Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Britain’s National Healthscare System

Don Surber has been running a smack down on the British National Healthcare System (NHS) the last few days.  I’ve been writing more in his comments section on his site than here.  So I thought I would try to expand on my thoughts.

The NHS has been getting some well deserved bad press of late for some particularly egregious cases of patient abuse that are symptomatic of what a system of socialized medicine inevitably devolves into.  And I say inevitably because it is not just a health issue or a bureaucracy issue or a government issue or anything else so narrowly focused.   It is simply the result of natural laws, like water flowing down hills, that all the utopian wishful thinking of the socialists cannot make go away.

One of the recurring responses by independent commentors to the cases that have been brought up is, “How could they allow this to happen?”

You get what you incentivize and saving lives is not what socialized medicine is incentivized to do.  It is incentivized to stay in budget.  The decrepit and inadequate facilities, foreign staffs working for peanuts and general disregard for patients they are theoretically supposed to serve is all a function of maintaining budgets.  Any administrator who takes eyes off that ball ceases to be an administrator and is replaced with one with better focus.  It is a competitive process in a socialistic system which has no feedback loop to moderate its behavior.  The competition is not for organizational or personal profit within a legally stabilized free market environment, but for personal power unfettered by outside influences; the essential driving force in a bureaucracy.

Free market medicine has multiple feedback loops.  Crappy hospitals don’t get patients, bad doctors get sued, insurance providers have to compete with each other for customers and providers, governments try to stabilize the system with (ideally) sensible regulation.  It is a system of checks and balances.

Yeah, yeah, yeah; in theory the electorate of England tells their representatives to improve the system.  But the reality is that there are good feedback loops and bad feedback loops.  A good feedback is efficient, driving the system to a desired state without overshooting or resulting in wild gyrations.  Clearly, the free market system feedbacks lack efficiency.  But in socialist systems feedback loops are almost nonexistent.  The British electorate could tell the government to fix or change the system.  But the government’s reply is to threaten the electorate’s access to medical care.  Socialism shifts all power to the government.  When the BBC wants to get more money, they don’t go out and try to produce better programing to get more viewers.  They cancell the most popular shows, effectively blackmailing the viewers to pressure the government to give them more money (or no one ever gets to see Dr. Who again).  It’s the joy of having a captive audience and control of the sources of production.

Socialism in general, like the communist governmets of Europe in particular, only do one thing well.  They accumulate and maintain power…right up to the point where the population finally decides that chaos is better than their imposed order and the revolution casts them aside.  The government/entrenched bureaucracy can and will ensure that any transition away from NHS will be as agonizingly painful to the electorate as possible.  That’s their hold on power.  If they can ensure that, they can continue to get away providing the basest medical care achievable while convincing the electorate that crap is better than nothing.

And lacking that political feedback loop, the NHS will continue to be driven solely based on bureaucrat’s abilities to stay in budget at any cost.  Health care afterall, is not what they are incentivized to provide.

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‘Tis the night after the night after the night after the night after Christmas

Christmas present #1:  A major tooth ache.

Christmas present #2: Vicoden.   I was pretty mellow by late Christmas day.  Like most pain killers, it doesn’t kill the pain as much as it makes you not care.

Belated Christmas present:  Root canal.  Some presents just keep on giving. [sigh]

Has the American Experiment run its course? Updated: No.

Update: Apparently I jumped the gun on worrying about Princess Caroline being anointed to the Senate as a familial right.  Apparently, the effects of inbreeding can take place in a single generation amongst the Kennedy clan and even the Kennedy worshipers that make up the Main Stream Media can’t hide it. End Update:

The publicity surrounding “Princess” Caroline’s potential anointment to the Senate has helped bring to light the current American Political Aristocracy.  Political families are nothing new and go back to the Adamses at the very founding of the republic.  The question has been floated as what effect it might have had on American history if George Washington had not been childless.  But rarely is there such a blatant disregard for the very concept of democratic representative government as her appointment would be.

What drives this pattern where voters choose voluntarily (in most cases) to vote for political families?  Do people actually think better of a politician because they are related to another politician.  “They must have good political genes.”  Or is it simple name recognition.  A form of celebrity where people vote for the names that sound most familiar.

The problem with a political aristocracy is there isn’t a huge difference between only allowing a select few to serve and only allowing a select few to vote.  The only real power of the vote is to decide who holds office.  If the candidates are highly filtered before the voters get to have a say, then the vote doesn’t really mean much.  This was how the single party elections in the Soviet Union were run.  It’s how the single party elections in Chicago are run.  It concentrates power into the hands of a few and INEVITABLY, that aristocracy sees the power granted them as a right…and an entitlement to whatever privileges they choose to give themselves.  It’s easy to ration resources to the plebeians knowing that the aristocracy will never know privation.

It was casting off that sense of entitlement that was the American Experiment.  Yeah, yeah…the original United States weren’t much in the way of a democracy by modern standards.  And many of the Founding Fathers were social aristocrats.  But not all.  The ideal was real.  That was that the republic could be run based on the will of the people who would choose their own representatives from amongst themselves and that power would not be vested in a hereditary political class.  The lesson of history is clear what happens when the pool of available representatives gets pared down by non-democratic forces.  This was why the Constitution is so cavalier about who can hold office.  The writers did not want to preselect who could run.

Will recognition of this pattern of rising aristocracy give people pause when they vote?  Is the current aristocracy a result of lazy voters or some perverse human characteristic to anoint kings so the voters don’t have to be responsible any more?  Will future voters ever respond to political counter ads that point to a politician’s political lineage as a negative?  Sen Lisa Murkowski may be having issues in Alaska with her seat being the gift from her daddy the Governor.  Even though she won re-election in ’04 there is still aparently a lingering resentment left over about the nepotism thing.  I have no opinion of Murkowski herself.  But voter opposition to that nepotism in general is a good thing in my book.

So does this mean that I wouldn’t support a Jeb Bush presidency and the possibility of a third Bush administration?  Not necessarily.  Jeb Bush can legitimately stand on his record as governor of Florida, as George Dubya did with his time as governor of Texas.  But I would sacrifice Jeb if it would help break the political aristocracy.   What if he legally change his name to Smith and ran on his record without the family name.  Would that still be the same thing?

Doing my part to support the gas industry

It was 5 degrees out last night.  Masonry houses with old sash windows don’t like that kind of weather.  Can’t wait to see the gas bill.  Shortly after moving into this house in 1988, it hit 13 below.  There was ice on the inside walls of the basement.  I suspect that we may be seeing that again soon.  I need to inventory the cold weather gear.  I don’t have the parkas and insulated overalls I used to have back then.

They promised us Global Warming.  THEY PROMISED!

There was a satellite picture in the National Geographic back in the 70’s that showed snow cover in all 48 contiguous states which meant that there was snow cover on all 50 states  (Hawaii gets snow cover on some of the mountain tops and Alaska, well…Duh).  Are we going to do it again this year?

Busy, busy, busy

So many topics…so little time.

Where’s my Global Warming!

Defroster in the car couldn’t keep the ice from building up on the windshield going down the highway.  Lovely day for a drive.

Associated Press says January weather in December is proof of Global Warming.  Wonder what flavor Kool-Aid they drink in there.

Auto bailout = taxpayer funding of Democrats

No you say?

Democrats give money to auto companies.  Unions keep their contracts intact.  Unions are the biggest finaciers of the Democrats.

How much of that $15 Billion gets funneled straight to Democratic Party headquarters?

Consider this:  The foreign auto makers with US factories often have higher domestic US content in their cars than the so-called US companies do.  If the Increadibly Shrinking Three go bye-bye, the foreign owned companies will fill the market void, very likely with higher domestic US content than the Three Stooges used and the consequence of that could be that US auto industry employment goes up.

On how many levels can bailing out failed companies be bad?

What’s more corrupting than money?

Power.

Money is only corrupting because it gives power.

How did Obama get through the corrupt Chicago/Illinois political machine without having a financial scandal?  What did he trade?  We know all the players in Chicago were looking out for the number ones.   They would not support him for altruistic reasons.  So what did he offer?  Passing up financial opportunities for power?

That Obama slid through the sewer of crooked politicos without getting dirty is as likely as Hillary not knowing anything was going on at the Rose Law Firm even though every other partner of the firm was convicted and jailed for felonies.

How do you bribe a sitting governor?  You pay retainers to his wife’s law firm.

How does a politician with zero accomplishments become president?

I’m cooking the popcorn and waiting for that show to start.

Somedays, I wish I was a lawyer – 3

The republicans in the Senate successfully stopped the auto union bailout only to have Bush say he’s going to pay the $15 Billion out of the $700 Billion TARP bill.  If TARP wasn’t meant to be a gravy train for failed businesses and there is no language in it that authorized Bush to use it as a gravy train for failed businesses…then could a taxpayer suit stop it as an unconstitutional breach of power?

Any lawyers out there want to take that one on?  I, unfortunately, can’t do it myself.

A culture is not just the government

[Update:  Corrected Blagojevich’s name.  Cursed Serbian names.  Do you know how many different ways you can spell “Rod”?]

Re: [Shouldn’t Be] Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Everyone’s talking about Illinois’ state governments’ “Culture of Corruption”.  The problem is culture is not just government.  Culture is societal.  The rot and corruption of Illinois is too pervasive to exist without the tacit approval of the voters.

I went to school in Illinois in the 70’s.  Lots of fellow students were from Chicago…and they were inordinately proud of their corrupt politicians.  People who hold Al Capone in high honor are unlikely to respect a honest politician.

I remember back during the Nixon/McGovern election is ’72 (GAD I’m old)  The choice was between the crook and the fool.  Most people picked the crook because you can generally figure out what the crook is going to do versus throwing one’s lot in with a fool who might do anything.  But that fact that the crook is better than the fool doesn’t mean that either choice is good.

The real problem is not yet another crooked politician getting frog marched out of the capital.  The problem is the people who’s disgust is not with his corruption but with his being caught.  They will in all likelihood turn around and elect another corrupt hack, hoping that this one won’t be so stupid.  THAT is the real problem.

The culture of corruption is not Illinois politics.  It’s Illinois.  I would pin the blame clearly on Chicago.  But I live across the river from East St. Louis and St. Clair County.  The problem is more pervasive than just Chicago.