Doesn’t this just fuck the NHS then?

It examines a puzzle: why were vessels on this route, a monopoly of the Spanish crown, three times more likely to sink than those journeying between the Netherlands and East Asia?

Historians cite the weather as the main reason why one in eight ships, carrying incredibly valuable spices and silver between the Philippines and Mexico, sank. But the researchers pose a different possibility – that monopoly restrictions on ship numbers incentivised bribe-taking by galleon officials, undermining limits on cargo weight. Overloaded vessels have a tendency to sink, and one galleon, the San José, went down with cargo equivalent to almost 2% of the entire Spanish empire’s GDP.

We spend a lot of time worrying about the negative impact of monopolies in raising prices. But we need to take a wider view of their damage, which can include lower wages for workers and, it turns out, being lost at sea.

24 thoughts on “Doesn’t this just fuck the NHS then?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I do not dispute the result but it relies on all other things being equal. The Spanish are not the Dutch.

  2. I’m sure the Spanish were less selfcongratulatory than the members of the NHS nor did they regard transporting treasure as a burden. The NHS is way worse.

  3. The NHS is a Good Monopoly though, as the people who work for it magically become saints the moment they take its money. Unlike the people who work for private enterprises who become Evil Capitalist Bastards the moment they get paid.

  4. So Much For Subtlety said:
    “The Spanish are not the Dutch”

    True, but it depends when they’re talking about; in the early age of discovery the Spanish were regarded as better sailors than the Dutch.

  5. @SMfS
    “The Spanish are not the Dutch.”
    But in the 16th century the Dutch were Spanish.
    Although I would be inclined to agree with you. The Spanish have held the monopoly on incompetence for a very long time.

  6. RichardT September 20, 2020 at 10:30 am – “True, but it depends when they’re talking about; in the early age of discovery the Spanish were regarded as better sailors than the Dutch.”

    I doubt there was ever a time the Spanish were regarded as better sailors than the Dutch. The Portuguese? Sure. But even if they were, it misses the point.

    The Meissen Bison September 20, 2020 at 10:35 am – “I don’t know, though: those wretched Habsburgs got everywhere.”

    So the question is how efficient are Belgian monopolies?

    bloke in spain September 20, 2020 at 10:37 am – “But in the 16th century the Dutch were Spanish.”

    Well no. The Dutch got to be ruled by the same ruling family, but if they were Spanish there would have been no revolt and the Netherlands would never have broken away. The Dutch were created by their opposition to the Spanish, the rule and their religion. Before the Belgians decided they liked the religion and did not like the other Dutch much.

    “Although I would be inclined to agree with you. The Spanish have held the monopoly on incompetence for a very long time.”

    Oh I don’t think the Spanish have a monopoly. God, no. But I do think that governments work best with introspective, guilt-ridden Protestant populations. The NHS has collapsed exactly in step with the Methodist Church

  7. I think it is gradually dawning on many in the UK that the NHS is not the warm cuddly envy of the world they thought it was.

  8. “Overloaded vessels have a tendency to sink”

    The more enterprising people supervising the shipping might have been inclined to liberate a portion of the cargo before the ship sailed. After that it’s just a matter of matter of ensuring that the ship will sink so the crime never gets detected.

  9. And no one has talked about regulatory capture yet. In France, Spain, Netherlands etc, all sorts of things can happen if you went to school with the boss, are from the same village, have mothers and grandmothers who chat everyday, or are simply from the leading families. There are still loads of Hapsburgs and Bourbons around: one of them in your corner might be enough to flout every official local decree and get your condo built on a site of scientific interest, and probably with EU backing thrown in

  10. “The more enterprising people supervising the shipping might have been inclined to liberate a portion of the cargo before the ship sailed. After that it’s just a matter of matter of ensuring that the ship will sink so the crime never gets detected.”

    But that requires an alternative shipping arrangement; cargo for export is not worth much until it reaches its market.

  11. @BiS

    “The Spanish are not the Dutch.

    But in the 16th century the Dutch were Spanish.”

    I think what is meant is that Southern Europeans are historically believed to be more corrupt then Northern Europeans.

  12. “But in the 16th century the Dutch were Spanish.”

    Like hell we were…

    About as true a statement as “Given the british royal family traces itself back to William the Conqueror, the UK is still ruled over by french kings”
    (where in fact they nowadays trace back to William of Orange, Stadholder of Holland, King of England, as does every current royal family in Europe..)

  13. Difficult to be descended from someone who had no kids. Billy III rather preferring his “soldiers” to his wife…..of course it could have been consanguinity but soldiers is the usual explanation…..

  14. William III deeply loved Queen Mary and slept in a camp bed at her bedside during her last illness and was a broken man after her death. She miscarried several times early in their marriage. I think that there was a curse on the Jacobean sisters like that.

  15. MC,

    “I think it is gradually dawning on many in the UK that the NHS is not the warm cuddly envy of the world they thought it was.”

    Sadly, I don’t think that’s what’s happening.

    When the NHS fixes up your gran, it’s the envy of the world. When it colossally fucks up, it’s the Tories not spending enough money.

    Fixing the NHS is going to require another Thatcher with the iron will to just privatise huge chunks of it very quickly and everyone to go “oh, well, this seems OK now” in the same way no-one cares about renationalising the buses.

  16. Meant to say in previous post.

    My Uni lecturer used to describe the Spanish silver fleet as being like a clerk delivering takings to the bank at the same time every week. It was inevitable that he was going to be robbed. So it was in 1628 when the Dutch captured the fleet off Cuba.

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