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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Britain Runs Out of Health Care, but Walmart Doesn't Run Out of Shampoo

Here is a shocker that could never have been predicted: A health care system relying on government bureaucrats, who are not motivated by profit but only maintaining their cushy government jobs, results in layers of bureaucracy and inefficiency, while customers expecting "free" health care cause demand and costs to spiral out of control. Intransigent socialist central planners then demand more power and money to solve the catastrophe they have caused, believing that there is some way somehow to transcend logic and the nature of reality...and a new surfeit of regulations, bureaucrats, and funding, seem to make the problem only worse, which causes them to ask for more power and money, ad infinitum...

Of course, the resounding successes of public education, public housing, public roads, public mail, and public toilets are proof positive that such a scenario could never actually happen, right? Well, you will be surprised to learn that the British government is now aiming to decentralize their disastrous system of socialized medicine, in place since 1948. The New York Times reports:
Perhaps the only consistent thing about Britain’s socialized health care system is that it is in a perpetual state of flux, its structure constantly changing as governments search for the elusive formula that will deliver the best care for the cheapest price while costs and demand escalate.
Apparently, the current version of this "elusive formula" relies on 150 "primary care trusts" which control a $160 Billion budget and mete out health care rations to doctors and the public. The new plan would substantially change this approach:
Practical details of the plan are still sketchy. But its aim is clear: to shift control of England’s $160 billion annual health budget from a centralized bureaucracy to doctors at the local level. Under the plan, $100 billion to $125 billion a year would be meted out to general practitioners, who would use the money to buy services from hospitals and other health care providers.

The plan would also shrink the bureaucratic apparatus, in keeping with the government’s goal to effect $30 billion in “efficiency savings” in the health budget by 2014 and to reduce administrative costs by 45 percent. Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost because layers of bureaucracy would be abolished.

Isn't it amazing that McDonald's seems to know just how many hamburgers to have on hand? Isn't it amazing that Walmart seems to have just enough shampoo, toothpaste, and shaving cream on hand? Isn't it amazing that you can be driving in the middle of nowhere, stop at a gas station, and the Coca-Cola company has somehow managed to have a cooler full of soft drinks on hand which you can purchase for a few cents? Have you ever walked into one of these stores and been directed to a representative of a Primary Drink or Primary Shampoo Trust who determines whether you really need these products and decides how much, what brand, and even more important, when you will receive them? Have you ever been encouraged by the company not to buy their product or to only buy a very limited amount?

Perhaps the British and those supporters of socialized medicine in America should ponder those questions, and consider why it is that freedom and capitalism are the solution, not the problem. And, when they say, "but health care is different, socialized medicine is the right thing to do", they should re-consider their own code of morality and ask why there should be a dichotomy between the moral and the practical.

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