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Samizdata quote of the day

Doctor Who is a bit like the NHS, a mediocre product that many Brits bizarrely think is world-class, and which is forcibly funded by taxation.

– Perry de Havilland

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38 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    There is some hope on “Dr Who” – as more and more people are coming to understand that it is just leftist lecturing. If the government had the courage to get rid of the BBC tax (the “license fee”) today I think most people would be content. However, the government is still scared of the Guardian readers (all hundred thousand of them – out of a population of some 60 million plus people) rioting and burning things. Too often “Conservative” government turns out to be government-that-is-terrified-of-the-Guardian-letters-page.

    However, the National Health Service is quite different to the BBC – most people do not care about the BBC (the government, Mrs May and co, thinks that everyone sits around their crystal sets listening to the words-of-wisdom from Broadcasting House – but this is not so), most people really do care about the National Health Service.

    Most people believe that to express any doubts about the NHS (other than to state it has not been given enough money) is to support the poor being left to die – that really is the common belief. And most people also believe that the United States, where ever increasing government subsidies and regulations have been forcing up health care costs for the best part of a CENTURY, is the example of the “free market”.

    Yes most people think that the United States of America has a free market in health care – as if it was 1900 or something (and many States already had regulations messing things up, such as licencing, even in 1900). Indeed most people think that the government dominated United States is an example of the “failure of extreme free markets – market fundamentalism”, especially New York City – which is actually the most government and Credit Bubble dominated city in the United States.

  • Lee Moore

    Yeah, but out of 14,505 people in the senior slots in the civil service, judiciary, and quangocracy 14,505 are Guardian readers. So you’ve got to have a pretty thick skin to take on all of that. Which is why Gove is the best choice for PM, and why Michael Howard deserves an Earldom.

  • JadedLibertarian

    The problem is that when you force institutions on people, they become institutionalised. In the UK this has happened on the national scale: an entire country where people lack the skills and wherewithal to manage their own health and healthcare

    I just don’t see a free market in healthcare occurring any time soon in the UK for this reason. When the inevitable collapse of the NHS finally occurs, perhaps we could move over to Canadian style single-payer, or if we’re really lucky a means tested voucher system. While not perfect at least it gets governments out of running the hospitals, and you could charge nominal fees to reduce over consumption.

    After a few decades of that perhaps the UK would be ready for a better system?

  • Fred Z

    “Canadian style single-payer”????

    Come on over and discuss with me and my family the pleasures of our system, you may change your mind. Especially if you need treatment but don’t much like waiting for very lengthy periods.

  • Mr Ed

    At least with Dr Who everyone really knows it isn’t real, some get frightened anyway, but are quite safe from various horrible deaths. Quite a few find out NHS care isn’t real and get frightened too, but then they die horribly.

  • Watchman

    Lee Moore,

    out of 14,505 people in the senior slots in the civil service, judiciary, and quangocracy 14,505

    Surely about 14,950 – its government, so there has to be a few dead bodies on the payroll and the like.

  • Paul Marks (November 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm), British people these days know that if the BBC disappears, there will still be gazillions of channels to choose from, many of them free, plus the web. The same people know that if the NHS suddenly disappeared one fine day, and they felt ill the next, someone would have to pay the doctor – and they themselves haven’t saved for it.

    There are illusions about the NHS, fostered by the BBC and well worth explaining. Voters can be made aware that hospitals will not disappear into thin air the moment the government stops running them,. But when all that is understood, voters will still ask how we unpick the financial mess.

    As for why Dr Who was ever thought good, I commented about that recently. I have a vaguely favourable impression of its first producer (Verity Lambert) as BBC types go. Putting John Nathan Turner and similar in charge of it was obviously a decision it should be left-wing preaching (and an alternatively-oriented casting couch opportunity).

  • Runcie Balspune

    I just don’t see a free market in healthcare occurring any time soon in the UK for this reason

    The obvious compromise is for the NHS to get out of the “common healthcare” market and concentrate on the core stuff, i.e. do operations and specialist treatment, not blood tests and physiotherapy. Right now all this talk of social care is just a smokescreen for the government to control your life, but there will be a day quite soon when people will realize why the heck that have to wait 2 hours in a hospital infected with MRSA when they can sit at home and wait for Uber Phlebotomy or Amazon Blood to turn up and take it there and then.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Come on over and discuss with me and my family the pleasures of our system, you may change your mind. Especially if you need treatment but don’t much like waiting for very lengthy periods.”

    It can’t be any worse than the NHS. My brother’s been on an “urgent” list since May.

    I’ve said for years that one vast improvement which could be implemented relatively quickly would be to divest the NHS of all its hospitals. Turn them into self-governing charities (not “NHS trusts”, but actual, independent, nonprofit foundations), and implement the same (single-payer) payment system for hospital treatment as currently exists for opticians and dentists. It’s far from ideal – not even close – but it would be better than what we have now, in that it would restore some kind of price mechanism, albeit an inadequate one, and real accounting.

  • Stonyground

    I’ve mentioned it before here, I think that pet owners should be encouraged to consider the difference between the service that they get from the NHS and the service that they get from their vet.

  • Mr Ed

    Vets tell you when your beloved pet is going to be ‘destroyed’.

  • Patrick Crozier

    I think Doctor Who 1966-1976 was one of the greatest TV programmes ever made. The episodes are extremely watchable even today for all their cheapness. Far more so than NuWho for all its opulence.

  • John Galt III

    Today is Thanksgiving and I give thanks to my ancestors who fled Europe from 1638 to 1848 for religious freedom, personal freedom and much, much more.

  • Mr Ecks

    Mr Crozier is correct.

    63 to 76 was Dr Who’s Golden Age.

    Davidson was tolerable but it was downhill fast after that.

    This latest trans-bullshit is the finish as far as I am concerned.

    The BBC needs to be shut down and gone in 24 hours.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fred Z,

    Tell it to Prof. Jeffrey Rosen, who is too disgusting to even rant against. If you want to “shrivel up and die, wanta cry” as per the Liver Song, look him up on UT, where he has a large presence. He also writes for The Nation, The New Republic, and other famous mags, not all of them Progressive/Librul/Leftist.

    . . .

    JG III, well said indeed, and I too wish our contemporaries Happy Thanksgiving (except the really execrable ones), and am thankful to our forebears who made us possible. :>)))

  • Vets tell you when your beloved pet is going to be ‘destroyed

    So do the NHS. They rather euphemistically call it the ‘Liverpool Care Pathway.’ I’ve seen it at close hand. It means they will not treat or feed your loved one but rather fill them full of morphine until they stop being ‘a drain on “our” NHS.’ Destruction’ would be kinder.

  • bobby b

    Paul Marks
    November 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    “And most people also believe that the United States, where ever increasing government subsidies and regulations have been forcing up health care costs for the best part of a CENTURY, is the example of the “free market”.”

    Someone’s been giving the USA health care system a bum rap.

    No one dies through a lack of money or care. If you are lower-middle-class or above, you are insured. The insurance may be costly, and you might end up owing money after the fact, but you are treated, and usually in a quick and appropriate manner.

    If you are below lower-middle class, you are covered by Medicaid. It might be harder to find a participating physician close by, but they are there. Usually the biggest difference between health care for the poor and health care for the not-poor is, the not-poor have a higher chance of owing money after all is said and done. Also, incredibly expensive treatments – million-dollar treatments with mediocre chances of success – are rationed for everyone except the self-financing rich.

    But everyone gets treated, and usually quickly.

    My sister’s mother-in-law was diagnosed two months ago with stage 4 lung cancer. She was immediately scheduled for chemo and support care. She will probably owe money if she survives this – in the tens of thousands of dollars, because of insurance deductibles (thanks, O-care), but she will receive whatever treatment is needed. She can then declare bankruptcy and end her debt, or pay it off over a long period of time.

    Me niece had a baby recently. She has no insurance. The baby had health problems. So did mom. Everything was treated, and treated well. She will owe no money.

    If I need to see a doctor (knock on wood) I can see one within a day or two, for a cash payment of around $100. There are clinics for specialist treatment which are designed around a cash system that offer services far cheaper than the outlandish prices quoted to insured patients.

    In short, the USA system has flaws, but strikes me as still being better than the NHS, better than what one gets in Canada, and better than most of the rest of the world (except maybe a few Scandinavian countries, and you have to talk funny and pay exorbitant taxes to live there.)

  • RAB

    There is another branch to the NHS, that of Dentistry. Anyone seen dental treatment free at the point of delivery for all? It costs around £50 for a check up and descale.

    Its first customers, back at the front of the Attlee revolution in welfare, were encouraged to have all the teeth out and dentures put in. Outrageous!

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I remember reading somewhere the biggest knock on the US healthcare system was that it simply cost too much for the outcomes that are achievable by other countries with lower costs.

    For example, the US spends 17% of its GDP on healthcare, but Singapore (my country) spends only 5%, but achieves even better outcomes.

    Even taking into account the complicated relationship between medical companies, patents, drugs, and even ethnic/cultural factors, it doesn’t make sense for the US to spend 3 times as much to achieve the same effect.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, would you please e-mail me? I have something to send you, and the old address seems not to work. Thanks.

  • john malpas

    Try Australia. My wife was on a years waiting list to get on a waiting list to see an orthopedist.
    Rural Australia uses the people as training fodder for VFWs Indians etc before they are allowed in the city.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    @john malpas

    I hear stories of highly qualified Singaporean doctors who migrate to Australia only to find themselves facing a bamboo ceiling despite their skills and qualifications.

    Also, work conditions in Australia highly favor the medical staff – e.g. going home on time, relatively slow pace etc, that compares very favorably to Singapore where the staff are perennially overworked and often put in unpaid overtime(one reason why our system seems more efficient – the staff are simply underpaid).

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Will someone inform the kiddies that ‘Doctor’ Who is NOT part of the NHS, and that they won’t get to ride in the TARDIS as part of the therapy?

  • JadedLibertarian

    I’ve been reading up on the Singapore system. Normally I’m opposed to government master plans of any stripe, but my goodness it’s a clever way to run a benefits system. You’re required to save for your retirement and healthcare, and those on low income get subsidies for almost (but not quite) the full amount. You have a say in how your savings are spent, so you can shop around or buy health insurance with it if you want.

    If, and that’s a big if, you accept that we should have a welfare state, I can’t think of a better approach than the Singaporean one.

    I wonder how you could sell Britain on such a system? A savings based scheme in a nation of people trained not to save by successive governments might be tricky.

  • morsjon

    The UK could be weaned off the NHS.

    All employers could be made to provide private healthcare with some level of deductibles. Maybe their corporate tax gets reduced by whatever the cost is. Many already do but it does not typically include GP visits; just follow up care. I also have a private GP 10 minutes from my work in the centre of London.

    Once industry has developed enough to match supply, extend the insurance requirement to families of workers.

    etc.

    Crucially, you need to accept that costs are higher in the short term as you are funding both the NHS and the additional private insurance requirement.

    You can easily sell the above approach as ‘lessening the burden on our NHS’.

    Spend money to save money.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    > Someone’s been giving the USA health care system a bum rap.

    I think your assessment is largely right, however, what you don’t say, which is undoubtedly true, is that medical care in the USA is OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive. The same procedure can easily cost 10x more here than it does elsewhere. There are several reasons why this is the case (none of them being “excessive free market” or course), but it is worth recognizing that this is far and away the worst characteristic of the US healthcare system. For sure, the bills get paid one way or another, but it does consume vast amounts of money.

    No one dies through a lack of money or care. If you are lower-middle-class or above, you are insured. The insurance may be costly, and you might end up owing money after the fact, but you are treated, and usually in a quick and appropriate manner.

    > If you are below lower-middle class, you are covered by Medicaid. It might be harder to find a participating physician close by

    It is worth point out why this is. The reason physicians don’t participate in Medicaid (and more and more Medicare) is that the government, who pays those bills, is an absolutely terrible payer. You’ll find this if you ask any physician about it.They pay a minimum of six months late, and regularly discount the bill by 50% for no especially good reason. If I were a doctor, I wouldn’t accept Medicaid or Medicare patients because, you know, I have a mortgage and stuff.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I lost interest in Dr Who after Tom Baker left.

  • Laird

    Julie, I’ve sent you an email as requested, but my email address hasn’t changed in 17 years so you must have made an error in typing it.

  • Laird

    The reboot of Dr Who has gotten progressively worse over the years (increasingly politically correct, preachy, uninteresting, stupid), as have the actors playing him (Eccleston was my favorite; Tennant OK if a bit over the top; Smith acceptable but too young; Capaldi execrable). The show wasn’t too bad under Russell T Davies but Steven Moffat ruined it. I’ve hardly watched it at all in the last few years, and obviously I can’t speak to the newest showrunner* Chris Chibnall, but changing the Doctor to a woman pretty much tells me all that I need to know about him.

    * Where did that stupid title come from, anyway?

  • Thailover

    “There is some hope on “Dr Who” – as more and more people are coming to understand that it is just leftist lecturing”

    Yes, it is way Leftist, though it usually retains it’s charm and some sense of humor…which most Leftists lack (exception, Bill Clinton). Curious ideas though, like one should care deeply about the lives and welfare of the purely evil, far more than they care about their own lives and welfare.

    And that “the Doctor” routinely, without planning, defeats heavily armed evil when he himself refuses to carry a weapon. Supposed Message: guns are bad and unnecessary. Yet, the message I get is when the Muslim Dialeks/Krikkit Warriors swarm, you sure as hell better have a time lord w/magic phone box (or Marvin the depressed robot) handy, or have another means of dealing with them if you don’t want your life, family, culture and/or nation utterly destroyed.

    “Where did that stupid title come from, anyway?”

    Early Episodes end as follows.

    “Who was that man anyway?”
    “The Doctor.”
    “Doctor who?”

    Unless I’m mistaken, there’s only one character (River Song) that knows his real name. There’s several reaons time lords go by self appointed titles, (The Doctor, The Master, etc), but one that stands out is something akin to the very real ancient Euroean folklore called True Name Magic.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    I’m not sure whether I should be commenting here, as I’ve not watched Dr. Who since the mid-70s. Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee were my Doctors.

    Like just about everything, Dr. Who has its adherents, but I don’t ever remember it being generally regarded as good. It was always notorious for the cheapness of its special effects: the alien was clearly just a man wearing a rubber mask and the spaceships were made out of cardboard and tinfoil. I suspect a lot of people watched it for lack of anything else to watch: after all, in the 70s there were only three channels in the UK.

  • Laird

    Thailover, my question about “stupid title” referred to “showrunner”, not The Doctor.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Have I mentioned my 1/10/100 Healthcare Insurance Plan? For one dollar a year, every American is covered for all expenses for all medical conditions. Co-pay is $10 million, deductible $100 million.

    I have a good deal of fun taking our regional newspaper to task for not supporting it, any time they sing the praises of the Affordable Care Act for making health insurance available to everyone without mentioning that the high co-pay and deductions make the insurance worthless for most medical needs. My plan is clearly superior to the ACA since it is a much less expensive way to provide worthless insurance.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, I’m afraid I’ve reached the age where I forget to disconnect brain before opening mouth or, as in this case, computer.

    Thanks. ;>)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thai (at 8:20 above), now this from http://www.gopusa.com/?p=33715?omhide=true :

    Man smashes his AR-15 ‘assault’ weapon to prevent it from becoming ‘part of a situation’

    One Southern California gun enthusiast decided he had to do his part to put a stop to mass shootings.

    How?

    By destroying his prized AR-15 ‘assault’ weapon with a sledge hammer, according to KMIR.

    “I can’t do it,” Chad Vachter said. “I can’t have something in my house that so easily could become a part of another situation like that, and I’m not going to be desensitized to it. I refuse to.”

    [SNIP]

    The short piece is somewhat amazing. One would want to hurl something at something, or even just to hurl, but one gives it a chance just because it’s from GOPUSA, which one would expect to know what’s an assault weapon and what isn’t. (The quotes in the first sentence hint that one might be correct in this assessment.) In fact I suppose it’s more or less what KMIR put out, rather than a piece written for GOP USA.

    The commenters take the thing to pieces. Some suggest it was actually written by somebody trying to push the anti-gun project…. Say it ain’t so, Joe!

    Anyway, I think it’s a perfect real-life example of exactly what you wrote:

    ‘“the Doctor” routinely, without planning, defeats heavily armed evil when he himself refuses to carry a weapon. Supposed Message: guns are bad and unnecessary.’

  • bobby b

    Recognizing that my large pickup truck could be used to mow down pedestrians on sidewalks, I have today driven it to the local auto crusher and watched as it was turned in to a very heavy small square of metal.

    I feel so virtuous I can hardly stand it.

  • Alisa

    Hey, don’t you go thinking you are home-free yet: next thing you know, that square of metal will be turned into an AR-15. Those darned capitalists, they even use progressive ideas such as recycling for their evil profits. 😡

  • JadedLibertarian

    “the Doctor” routinely, without planning, defeats heavily armed evil when he himself refuses to carry a weapon. Supposed Message: guns are bad and unnecessary.

    For some reason this put me in mind of Richard Dean Anderson. He made MacGyver progressively preachier until it became completely unwatchable, particularly on the subject of guns.

    Fast forward a few years and he’s playing badass Jack O’Neill who has very different views. One scene in particular springs to mind where he’s trying to train Jaffa insurgents.

    Holding up G’ould staff weapon.

    “This is a weapon of terror. It is made to intimidate your enemy”

    Holding up FN P90

    “This is a weapon of war. It is made to kill your enemy”

    I’ve always suspected that the real Mr Anderson’s views were closer to late season MacGyver than Jack O’Neill’s, but at least he had the sense to realise what sells and what doesn’t.

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