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Samizdata quote of the day – NHS religious cult update

Why does everything have to be justified on the basis that it will help the NHS? Especially when the NHS is failing its patients so badly? UK healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP now ranks fifth highest in the OECD, yet the system isn’t delivering even the most basic forms of care. Some 2.7 million people are sitting anxiously on the waiting list.

Kate Andrews

23 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – NHS religious cult update

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    For the NHS? That’s an improvement on ‘Do it for the kids!’ Here in NSW, we have an election coming up, and promises are already being made about helping the kids!

  • Fred Z

    The average voter thirsts for death.

  • Paul Marks

    The lies start with the origin of the organisation in the 1940s – the story told is that it was the “first in the world” and inspired either by the fraternal mutual aid society of the Great Western Railway, or by a Welsh mining village, or some other story.

    In reality the organisation was inspired, indeed copied, from the Soviet health service created in the 1920s (so much for “first in the world” – indeed Bismarck had state funded health care back in the 1880s Germany, he just did not nationalise the hospitals as the Soviets did after the Revolution, and the British did in the late 1940s).

    The difference seems to be that modern Russians do not worship their government health system as the British do. Indeed, contrary to the endless propaganda about their alleged worship of the state, Russians are generally cynical about the state (including the police and armed forces) and with good reason.

    “What can be done?”

    Nothing – nothing can be done now. Perhaps after five years of Labour Party government in Britain people will be open to an honest discussion about the NHS, but not now.

    “But Paul, lots of people are dying who could be saved” – I know (indeed I am likely to be one of these people), but the country is not open to an honest discussion. Everything is blamed on fictional “Tory Cuts” when, in reality, the amount of money spend on the NHS has vastly increased.

  • Paul Marks

    “concede what is safe to concede” – Walter Bagehot (the bank bailout supporting third editor of the Economist magazine – the quote is from his once famous book “The English Constitution” published in 1868).

    Not a very inspiring vision, not cut government spending, taxes and regulations – no “concede what is safe to concede” – meaning pass more regulations and have government spend more money, not because this will make Britain a better place than it otherwise would have been (it would make any country a worse place than it otherwise would have been), but to please (or rather appease) demands to “help the people”. And “safe”? That meant do not give “the people” the private wealth of Mr Bagehot and his friends – so “Social Reform” as long as it does not ruin us in our life time.

    That is the attitude that led to the victory of “Social Reform” (i.e. ever bigger government) in Britain – and how could it be otherwise, as if one believes in welfare for banks (as Mr Bagehot and his friends did) how can one deny welfare to everyone else as well.

    I am not sure which is worse – the insane cultists who supported such things as the collective control of the “means of production, distribution and exchange” (farms, mines, factories, shops – everything), which was on Labour Party membership cards from 1918 to the 1990s (in some elections almost half the voters voted for this criminal lunacy), or the pathetic, cowardly, people who tried to appease the cultists with every more “Social Reform” which they know was doing harm (not good), making the country a worse (not better) place than it otherwise would have been.

    To be fair some people really did believe that the Social Reform (ever more spending and regulations) would do good, not harm – including a young Winston Churchill, in spite of the efforts of (the once well known liberal) John Morley to explain economics to the young Mr Churchill.

  • Paul Marks

    In 1838 the Poor Law Tax was introduced to Ireland (a state education system was introduced in Ireland a few years before this – on a whim of Lord Stanley, later the Earl of Derby, Irish taxpayers did not decide the matter).

    In the mid 1840s there were a series of potato crop failures (due to disease and weather) that hit parts of Ireland (this had happened before) – and Prime Minister Russell decided to massively increase the Irish Poor Tax and force areas of Ireland which were not dependent on the potato to support areas that were the Act of 1847 – this was done under the slogan “Irish Property must pay for Irish Poverty”.

    Anyone with a basic understanding of economics could have predicted what happened next – the Irish economy collapsed, crushed by the high taxes (all taxes are passed on – anyone who thinks that only landowners are hit by a tax on landowners is a moron, there is no such thing as a “good tax”).

    Perhaps a third of the Irish population died or had to flee – one in three of the population.

    And how do the history books talk about this crushing taxation? They describe it as “laissez faire”.

    That is how demented the education system (and the media) is – they think late 1840s Ireland is an example of “laissez faire”.

    The idea that the “intellectual classes” (who read these history books and nod their empty heads) are going to have an honest and informed discussion of the National Health Service (or anything else) is Moonshine.

    Before there can be reform of healthcare, or any other aspect of the Welfare State, in Britain – the power of the “intellectual classes” (which is based on endless falsehoods and nonsense) has got to be broken.

    And I do not believe that power will be broken – this side of economic collapse.

    Oh, by the way, Prime Minister Russell was also a state intervention in education person and a bank-bailout-man. But I suspect anyone reading my words would already have guessed that about Prime Minister Russell.

  • Fred Z

    Let me repeat myself, but using different words.

    Democracy is a failure because the average voter is stupid, emotional and ignorant.

    I have no idea what should replace it.

  • A different JJM

    @Fred: a free Republic, with governments strictly as ‘nightwatchmen’.

    But that alone is not enough. No mechanic of governance will ever be enough in the face of a population with poor culture. Yes, good mechanics are vital, but they are not sufficient. Good culture must precede it, including having a substantial proportion of the population entirely by reason being able to validate what is right and wrong beginning from child’s-level sensory-perception all the way to the highest abstractions in politics and culture – or else in time the mechanics will be subverted, ignored, and eventually formally replaced by someone’s fantasy of Perfect Society or similar.

    And, no, superstition and faith will NOT cut the mustard.

  • Roué le Jour

    Universal suffrage is a stupid idea. Those living off the taxpayer will always vote for more tax. Voting should be limited to adult male taxpayers.

  • Fred Z


    Why restrict it to adults? Who is an adult? 16? 18? 21? 25? 30? A 16 year old genius making lots of money and paying large taxes should be able to vote, I think, maybe. I know quite a few highly sensible women who also make money and pay taxes. They are all “mature”. What’s wrong with them voting? What do we do about the many useless lefty taxpayers whose income is solely from inherited wealth?

    But in the main, I agree with you.

  • Steven R

    “If it saves just one life…” is a popular one here in the states.

  • Fred Z

    Steven R: That “if it saves one life …” is the lefty, fascist and deeply stupid meme that led to the Covid lockdown, masking and vaxing idiocy that had the (probably) unintended consequence of killing and injuring thousands of others.

  • Steven R

    I know, but it tugs at the heartstrings of a generally unthinking public. And if someone does say “I don’t care if it saves lives” then that person is immediately written off as an uncaring brute. After all, who can possibly not want to save lives?

  • Alex

    Voting should be limited to adult male taxpayers.

    Restricting voting to net taxpayers would be a great place to start.

  • Voting should be limited to adult male taxpayers.

    Does this mean women don’t have to pay taxes? I foresee a wave of people identifying as women

  • Martin

    Restricting voting to net taxpayers would be a great place to start.

    I would have been sympathetic in the past but the more I think and given the complexity and depths of how state money is used, these days I think it would be complicated to work out who is a genuinely a net taxpayer and who isn’t. I think identifying the welfare queens would be pretty easy but what about others? Is an OAP living off a state pension no longer a net taxpayer (and therefore deprived of the vote)? If you get cancer and get NHS treatment that would have cost £500k privately, do you lose the vote over that because you’re no longer a net tax payer? If you work for the government and get paid by the state (ie taxpayers) are you not a net payer? Would that mean armed forces and cops lose the vote? What if you run or work for a business reliant on government contracts (arms manufacturers) or government favours/bailouts (banks)? And so on. You could work all this out but I think it could easily be an administrative and legal nightmare.

    Anyway, although I am no uncritical fan of democracy, the evidence in places like the US and Britain suggests the political right is becoming increasingly working and lower middle class, while the left becomes increasingly a mix of upper bourgeois and minorities. Generally speaking, the wealthier are trending left-wing. Therefore I’m not sure voting qualifications based on tax/property criteria necessarily would benefit the right at this stage.

  • Stonyground

    Having recently had a death in the family I have had conversations with an undertaker who says that he is currently overwhelmed with the deaths of people who were not treated by the NHS during the lockdown. In our case the funeral of said family member is being held more than a month after the death, such is the backlog. Since the cause of death is recorded in all cases I’m presuming that he knows what he is talking about.

  • Paul Marks

    Steven R. – as you know “it” (government intervention) does not save lives, it costs lives. That is brutally clear in the record of the British health organisation that is being discussed here – but it is also true in the United States (and everywhere else). It is not a question of liberty or the improvement of the lives of the people – the universe is so constructed (whether or not it has a Creator) that the decline of liberty, the expansion of the state, makes life worse (not better) than it otherwise would have been.

    Stonyground – my condolences on your loss. I have also been to a lot of funerals lately.

    According to the Economist magazine the “excess deaths” in the United Kingdom are not caused by the Covid injections (which it supports), or by the general statism (which it also supports), but are caused by the government not spending enough money – this at a time when government spending on the Welfare State is vastly higher (however measured) than it has ever been.

    In local government circles this attitude is sometimes called the “Curley Effect” – after Mayor Curley of Boston in the early 1900s.

    Mayor Curley would increase government spending, taxes and regulations, knowing (yes knowing) that this would cause harm – the reason he did this is was because most people would NOT work out that it was the statism (Mayor Curley’s statism) that was causing the poverty and distress – and so would demand even more “help” and vote for Mayor Curley and his fellow Democrats.

    The worse things got, the more poverty and distress there was, the better things got for Mayor Curley and his fellow Democrats (the more votes they got from desperate people) – so it was in their interests to make things worse.

    Sadly, even then, the churches and much of the media (then the newspapers – although NOT all of them) played the same tune – they insisted that the government “help the people” and the more “help” (spending, taxes and regulations) there was, the worse things tended to get – which (and here is the insanity) led to even more demands for government help.

    By the way – Boston right now is, once again, ruled by ardent statists (Collectivists), the only difference with Mayor Curley is that the present rulers are so ignorant (so “educated”) that they, unlike Mayor Curley, may actually believe they are doing good – as they wreak everything.

    And, yes of course, the education system, the media, and the “mainline” churches – are all cheering on the insane destruction, the “Social Reform”.

  • Alex

    […]these days I think it would be complicated to work out who is a genuinely a net taxpayer and who isn’t.

    Since it is considered justified to expend significant energy working out who owes tax, I think it’s justifiable to spend some effort on determining who legitimately can vote to spend that tax. I would personally be in favour of a much simplified tax system (flat tax rate, for instance) and abolish most of the allowances that can be used to diminish your tax owed but on the flip side also reduce the tax rate. A sensible minimum threshold would tax millions out of tax, and neatly solves the minimum age problem too: anyone earning enough to be taxed at a younger age should be able to vote, the uni students with no practical life experience would not.

    Is an OAP living off a state pension no longer a net taxpayer (and therefore deprived of the vote)?

    Yes, I’d say so. Sorry to be callous but if they aren’t paying tax on their private pension then they shouldn’t be deciding how the gathered taxes are spent. Considerable amounts are spent now on energy bill support for the elderly, voted for by the elderly.

    If you get cancer and get NHS treatment that would have cost £500k privately, do you lose the vote over that because you’re no longer a net tax payer?

    No. I’d say it should be worked out pretty straightforwardly based on your tax paying status in the previous tax year. If you claimed benefits but ultimately paid more into the system than received, you get the vote (you’re not a parasite on the backs of the taxpaying body). I’d be inclined to exclude the NHS treatments from the calculation, but I do realize this leaves something to be desired. Yet overall I think it should work quite well, with the caveat that it may contribute to the NHS continued existence. I can live with it, I see no realistic chance that the NHS will be significantly reformed any time soon and the current system is making that worse, while the proposed “taxpayers get the vote” idea would at least introduce some realistic grounding into the fairytale politics in vogue.

    If you work for the government and get paid by the state (ie taxpayers) are you not a net payer? Would that mean armed forces and cops lose the vote?

    I would suggest it’s more basic than that. In this country you cannot stand for election to the body that pays your salary, I’d simply extend that to include voting. That is, if you work for the national government you may not vote in a general election. In American terms, if you work for the state you shouldn’t be able to vote for the state. If you work for a parish council, you can’t vote in elections to that council. If you work for the city/borough/district council you shouldn’t be able to vote in elections for that council.

    What if you run or work for a business reliant on government contracts (arms manufacturers) or government favours/bailouts (banks)?

    Yeah, this is the biggest problem in my view.

    Anyway, although I am no uncritical fan of democracy, the evidence in places like the US and Britain suggests the political right is becoming increasingly working and lower middle class, while the left becomes increasingly a mix of upper bourgeois and minorities. Generally speaking, the wealthier are trending left-wing. Therefore I’m not sure voting qualifications based on tax/property criteria necessarily would benefit the right at this stage.

    I don’t see why that has any bearing. The working class voters pay tax. Left wing property owning millionaires in Islington pay tax. I see no reason to draw any further distinction, the problem is the millions of underemployed people who aren’t net taxpayers who have heads full of lefty bullshit like guaranteed income, or ever increasingly generous payments increasing their number. Or the several million people who simply won’t work, and just live on the margin of society but who can quite happily nip down the polling station in May and vote in a Labour government to increase their benefits further still. That there’s some people who are perfectly sensible voters amongst their numbers is unfortunate. Collateral damage.

  • Roué le Jour

    My objection to women voting is based on two observations, firstly, that women favour the left, and secondly that politicians offer women preferential treatment to capture their vote. Neither of these is in society’s long term interest.

    As for not voting implying exception from taxation, would you suggest benefit claimants be except from fags and booze duty?

    My real point is that universal suffrage is not the only form of democracy. If universal suffrage doesn’t work, that does not imply democracy is a failure. Choose a different demos.

  • bobby b

    “Voting should be limited to adult male taxpayers.”

    My ex would swear that the two categories are mutually exclusive.

    More to the point, if we start limiting democracy by categories – net tax payers, male, urban, blond, whatever – you are almost guaranteeing that your society is going to suffer a revolt eventually. Were I poor and not a net tax payer and was then told that I would have no voice in our democracy, I would not take it well, and I doubt I would ever accept your ruling legitimacy.

  • Paul Marks

    Depressing front page of the local newspaper where I am.

    Picture of smiling man with “raised more than 20 thousand Pounds for NHS” headline – the NHS budget is some 149 Billion Pounds (149-thousand-million-Pounds) – lack of money is not its problem, but the public (including this good man) still think that lack of money for the NHS is the problem. 20 thousand Pounds would not pay the wages of one “Diversity Officer” (Frankfurt School “Critical Theory” Commissar) teaching that white-straight-males (such as the nice man on the front page of the local newspaper) are inherently evil and should be done away with. The good man is, unwittingly, supporting an organisation that (like just about all institutions today) hates people such as himself.

    Also on the front page of the local newspaper – “Win a fantastic trip to Philadelphia!”

    Not the Philadelphia of 60 or 70 years ago – when it was a nice place, no the Philadelphia of today (a dreadful place – that anyone who can leave, does leave).

    I often wonder when I see British young people, their Chinese made clothes saying “New York”, “Chicago”, “Los Angeles” (and so on) just how stuck in the past they must be.

    These were indeed nice places – 60 or 70 years ago, but they certainly are not now. So why wear clothing with these names written upon it? It is not even American clothing – it is made in the People’s Republic of China and other places (not America).

    I am interested in history (including the 2nd World War) – but it seems the general population are more “stuck in the past” than I am. The obsession with World War II and the Nazis confirms this – National Socialism has had little importance since 1945, but Western culture (not just British – general Western culture) is obsessed with it. Endless books, films, television series – and-so-on. And it is constantly in the public mind.

    “BBC, NHS [founded in 1948 – copied from the Soviet health service created some 20 years before] lets bash Hitler!”

    This would be Adolf Hitler the German (or Austrian) National Socialist Dictator – who was born in 1889 and died in 1945 (some 78 years ago).

  • Paul Marks

    It is a very odd view of the 1940s that is given – for example hospitals appear from no where (by a magical act-of-will) in 1948, in reality all the hospitals the NHS took over already existed, and some had been charitable hospitals for hundreds of years.

    As for World War II – there are endless programmes about “the Nazis” but few of them show much knowledge of National Socialism, I suspect that the makers of such programmes have never read such works as “The Road to Serfdom” by Hayek or “Omnipotent Government” by Mises.

    And the British side of World War II is also treated in a bizarre way – for example a series being pushed at the moment keeps calling Royal Navy “Wrens” (female Royal Navy personal) who worked on submarine war game exercises, “Kick arse game changers”.

    If you had called one of these ladies a “Kick arse game changer” the lady would first have wondered what language you were speaking, and then decided (quite correctly) that you were being rude and would have had nothing more to do with you.

  • Paul Marks

    Back on the present situation – the system is largely bureaucratic and outside real democratic accountability for taxpayers money (the Economist magazine denies this – but they are not telling the truth).

    For example, the General Hospital here (which serves hundreds of thousands of people from various towns) has been running on (failing) emergency generators for a very long time – it should have been a simple matter for the minister to order a proper generator plant to be built, but ministers can not really order anything and expect their orders to be obeyed – there are endless Civil Service units and “Quangos” (government bodies outside the Civil Service), which means that ministers have to push-and-push-and-push to get even the most basic and obvious things done. It takes years – and even then only if they keep pushing every day (otherwise basic work will not get done – and the money will just vanish).

    Calling this an “internal market” (as the Adam Smith Institute and on used to – I think they have given up this absurd terminology now) is like playing trains in the attic and thinking you are running a railway company.

    Yes I stole that analogy for Ludwig Von Mises – because it is apt.

    These layers of bureaucracy (the sort of thing the Economist magazine pretends does not exist – as they love “managers”) are as far from a real market as it is possible to be.

    To talk of a “market” when the taxpayers are funding the system is demented. A socialist “market” (“market socialism”) is a contradiction in terms. It is “This Square Circle” – to cite the title of a book on the absurdities of “Market Socialism” by the late Anthony de Jasay (also author of “The State”).

    I must stress that all this is NOT about saving money – the budget of the NHS is 149 Billion Pounds (149-thousand-million-Pounds), it is about getting something for the money. Not having proper power generation for the General Hospital here would NOT save money (the money would vanish anyway). It would mean that power would eventually fail – and people will suffer and die because of that power failure.

    I repeat – all the money would vanish whatever-happened, ministerial intervention (in response to many years of campaigning by local Members of Parliament) is about getting something for that money (proper power generation for the hospital) before the money vanishes.