A Great Political Truth

Nick Cohen:

If in dentistry as elsewhere, huge increases in spending fail to produce huge improvements in services, the Conservatives or Conservative policies will triumph over social democracy. Voters will prefer to keep their taxes rather than have the government spend them on their behalf. Like Martin Amis, they will conclude that the British state can\’t help them and look elsewhere.

Yup, that is pretty much it. Going by the evidence, huge increases in spending (and the associated taxation) do not produce huge improvements in services. So, thankfully, goodbye to social democracy.

8 comments on “A Great Political Truth

  1. Errr….you’ve missed the alternative conclusion: that not enough money has been spent. It is the search for this elusive and fictitious tipping point where piling money into a system suddenly starts reaping major rewards that drives social democrats ever onwards and the government’s share of revenue ever upwards.

  2. It may be pleasant to think such things, Tim, but the reality is that the voters never seem to draw the same conclusion as do you and I. Rather, they prefer to pick Team A rather than Team B and to ignore whether they should not, in fact, look at the difference in plans.

    Until you can actually convince people that theory is of utmost importance (as opposed to practice or observable history) they’ll go on more or less as they have. “Third Way” is a seller–or hadn’t you noticed. You pays yer money and gets yer choice–between a little more or a little less, each with different faces to dole it out.

  3. I wonder how much is spent on private dentistry per person compared with the NHS dentistry? I have no idea really – I know my (private) dentist is a lot more expensive than the prices Nick Cohen quotes, but it’d be interesting to see a more scientific comparison.

    Tim adds: where I am, in an entirely free market, I seem to be paying less than I would under the NHS. Impression only mind, not even a data point.

  4. “I know my (private) dentist is a lot more expensive than the prices Nick Cohen quotes, but it’d be interesting to see a more scientific comparison.”

    Well that’s the price out of your pocket at the point of sale, but it’s nothing close to the actual real price to you the taxpayer. That’s the whole point.

  5. Well that’s not the whole point, is it? But I agree the costs should be compared on a similar basis. If, as I suppose is the case, the dentists are relatively equal in costs/output (as they are usually the same people) then the political lesson is surely not what Nick Cohen is claiming, that it’s a failure of output to keep up with inputs, but one of distaste for taxation funding.

  6. Why not churn out more dentists. Or semidentists – they can’t all be orthodontists.
    Why does it take so long to become a dentist?

  7. Our family goes to a private dentist in London. He takes the children as NHS patients, so they’re ‘free’ (a.t.p.o.e. at least).

    I’ve never had any fillings or other serious treatment. A checkup/scrape & polish is £32 each, which I think is pretty reasonable.

    Given the choice between rotting teeth and £5 a month, I’m surprised people choose to complain about not being able to find an NHS dentist.

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