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The Cure for Healthcare

Reforming Healthcare against NHS Propaganda

Economic Piece by Josh L. Ascough

No subject could be more controversial to discuss in the UK more than reforming; or abolishing the NHS. The NHS has existed for over 70 years, and over that time the British people have insisted in telling themselves that, they have ‘the best healthcare system’, and that the NHS is ‘the envy of the world’.

The only problem is…none of this is even close to being true.

The idea that the organised working classes were demanding a government takeover of healthcare is a post-hoc rationalisation, which projects the fondness for the NHS, which the public subsequently developed, back into the period of its creation”

We continue to tell ourselves that the NHS was the great achievement of the working classes; rising up and demanding national healthcare, in which free access would give power to the people. But, as Kristian Niemietz of the Institute of Economic Affairs points out:

“The creation of the NHS had little to do with pressure from below; it was not a change that ordinary people had fought for. Far from being People Power in action, the NHS was a brainchild of social elites, to which the general public just passively acquiesced. The idea that the organised working classes were demanding a government takeover of healthcare is a post-hoc rationalisation, which projects the fondness for the NHS, which the public subsequently developed, back into the period of its creation.” (Kristian Niemietz. Universal Healthcare Without the NHS. p. 19)

Nick Hayes has reiterated this ex-post rationalisation; explaining that huge support for a nationalised health system was merely a pipe dream piece of propaganda:

“The evidence before us seems to indicate a fairly large amount of resistance to State interference in the field of medicine […] roughly half the population was opposed to any major change on the health front, a quarter disinterested and a quarter in favour of State intervention.” (Nick Hayes. English Historical Review. p. 659)

Evidence in our modern times, gives an interesting expansion on this. The British Social Attitudes Survey (2015) reveals when members of the public, are asked if they would hold a preference for being treated by an NHS-based provider of healthcare, a private profit driven, or a private non-profit provider, 43% state no general preference. A further 18% provide an explicit preference for independent, non-state-based providers of healthcare.

The phony info from NHS propagandists’ continues. The system prior to the creation of the NHS was not a bleak world where people died in the streets; desperately searching for a doctor only to find none exist. Before 1948, the health system operating in the UK was well developed. The system was rooted in the mutualism of the 19th century. The creation of the NHS was not the development of a new system; it was simply a government takeover.

Let’s get back to the common phrase mentioned earlier: the NHS is the envy of the world. The argument is that the NHS is the envy of the world, due to instituting a system, which does not base its service on an individual’s ability to pay for said service. This is treated as an outstanding achievement, yet the vast majority of the developed world has universal access to healthcare (the US is the exception, but we will come to that later). Are we not begging the question of how the NHS is the envy of the world, when the reality of the developed world’s health systems indicates otherwise? Your neighbour can hardly envy you for what you have, if he already has it.

“if the NHS is the envy of the world, then why is it, after over 70 years no developed nation has copied the structure the UK has; why does it refuse to copy the system it apparently envies so much?”

Furthermore, if the NHS is the envy of the world, then why is it, after over 70 years no developed nation has copied the structure the UK has; why does it refuse to copy the system it apparently envies so much? The answer comes in two:

(1) Other developed nations understand there is a difference between universal access as a standard, and the nationalisation of healthcare.

(2) The NHS is not the envy of the world; nor has it ever been.

The NHS is not just far from the envy of the world when looking at the universal healthcare status of other developed nations, but according to the OECD, the UK has one of the worst healthcare systems within the developed world. When the report was first published, The Independent stated:

“The quality of care in the UK is “poor to mediocre” across several key health areas […] and the NHS struggles to get even the “basics” right […] Britain was placed on a par with Chile and Poland.”

The Financial Times in addition reported on the findings; stating the following:

“Britons are less likely to survive a heart attack, stroke and leading cancers than people in many other developed nations, according to an assessment of international health systems”

Many apologists for the NHS, would be quick to point to the Commonwealth Fund Study; proclaiming that the CFS “proved” that the NHS is the best system in the world, because it was ranked 1st.

This completely ignores that the CFS looked at inputs, not outcomes. When it came to the one category which looked at outcomes, the UK came out second to last, only slightly above the US. In addition the Commonwealth Fund Study was designed to systematically favour healthcare systems which are tax-funded. The CFS asked patients if their insurer ever declined payment for treatment, and whether they have ever incurred out of pocket payments in excess of over £1,000. These declining of payments and out of pocket payments, would not only be almost impossible under the NHS, but under the systems of Sweden and Norway also. Looking to the CFS for neutrality is like looking to the Central Bank of England for financial stability; you have to lie and make assumptions that fit the outcome you want. The CFS held a category for cost issues titled ‘Cost-Related Access Problems’; this however is based on price limitations with regards to consumers, and mentions nothing on the matter of non-cost based restrictions, such as state rationing.

Many proponents of the current system, when presented with this information, would be quick to state: “okay sure, the NHS has some problems, but that’s just because of underfunding and the spending being cut.”

“In 2018, spending on the NHS was £214 billion; an increase in spending of 296% over a 20 year period. If there has been a cut in spending on the NHS, I’m failing to see where it is”

Well, reality paints a different picture.

According to data from Statista, from the period of 1997 to 2018, spending on the NHS has been on a continuous increase, as shown below:

As shown in the data, in 1997, spending on the NHS was at roughly £54.9 billion, and has been on a consistent rise. In 2018, spending on the NHS was £214 billion; an increase in spending of 296% over a 20 year period. If there has been a cut in spending on the NHS, I’m failing to see where it is.

Before we touch on the US healthcare system, and the myth of it being a free market system, I think the reader would agree it is important to “put my money where my mouth is”, and provide examples of how the NHS fares compared to other developed nations.

The next few sections will look at the following:

  • NHS Outcomes Compared to Other Developed Nations.
  • The Universal Systems of Other Developed Nations

After we’ve discussed the US healthcare system, we will go over potential reforms and alternative means of providing healthcare, while keeping the essence of universality.

NHS Outcomes Compared to Other Developed Nations

Let’s take a look at performance rates of the NHS and other systems.

The above table showcases how countries’ healthcare systems compare when it comes to waiting times for GP appointments and A&E.

Nations marked as green indicate an average waiting time of less than 1 hour, yellow in between 1 – 3 hours, and red over 3 hours.

As we can see, the top performers are Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary. The worst performers include Lithuania, Sweden, and England. Under the NHS, obtaining a same day appointment to see a GP is close to impossible, and waiting times in A&E on average are over 3 hours.

In the second table we look at the waiting times for surgeries and cancer therapies. The top performers here are: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and others. The worst performers include Ireland, Poland, and Slovakia. The NHS rates yellow, meaning roughly 50% can be conducted within 3 months.

The third table looks at the waiting time for diagnostics, and how easy it is to receive specialist care; if a patient can access such care directly, or if there is gate-keeping in place such as going through a GP.

The top systems in this regard are Austria, Belgium and Switzerland. The longest waiting times for diagnostics and restrictions in place for accessing specialist care occur in Ireland, Malta, Spain, Sweden and England.

Throughout all of these areas, many systems dip between green and yellow, some more than others consistently keeping in the green. The NHS on the other hand, the majority of the time remains in the red, with only one example of being in the middle (yellow).

We’ve taken a look at waiting times, what about survival rates? Let’s take a look at cancers first.

In the UK the most common form of cancer is breast cancer. The diagram above shows the 5 year survival rate for breast cancer patients. The UK’s survival rate is 81.1%; roughly 5% behind South Korea, and roughly 2% behind Austria; if NHS patients had been treated under the South Korean system, we can speculate roughly 2,500 lives could have been saved, and extended every year.

The second diagram shows the five year survival rate for prostate cancer. Under the NHS system, the survival rate is 83%, which is lower than most of the developed world. For patients in Sweden which ranks 12th in the diagram, the survival rate is roughly 6% higher. We can estimate that if NHS patients were treated there, a further 2,800 could have survived.

Lung cancer is next on the list. The UK has a survival rate of less than 10%, making it the worst performing compared to all high income, developed nations. Roughly 2,400 additional lives could have been saved under the Australian system, which is 5% higher than the UK.

Let us take a look at stroke mortality rates:

Ischaemic strokes are one of the most common types of stroke in the UK, with roughly 150,000 cases per year (Stroke Association 2016). The UK has a survival rate of 9%. Again, if NHS patients were treated in Sweden, around 3,000 extra lives could have survived an Ischaemic stroke.

Finally, we look at the mortality rate for Haemorrhagic strokes. The UK, once again, is a poor performer for survival. The UK has a mortality rate of 26.5%, which is over 4% higher than the US; translating to roughly 1,000 excess deaths.

“The systems of Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, can be described under a broad term of operating under Social Health Insurance systems. In the rankings previously shown, these countries have consistently outperformed the NHS”

The Universal Systems of Other Developed Nations

We’ve looked at survival rates and mortality under the NHS system, and so we shall now go over what the universal character of other developed nations looks like.

The systems of Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium, can be described under a broad term of operating under Social Health Insurance systems. In the rankings previously shown, these countries have consistently outperformed the NHS.

How Does Social Health Insurance Work?

Social Health Insurance works a similar way to standard insurance. There are however a few unique qualities which are:

  • Community Rating: Under a SHI system, insurance companies cannot raise premiums based on an individual’s health risks.
  • Obligation to Accept: SHI systems prohibit insurers from rejecting coverage based on an individual’s medical history.
  • No Exclusion: Pre-existing conditions cannot be denied for coverage under a system of SHI.
  • Individual Mandate: Under a SHI system, it is compulsory for all individuals to purchase SHI, and is mandated by the state. If an individual does not purchase SHI, then they are put on one automatically; even against their will.
  • Premium Subsidies: Due to the point of mandates, the government subsidises the SHI of people on low incomes. For some nations this is a means-tested based subsidy, in others it is income dependent.

Under the Swiss system of SHI, it could be argued there is a higher degree of freedom of choice for patients than in other SHI systems, including a cost-sharing measure worth looking into. Out-of-pocket payments under the Swiss SHI, account for roughly a quarter of total healthcare spending (according to W.H.O 2015: 132-133). This system has two distinct components: deductible and proportional co-payments. Deductible works similar to most insurance systems with excess; there is a minimum cost threshold which, once costs exceed this, the insurance covers the excess costs. People can freely have a higher minimum threshold set, in return for premium rebates.

Co-Payments are capped at a certain amount per year. Once a patient’s collective medical bills reach said amount, then they face no further expenses.

“In order to prevent the cost of healthcare rising exponentially during old age, German PKV insurers are required to smooth premiums over people’s lifetime. This “pre-funding” mechanism works in a similar way to a pension”

The German health system has two types of healthcare coverage. These are the standard type of Social Health Insurance; known as GKV, with the community rated premiums and other qualities mentioned above, and a conventional, private health insurance; known as PKV, with varying premiums, and no risk compensation.

Additionally, the German system has a quality that many nations could learn from: an accumulation of old-age reserves. We understand that healthcare costs are flat for the majority of life (not including exceptions), and then rise with age. In order to prevent the cost of healthcare rising exponentially during old age, German PKV insurers are required to smooth premiums over people’s lifetime. This “pre-funding” mechanism works in a similar way to a pension; insurance companies build up an old-age fund on behalf of their clients during their working life, and later draw on this fund for care during old age.

Before we go into the US, I want to briefly talk about the South Korean system.

South Korea has a universal health insurance system, similar to that of SHI; the difference being though, is that the state is unable to set market prices. Many Koreans seek additional private coverage due to the state-based insurance being insufficient to cover all the costs; around 8 out of 10 Koreans take out private coverage, with an average cost of 120,000 Won (£75) a month.

Care in South Korea is provided by hospitals which are 94% private, a fee-for-service model and no direct subsidies. This private system is not purely for-profit, the Korean system has a mix between for-profit, non-profit and charity foundations. The presence of private hospitals expanded in the early 2000s; from 2002 to 2012, private hospitals rose from 1,185 to 3,048. Further information on the South Korean system with a comparison to Italy, and a look at how it handled the outbreak of Covid-19, can be found here:

The USA: Free Market Healthcare?

Most of the time NHS propagandists will point to the US and decree: “See! That’s free market healthcare for you! If we didn’t have the NHS (praise be upon it) then we’d have a US system!”

There are two problems. firstly, NHS propagandists intentionally ignore the vast majority of other SHI systems which outperform the UK; relying on the publics ignorance of other systems outside the UK and US. Secondly, the US has not had anything close to a free market in healthcare for at least 100 years. It has become an interventionist, heavily regulated system with positions on competition similar to that (which I’ve discussed a fair number of times) of Neo-Classical General Equilibrium Theory and Perfect Competition. I won’t go into the subject in order to save the reader time, but if you’re interested in understanding what I’m referring to, you can check out my article where I discuss it in detail here – http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/marshallian-curve/

As was mentioned above, the United States has not held a free market in healthcare since 100 years ago. Jacob Hornberger, the founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation, gives a mention to this in his book, The Dangers of Socialized Medicine:

“For over one hundred years, the American people said no to governmental intervention into health care. Americans did not permit their respective states to licence physicians and other health-care providers. They did not permit government to provide health care to the poor and needy. No one was required to purchase health insurance.” (Jacob Hornberger. The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. p. 15)

The government has always attempted to interfere in healthcare, including various lobby groups and unions wishing to curtail care with the use of government power, however it could be argued the defining moment American healthcare changed for the worst forever was the successful lobbying done by the American Medical Association. To further quote Mr Hornberger, he goes into great detail on the impact the AMA had on healthcare in the US:

“The American Medical Association is perhaps the strongest trade union in the United States. The essence of the power of a trade union is its power to restrict the number who may engage in a particular occupation. This restriction may be exercised indirectly by being able to enforce a wage rate higher than would otherwise prevail. If such a wage rate can be enforced, it will reduce the number of people who can get jobs and thus indirectly the number of people pursuing the occupation. This technique of restriction has disadvantages. There is always a dissatisfied fringe of people who are trying to get into the occupation. A trade union is much better off if it can limit directly the number of people who enter the occupation-who ever try to get jobs in it. The disgruntled and dissatisfied are excluded at the outset, and the union does not have to worry about them” (Jacob Hornberger. The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. p. 65)

“the number of medical schools in the US, from the period of 1910 to 1920 dropped from 131 to 85. This cut in medical schools not only had; and continues to have, a supply-side effect by causing prices to artificially be forced up”

The AMA’s successful lobbying campaign, was to restrict the number of doctors who could enter the medical profession by drastically reducing the number of medical schools in the country, and enforcing mandatory licencing into the nation. After the successful lobbying for accreditation was granted, the number of medical schools in the US, from the period of 1910 to 1920 dropped from 131 to 85. This cut in medical schools not only had; and continues to have, a supply-side effect by causing prices to artificially be forced up, it had a huge impact on women and African Americans entering the medical profession. By the time of 1944, the total number of medical schools which admitted black people was cut from 7 to 2.

Many may argue that licencing is good particularly for healthcare. But a licence does nothing to prove a doctor is competent. A doctor could have been in the medical profession for 30 years and be completely incompetent. Two types of objections can be made against licencing:

Economic Objections | Licencing puts a gap between patients and healthcare providers. By restricting the trade of healthcare through additional costs for licencing, it reduces the supply; by reducing the supply this, as stated previously, artificially forces the price up. This added cost is passed on to the consumers of healthcare services. This barrier to entry goes completely against the freedom of entry required for a competitive market to function, under entrepreneurial discovery.

Social Objections | Licencing gives a false sense of security to patients that lead to unfulfilled expectations of doctors being medical automatons; incapable of making human errors and bringing nothing but unnatural perfection to the table. This can harm the relationship between the doctor and patient; causing high dependency and resentment. Furthermore licencing as indicated above, discriminates against not only African Americans and women, but poor people too. While it has been used to keep women and minorities out of the medical profession in the past, the continued effect it has on the poor, is to force them out of the market through disincentives; via expensive education and other requirements for licencing.

Licencing, to some up, is designed to keep doctors free from competition, and increase their wages, through the means of the government giving out privileges and putting up barriers to entry. It is a throwback to the old, European Guild system, and has made the healthcare market aristocratic.

To quote Hornberger once more:

“Licencing is a special-interest legislation for the benefit of physicians and other medical personnel. Its primary purpose and effect are to limit entry into the medical profession in order to protect medical people from competition. Does licencing ensure competent doctors and nurses? If it does, then why do we continue to have so many malpractice judgments against doctors and other medical personnel? And one problem with licencing is that it seduces the public into believing that because a person has been licenced by the state, he must be competent. What would happen if licencing were repealed? Well, no one would run out into the street looking for a quack to perform heart surgery on him. […] What if someone needed a new doctor? The likelihood is the person would rely on the recommendation of his current physician. Moreover, well-established and well-known physicians in the community would band together to publish a list of recommended doctors in the area; private certifying agencies (i.e., Consumer Reports or Good Housekeeping) would do the same.” (Jacob Hornberger. The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. p. 22)

“the government pays for roughly half of all healthcare purchased in the US. Since Medicare and Medicaid patients pay little or nothing, it creates an incentive to consume more than one would value if they incurred the costs”

Medicare and Medicaid

What are the interventionist effects of Medicare and Medicaid? Aside from the extortion of resources, the two forms of medical welfare have negative effects on the demand-side of the equation.

The way it is affected is, the government pays for roughly half of all healthcare purchased in the US. Since Medicare and Medicaid patients pay little or nothing, it creates an incentive to consume more than one would value if they incurred the costs, which if the costs were internalised, it would create incentives to shop around for care. Up until the 1980s, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursed providers, meaning neither patient nor doctor had any incentive to keep either costs down. This lead to a sharp upward movement in prices for insurance and healthcare in general. As a result, many people and small businesses were and are, priced out of the insurance market.

The FDA, patents and insurance regulations also play a huge role in the high expense American’s pay for healthcare.

Insurance

Employer-Provided Health Insurance (1943) – While not mandatory in all states, Employer-Provided Health Insurance requires an employer to pay for the coverage of their employees. Since the individual patient is not facing the costs of said coverage, this leads to people not being as fiscally responsible as they would be; leading to higher risks and higher costs. This also plays a role in why low-pay workers find it hard to leave their job; if they did they would be at risk of not being covered should they face medical needs, leading to employees in states where it is mandatory being dependent on their employer.

Mandated Coverage – The state of California since 2011 has made it mandatory for insurance providers to cover maternity leave (legislation SB 299, AB 592, SB 222 and AB210) This means that even if a woman does not want children, or cannot have children for medical reasons; or because of age, she still has to pay for the coverage of something she will either never want, or never be able to have. This waste not only affects the insurer, but the policy holder, by forcing them to pay a higher price.

Mandatory Insurance – The Obamacare Individual Mandate, made it mandatory on the federal level for all American’s to purchase health insurance. This has the obvious effect of artificially forcing up the quantities being purchased and the demand, leading to higher prices for insurance and medical care. As of 2019 the mandate was no longer required on the federal level, however at least 5 states and the District of Columbia have maintained the mandate for purchasing health insurance.

FDA

Slow-Testing and Approval Process – The FDA’s process of approval times and testing has gone through a very regressive motion. Before 1962 the FDA was required to approve a drug within 180 days unless the new drug was proved to not be safe; meaning there was a time constraint on the FDA, and new drugs could get into the medical market faster. After 1962, said time constraint was removed, and since then the drug approval process has lengthened exponentially. To give a bit of context, prior to 1962 the time between filing and approval was an average of 7 months, after 1967 that time rose to 30 months, and by the late 1980s the time between filing and approval shot up to 8 – 10 years. This excessively lengthened process has seen the cost of testing new drugs rise to around $800 million per drug, and due to the lack of viable substitutes for patients has caused the price of drugs already on the market to rise.

Anti-Advertisement – Advertisement of approved drugs for newly discovered uses, which may be more beneficial than it’s conventional use, is prohibited under FDA rules. This leads to many companies not finding it worthwhile to re-evaluate an approved drug for alternative uses. This restriction has created a barrier to entry in the drug market; not only blocking entrepreneurial innovators from advertising their discoveries, in the attempt to alert consumers of what they may hold an absence of information over, but is designed to protect already existing drug companies from competition.

Patents

IP the Restrictor of Competition

IP is designed to protect the producer of a drug from competitors who wish to reverse engineer their drug, in order to sell similar drugs on the market. IP is not simply the protection of a brand, it restricts who can produce and sell what. It is IP which has led to the rising costs of epipens and insulin. An example of drugs without IP and drugs with, are painkillers and Epipens. In 2020 the average cost of a two-pack of Epipens was $699.82. Pain Relievers with no IP can be purchased at a low price of $3.88 for a 24 pack. If IP was removed from all drugs and reverse engineering by competitors was allowed, dominant drug companies would have to find new ways to innovate their drugs, lower their prices to withhold and stall competition, or be priced out of the drug market.

“Mandates and freedom are opposites. If a person is free, then that means he is not mandated to buy anything. If a person is mandated to buy something, then he is not free. Mandates are not a free-market alternative, because mandates violate free-market principles.” (Jacob Hornberger. The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. p. 14)

“Private doesn’t simply mean “for-profit”, private means there is no government intervention, micro-management, protections, controls or ownerships”

An Alternative to the NHS

Keeping in mind everything we’ve gone over, is it possible to have universal access to healthcare within a free market in healthcare? Yes; if you allow for variety in the means of acquiring medical care, and the ways to provide it.

What do I mean by this? Private doesn’t simply mean “for-profit”, private means there is no government intervention, micro-management, protections, controls or ownerships.

Assuming the reader understands how a for-profit provider would operate (like any other service provider), in order to save time we’ll simply look at what alternatives could exist alongside for-profit providers.

Limited Local Government Display

The British people are a very charitable people, and Britain has had a culture that values empathy and charity for centuries. The difficulty that comes with seeking help, is an absence of information, with regards to the existence of charities that can help people. Local councils can play a very limited role, in advertising all health-based charities that operate within their borough, or that operate nationwide, but which have easy access facilities within the borough. These advertisements could be in the form of notice boards in the council buildings, as well as mailing lists to communities the councils’ understand to have poor demographics.

This would not only expose large numbers of charities to potential donors who did not know these charities existed, but also to the poor who may not know where or who they can turn to.

To put my thoughts into actions, I recommend donating to BenendenHealth. They are a non-profit, affordable care provider that was established in 1905, with the purpose of joining people together to help with medical care when they need it. You can make a donation at https://www.benenden.co.uk/about-benenden/charitable-trust/donations/

Subscription Institutions

This one may seem a bit strange to the reader, so I’ll need to take some time to explain what I mean. The Subscription Institution proposal I’m making, is based on the structure and methods of provision of the Mises Institute. The Mises Institute is a non-profit organisation dedicated to spreading the economic theories of the Austrian School.

The Mises Institute, generates its funds via donations, but also raises funds through a subscription basis; where subscribers pay a monthly fee, and receive benefits such as discounts, newsletters, magazines, and updates on events for members. An additional means of raising funds is by selling products both to members and non-members. As of late, due to charitable donations the institute has begun its own Master Degree in Economics for a lower price than other universities; the average cost for a Masters course ranges from $20,000 – $60,000, whereas the Mises Institute charges around $4,000.

A similar format could be imagined for private, subscription-based healthcare institutions. We can refer to these as Healthcare-Subscription-Institutions (HSI).

Above we see a basic outline of how such an institution could function. They would receive donations from members of the public on a voluntary basis, as well as universities and other institutions who would mutually benefit from research being conducted.

Secondly, the option of a monthly subscription, would allow members of the public to receive certain benefits; such as free care services, newsletters on developments and research being conducted with/without collaboration with other institutions, and discounts on products such as books, human anatomy models, and health conferences.

Thirdly, the Healthcare-Subscription-Institution (HSI) would generate additional financial capital by selling books by academics, doctors and recently graduated students. This would benefit the producers of these books by expanding the access to their work, as well as assisting to build up a resume for recently graduated students.

Finally, Future-Reserve-Accounts would allow individuals to set up what could be likened to a savings account for their children or grandchildren. They would pay a monthly deposit, to which the HSI would use a fraction for further investments, branching out, diversifying their capital stock and creating additional research and services. At the payee’s end of life, the collected funds would be transferred to the declared recipient; either child or grandchild, with added interest.

This would result in a care service which would be free for members; due to continued commitment to their subscription payments, and a limited fee for non-members.

Healthcare in the UK is in desperate need of reform. We continue to not help our national situation by being in a state of denial and nostalgia for days and standards to which never even existed. One type of private healthcare would be as effective as a nationalised system; it cannot meet the demands of all. If universality is the principle which British people refuse to budge on, then a private system with a diverse way of providing care has a greater chance; allowing a wide variety of methods for providing care, would ensure a greater degree of people have access to care; we have a variety of methods for providing other products, so why not healthcare? Rather than an ultimatum between ‘for-profit or nothing’, or ‘nationalised or nothing’, let’s try a decentralised, denationalised variety of choice.

For-Profit, Non-Profit, Charities, One-to-One Personal Family Doctors, Healthcare-Subscription-Institutions; whichever you subjectively prefer, choice is the best cure for healthcare.

Sources:

https://pixabay.com/photos/ecg-electrocardiogram-stethoscope-1953179/

Scott Neville – Hampshire Independents

The Hampshire Independents are a political party that seeks to tailor efforts towards the specific needs of individual Hampshire communities.  The party does not have a top down manifesto, instead it has a number of principles and members focus on what they believe is right for their area.

We speak with Scott Neville a party founder and the Nominating Officer.  Scott campaigned for both the alternative vote referendum in 2011 and the EU referendum in 2016 believing that it’s never wrong to ask the electorate. He is very keen to promote a low tax environment which makes it easy to do business while supporting and encouraging business to do social good.

Scott thanks for your time.

Can you tell us about your political background and what led to the setting up of the Hampshire Independents?

Sure. I have been interested in politics for a long time. When I was younger I considered myself to be a Conservative,  but that was about 20 years ago. I would have thought myself a bit of a traditionalist, and I have long thought that people should be as self-reliant as possible.  If most people can look after themselves without help, it makes it easier to help those who are unable to.  As I got older my views shifted somewhat and today I would sit somewhere between a classical liberal and a libertarian. I have become very socially liberal, and would have no problems with things like three person marriages, and no problem with transgenderism (I honestly don’t see the point of even recording gender on most official documents, if you are not hurting anyone who cares?).  I have remained fiscally conservative believing we should strive for a low tax economy with very carefully selected public spending and I see no problem with big innovation receiving big reward. Part of this has made me a staunch localist I believe decisions should be made as close to the people they effect as possible.

I have stood for election under the Libertarian Party banner twice, once in a general and once locally.  I found I was less happy about this locally, while I still believed in libertarian values, I found there were some issues where feeling was strong and because of the background there was no way forward without involving the council.  I would not consider myself an ideologue more of a pragmatist so I was happy to accept in certain specific situations the will of the area needed to override my own beliefs (this might be just getting over a hump, rather than becoming fundamentally statist).

I have known Alan Stone for some years, and we attended a number of events together where we would learn about local candidates and parties. I remember leaving one event thinking “what the heck was that, I am just going to draw something on the ballot paper as I can’t support any of them”. I was already thinking that national politics should be kept out of local politics, and this cemented it. Alan had much the same view, and that night outside Basingstoke railway station the two of us, plus two others decided to form Basingstoke Independent Group (with a slogan of vote BIG). Over the next few days we spoke about it with friends who were also involved with politics, there were people from all over the county that were interested in having a local party which puts local politics first and national politics were left at the door. While vote BIG was a good slogan, Basingstoke Independent Group was really not going to work for a candidate in Southampton. From that Hampshire Independents was born; a new party with no central manifesto, just a few key intentions with the expectation that each candidate comes up with their own ideas.

“the police should be judged on the level of criminality, not on arrests or investigations or whatever. We both knew that supressing low-level crime (such as anti-social behaviour, shop-lifting, casual drug dealing) can be done by having a visible police presence on the streets”

The Hampshire Independents principles include ‘More visible policing’ and ‘an infrastructure-first policy on development’.  Can you tell us more about what these mean and some of the other principles?

Our principals are there as a starting point for local politics, they are to provide a baseline without getting into specifics.  I will talk about the two you have brought up.  We have a couple of members who have worked in some capacity for the police. Steve James-Bailey was an officer for over 20 years in Hampshire Constabulary, and I have worked in IT building and supporting some of the UKs policing systems. Between us we have a fair idea of how to keep common crime under control. Both the party leadership, and Steve supported the original Peelian principals of policing; the police should be judged on the level of criminality, not on arrests or investigations or whatever. We both knew that supressing low-level crime (such as anti-social behaviour, shop-lifting, casual drug dealing) can be done by having a visible police presence on the streets. This does not mean loads of arrests, but a degree of confidence that someone from law enforcement will be seen walking up and down trouble hotspots. The objective is clear: to make people feel safer. How this is implemented could vary from town to town; there are plenty of ways to do it from council enforcement officers, to staff paid for by Business Improvement Districts, or PCSO’s even local businesses just group funding for security guards. We have no prescription of how this is done, it needs to be tailored to each town.

The other point you mentioned is infrastructure first policy. This is a common complaint that we hear. New developments (be they industrial or residential), go up for planning without wider consideration for the needed infrastructure. Hampshire has capacity problems with processing waste water in some areas, and it is far from unusual to see upgrade works as part of a planning application, but then delays happen and the upgrades take longer than expected.  We also see this with traffic. Often, new smaller developments are tacked on, and they can have a significant impact on the existing residents. We don’t think this is right, yes we may need new developments but it should not come at the expense of existing residents, any infrastructure improvements needed should come first. As with our principles, what matters locally is up to each candidate to decide depending on local needs, there will be different infrastructure problems across the county and we will not have a one size fits all policy.

Our other principles are:

  • Doing what is right for your area first
  • Support for local apprenticeships
  • Work to improve recycling, both in where its processed and how much is collected
  • Borough councillors to return their basic allowance to the community via charity (expenses for travel, food where relevant can be claimed, any additional committee work would be paid)
  • Support local businesses, buy locally
  • Encourage start-up business where possible
  • Council-controlled social housing

For those not familiar with Hampshire politics, what are the big issues in the county?

There are 3 main issues really:

  • Policing
  • Development
  • Town Centres

To explain a little more.  Hampshire is a really tough county to police; Hampshire Constabulary is responsible for 2 counties, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.  Most multi county police forces (Thames Valley for example) don’t have to deal with the sea separating the two counties. During a major incident allocating resources from say Reading to Slough in Thames Valley is very easy, it is just a drive up the motorway. Allocating resources from Portsmouth to Cowes is not easy as a ferry needs to be involved. Added to this Hampshire is a big mix of urban and rural areas. Southampton for example, is a major city with one of the UK’s busiest ports. We also have Portsmouth, home to the Royal Navy and another major city. This is combined with parts of the South Downs National Park and the Hampshire Downs one of the breadbaskets of England. We therefore get a big mix of both urban and rural crime. Hampshire Constabulary is also considered one of the lowest funded police forces in the country; other forces are able to increase their income through the host force model with other specialist agencies, (such as hosting counter-terrorism units, or serious fraud units).  Other forces like the Metropolitan Police are able to increase their revenue by licencing their brand through things like children’s detective sets. Hampshire lacks both of these, so there is a real struggle with funding. As a result, most minor crime is simply not investigated and this has a real serious impact on the public’s perception of the police. You often hear things like: “the police just don’t care about burglary”, can you imagine how awful that would feel? Knowing that someone broke into your house, went through your most private possessions, and the police just don’t appear to care?

Development is another one that comes up time and time again. Hampshire has good rail links with London, a decent port in Southampton and generally a well educated workforce. The north of Hampshire also brushes the M4 corridor which is the silicone valley of the UK. As a result, we see some very high house prices here (not London high, but still high), but with loads of countryside developers are very interested in getting massive plots of land for big new developments. In my area of Basingstoke, it often feels like an overdeveloped version of “what have the Romans ever done for us”?  “Well apart from the extension of Beggarwood, the development the other-side of the A30, the building on the football club, the new houses in Brighton Hill, the new houses by the Hospital, Merton Rise, the development of Basingstoke Golf Club and the 10,000 houses in Manydown, what developments are there?…. The 10,000 houses proposed on the Portsmouth Settled Estates, and don’t forget the Motorway Services”. I do understand people need places to live, but we also really need to think about the road infrastructure to allow these people to do simple things like get to the shops. We also hear about the climate emergency, but this does not appear to matter when there is concrete and tarmac for houses to cover all those plants.  The same is true with some of the solar farms, there are numerous proposals to put solar farms all over the county, so we can burn more fossil fuels importing food rather than growing more food here.

“have had articles published in the local papers and have written for us about the problems with parking.  Its simple things like parking machines that don’t work, overactive parking enforcement and extra charges for using a really slow app or telephone service.  People just think well its not worth the agro going into town”

Town centres are another big issue, most of the town centres have seen slow long term decline shops moving out and part of them becoming deserted.  Basingstoke, Andover, Alton, Fleet, Farnborough they all have parts of the town centre where shops just close up.  Now there is a number of factors that cause this and the council cant just “fix it” by charging less rent, in many cases the council only owns a handful of buildings.  Parking is a big problem that we have put a lot of effort into.  Both the party treasurer (Spencer) and leader (Alan) have had articles published in the local papers and have written for us about the problems with parking.  Its simple things like parking machines that don’t work, overactive parking enforcement and extra charges for using a really slow app or telephone service.  People just think well its not worth the agro going into town, I will just order it online.  This is not good longer term as the town centres will die and all the jobs that go with it, we have seen some big names go this year and there is a more subtle changes to, for example Argos is disappearing slowly and the town where I live has seen both their Argos stores close.

“we do the traditional things like canvassing and delivering leaflets, we also have a strong social media presence.  We tend to identify specific issues that matter locally then pursue them and try to bring attention to them in the press”

What are the key issues that gain the party support, and how do you go about campaigning?

This is a hard question to answer, as the name suggests we are independent candidates!  There are some very local issues across the county which are important.  Being connected to the local area and not having to answer to a big party machine is one key thing that gets us support.  One of our strongest messages is that all our candidates do what is right for an area, rather than having a one size fits all policy.  This gives our candidates great freedoms too, as they campaign on the things that matter, though some people do find this confusing that we can have two candidates who are campaigning for different things.

We do a lot of different campaigning, we do the traditional things like canvassing and delivering leaflets, we also have a strong social media presence.  We tend to identify specific issues that matter locally then pursue them and try to bring attention to them in the press.  For example we have been in the local press three times now over the car parking changes going on in Basingstoke.  These are great as we can make real positive change without being elected, you don’t need to win an election to be able to hold the council to account when they are hurting motorists…. You just do it. 

“The modelling that was done which lead to the lockdown was truly awful and the people involved should be ashamed, any real scientist will tell you that your results should be repeatable and it would appear the results from some of the scary models were not reproducible”

We are slowly coming out of lockdown, what are your thoughts about the lockdown, possible ongoing controls, and how we recover?

Lockdown is a complex one, in short I don’t really think the lockdown was a good idea. There are a number of reasons for this, firstly it created mass participation in a delusion, the three weeks to flatten the curve was clearly nonsense, it was nonsense the moment it was said and it was known to be nonsense.  However for some reason the public generally participated in the mass delusion and got on board with it, and the government saw this as fantastic we can just lie and as long as there is enough panic people will accept it.  The big problem is, once this has been done once, it can be done again and again.  The modelling that was done which lead to the lockdown was truly awful and the people involved should be ashamed, any real scientist will tell you that your results should be repeatable and it would appear the results from some of the scary models were not reproducible.  The lockdown itself I can see why it was done, but I think it was done without thought, it has shifted our understanding of responsibility.  The state has accepted the role that it is responsible for our health and safety, this is not a good thing as the individual is no longer responsible for themselves and we should all know that collective responsibility means no responsibility.

People are much smarter than most give them credit for, there is a reason humans are the most successful species on the planet and part of that is that individually we can evaluate information and risk.  We should be polishing those skills so that people are not dependent on the state, we need people to be able to handle situations that come up so they can put a situation right when big daddy government is not there to tell them what to think.

In terms of coming out of lockdown, I understand there will still be a need to self-isolate should someone be infected.  Quarantine I have no problem with and that should be encouraged.  Who knows about the vaccine, I urge everyone to consider widely the risks they are exposed to, for some that will mean get the vaccine as fast as you damn well can, others it may not.  On the positive side I think this has forced some positive changes, more people will have the chance to work from home than they did before, this wont go away now and this will hopefully give some more time at home or with the families.  It will change the economy forever and the high street is likely to see some very hard times ahead.  I have thought a massive change to the high street was always coming, I think a lot of the big shops we have know will go and the high street will end up with lots of smaller but more specialist shops.  This may have just forced its hand.

Personally I would like to see tax breaks for start-ups and smaller businesses particularly those in the service sector which has been hard hit.  I am not convinced by things like eat out to help out, I was of course pleased to be getting a cheap breakfast at my local café, but I was going to go and support my local independents regardless, it did nothing for the people who are terrified to leave their front door and a half price McDonnalds is hardly a responsible answer when obesity is a massive risk factor with corona virus.  I would like to see gyms be VAT free 6 months along with hotels, theatres and cinemas. Business rate relief and relief from BID levies for those non-essential businesses which have been closed for so long too.  What I would like most of all is the government to give some degree of confidence that lockdown will never happen again, to ensure that there is no risk to those that want to start their own store, sadly I am aware that will never happen.

If you had 3 things that you could change in Hampshire or at a national level, what would they be?

I think I would like to see a big shakeup of the way the public sector buys from the private sector.  No one is talking about the NHS building their own computers, or the police building their own cars so regardless of how pro nationalisation you might be there will always be a need to go to the private sector for some things. I have seen so much waste and so much nonsense in public sector procurement it truly is incredible how much money goes down the pan.  That needs a massive shakeup, almost at the level of binning it and starting again.  This is more of a national issue than a Hampshire one.

I would like to see an end to excessive overdevelopment of Hampshire’s green and pleasant lands, I am very proud to be from Hampshire (I even went to university in Portsmouth, so I have never lived outside the county).  I understand people need homes and we do need to do more with renewable energy, but I also think we should try and keep food miles down.  Hampshire has some fantastic agricultural land and just building houses or covering it all up with solar farms is just the wrong answer, we can grow plenty of food here which only needs to travel tens of miles, we should make the most of that.

I would like to see better consideration given to cyclists, essentially make the busy town centre roads wider so that cyclists and drivers can get along with each other.  I am a cyclist myself, I think I have racked up over 10,000 miles in my bike now, I don’t think cyclists should be on the pavement, I can get to 30mph on some roads, that’s lethal to a pedestrian and the same speed as the cars.  I should be on the road, but make them wide enough for the cars to get past without causing a fuss and I think we will all get along better!

Any parting thoughts you would like to share?

Just one, I think people get over excited about politics.  I hear of people that are no longer friends over the EU referendum or voting red or blue or whatever.  If you are at that level you are an ideologue there is no point in anyone having a sensible debate with you because you are beyond that.  The whole point of politics is that we can discuss and debate our differences and yes we wont always get what we want, but its better than going to war with someone.  I was a campaigner for Vote Leave and my partner of 3 years was a strong remainer, we are still together and still very happy.  I do get people ask me how this can be, and I always say the same thing: because we are adults, we can have a sensible conversation with different points of view and we don’t always agree, but its fine.  So my parting thought, if you are not an adult don’t get involved with politics as it wont make you happy.

Scott can be emailed at scott.neville@hantsind.com and is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottNevilleIndLib.  The Hampshire Independents are online at https://hantsind.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hampshireindependents.

A Defence of Advertisement

Methods of Information Under the Market Process

Economic Piece by Josh L. Ascough

Advertisement has often been the aspect of the market most attacked; both by supposed supporters of the market and detractors of the market economy.

Decrees of false information, wasteful spending and other wide sweeping accusations are made against advertisers and their methods of marketing a product, but these are claims that can only hold artificial weight to them if our economic models are that of general equilibrium and perfect competition; in addition most arguments against advertising are based on ex-post the consumers choice to consume the product.

I’ve gone into criticisms of the general equilibrium theory and perfect competition before, so I won’t make this piece another critique; you can find the full piece here – http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/marshallian-curve/ – but to summarise, the general equilibrium model relies on assuming a state of affairs where all economic actors are fully aware at all times of various economic activities: i.e. a degree of omniscience; perfect information. Under this model it acknowledges ignorance to which is optimal (we know what we are ignorant of, but the cost of information is higher than the benefit), but assumes away the possibility; or the high likelihood of an absence of information (we don’t know what we are ignorant of). The perfect competition model proposes that competition is a state of affairs where there is a certain number of buyers and sellers all buying (selling) the same quantities and qualities at the same price; no one sells higher because it would be economic suicide, and no one sells lower because he could sell the same quantity at the set market rate.

These two states of affairs not only assume no possibility of any absence of information, but deny the possibility of any entrepreneurial activity.

Let’s get back to the matter.

Advertisements are often criticised for pressuring consumers to buy particular products, providing over the top, loud commercials that could’ve been made for less, if they just got to the point with what they’re selling, and for providing no “relevant” information.

These criticisms are seldom legitimate when we analyse the market; including advertisement as a process, and when we acknowledge the role of discovery brought about by entrepreneurs.

I spoke earlier about arguments against advertisement to be based ex-post the consumer’s choice to purchase the product. The question to ask is: how did our consumer come to be aware of the product? What led to the decision to buy rather than to abstain? For the answer we need to look ex-ante the consumer’s activity and decision; furthermore we require acknowledging that at any time, the market can be filled with utter ignorance from economic actors, and to remember that we are in a process of disequilibrium where (successful) entrepreneurial activity tends to bring us closer to positions of equilibrium.

“Advertisers don’t just have to tell consumers that there is a product to buy; they need to make their adverts eye-catching in order for the consumer to discover the possibility of owning the product”

Advertisers don’t just have to tell consumers that there is a product to buy; they need to make their adverts eye-catching in order for the consumer to discover the possibility of owning the product. If we suppose a seller of petrol for cars, displaying a sign outside his establishment which says: “Petrol for sale. Lower than other sellers. £1 per litre”. An omniscience external observer would say he has made a clear concise advert for his product; if consumers don’t buy it is because the cost of finding this sign is too high. But humans are not omniscient, nor are they always on a deliberate search; our petrol seller requires making his advertising venture eye-catching not just to those already searching for petrol but to those who (a) don’t know that they need petrol, and (b) do not know that they don’t know they can buy petrol for a low price. Though the physical qualities of the product exist, and the seller is aware of what he can sell, to those who are not alert to its possibilities the product may as well not exist.

Where a seller decides to advertise also plays an important role in how many consumers will discover the product. If we suppose in a community none of the residence drive, because all sellers they are aware of have too high a price; leading to everyone either walking or cycling, no one is going to be searching for petrol and so an entrepreneurial producer, who can sell petrol for a fraction of the price of other sellers, cannot simply put a sign outside his business. In order for consumers to enter a process of discovery, our seller has to stand out.

Many times people will point to how simple advertisement was many years ago. They will point to old black and white adverts on television sets showing the product, its price and the brand. But this again is an ex-post argument, from the point after the advertisement has occurred.

I’d like to explain the ex-ante present advertisement argument with a little hypothesis:

Imagine if you will a school hallway where the walls are blank. Each day students walk to and from classrooms completely ignoring the blank walls. A student; let us call him George, finds there are no after-school clubs available, and so creates a chess club. George is unable to inform all the students of the school by talking to them, because he too has classes to attend. Supposing he is an alert individual, he comes to the discovery that he can place a poster on the blank wall informing students of the new after-school club; it will be the only poster on the blank wall, and so is likely to be discovered by his fellow students. This will not just be noticed by students who also know they wanted an after-school club, but possibly by those who hold an absence of information over the enjoy-ability of an after-school club, and by those who may not have known what chess even is; since there’s been no after-school clubs where they could see students playing chess.

Sooner or later, more students start advertising on the blank walls for a variety of things; some for clubs, events, and some for student-to-student tutoring. Because everyone is advertising with plain white paper and black text, many go unnoticed until one student makes the entrepreneurial discovery that he can use plain red paper with black text, and it is discovered by students etc.

As the process goes on, students find new ways to make their advertisements more noticeable.

This ex-ante look at the process informs us that when advertisement is absent, not a lot needs to be shown in order for the product to be noticed, but as more and more people advertise what they wish to inform others of, they require finding new ways of standing out and being eye-catching.

There are two final areas I wish to go into before we conclude; these will be with respect to the subjectivity of value and diminishing marginal utility on the part of consumers, and how these can affect our perspective of advertisement.

Due to value being subjective, the attractiveness of an advertisement can be affected by the value judgements of an individual; either by pre-existing tastes towards a general subject while holding an absence of information to the specific heterogeneous product, or by a known judgement towards a specific product.

To give an example for a better explanation, I hold no value for anything to do with football; I find the game dull, and so anytime an advertisement for football comes on; whether it’s a live match, a videogame or memorabilia, I find it irritating and a waste of time. If it is a new product to do with football, then I have discovered a new product I have zero interest in.

I am however a fan of snooker and pool, and so an advertisement for a live game will either (a) lead me to the discovery of the new possibility of satisfying a want for engaging in the game, or (b) if I had been on a deliberate search for a live match, will have allowed me to become informed of the whereabouts of a product I had known my ignorance of.

Diminishing marginal utility can also play a role with how attractive advertisement may be for specific products.

To give an illustration we take a look at figure 1.1:

In the diagram the vertical axis shows Marginal Utility, with the horizontal axis showing the Quantity of units consumed. As more quantities of the good are consumed, it reaches a peak where satisfaction is highest at MU8/Q6. After this point the marginal utility of the good begins to drop, and further consumption of the good will be unsatisfactory; as shown by Q8. An example of this could be the consumption of alcohol. At the start of a drinking session the consumption of unit 1 may not satisfy the want/need fully, as more and more units are consumed there will be a peak when total satisfaction has been reached. After this point; let us say unit 6, the marginal utility for further alcohol drops, and the want/need to satisfy the thirst for alcohol diminishes.

If an advertisement was to be seen ex-post the consumption of a satisfactory level of alcohol, it is likely the drinker will find little utility and value in further consumption.

This can also be translated into a change in tastes, as shown in figure 1.2:

A man who has achieved satisfaction of a want/need to consume alcohol, may find himself impelled to act in order to satisfy the want/need for food. A change in tastes simply refers to a reordering of the positions of items on the consumer’s scale of value; or ordinal ranking of goods.

This will lead to the altering of our individual consumer’s marginal utility of the unit(s) of some good to lower positions, while the marginal utility of some other good (in our case of the drinker, food) will be higher. Now our drinker is seeking to move expenditure from the lower ranked good (alcohol), to the higher ranked good (food).

In our diagram, the drinker had satisfied his want/need for alcohol at point P2. This indicates that a move from P2 to P3 along the opportunity line AB. Since our drinker’s tastes have changed, and shifted away from DP2 of Y, towards that of X, he has shifted to a position of DP3 of X, and so our consumer acts to achieve the situation of P3; i.e. the consumption of food.

To translate this back to advertisement, if our drinker is now seeking to satisfy P3, then advertisements for food will lead to a discovery of how/where to satisfy a want/need.

To conclude our look into advertisement, it is axiomatic that not all advertisements will appeal to every individual; it is not the purpose of this piece to make such an argument. It is to try and show that advertisement; like many areas of economics, is epistemic, and, to a degree, hold an entrepreneurial element of discovery to them. The world is full of scattered pieces of information in a realm of disequilibrium; advertisements, just like prices, play an important role in attempting to coordinate the expectations, actions, and value judgements of subjective individuals.

Picture: https://pixabay.com/photos/outdoor-street-road-city-view-3973811/

Podcast Episode 57 – Hartlepool, London & Croydon Election Results or a Direct Alternative?

We discuss the momentous Hartlepool By-Election result along with the council results from across England, We also analyse the results of the 5 Croydon Council By-Elections and the London Mayoral & GLA elections. We are then joined by Oliver Bielski, the co-founder of Enact, a new political party that endorses Direct Democracy, to discuss their ideas for an alternative system of democratic representation.

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Not listening, not learning, not interested in democracy, not providing an effect opposition.

In April 2020 Sir Keir Starmer was elected Leader of the Labour Party and therefore became Leader of the Opposition.  He soon appointed a shadow cabinet, who as we pointed out, by overwhelmingly calling for the 2016 EU Referendum to not be implemented, were no respecters of democracy. 

Following the loss of the Hartlepool by-election, and other local government losses, Sir Keir has reshuffled his shadow cabinet and we take a look at the new members, since our last review to see if Labour has changed to reflect the will of the British people.

Shadow Secretary of State for Education: Kate Green

Kate believed that democratic vote of the people in 2016 should just be ignored, stating on Twitter in 2019: “Now that #Brexit talks have collapsed, it’s even clearer the only way out of this Brexit mess is to give the public a #FinalSay #Labour4ConfirmatoryVote”

Shadow Secretary of State for Housing: Lucy Powell                                                    

Lucy has to be fair been taking note of what the people say.  Saying in 2020 to the HuffPost UK:

“It’s not just about Brexit, although Brexit was a big symbolic expression of Labour losing touch with its traditional voter base.      

“And we can’t keep putting two fingers up to people if we want them to vote for us again and support us and be part of the agenda that we want for the future.”

This is progress, however it is worth noting the following from her Wikipedia page:  “She joined the pro-Euro and pro-EU Treaty pressure group Britain in Europe (BiE), originally in a public relations role and later as head of regional campaigning. She later replaced Simon Buckby as Campaign Director of BiE”      

Shadow Chief Whip: Alan Campbell                                                    

Remain supporting Alan Campbell, is another so called representative who believed that democratic vote of the people in 2016 should just be ignored.  Writing on his own website in 2019 he said: “But before we take that leap of faith I believe we should ask people to confirm that that’s what they voted for.”           

National Campaign Coordinator: Shabana Mahmood                                                 

Campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union, as she wrote on her website Shabana has “always believed that to crash out of the EU with no deal would be unthinkable.” Likewise on Twitter she has said: “On top of that, we are unable to properly scrutinise the millions upon millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being spent on preparation for a disastrous No Deal #Brexit”.           

        

Labour lost the ‘red wall’ in the General Election of 2019, we have seen party voting split increasingly along Brexit voting lines, and seen the working class turn their backs on Labour. These trends were reconfirmed in the 2021 local elections and Hartlepool by-election. 

Surely Labour could have found 1 MP who supported the will of 52% of the people to enter the shadow cabinet?  For the sake of democracy we need an opposition that looks capable of forming a government.  We don’t appear to have an opposition that respects democracy. 

Eric Siva-Jothy – SDP London wide GLA candidate

Eric Siva-Jothy heads up the London Assembly, London wide list for the SDP.  We have already spoken with the SDP Mayoral Candidate Steve Kelleher on our Podcast.  Eric is a student of Law & Criminology, describes himself as a small-c conservative and is the London region representative for the SDP Youth movement

Eric thanks for speaking with us.

Can you start by introducing yourself, and tell us what led to you standing for the SDP?

My name is Eric Siva-Jothy and I’ve lived in London now for a little over 4 years, I’m 24 and currently studying for an LLB in Law with a minor in Criminology at university. The main reason I put myself forward to stand for the SDP is frankly everything from the government’s handling of endless, increasingly incoherent lockdowns at the national level to the woeful handling of crime in London. Given my area of study I am particularly passionate about the latter, and some of the worrying trends I’ve been exposed to living in East London over the past few years make inaction not really an option for me anymore. That’s everything from the degree to which burglaries are never even followed up, to the open proliferation of cannabis use on the streets I’ve seen (often right in the presence of authorities themselves). It just seems police priorities are more in public virtue signalling with police Pride vans than being an active presence of law and order. Of course, with the looming unparalleled economic crash we’re in for post-lockdown, crime will only be exacerbated even further in the midst of a Met police and a Mayor that I don’t think are ready to confront it, let alone even attempting to make preparations for such a scenario.

“The Social Democratic Party is my natural political home in this regard, economic Left/social Right, which according to studies tends to actually be the average political outlook in this country”

Although we’ve spoken to a number of people from the Party, for those less familiar can you tell us about some of the SDP’s national policy’s?

I usually describe ourselves to people as ‘Blue Labour’, I myself am a former Labour Party member but I left shortly after Corbyn’s election to the leadership, although the party was already in a dire state when it came to marginalising more socially conservative voices. The Social Democratic Party is my natural political home in this regard, economic Left/social Right, which according to studies tends to actually be the average political outlook in this country. Our national policies include reshoring industry and manufacturing to the UK & adopting a state-led industrial strategy, reducing immigration, renationalising the railways, calling for a full government review into political bias at the BBC and Channel 4, tax benefits to married couples and legal protections for free speech in academia. I strongly recommend giving our document “The New Declaration” a read, that sets out our ethos and outlook broadly.

“Of course nowadays anti-police sentiment is a trendy left-wing cause we have to contend with, but the evidence shows very clearly that the active method of policing works and saves lives”

Even in lockdown we have significant street crime problems in London, we have constantly rising local taxes and contention between public and private transport.  How will the SDP tackle these issues?

Our number one priority is putting more police on the streets. For this we’ve set an ambitious target of up to ten thousand new officers to be deployed in active community patrols, using the highly successful ‘broken windows’ strategy London’s twin city New York employed to great success in the 1990s. This means directing police to be actively present and patrolling around key crime hot spots, including expanding the use of stop and search, which serves both as a strong deterrent and provides the ability to intervene quickly when crime occurs. Of course nowadays anti-police sentiment is a trendy left-wing cause we have to contend with, but the evidence shows very clearly that the active method of policing works and saves lives. We plan on funding this by cutting waste at City Hall, reviewing how the Met uses its funding and then streamlining or abolishing what is unnecessary (the epidemic of ‘tweet policing’, which i’m sure many of your readers will be aware of, comes to mind here), and using TfL’s incredibly commercially valuable landholdings to raise money for the London budget. 

In regards to transport, we will push back against ridiculous policies like ULEZ, poorly thought-out cycle lane expansions and the undemocratic imposition of LTNs that cause more problems than they solve. I am utterly dumbfounded by the choice to try and reduce automobile use and shift the burden from that onto public transport in a time when TfL is about to enter an unprecedented financial crisis. It simply wont be able to pick up the slack, especially in the coming post-lockdown economy; is now really the time to opportunistically mess around with environmentalist social engineering plans and their unforeseen consequences on those reliant on car travel? Lower-income and often older workers in the outer parts of London especially require cars to travel long distances to and from work, and they’re hit hardest by such policies. In the end expansion and investment in both TfL and automobile infrastructure, like reopening the Hammersmith Bridge and completing the Silvertown Tunnel, will combat congestion and concentrated air pollution far more than the ideology-driven penalising of London’s motorists. 

What are the SDPs others priorities for London?

Housing. Labour has repeatedly failed to live up to its housing targets and due to outdated ideas like right-to-buy we have seen a continuous decline in the public housing stock that exacerbates the crisis. Our main goal will be to reach a target of constructing 50,000 new council houses a year, using money raised from methods outlined above, combined with having tenants waive their right-to-buy on all new builds. This means we can keep housing in public ownership, and in turn there’d be a knock-on effect of reducing prices and rent in the private sector. In that vein, the SDP will introduce a points system that gives those who’ve lived longest in an area priority on the housing ladder. This is designed to help build more local communities and combat the current atomising trend of renterism dispersing families and friends all over the city. There would also be a knock-on effect on crime: closer-knit communities with more familiarity tend to have much lower crime rates. 

“I’m especially interested in preserving the historical and architectural heritage of London. If elected, I would like to advance a vision that more monuments and statues to our past be constructed around the city as part of a broader beautification project”

If elected to the Assembly what would you like to work on and achieve?

Aside from holding the Mayor to account and working with other AMs to carry out what i’ve outlined above, I’m especially interested in preserving the historical and architectural heritage of London. If elected, I would like to advance a vision that more monuments and statues to our past be constructed around the city as part of a broader beautification project, and to engage our struggling arts community post-lockdown in creating public displays celebrating and uplifting Britain instead of putting it down. Something similar to the USAs Federal Arts Project in the 1930s, which in my humble opinion would be a far better use of London’s culture budget than changing traffic lights in Trafalgar Square. I would also rigorously resist any introduction of intrusive and compulsive domestic “vaccine passports”; I consider the very fact they’re even being floated grossly sinister in its potential curtailing of civil liberties and permanently altering our way of life.

If people want to know more about the SDP and their movement how do they get in touch?

Go to our website, where you can read our policies in full as well as our statement of principles. You can contact me at eric.siva-jothy@sdp.org.uk, or our fantastic Mayoral candidate Steve Kelleher at steven.kelleher@sdp.org.uk.

Eric can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SdpEric.

Nigel Jacklin of the Democratic Network

The Democratic Network is a new registered political party with candidates standing in six counties.  They aim to:

  • Make it easier for politically neutral candidates to stand in local elections
  • Help those candidates get elected
  • Support them once elected.

Nigel Jacklin is a statistician, market researcher and recording artist. Below is an interview with Nigel, Leader of The Democratic Network and is standing in Bexhill St Marks ward.

“Our party promise is to represent local people and businesses, regardless of their political views. We will only contest local elections. No ties to Westminster parties will mean we can do the job without any political interference”

Nigel, you will be standing as a Democratic Network candidate in the East Sussex County elections.  What is The Democratic Network?

We are a new political party contesting the local elections across the UK.  I founded the party with my wife Sheila.  Our party promise is to represent local people and businesses, regardless of their political views.  We will only contest local elections.  No ties to Westminster parties will mean we can do the job without any political interference.

Why do you want to be a Councillor?

There will be opportunities and challenges over the next four years.  Helping local businesses recover from the last year will require some clear and fresh thinking in the ‘Economic Development’ department.  That’s my main skill.  Health and education will be important too.

How is the Democratic Network different to other parties or independent candidates?

Once elected our promise is to be fully representative, accountable and practical.  That’s our party promise.  We’ll work for everybody.  Our proposals include expert panels and regular dialogue with residents and businesses.  We are fairly serious, but we do know how to have fun!

“My job is to understand what people want, what will work and to help organisations make better decisions.  I’ll bring a fresh approach, balancing the need to look to the future whilst maintaining what’s precious to us”

Tell us a little about your background; what qualifies you to be a Councillor.

My wife Sheila and I moved to Normans Bay in 1992 where we raised our family.  We liked the sea, countryside and the friendly people.  By trade I am a statistician and market researcher.  I worked with Didier Truchot, founder of top market research company Ipsos, before setting up my own business here.  I’ve worked for clients like the Financial Times, the British Medical Journal, MTV and local telecare company Doro.  My job is to understand what people want, what will work and to help organisations make better decisions.  I’ll bring a fresh approach, balancing the need to look to the future whilst maintaining what’s precious to us.

Are there any local issues or organisations of particular importance to you?

We’ve helped college students with work experience and developed a guide to the World of Work with East Sussex County Council and the Financial Times.  I’m a member of the Bexhill Chamber of Commerce and the De La Warr Pavilion.  I’m a Sussex representative of the British Astronomical Associations Commission for Dark Skies.  East Sussex is a beautiful place.  I want to keep it that way, whether that be by everyday beach cleaning or in other ways.

What makes you happy?

My family.  Going to the beach near our house.  Wildlife and plants growing in our garden.

How can people help or get in touch?

Anyone who wants to help, has a question or a point to make can:

DEMOCRATIC NETWORK CANDIDATES – Standing in the County Elections 6th May 2021

Angela MaryniczDevon
Nigel JacklinEast Sussex
Leah Butler-SmithEssex
Paul StevensEssex
Venetia CarpenterKent
Ewen GarrodTrafford
Jonathan LeaWest Sussex

You can also find out more from the article below:

Pubcast 15 – Zachary Stiling of the Heritage Party

Mike visits the Shirley Inn to chat with Zachary Stiling, the Heritage Party candidate in the Kenley By-Election and a GLA candidate. Zachary explains his reasons for becoming involved in politics and his vision for Croydon and London.

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Our written interview with Zackary is available at http://croydonconstitutionalists.uk/zachary-stiling-heritage-party/. More information on the Heritage Party, including its manifesto and how to get involved, can be found at https://heritageparty.org/ or email Zachary at zstiling@protonmail.com

A Look at Universal Basic Income – The Pros and Cons

Image: https://pixabay.com/photos/calculator-calculation-insurance-1680905/

Economics Piece by Josh L. Ascough

Universal Basic Income has become a hot topic in recent years; propping up in the news and mentioned by politicians from time to time.

The standard definition of UBI is a government program where every adult citizen receives a set amount of money on a regular basis; either weekly or monthly. The goal; as stated by supporters of the measure is to alleviate poverty, and to ensure every adult; even if unemployed, has some form of income to support them.

It is quite standard for the majority of supporters of UBI to be of a, Social Democrat position. There are however some Conservative-esque arguments in favour of UBI. These Conservative-esque arguments tend to be more based in deterministic elements of automation, and tend to believe UBI a possible ex-post rather than ex-ante; with the basis of: “if automation is inevitable, there should be a UBI on the table when that time comes.”

There are standard arguments against UBI to do with the ethics of redistribution, but I’m only interested in briefly talking about the economic pros and cons.

This pro/con dynamic really can be broken down to ideal and practical.

The pro of UBI, would be if we got rid of everything and replaced it with UBI. When I say get rid of everything; I mean abolish the NHS, Disability Benefits, Child Tax Credits, Government/Public Schools, and every other form of the welfare state, and replaced it with a UBI program, which gives people the finances and allows them to decide how they’re going to use it, based on their own ordinal ranking and marginal utility.

We would still have the ethical problems of redistribution, however, if it were an automatic program of transferring income to person A, the program would be less costly than all the current programs we have. Most of our welfare programs take up a lot of time and therefore resources, due to lots of bureaucracies and civil servants involved; so instead of welfare 1 going to person A, form 1 for welfare 1 goes to civil servant 1, to be forwarded to bureaucrat 5, so form for welfare 1.5 can be signed by civil servant 7 etc.

This means the idealistic pro of UBI, is that we would in principle have less civil servants and bureaucrats; thereby reducing the overall cost of welfare.

The con of UBI is very much a practical problem. There are other cons to UBI such as the effects of price increases, particularly if the program sees MV (money velocity) rise, but since our pro is an idealistic one, it comes logically that our primary con is a practical one.

The practical problem of UBI is that it is very unlikely that these other programs would be abolished and replaced with a single, simple UBI system, because it would be political suicide. Even if a politician explained to people very clearly and said: “We’re getting rid of the welfare state, including the NHS and replacing it with a UBI. This way money goes directly to people so they can choose for themselves where they want it to go, in terms of what they need to support themselves. All the money is going to go directly to the citizens.” It would still be political suicide, because then bureaucrat’s and civil servant’s jobs would be at risk. Under a UBI, there would be little argument in favour of having so many bureaucrats and civil servants, since money goes directly to people rather than to programs.

The likelihood is, if UBI was instituted, it would be on top of all our current programs; adding to the overall cost rather than seeing a reduction and a simplification in the idealistic.

Libertarians aren’t against welfare per se, it all depends where said welfare is coming from; for example a government program is coerced on to people, and forced extraction; or, extortion breeds resentment among people and violates property rights; whereas charity is voluntary and breeds compassion.

The UK is a very charitable country. The most recent, everyday example being the late Captain Tom Moore, Captain Moore raised roughly £32.8 million on a JustGiving page for the NHS, simply by walking back and forth in his garden. This was a sum of money raised in a nation with a progressive tax system, and under circumstances where large numbers of the population had become unemployed due to lockdown; imagine how much more could’ve been raised with a low flat tax system, and where large numbers of people weren’t forced into unemployment. It’s more than likely at least £100 million could’ve been raised.

As stated above, the UK is a very charitable nation, but one problem facing people receiving help is the absence of information; people don’t know there are charities out there that can help them. It’s anecdotal, but I recently came to the discovery of a private healthcare charity in the UK called The Benenden Charitable Trust; because humans aren’t omniscient, it is more than likely there are charities out there that could help people, but those people don’t know they exist.

This is where local government could play a role.

Local governments could advertise charities that operate within their borough, to help people become aware of charities that could help them. This wouldn’t do anything about the apparent stigma attached to asking for help however; nor is this something the government should get involved in because this would result in government’s watching what people spend and knowing every tiny private detail, and forcing them into accepting help. The stigma is something that could theoretically be lessened if people see what help is out there.

This short piece should not be seen as any form of argument for or against UBI, it should be seen purely for what it is; looking at the costs and benefits of a UBI program.