We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

Dear NHS worshippers, sorry to be a killjoy, but look, the NHS is not ‘yours’, and never has been. You have no control over it. You feel like you are in control when you spin your little toy wheel, but try steering the car in any direction other than the one where it is already heading, and see what happens. The ones who really drive the car are the political class and the medical establishment. ‘Democratic accountability’ is a mirage. All it really means is that healthcare managers answer to bureaucrats, who answer to other bureaucrats, who also answer to other bureaucrats, who, after some more detours, answer to some politician. That’s democratic accountability. Feel powerful now? Accountability through the political system is about the weakest form of accountability one could imagine, and in healthcare it is even weaker than in other areas.

– Kristian Niemietz, who stonks the NHS in an article from 2014 called The Maggie Simpson delusion: the NHS is not ‘ours’

14 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Andrew Duffin

    The linked article presents Hinchinbrook hospital as an example of how things can be improved by privatising health care.

    Much as I agree with the principle, I fear that might not have been the best example to pick…

  • Laird

    Andrew, I am not familiar with Hinchinbrook, but in the article she refers to it as being transformed from “a basket case” to “an award-winning hospital” (and she provides a link to back that up). Is her description wrong? And have you a better example to offer?

  • Rob Fisher

    The article makes good points about how democracy does not lead to accountability or control, but I don’t think this is what people who love the NHS are thinking about first.

    What horrifies them is the idea that anyone should be allowed to make a profit from sick people. The article even quotes an MP expressing exactly this:

    It is difficult to comprehend how Circle can maintain a proper standard of healthcare while maximising profit; as a company they would have to make a profit, but that can only come if costs are cut – such as a shorter stay in bed to recover, one less nurse. That must compromise patient care.

    Of course they are somehow failing to notice that the profit motive makes things cheaper and better for customers. They can’t imagine how you can make something cheaper without making it worse, even though they see this happening every day in other fields.

    And they point to other “privatisation” to back them up. Are the trains cheaper? But of course the trains aren’t really private. And I don’t know to what problem Andrew Duffin is referring but I suspect neither was Hinchinbrook.

  • The linked article is a year old, Andrew.

  • Andrew Duffin

    The point is that AFTER the article was written, the private contractors pulled out saying they couldn’t make any kind of business out of it, and the hospital is now back in the tender cares of the NHS. Of course there will be many reasons for this, some of them dishonourable, some probably caused by the state, others by the Unions, I don’t know. But that’s what happened.

    Now don’t misunderstand me, I am not a supporter of state meddling in any form; I just wanted to point out that this was a truly unfortunate example to pick, because of how it actually turned out.

  • Paul Marks

    “Maggie Simpson” is the character in the cartoon show that tells the viewers what we are supposed to think.

    I believe the Harvard philosopher who “educated” the creators of “The Simpsons” was Michael Sandal (spelling alert).

    The philosophy is evil to its very core.

    Ordinary people (“Homer Simpsons”) are too stupid to make their own decisions – so the state must control everything.

    Violation of property rights?

    “Mr Burns” represents private property rights – and he is evil.

    “But Paul it is just comedy – and it is on a conservative television station”.

    All the entertainment cartoons on Fox are collectivist – without exception (it is a depressing reality).

    As for comedy does not matter….

    Well yes it does matter – even as people laugh at it, the messages (to some extent) get accepted.

    The post used reason – to make the basic point that collectivism does NOT mean that government services are “us”.

    But philosophers (evil philosophers) have learned to subvert reason – they do not “love wisdom” they hate wisdom.

    They use twisted things to convince people that the false is the true.

    So the NHS is “us” – even though it (if one uses reason) obviously is not.

    The Rousseau trick (that individual is the collective – so that slavery is “true freedom”) – brought to the modern world by the “treason of the intellectuals”.

    Their treason against reason.

  • long-lost cousin

    “Maggie Simpson” is the character in the cartoon show that tells the viewers what we are supposed to think.

    Nope. Maggie doesn’t say anything at all. I think they’re something like 25 seasons in and she hasn’t had a line yet.

  • Sam Duncan

    “They can’t imagine how you can make something cheaper without making it worse, even though they see this happening every day in other fields.”

    Nor can they imagine making something more expensive without making it better, even though they do this themselves all the time.

    I’ve long thought exactly the same about the great god of “democratic accountability”. People see the “accountability” part, and ignore the qualifier as if it were irrelevant, when in fact it turns it into the weakest form of accountability there is.

  • Edward MJ

    “What horrifies them is the idea that anyone should be allowed to make a profit from sick people.”

    Indeed. Quelle horreur! What will they think of next, profiting from other life essentials like food supply? Look at the track record supermarkets have of cutting prices and increasing choices. How ever have we survived?

  • Watchman


    I could give you a libertarian reading of the Simpsons if I wanted. But the writers, who are indeed all liberal personally, have made a successful career by not adopting any particular point of view, and having no consistent ideology (the one really ideological character – Lisa – is regularly shown up by her ideology or its practitioners). And the strange idea that a University teacher having a particular political bent is ridiculous – I am no socialist, despite most of my teachers being so. We had some fun arguments around it (and I am very fond of my examiner, who once stated to me that Marxism hadn’t worked because it hadn’t been tried properly) but no indoctrination. Yes, I can understand their point of view, and am aware of its flaws as a result, but I was not taught a right and wrong because that is not how universities work (and this was a traditionally Marxist department).

    And Mr Burns is generally representing the corporations, not the free market or property – you seem to be reading symbolism without remembering American history…

  • Eric

    That analogy is brilliant.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Organised religion maintained its stranglehold by demonizing children born to unmarried parents, they, of course, being the ones who decided if you could be married or not, a de facto control of the population.

    The NHS does the same with our health, for without a monopolising of every aspect of healthcare, the busybodies would not be able to tell us what to consume, and would not have the power in law to enforce it. Beyond procreation, the basic need to remain healthy is being controlled every day.

    Why are blood tests done in hospitals? Since removing compensation for GPs it is now almost exclusively done by “specialised” departments. But why is this simple procedure, which is performed by (medically) unqualified healthcare assistants and is extremely unlikely to result in a hospital admission should it go wrong, done in expensive hospital real estate? Surely this is a prime area for privatisation, which could be done better and cheaper and free up the hospital staff and rooms for other more important healthcare? So too the analysis could be done privately, I am sure if someone can make a business from DNA analysis, then taking and testing blood is a doddle?

    You would have thought that modern medicine has so many routine simple and safe procedures, most of them would have been farmed out long ago, or even, just bundled onto personal responsibility anyway. The revelation that the NHS still prescribes simple painkillers that cost less than 20p in Superdrug just shows how it has brainwashed the public into thinking that any aspect of health, no matter how minute, needs to be authorised by them. The blood test monopoly re-enforces this.

  • Rob Fisher

    Sam Duncan: “Nor can they imagine making something more expensive without making it better”. That’s inspired. It explains so much.

  • Dom

    “Unless you have spent the last two decades in North Korea or in Josef Fritzl’s basement …”

    Uh, anyone else think that’s just … sick?