Irish Liberty Forum

Best Wishes to the Healthcare Rally…

with 13 comments

I’ve been reading some more about this upcoming healthcare rally. Part of me is suspicious that it will consist mostly of opportunistic trade unionists, but I’m willing to accept, for the sake of argument, that the protestors really will have the best of intentions.

An umbrella group of health unions and patient campaign groups is planning a march for a better public health service.

The group includes the Dublin Council of Trade Unions, medical and nursing organisations and families affected by the superbug, MRSA.

A march and rally will take place from 2.30pm next Saturday, from Parnell Square to Molesworth Street in Dublin.

The SIPTU representative makes a good point in the above article: Ireland is a wealthy country and can afford a decent, well-funded health service. My disagreement (again, assuming for the sake of argument that the trade unions really are putting the general interest ahead of their own self-interest) is over the correct process that would bring about a decent health service.

For example, I can buy a 1.8GHz desktop PC with Vista and a 17″ flat screen monitor for less than €500, yet nobody campaigned for a decent public PC service. There were no marches and rallies outside Leinster House. Nobody wrote letters to the Editor complaining that PCs were too expensive, that we had an “apartheid” PC market which exploited the working classes.

What happened was that governments did nothing, imposed no additional taxes or regulations over the computer industry, and spontaneous market forces were allowed to have their effect. The result was rapid technological improvement and constantly falling prices – benign deflation, if you like.

This pattern is visible again and again. If you leave industry alone, prices will fall while the product improves. But you politicise it and get the government involved, you invite a disaster like the Irish healthcare service.

I commented earlier on Dublin Opinion that it was a mistake to think that the US monetary system was an example of laissez-faire capitalism. This is no less true in healthcare. As Damien Kiberd has noted, the government accounts for an overwhelming percentage of healthcare spending, employs 120,000 health workers and exerts massively bureacratic top-down control through the HSE. To conclude from its failings that the free market must be rejected just seems terribly strange.

If you want to see healthcare costs go down while the product improves, you simply must remove the government from the industry. It’s true that not everybody will receive an infinite supply of healthcare in a free market (just as not everybody can afford as many computers as they might like), but an infinite supply of any good is not something that exists in this world. Either the market will allocate healthcare according to the laws of supply and demand, or the government will ration it politically, as it does right now, with endless waiting lists and shortages.

The choice is ours.


Written by Graham

March 27, 2008 at 9:45 am

13 Responses

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  1. Instead of looking to computers for templates for a health service , you should look to Germany, France, Spain, Italy, etc and their public health systems. Then again, if you did that, your arguments about privatisation would fall apart. Probably best if you stick to selling computers.


    March 27, 2008 at 12:54 pm

  2. Hi Ben, thanks for commenting. I’m afraid you haven’t given me a whole lot to work with – care to elaborate?


    March 27, 2008 at 1:42 pm

  3. “I can buy a 1.8GHz desktop PC with Vista and a 17″ flat screen monitor for less than €500, yet nobody campaigned for a decent public PC service.”

    Ah! but can you get broadband in your area, or REAL broadband in any area – without state intervention?

    The problem IS you can get a PC, and medical attention, instantly with cash. Without cash you might have to wait 18 months for a colon cancer test. Or maybe die.


    March 27, 2008 at 2:37 pm

  4. Hi D_D, I think I can – or at least I would, say if the Department of Communications did not exist. I’m not sure about the nature of your argument – maybe that broadband provision is a natural monopoly best operated by the government?

    Anyway, I’m sorry I don’t see what is objectionable about being able to get medical attention immediately.


    March 27, 2008 at 3:18 pm

  5. The point I’m making is that comparing the irish health care system to selling computers is a useless comparison. It’s completely worthless.

    What you need to do is compare health systems. So, compare the American health care system with the European model, or compare Ireland with the American and the European models. Then you have something to work with.


    March 27, 2008 at 7:59 pm

  6. Hey Ben, the problem I have with comparing these different models – instructive though it may be – is that they are all very heavily socialised (admittedly some more than others). It’s difficult to find precise causes of the particular differences which exist between them.

    For the purposes of a simple blog post, I think it’s a much stronger point to illustrate the dramatic differences in the rate of advancement between socialised and non-socialised industries. I am appealing to simple economic principles. The laws of supply and demand apply in all exchanges, whether we are talking about PCs or operations. The comparison in progress is not useless in that context.

    Incidentally, I’ve written and now edited this comment of mine using an iPod Touch – another neat example of the type of product you get from a relatively unregulated industry.


    March 28, 2008 at 12:43 am

  7. Well, there’s no way around it. If you want to talk about health systems you have to analyze health systems. The fact that it is difficult for you is no excuse.

    I mean, what you’re saying to me is that it is too complicated for you to do the type of qualitative and quantitative research necessary to come to a reasoned analysis of the different methods and approaches. So, because of that, you use the bizzare analogy of the supply and demand of computer sales and, well, hope for the best.

    May I suggest that you bite the analytical bullet and do the research? The reason being is that, despite what you think, your comparison doesn’t serve any real purpose except to bounce itself off your almost theological assumption of supply and demand as a universal truth.

    You HAVE to put that to the test. you HAVE to sit down and give a critical analysis of the various health care systems in operation in the western world, and once you’ve done that, then you can say whether your supply and demand thesis stands up in the field of health care.

    Even in general, even for the purposes of simple blog, you can at least tell me something about the faults – as you see them – in the Spanish model, the German model, the French, Dutch, and Scandinavian models.

    What you cannot do, at least you cannot do it and retain credibility for your thesis, is to say: well, all of that stuff is really, really difficult, so.. here´s my conclusion on health, based on what I know about selling computers.


    March 28, 2008 at 4:54 am

  8. Well, ben, you’ve done well drawing me on this point, but I don’t really believe in the primacy of empirical research to guide us in these matters. There are serious methodological issues at stake here, but to put it simply, I do believe in universal truths – that we can deduce economic laws of cause and effect which are logically necessary in all situations where particular assumptions about human action hold.

    What the above blog post aims to demonstrate is that logical economic laws easily predict and explain the broad differences we can readily observe between socialised and other industries. The theory acts as a powerful tool to interpret history, but the history itself is not how we derived our theory.

    The justification for all of this is rather involved, and I know I haven’t provided it here yet, but I do plan to do that over the coming months, so I hope you will stick around. If you join our message board I will provide you with the original works which influence me.


    March 28, 2008 at 7:00 am

  9. Graham do check out the different health fields. They are very different then the irish interpretation of socialized medicine. Which is based on the NHS is just as bad as ours. They work on the Bismark system

    Also your obviously are not from the country side 🙂


    March 28, 2008 at 12:28 pm

  10. Ha! You mean posting to a blog through my Touch? 🙂


    March 28, 2008 at 12:37 pm

  11. Well I’m afraid that means that your argument with regard to health care has no merit. Sorry to say that, but what you are saying is that you have a theory, but you are not willing to test that theory.

    Graham, You have to test it, otherwise it’s just words.

    I’m not criticising the holding of theories, I’m just saying that you have to put them to the test. you cannot just refer back to the theory as proof of the validity of the theory. Nor can you put the theory to the test in one field of social and economic life, (selling computers), and hope that you can slide it across to another field of social and economic life (health).

    In order to convince, you have to give evidence. anything else is just an intellectual card-trick.

    I mean, you are telling me that these theories show us the difference between socialized and non´-socialized economies. But how does that play out with regard to health? The German, French and Spanish public health systems are of a standard that we only dream about. The American public system is a disgrace to humanity. You need to tell me, with facts and researched empirical evidence, why non-socialized is better.

    In other words, citing a theory is not proof of a theory.

    Good luck with the next few months, and certainly I’ll keep on visiting your site!


    March 28, 2008 at 1:43 pm

  12. Yes, the Irish Health system is in desperate need of proper funding and management. People need also to be aware of their rights as patients. We can all make a little difference by going to the following site and signing the petition:

    It’s at least a start!

    B. Bultman

    June 7, 2008 at 4:34 pm

  13. Say “NO” to socialized healthcare. Anything the government takes over will remove freedom of choice for the people. You don’t want or need the government to be a parent. Make your government serve the people. Turn to God and he will show you how. Fight for your country and its’ freedom to choose what healthcare they want. If you give the government control they will tell you how long you can live and what medicine you get. They become an insatiable monster taking more and more freedom. I’m an American and that’s whats happening here also and we are fighting tooth and nail for our freedoms though most of Americans are oblivious to it. I will pray for the beautiful and brave Ireland. Godspeed.

    Audrey Griffin


    June 24, 2013 at 4:39 am

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