has become so poisoned by the destructive doctrine of "vicarious liability" and the use of law to achieve social ends instead of corrective justice, that American tort law can now only be described as a weapon of injustice. 

And in any case, it's not what's proposed for New Zealand.

UPDATE:   Says Liberty Scott:

[When] John Key says National will "investigate" opening the ACC Work Account to competition, you have to wonder why it is so insecure about a policy that it implemented, whilst a minority government, in 1999. A policy Labour gleefully repealed, with legislations overriding commercially negotiated contracts and effectively banning the private sector from providing ACC services that it had offered. Why isn't it even mentioning the ACC Motor Vehicle Account, which at the time was in the "investigate opening to competition mode"? I mean seriously, why is providing competition to a government monopoly something that so frightens John Key?

He's right, you know.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have long advocated complete removal of the whole ACC system except the clause with prevents employees from suing employers

that is the one, indeed the only. good feature of the scheme

A job is not a right: it is a privilege and a responsibility. Part of that responsibility is
to take care of yourself.

If you choose to get injured on a job, well, that is your choice.

7/17/2008 09:52:00 am  
Blogger libertyscott said...

Anonymous, so if your employer (e.g. a bus company) provides equipment for you to use (e.g. a bus) that you reasonably expect is safe (as a driver), but actually isn't (e.g. had severe corrosion or brake drums that are well worn) that you couldn't reasonably be expected to know - and an accident happens due to this failure - it's your choice?

There are countless scenarios like this. How is it your choice to be injured if the employer is negligent and you acted reasonably and prudently? Employers shouldn't need to go overboard with signs saying "warning" about doors etc, but they can be negligent in ways that cannot be foreseen or reasonably checked by employees.

7/17/2008 10:10:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's your choice?

precisely. what's so hard to understand about that.

No doubt your employer will have suffered a financial loss from the bus accident, and a loss of custom. That is their punishment.

None of these are reasons for the driver to be able to sue, or to access some mythical "compensation" scheme.

You chose to take the job. You chose the risk. You chose the consequences. If you are prudent, you can choose to take out private health or income insurance.


anything else is a moral hazard.

7/17/2008 02:25:00 pm  
Blogger libertyscott said...

You can say the same about everything then - you can't sue for any car accidents because "You chose the car and road. You chose the risk. You chose the consequences. If you are prudent, you can choose to take out private health or income insurance."!

Tough shit if some prick drives round a bend drunk and slams into you right?

Or you buy a product, it electrocutes you because it has a manufacturing fault - oh well, you chose it, you took the risk, should've been insured.

Or have you forgotten than taking insurance isn't compulsory either, and if your employer foolishly hasn't, your insurer will want to claim the difference - and if unable to sue, on your behalf, YOUR premiums will go through the roof.

When does this "can't sue" doctrine NOT apply? If your employer murders you? (so your neighbour can murder and face civil suit, but if he's your boss then doesn't face the civil suit).

A job is not a privilege, it is a contract. The terms and conditions of that negotiated between the relevant parties. It is an evasion of reality to say someone "chooses" to get injured on a job. It is about as honest as saying someone "chooses" to die in a plane crash.

To say the employer is "punished" by the bus crash to the appropriate order of magnitude compared to you as the driver who may be permanently maimed is another evasion of reality. If the bus rammed into a pedestrian, you'd let the pedestrian sue the bus company (or is vicarious responsibility another plot against the poor misunderstood negligent employer), but not the driver.

It is very simple - if someone is negligent and this causes harm to another - the other should be able to prove that negligence and harm and have the situation corrected. It is a basic tenant of common law and justice. Why should someone whose actions have caused me harm, and which I could not reasonably foresee and take steps to prevent be immune from legal redress? Otherwise abolish tort law. If your neighbour dumps poison on his land and it leaks on yours "it's your choice, you should have taken care of yourself".

What utter nonsense.

7/17/2008 08:11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Tough shit if some prick drives round a bend drunk and slams into you right?


Yep. now explain how that is in any way different from the situation now.

If your neighbour smokes cigarettes on his land and the some comes on to yours "it's your choice, you should have taken care of yourself".

precisely. it's called freedom.

7/17/2008 08:50:00 pm  
Anonymous LGM said...

Anon

You are being dishonest. Respond to his actual points. Stop evading.

LGM

7/18/2008 02:45:00 am  
Blogger libertyscott said...

"Yep. now explain how that is in any way different from the situation now"

In countries which haven't banned lawsuits for personal injury by accident, you can sue for compensation.

I never said cigarettes your lying prick. However you are evasive. If I push you down some stairs crippling you, I presumably should only get criminal charges for assault and after serving my sentence then "tough luck Mr Cripple, you chose your paraplegia".

You have to be a troll for being such an idiot.

7/18/2008 08:31:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your neighbour dumps poison on his land and it leaks on yours...

If your neighbour smokes cigarettes on his land...

Oh dear, I can't help it if you went to a state school. It was, after all, your choice to be stupid and uneducated.

My point, lgm & "liberty"scott, is a simple one: what is the difference between cigarette smoke and poison? Who decides? I may happen to hate cigarette smoke. It certainly adversely affects my quality of life!

So: who decides? The government? The courts?

Or do we believe in freedom?

If I push you down some stairs crippling you, I presumably should only get criminal charges for assault and after serving my sentence then "tough luck Mr Cripple, you chose your paraplegia".

precisely. If you're stupid enough to push me down stairs, you probably don't have anything worth suing for. And if you do - why should society punish you because you have chosen not to be destitute?

The answer is - as it always is to everything - Freedom and Responsibility.

I can choose to insure myself. Or I can choose not to. In that sense, you are absolutely right: yep, I chose my problems.

Why should someone whose actions have caused me harm, and which I could not reasonably foresee and take steps to prevent be immune from legal redress?

They should not be immune. But here -as in everywhere else - the most important part is which I could not reasonably foresee and take steps to prevent?

If I don't want smoke in my house, I can choose air conditioning, or choose land far enough away from others that I can enjoy it in peace.

If I don't want poison on my land - ditto - although if you poison comes onto my land, and I should have redress precisely to the point where you make good (not punitive or exemplary damages: more nanny-statism).

If I choose to walk on the pavement, to ride in or drive a bus, to take take a job in an office or a uranium or asbestos mine, or whatever I do, then my freedom is my responsibility

So if I'm sitting in a roadside cafe and get hit by a bus, no I cannot sue the bus company or the cafe owner: the bus driver is guilty at law. If I'm sitting in my house and a bus comes off the road, through the fence, through my house wall and hits me - who is at fault? Those with the worst lawyers?

I am personally responsible for my freedom. I can choose to exercise that freedom, or not.

It is certainly not the place of the state to reduce my freedom and responsibility, either through a direct scheme like ACC, or an indirect scheme like a crazily expensive court system.

Anything else is socialist nannyism just as much as Labour! - but rather than taxing all the "rich parasites" you are just taxing those unlucky enough who happen to make a small mistake.

7/18/2008 09:54:00 am  

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