The Lancet’s latest drive for global governance

The whole thing can be summed up in this:

Although the poorest population groups in the poorest countries are left with the heaviest burden of health risks and disease, the fact that people’s life chances differ so widely is not simply a problem of poverty, but one of socioeconomic inequality.

It’s the inequality that makes people ill, see?

So we can guess what their global governance for health will be all about.

However, it’s not actually inequality that is the problem. It’s poverty. Absolute, destitution type, poverty.

As ever, if you diagnose the problem wrongly then your solutions will also be wrong. The tactics required to reduce inequality….or perhaps those that are likely to be offered here….are to tax the snot out of the rich in order to reduce said inequality. The policies required to reduce absolute poverty might be rather different. In fact, we’ve just been carrying out an experiment in this these past few decades. The imposition of that neoliberal world order, the Washington Consensus and all, has led to the largest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species. This is not, you might note, the same policy as taxing the snot out of the rich.

It’s therefore extremely important for us to determine whether it is indeed inequality or absolute poverty that is the cause of the ill health of those poor. And whatever the Lancet says I’m sticking with the idea that trying to live on a $1 a day is a cause of ill health rather more than the idea that living on $2 a day while someone else has $20 a day does. That is, it isn’t inequality we need to worry about it’s absolute poverty.

The policy conclusion is therefore not more tax it’s more globalisation and economic freedom.

12 comments on “The Lancet’s latest drive for global governance

  1. Just to be picky-

    The imposition of that neoliberal world order, the Washington Consensus and all, has led to the largest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species.

    Correlation != causation. It might be due to a lack of world wars (it took until 1960 for world economic output to return to 1914 levels), the development of container shipping, or the end of the wave of LSE/Sorbonne Communists of the de-colonisation era. It’s highly probable that the post-1971 choice of internationalised expansionary fiat money under “Neoliberalism” has resulted in less global economic output than a sound money supply would have done. Etc.

    So, the picky point being, you can’t really say Neoliberalism gets the credit, at best you can say that it’s been in operation for the same period as a period of economic growth. It might have been working against greater economic growth we might have had under some other system- e.g. a free market system. You just don’t know, not from the correlation.

    Which isn’t the main point of the article, but I thought it worth picking at anyway.

  2. “if you diagnose the problem wrongly then your solutions will also be wrong.”

    Lazy.

    If I thought my wife was cheating on me and kicked her out, and then it transpired later that although she hadn’t been cheating on me she was planning to kill me for the insurance………..?

    If it wasn’t for this “accidentally correct” paradigm, I suspect the State would get EVERYTHING wrong.

  3. Hey. Couple pages back, weren’t they whining about the diseases of affluence? So the poor of the world are catching up, but haven’t caught up to the point of joining the squash club, winter skiing & fashionable starvation. So the world isn’t made up of overpaid health professionals, yet.

  4. Ian B – “or the end of the wave of LSE/Sorbonne Communists of the de-colonisation era.”

    Except those people did not end. They were still in power. They were just forced to accept reality, either at the end of a fiat from the World Bank or through some other means. Deng Xiaoping pre-dated those people and he kicked off most of that reduction in policy. Nothing to do with the World Bank per se but a collapse of belief rather than a change of personnel.

    bloke in spain – “Hey. Couple pages back, weren’t they whining about the diseases of affluence?”

    Perhaps that is their plan? They are going to take a page out of Pol Pot’s book and reduce the losses due to the diseases of affluence a great deal. As well as inequality.

    Of course death due to blunt force trauma to the head may go up a little. But everyone hates those smart ar$es who can read.

  5. Speaking of socioeconomic inequality, is these some explanation why UK doctors are paid so outrageously highly in comparison with 1 the median salary in the UK and 2 doctors elsewhere in the EU and the rest of the developed world? (Apart of course from the inept bungling of New Labour in agreeing contract terms and responsibilities for doctors).

    Are UK GPs twice as productive as French or Spanish GPs?

  6. Oh, that’s because the basic tenet of “Neoliberal” economics is that the bourgeoisie require ever higher incomes to “attract the best talent” and the proletariat require ever lower incomes to “improve productivity”.

  7. IanB – you referred rightly to 1914 levels. Then the world was blessedly free of sorbonne communists, trade was as free as it has ever been thanks largely to the Royal Navy, and for a generation the world had been climbing out of poverty as fast as it ever has.

    It was only when trade loosened up to something like that extent again some time after 1945 that similar rates of growth were seen again, and it is also notable that in those countries now with the most open economies you get the highest growth whereas the likes of the EU are mired in statism and suffering accordingly.

    I take your point about correlation and causation but I’d say in this case the causation is clear.

    slightly o/t but your point makes me think of something else; if global output only recovered to 1914 levels after 1960, and presumably per capita only some time after that, I wonder how many deaths caused by poverty could be laid at the door of that terrible catastrophe besides those killed in it, and those dying of statism in the various ghastly regimes that arose from the ashes – if we’d had 50 years of uninterrupted growth from 1914 to 1965, would Africa now be a fertile, contented bread basket? China as rich as America?

    It’s probably just me but it sends shivers down my spine when I think about it.

  8. Bloke In Italy-

    It’s a pretty safe bet that a free trade/market 20th century would have got us somewhere close to Utopian by now. It’s a depressing thought.

    It’d be nice to try for a free market 21st century, perhaps.

  9. It is now well established that the more unequal the society, the worse the outcomes for all—including those at the top”

    Im sick of reading this shit.

  10. @ Tim
    ” “the fact that people’s life chances differ so widely is not simply a problem of poverty, but one of socioeconomic inequality.”
    It’s the inequality that makes people ill, see?”
    A Non Sequitur. The inequality of the rich enables them to pay expensive doctors and nurses to keep them well or restore them to health with expensive drugs. This creates health inequality *which the Lancet-Oslo group redefines as inequity*.
    Illness may be (but is not inevitably) a result of absolute poverty as you say.
    What they are attacking is not illness but “inequity” which is the ability of the rich to buy better healthcare. And, surprise, surprise, taxing the rich at 100% of their income above subsistence level will indeed achieve this.

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