As ever, progressives entirely miss the point

David Laws, Consultant Anaesthetist, City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, SR4 7TP

Professor Charles S. Adams, Department of Physics, Durham University, Durham, DH1 3LE

Introduction:
The unquestioned assertion that a highly developed currency-issuing nation cannot afford high quality healthcare [1] is based upon a set of inter-related and almost universally-held false assumptions:
Money is in limited supply (as there is no ‘magic money tree’).
Taxes fund government spending.
Private banks lend out pre-existing savings.
NHS spending is a burden on the economy rather than a boost to the economy.

Excellent, a physicist and an anaesthetist decide to tell us about economics and money.

So, they’ve grasped what Modern Monetary Theory is saying about money. OK. We may or may not have our issues with that but let’s just accept their points for the moment.

They’ve still missed the damn point. Economics isn’t about the allocation of money – although there is most certainly that interesting subsection, monetary economics. Economics is about the allocation of scarce resources. And as they point out, money in the sense of fiat money isn’t a scarce resource. Yes, quite obviously we can just make more – with interesting effects no doubt. But that still doesn’t solve our problem, because we still face scarce resources.

There are only so many people in the country, there’s only so much labour. We’ve some limited number of buildings, the resources to build more, labour, land, cement, they’re all scarce.

Having more pieces of paper with which we price those resources doesn’t change the fact that the resources are scarce. Which means that if you want more resources to be applied to health care then there are other things we are not doing as a result of that resource allocation. Nothing you can say about money changes this, absolutely nothing.

We’re not worried about the allocation of money, we’re worried about the allocation of resources. Thus the insistence that we’ve no shortage of money to allocate doesn’t solve the problem.

36 comments on “As ever, progressives entirely miss the point

  1. Of course we can afford high quality health care – but we don’t because we insist on paying too much to individual consultant anaesthetists instead of hiring more staff at lower pay per head.
    FTFY

  2. It’s sad really, because it isn’t that far from the law of conservation of mass. You might think that a professor of physics might think hard and figure it out on his own, wouldn’t you?

  3. As economic resources go, Consultant Anaesthetists are about as rare as you can get, to Mr Laws would be quids in.

    Still, one can imagine what Mr Laws would say about economists weighing in with their ideas on anaesthetising patients, so quite why he feels he needs to show off the pustules caused by him contracting the Murphy Virus is a mystery.

  4. We get high quality care from dentists, vets, opticians, cosmetic surgeons, fitness centres and slimming world consultants.
    We seem to have a problem getting high quality care from the socialised sector – two answers: more money with the queens head on it for the socialised sector.
    And ensure that fewer resources come through the training system
    http://www.bmj.com/content/337/bmj.a748

  5. One of your better rantettes, Mr W. Top hole.

    I’ve hardly ever met a scientist who has had the least clue about economics. Doctors, of course, know about absolutely everything. Or so they claim.

    You tend to get more sense from engineers and vets, perhaps even a sense of the limits of their knowledge. Given that vets are just doctors whose patients can’t speak, it’s a bit of a mystery why they are so often superior specimens to docs, but so it seems to be.

  6. Doctors are not required to be intelligent. They are required to be able to memorize vast volumes of material and work ungodly hours. Same for lawyers. Google will continue to crush them on both points and their professions will lose most if not all of their prestige.

    And why the hell do we still have such things as librarians and ‘library science’?

  7. Librarians are helpful when you aren’t sure what to put into Google. But they can only be good at it if they are already rich and are genuinely doing it because they like books. Anyone who would be good at being a librarian but has no money can easily find a job that pays much better.

    Most doctors are not intelligent, because medicine in the UK these days is about communication, manual dexterity and pattern recognition (which are “arts” rather than “sciences”). The science part is just following protocols and getting statisticians to find out what works best for the least amount of money. The doctor’s job (and sadly some fail at even this) is to give patients the impression that somebody cares, when in reality it’s all about the numbers and the money.

    To be fair, anaesthetists are the most likely doctors to have some brains, because passing the FRCA is EXTREMELY difficult, you really have to cut yourself off from the world for 6 months. Other exams, yes those are mainly about memory. Of course very smart people may have silly political views, but that’s neither here nor there.

  8. that great economist, Douglas Adams, provides a lovely summary of this:
    “”Thank you. Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt the leaf as legal tender, we have, of course, all become immensely rich.”
    Ford stared in disbelief at the crowd who were murmuring appreciatively at this and greedily fingering the wads of leaves with which their track suits were stuffed.
    “But we have also,” continued the management consultant, “run into a small inflation problem on account of the high level of leaf availability, which means that, I gather, the current going rate has something like three deciduous forests buying one ship’s peanut.””

  9. “We get high quality care from dentists, vets, opticians, cosmetic surgeons, fitness centres and slimming world consultants.”

    It never ceases to amaze me that my dogs can get top quality care for £30/month, with a small excess. Including getting to see a vet 24/7/365 if needed. I have never had to wait more than a day to see a vet. Give running a vets surgery can’t be any less costly than a GP doctors surgery (my vet does full ops, and there’s always extra staff around) why the fuck can we not see a doctor on similar terms and cost?

  10. Euthanise some of the population (fatties and smokers who want treatment – if you don’t, then keep on with your habits) and we could probably do the NHS a lot cheaper.

    Might also lump in people who injure themselves doing ‘extreme’ sports and the old to properly balance the books.

  11. Hah.

    “The unquestioned assertion that a highly developed currency-issuing nation cannot afford high quality healthcare….”

    Oh we know that we can afford high quality healthcare. We just aren’t sure we can do it via the system we have in place at present.

    Your contention is we can if we run the presses.

    My contention is I’d like to change the system to mimic the French, Japanese or Singaporean one, as those are better and cheaper than ours, what with them not requiring the convince ruin of their parent economies to function acceptably.

    Y’see the difference?

  12. “Durham is one the top universities in the world, three places above St Andrew’s in the rankings”

    It’s hard to see where you’re getting to with that john77. Do you mean more or less qualified to be a fuckwit?

  13. @ BIT
    That’s on a rating by a US website – because it was the quickest one to find – which has Oxford behind Harvard and three other American universities instead of top – so a better site *might* show Durham ahead of Texas instead of 7 places lower.
    I am not claiming it’s better than Oxbridge or the best of your Ivy League but obviously, having been born in County Durham, I have to stick up for it against unfair comments and it does rank above Trinity College, Dublin and St Andrew’s as well as the worst of your Ivy League.

  14. My contention is I’d like to change the system to mimic the French, Japanese or Singaporean one, as those are better and cheaper than ours, what with them not requiring the convince ruin of their parent economies to function acceptably.

    Alas, the French system is bankrupt and has been for years. Quite what this means isn’t clear though, as everyone still gets treatment as normal.

  15. — “So you accept that unemployment is an indication that we have a resource that is not scarce?”

    A certain level of short-term unemployment is expected in a dynamic economy (creative destruction etc.) And recessions will also see higher levels of unemployment (which is a feature, not a bug.) It’s why everyone is so wealthy today.

    But anything beyond that is nothing but an indication of an over-generous welfare state which offers a lifestyle rather than a safety-net, and other bad policies such as minimum wage laws.

    So no, unemployment is not an indication that we have a resource that is not scarce. Laws can be passed which cause anything you name to be artificially over-priced and under-consumed, not just labour; and we don’t say that such resources are no longer scarce.

  16. Oxford seems to be going slowly insane from a bout of SJW. We can probably say the same about Harvard too. Whether that will affect their global rankings I dunno. Are there any good unis/colleges that haven’t caught SJW disease?

  17. Despite lots of loud-mouth ‘protestors’ (no change there since my student days in the 70s), last time I checked, Rhodes was still in his place at Oriel and Rhodes House was still there :).

  18. A couple of student relatives a few days ago.solemnly told me they did indeed believe in the Magic Money Tree. “Godd for you” I replied. “Do you also believe in the Magic Resource Tree?”.

  19. Ironman
    A couple of student relatives a few days ago.solemnly told me they did indeed believe in the Magic Money Tree. “Good for you” I replied. “Do you also believe in the Magic Resource Tree

    How did their brilliant woke minds cope with answering that simple question?

  20. My thesis would be this:
    University faculties contain a far above proportion of socialists compared to the wider population. University graduates contain a significantly greater proportion of socialists compared with the general population. Being as, historically, socialism has failed to improve the lot of any society it’s been tried in, you’d have to be a fuckwit to be a socialist.
    Ergo, universities either select for fuckwits, inculcate fuckwittedness or a combination of the two.
    Whatever, good reason to stay away from them & treat anyone who’s attended one with suspicion of fuckwittedness

  21. @ bis and Tractor Gent
    Who pays university lecturers? Out of whose money?
    What is going to benefit them by increasing their rewards for less work?
    Alternatively – what group of people (apart from Premier League footballers) are most likely to think themselves superior to the common herd and deserving the right to tell them what to do and to be paid to do so?
    Those of us who wanted to actually *do* something (in some cases to help people rather than “help people”) sought escape from academia. Those who didn’t, didn’t.

  22. Heaven knows, john77. Why you asking me? I wouldn’t employ a university grad if they paid me. Not unless they had big tits, anyway.

  23. I think I might tend towards an Ecksian solution to the problem, John.
    In which case the answers sum to zero

  24. “Why do (apparently) intelligent people so often do stupid things?”

    Because vast numbers of (seemingly) intelligent people are engaged in ‘work’ that has no real world output, and thus is not subject to a real life test. If a bricklayer does bad work, his wall collapses. If a mechanic forgets to put an important bit back in the engine, it won’t run or destroys itself. On the other hand if a ‘Professor’ of Political Economy writes a load of BS nothing bad happens.

    For people working in the real world, their work is constantly tested by the laws of nature and physics. They thus get to know what works and what doesn’t very quickly. For the ‘intellectuals’ this rarely happens, so they never learn when they are talking shit. They become so sure of their own rightness, never being contradicted by the Universe, that when they do things that have a practical output, and they fail, they assume the Universe is wrong, not themselves.

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