An inalienable right to chicken Kiev 3

The great essayist (and physician) Theodore Dalrymple writes in the Wall Street Journal:

If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that “someone” is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.

People sometimes argue in favor of a universal human right to health care by saying that health care is different from all other human goods or products. It is supposedly an important precondition of life itself. This is wrong: There are several other, much more important preconditions of human existence, such as food, shelter and clothing.

Everyone agrees that hunger is a bad thing (as is overeating), but few suppose there is a right to a healthy, balanced diet, or that if there was, the federal government would be the best at providing and distributing it to each and every American.

Where does the right to health care come from? Did it exist in, say, 250 B.C., or in A.D. 1750? If it did, how was it that our ancestors, who were no less intelligent than we, failed completely to notice it?

If, on the other hand, the right to health care did not exist in those benighted days, how did it come into existence, and how did we come to recognize it once it did?

When the supposed right to health care is widely recognized, as in the United Kingdom, it tends to reduce moral imagination. Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, “So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?”

When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one.

Moreover, the right to grant is also the right to deny. And in times of economic stringency, when the first call on public expenditure is the payment of the salaries and pensions of health-care staff, we can rely with absolute confidence on the capacity of government sophists to find good reasons for doing bad things.

The question of health care is not one of rights but of how best in practice to organize it. America is certainly not a perfect model in this regard. But neither is Britain, where a universal right to health care has been recognized longest in the Western world.

Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so.

The government-run health-care system—which in the U.K. is believed to be the necessary institutional corollary to an inalienable right to health care—has pauperized the entire population. This is not to say that in every last case the treatment is bad: A pauper may be well or badly treated, according to the inclination, temperament and abilities of those providing the treatment. But a pauper must accept what he is given.

Universality is closely allied as an ideal, ideologically, to that of equality. But equality is not desirable in itself. To provide everyone with the same bad quality of care would satisfy the demand for equality. (Not coincidentally, British survival rates for cancer and heart disease are much below those of other European countries, where patients need to make at least some payment for their care.)

In any case, the universality of government health care in pursuance of the abstract right to it in Britain has not ensured equality. After 60 years of universal health care, free at the point of usage and funded by taxation, inequalities between the richest and poorest sections of the population have not been reduced. But Britain does have the dirtiest, most broken-down hospitals in Europe.

There is no right to health care—any more than there is a right to chicken Kiev every second Thursday of the month.

Posted under Britain, Commentary, Health, Socialism, United Kingdom, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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We are Completely Broke! 7

A British Housewife’s view of the UK economy:

Treasury forecasts that in five years the UK Government will owe £1,400,000,000,000. No, I didn’t lean on the ‘0’ key. It really is that big. Let’s take the very most optimistic view possible:

1. suppose this is true and it is not higher (bank bale-outs, PFIs, decommissioning power stations, civil servant pensions and so forth blithely ignored for the moment because Labour have made this ‘off balance sheet’ to hide it);
2. suppose this is only serviced at a rate of 3% and that it will not cost more (for example, because interest rates rise, because investors will not buy gilts, or because the pound drops further against other currencies and gold);
3. suppose that other Government income does not drop (because the economy shrinks, because people and companies pay less tax if they are bankrupt or unemployed);
4. suppose that other expenses do not go up (unemployment benefit; more bale-outs; rising pay demanded by the 40% of the workforce in the public sector);

and suppose these things even though they are probably not true at all.

Even with this rosy view, the cost of servicing that debt will be, at a modest 3%, some £42,000,000,000 a year. Again, I do not lean on the ‘0’ key.

This means that towards the end of the next Parliament, the cost of paying for all the debt will amount to about the same as the total corporation tax income the treasury takes in a year at today’s rates.

Just paying interest Government’s term will cost the entire contribution of British business to the pubic purse . Or look at it this way, interest payments will take funds which amount to more than the Government spends a year on public order (police, law courts, prisons, etc): that is just to pay the interest, not to pay back what it borrowed.

What is the alternative view? Maybe the public debt could be £1,840,000,000,000 (including the off balance sheet items ignored in the Treasury forecasts). Maybe my assumptions are a tad too optimistic. If interest rates on gilts then go up to a fairly unremarkable 6%, that would be a debt interest cost of £110 billion a year – about the current cost of the National Health Service.

What happens then, as the Government runs out of money?

It still wants to pay for the NHS, pensions, the Army, Police, welfare, rubbish collection, equality, redistribution of wealth, pocket money for low income teenagers (I kid you not), schools, universities, nauseating public art, the climate nonsense and so forth. Government spends about half our output and employs nearly half of us at the moment. It spends about £43 million a day on the European Union. Well at some point, say it can’t actually pay because of the debt interest it needs to pay.

You may say it will have to raise taxes, sell gilts (borrow even more), sell gold, or just print more money.

Raising taxes will come. but will simply strangle the last bit of life out of what is left of the productive part of our economy, or push wealth and investors abroad. I would also be amazed if the UK can carry on issuing gilts. Who will buy them? A broke UK is hardly the best investment and the credit rating is already being questioned. And if gilts are sold, we may have to pay punitive rates. Gordon Brown already sold all the gold, by the way, when the price was low. What is left? The Government will have to print money. However, this can only make matters worse. The money supply will go up and therefore prices will rise with interest rates (probably just as oil prices go up further). The worth of pensions, savings and property will be cruelly devalued by this dilution in the value of the pound. There will be public sector anger, unemployment, rising prices and real poverty.

(By the way for all of you who say the CPI and RPI measures of inflation are low, please just remember that food inflation as calculated in the Daily Telegraph, is consistently between 9 and 14%. The indices are low in energy and mortgage payments because oil prices went down and because of the low interest rate. These can always go up again.)

Can Government cut spending? Just just to pay for interest and not really touch capital obligations, we shall have to ditch the equivalent of the NHS. The main political parties have done their typical thing: Conservatives have been vague and Labour has been misleading. Conservatives have said they will cut some spending but will not cut the NHS or Third World Aid. Labour is committed to spending more in real terms but won’t say if that includes interest and unemployment benefit so this means in reality spending less too, but not admitting it (in the usual Labour way).

The only answer is of course to make the productive part of the economy work again. We must reduce the cost and size of the public sector and ditch the EU. We must somehow allow businesses to create wealth, make a profit, employ people and thereby help them pay their mortgages. Even if we do this, it is going to be tough and public policy makers simply are not facing up to it. Both main parties have obviously never kept to a household budget.

Mrs M A Westrop, UK Housewife: economists please comment.

Posted under Uncategorized by on Monday, June 22, 2009

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Witch-doctors welcome? 0

 The Wall Street Journal has published an article by Deepak Chopra and others declaring that  ‘Alternative’  Medicine is Mainstream

In the account below of the failure of the British National Health Service, Madeleine Westrop writes that the NHS pays for ‘complementary medicine such as homeopathy and reflexology, hands on healing.’

Deepak Chopra wants this to happen in America too.

Who is Deepak Chopra? He’s into ‘self-awareness’; he’s pro-Hamas; he suffers from ‘Bush derangement syndrome’.

Will American patients be forcibly put into the hands of shamans – and shams – like this man?

In an Obama-run America, it’s more than possible, it’s very likely. 

Posted under Articles, Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 10, 2009

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Witch-doctors welcome? 1

 The Wall Street Journal has published an article by Deepak Chopra and others declaring that  ‘Alternative’  Medicine is Mainstream

In the account below of the failure of the British National Health Service, Madeleine Westrop writes that the NHS pays for ‘complementary medicine such as homeopathy and reflexology, hands on healing.’

Deepak Chopra wants this to happen in America too.

Who is Deepak Chopra? He’s into ‘self-awareness’; he’s pro-Hamas; he suffers from ‘Bush derangement syndrome’.

Will American patients be forcibly put into the hands of shamans – and shams – like this man?

In an Obama-run America, it’s more than possible, it’s very likely. 

Posted under Articles, Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 10, 2009

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Americans should never have to endure anything like the British National Health Service 0

 Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD) has been nominated to be the new secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Heritage Foundation has published an article by Robert E Moffit asking Senator Daschle ‘key questions’ and giving the ‘right answers’. The whole thing is worth reading. 

Here is an extract, relevant to the account posted below in 3 installment, Health of the nation by Madeleine Westrop, which provides a horrifying description of a patient’s experience at the hands of the British National Health Service:

Question #4: The British Experience with NICE

On page 127 of your book, you write, "In other countries, national health boards have helped to ensure quality and rein in costs in the face of these challenges. In Great Britain, for example, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which is part of the National Health Service (NHS), is the single entity responsible for providing guidance on the use of new and existing drugs, treatments, and procedures." If that British agency determines that a treatment is cost effective, it must then be available within the NHS, but it also denies reimbursement for treatments, making them practically unavailable for patients. Based on your assessment of the record of NICE, would you like to see similar results for doctors and patients in the United States?

Answer. The right answer is that Americans should never have to endure anything remotely like the centralized, bureaucratic health care decision-making process that characterizes the British National Health Service.

Increasingly, the British media is reporting on the consequences of the role of NICE, and those results are nasty. For example, The Telegraph of London reports that NICE denied access to Velcade, a new drug for the treatment of cancer.Jacky Pickles, a 44-year-old mother with the disease, made a direct plea to Britain’s health secretary for coverage of the medication. Ms. Pickles, working in the British system as a midwife for 25 years, said, "I am going to give them the last years of my life. I’ve got to go to work in a Health Service that won’t support me when I most need it. I have given my life to the NHS, but it is a system that won’t give me something I need to save my life." Britain’s health secretary would not intervene to help Ms. Pickles, and NICE officials refused to comment, noting that while the drug for cancer treatment is "clinically effective" compared to chemotherapy, they deemed it not to be "cost effective." If members of the incoming Administration and the Congress really want such a system, they should thoroughly brief ordinary Americans what it would entail.

Posted under Articles, Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, January 10, 2009

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