Tim Worstall

Seumas on Health Care

Is it too much to ask for factual accuracy in a newspaper?

UnitedHealth is the largest healthcare corporation in the US, making billions of dollars a year out of cherry-picking patients and treatments, squeezing costs and restricting benefits to 70 million Americans forced to get by in the developed world\’s only fully privatised health system.

The US does not have a fully privatised health care system, nothing like. For one thing, "privatised" means that it was once a socially provided system which was then returned to the private sector. As the US system has never been fully socially provided, "private" might have done, but "privatised" is simply incorrect.

It\’s also entirely incorrect because the US system is not fully private either. With Medicare, Medicaid, the VA and so on something like 50% of the US system is in fact socially provided. In the UK, it\’s 90%. What we have here is a difference in emphasis, not the complete divide that Milne is suggesting.

Last month, UnitedHealth agreed with insurance regulators in 36 states to pay out $20m in fines for failures in processing claims and responding to patient complaints. That follows a string of other fines over delayed payments, Medicare fraud and "cheating patients out of money" in New York State.

It\’s a different way of doing it, for sure, but then that\’s the way the US does its regulating, through the courts. It might not be the best system ever but it contrasts quite nicely with how the NHS Trusts deal with their own failures, doesn\’t it? Wasn\’t that manager in line for a £250,000 pay off for presiding over the deaths by infection of 100 or so people before the mob started to bay?

a compelling indictment of the US health system – under which 18,000 Americans die a year because they are uninsured.

Interesting number I\’ve not seen before. Anyone know where it comes from?Worth contrasting that with the 100,000 Americans a year who die because they do get medical treatment though, isn\’t it? And how many does the NHS kill?

I agree with him that the current reforms don\’t look all that good, and that recent ones have not performed as advertised: but why is it necessary to make such statements clearly not grounded in reality to try and bolster the case?

Claiming the Antarctic

These people still don\’t have the first clue, do they?

Environmental groups yesterday condemned British plans to claim sovereignty over a vast tract of the seabed off the coast of Antarctica, with Greenpeace and WWF expressing dismay that the Foreign Office was contemplating possible oil, gas and mineral exploration in the region.


Look, if no one owns it then no one can stop people from prospecting for oil and gas there. Only if there is a legal structure, a system of property rights, can access be regulated. Those who want there to be no drilling should be welcoming the fact that a government that they can influence is asserting said property rights.

Have these people no understanding of the most basic facts about Commons? That without an ownership structure, you can\’t stop people from exploiting the resource?


Boris and Damson Jam

Boris Johnson has a lovely piece about how to make damson jam: and how the EU might make it illegal for you to do so then sell it.

You can sell it to raise money for the church roof. You can sell it at the side of the road, and if all else fails I can think of worse careers. And yet there is a cloud on the horizon, at present no bigger than a man\’s hand, and it is the forthcoming review of the EU\’s 2001 directive on jams, jellies, marmalades and sweetened chestnut purees.

We all know how these reviews become consultations, and how consultations become regulations; and there is a chance that someone in Brussels may decide to bring home-made jam within the scope of the regulations — and then what? We jam-makers would be obliged to state, on oath, the exact sugar content. We might be obliged to warn that jam is a potential cause of obesity, and heaven knows what else.

It is absurd that this innocent industry should have this threat lowering over it, and it is all because of the qualified majority voting — the veto-abolishing system that will be greatly extended by the new reform treaty.

Wekk, quite, we can indeed imagine such a thing happening. This directive is, after all, the one that defines carrots as fruit (that any legal system should do such an inane thing is simply proof that said legal system is a nonsense and should be abolished but that\’s another matter).

However, looking through it, I don\’t see that it currently has any let out for home made jam. It would thus appear that it is already illegal to sell the stuff without declaring its sugar content.

Yvonne Roberts


Women working full time earn 17% less than the full-time male salary. While this is down to a variety of factors, discrimination is at the root.

Whether discrimination is at the root or not is what we want to find out, not our starting assumption. When we do look in more detail and we find that there is no pay gap for lesbians, that never married no children women earn more than their male counterparts, that the pay gap is very small indeed, widens considerably in the prime child bearing years and then shrinks again we might in fact come to the conclusion that the gender pay gap has something to do with…..children!

Just like the exorbitant scale applied to the talent of superstars, the value given to a particular job at times appears arbitrary. Why, for instance, in 2006, did a car mechanic earn £9.72 an hour while a childminder earned £2 less? Don\’t say it\’s down to the difference in skill, since childminding now requires its own set of qualifications and standards. To "care" is no longer enough.

Err, lemme think. Could it be supply and demand?

Why not make it a legal obligation for all companies, large and small, as well as the self-employed to publish salary details and tax obligations of all employees (not just those on the board) in a manner accessible to all?

Err, because they\’re private contracts perhaps? You know, something personal like, something that people may keep hidden if they so wish? If such contracts are to be revealed then there\’s no reason that all contracts should not be published, is there?

That\’s a Thatcherite view of society in which unions are redundant and what the individual wants counts for more than a collective consensus of what is right, fair and just.

Ah, that\’s the real reason. You shouldn\’t do what you want as individuals, you should subject yourself to the tyranny of the majority.


The Boy Dave (M)

While this is true it\’s perhaps not quite the right subject to make the comparison on:

A furious David Miliband has demanded an apology after a senior Labour MP compared his approach to the new EU treaty to Neville Chamberlain\’s appeasement of Adolf Hitler in 1938.

The unease was caused by this of course:

Mr Miliband\’s father and grandfather both fled to England from Brussels to escape the advancing German army in May 1940. His mother stayed behind and joined his father after the war.

So any reference to Hitler and the war is concerning, of course. Where such a comparison could be more usefully made is in the Foreign Secretary\’s attitiude to hte Iraqi interpreters. But it would be impolite to mention that, wouldn\’t it?

Not a Surprising Finding

Immigrant workers are both higher paid and more reliable than their British counterparts and contributed £6 billion to economic growth last year, a Government study said yesterday.

Wow! Isn\’t that a shock children? People who move thousands of miles to work tend to be more reliable. And, amazing, the more reliable workers get paid more!

The study, the first official attempt to establish the economic and fiscal impact of the record levels of immigration seen in recent years, states that \’\’in the long run, it is likely that the net fiscal contribution of an immigrant will be greater than that of a non-immigrant".

Another stunner! The immigrant arrives already adult: so some other place has paid for their upbringing and education. So we\’re not paying those costs of the first 20 years of their life, unlike the manner we do for the native born. It would be tough for them to cost us more than a native, wouldn\’t it?

Randi Rhodes

Randi Rhodes, the liberal radio talk show host was viciously mugged outside her New York apartment on Sunday night.

All best wishes for her recovery, of course, but just wondering, is this where she starts the transition to being a conservative?


So I\’m reading all of these sex blogs and it occurs to me that none of them quite come up to the stardards of a Reformation nun:

I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron\’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying.


First They Came For the Fresh Milk….

You\’ll recall that yesterday Defra was found wanting us to all switch to UHT milk (rather, they were interested in forcing us away from fresh) in order to save the carbon emissions of chilling the current preferred fresh milk. Today, from Joanna Lumley:

or, more likely, increasing the number of meat-free meals and maybe substituting dairy milk and cream with equivalents made from soya beans or oats at some meals.

So not even that is acceptable, we all have to switch to soya milk. Oats? Never even heard of that.

Just one  thought….wouldn\’t we be burning down the rain forest to find the space for all those soya plants?

Giddens on Addiction

Scary stuff here:

Why is compulsive behaviour so common in modern society? It seems to be linked to lifestyle choice. We are freer now than 40 years ago to decide how to live our lives. Greater autonomy means the chance of more freedom. The other side of that freedom, however, is the risk of addiction. The rise of eating disorders coincided with the advent of supermarket development in the 1960s. Food became available without regard to season and in great variety, even to those with few resources.

The logical conclusion to that argument is that in order to beat addiction we should reduce freedom.

Perhaps a reminder that there\’s no worse addiction than the one to power over other people\’s lives.

Polly on the Reform Treaty

Hmm, looks like she\’s making that old mistake again:

The dysfunctional dominance of four newspaper groups, with four fanatical Europe-hating owners, will try to force a referendum.

Do media outlets create the opinions of their consumers or do they chase them? Is the Mail\’s immigrant lsbians building mosques will damage house prices something that Paul Dacre forces down everyone\’s throat or is he a masterly reader of the prejudices of Middle England (sad though it may be to think that that actually is hat motivates Middle England)?

As has been pointed out here many times before, the academic research seems to indicate the latter. Just as it is with almost all businesses: you find out what people want and then go and make it for them rather than make what you want and then force it people.

Only Margaret Thatcher, by demanding an exemption, allowed him to launch Sky on almost entirely US programming – against EU rules.

So if we had adhered to the EU rules there would be no Sky? Do we think that Sky is a positive or negative upon life? And thus whether those EY rules are a positive of a negative? Football would be wildly different if Sky did not exist, vastly poorer, for example. Consumer choice if wildly up as well: these are normally thought of as positives, aren\’t they?

We would join Switzerland and Norway on the outside, subject to EU laws on the single market but unable to influence them. That, of course, is what the Euro-crazies want.

Yup, exactly. That is indeed the minimum of what we want. Now the question becomes, why would that be a bad situation to be in? Can anyone provide rational arguments to bolster the view that this would be worse than the current situation? We\’d be free of CAP, of the CFP, of all of the federalising motions, we would have freedom of movement of capital, goods and labour across the marketplace: exactly what we\’ve always wanted anyway.

If desiring that makes me a Euro-crazy then please, sign me up.

Home Births

Oh yes, they\’re safe.

A baby who was born clinically dead has amazed doctors with his recovery.

Oscar Rose\’s heart stopped beating and his organs began to shut down, so his mother was given an emergency caesarean section. It took eight minutes for doctors to resuscitate Oscar, who then spent nine days in intensive care, with his family convinced that he would be brain damaged.

But he has made a full recovery and is back at home with mother, Lucy Allen, father, Stephen Rose, and stepsister Ella, 12.

Miss Allen, 38, said: "When we got into delivery, the midwife couldn\’t find a heartbeat. After that it all happened so fast.

"Suddenly, a dozen people were there and I went off on a trolley. The last thing I heard before they put me to sleep was that there was no heartbeat detected."

See, no need to have a baby in a hospital, no need to get involved in all that technology and patriarchal control. All you need is youself, the midwife and deep breathing.

The Nobel in Economics

So here\’s the announcement:

This year\’s Nobel Prize in economics goes to Leonid Hurwicz, Eric S. Maskin, and Roger B. Myerson.

Greg Mankiw then asks:

Eric is used to teach economic theory at Harvard and was a great teacher and colleague. If my recollection is correct, when he moved from Harvard to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he bought the house Albert Einstein used to live in. I wonder if there are any other houses that can claim two Nobel laureates.

Err, any house that Linus Pauling lived in between 1962 and 1994?