We’re All Too Stupid

Via Timmy, this argument against choice in the NHS.

A few years back, 2005, my brother and I were walking along a boulevard in Paris searching for a cafe that might speak English (our French is poor).

Y’know, as an opener, this is pretty appalling. Okay, so I’ve lived in France for a brief period, so had to learn rather more than how to get a cup of coffee, but long before that, when I ventured to foreign lands, my starting point was to learn the basics of survival in the local language –  getting food, drinks and accommodation is not particularly difficult. Expecting the locals to speak English is the height of arrogance, frankly and opening an article with this display of ignorance and arrogance isn’t going to win me over very easily as my initial response was “learn to ask in French, you twat!” I wouldn’t dream of walking into a French café and ordering in English. I lack the sheer effrontery to do so. “Je voudrais un café, s’il vous plait” is hardly difficult to master. Or if you are really that ignorant that you won’t try, you can always point to the item on the menu.

As it is, it doesn’t win me over at all. The basis of the argument as précised by Tim is; “I’m too thick to be able to decide what type of coffee I want, so no one else should have a choice in their healthcare”.

Wow! I mean, really, wow!

Okay, yeah, the likes of Starbucks don’t have “coffee” on their product list, they have things like “espresso”, or “Latte”, or “Americano” and you have to decide what it is that you want. It ain’t difficult. Just as the other choices Éoin rails against, such as energy suppliers phone tariffs and train tickets aren’t difficult. There are websites that will help you in all of these, providing useful comparisons. Indeed, Billmonitor will regularly peruse your phone usage and recommend a cheaper tariff if that is what you want. Really, it isn’t difficult. Nor is deciding upon gym membership if that floats your boat:

Poor Bex went to renew her gym membership yesterday. Yes, that’s right, Gym membership. You know, fitness equipment, changing rooms…. gym. Well no, apparently it is not that simple. The lady asked her “what type of membership would you like?” The choices of premium, peak, off peak, racquet membership, club membership, graduate membership, student membership, staff membership, fitness membership, it is a mine field even for the most astute.

Oh, I dunno, it all seems pretty straightforward to me –  the membership options are tailored to suit differing needs and you decide what price and service you want according to depth of wallet and time of day. Rocket science (sorry for the cliché, but it’s appropriate) it ain’t.

Which comes to the idea of choosing our healthcare provision. This is a good thing as it encourages better performance. The French have been doing it for a while. The French consumer can choose his GP, and if he needs to go into hospital, can make choices there, too. I would point out, perhaps at this stage that the French system is miles better than that “envy of the world” the NHS. Indeed, the world envies it so much they are tripping over themselves to emulate it.

They aren’t? Oh, bugger, that’s that argument screwed, then.

Éoin Clarke doesn’t like choice, so he would rather that the rest of us don’t have it either. He also manages to conflate inflation with choice, which is odd to say the least. Prices rise irrespective of choice. Indeed, given a sufficient range of choice, prices are pegged by competition. Doesn’t mean that they won’t rise in line with inflation, though. Personally, I like choice and the more the merrier. Choice means that I can get my motor insurance down to a low level that I couldn’t before. Indeed, it is now less than it was a few years back –  primarily because I can compare and contrast so easily at the click of a mouse. I want service providers to offer a range of tailored alternatives that suit my needs more accurately rather than a crude one-size-fits-all. I am an individual with individual needs and wants. I expect the service providers to recognise that and meet my needs accordingly. Choice is good. Choice means better service.

Unfortunately, in Éoin Clarke’s article all we see is just another elitist “we know best” argument that suggests we proles are too dim to be able to make rational choices. The reality being, we are perfectly capable of doing so, and having done it with the French system I can do it here, so as far as I am concerned, bring it on.

cross posted from Longrider.

8 comments for “We’re All Too Stupid

  1. February 23, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I see on his blog that he has a donation button labelled SUPPORT MY RESEARCH. I bet he’d like that to be a choice-free option too. Goes with the territory.

  2. February 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Agreed. In Germany they have the taxpayer funded/competing provider* system, like in France or many other places, topped up with private insurance if you want fancy extras.

    Despite none of us were medical experts, word quickly got round if a hospital or clinic had fouled up, and people would then choose a different one. If “sales” at the failing clinic fell low enough, teh head honcho and a couple of managers were chucked out on their ear, and some other body would take over the running of it until it clawed its way back up the rankings.

    By analogy: none of us are educational experts, but you chat to other parents about schools or nurseries, and you soon find out which are the good ones and which to avoid.

    * The owners/operators are nominally private, but in practice they are owned by nice cuddly people like the church, a university, a trade union etc and a minority of the more specialised ones are owned by partnerships of qualified doctors. There is no Evil International Corporate Medi-Business involvement or anything.

  3. February 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    “Starbucks don’t have “coffee” on their product list, ”

    Yeah! That really annoys me when all I want is a standard ordinary coffee and every coffee dispenser kiosk on each motorway services appears to call it something different. But OK, I’ll allow the need for a specific choice as well 🙂

  4. Able
    February 23, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Ah no! You just don’t get it do you?

    Éoin and his ilk want only the choices they deem worthwhile. Oiks like you and I haven’t the brains to warrant being given so many confusing options.

    So in an ‘Éoin perfect world’ we’d all walk into a coffee-shop and be given Éoins perfect coffee, ditto energy supply contracts, train tickets and gym memberships. If you want something more approximating your lifestyle or wishes, well – tough!

    This is just more of the same elitist drivel of ‘We know what’s best and anyone who disagrees is a …..’ (fill in the blank with the usual left-wing insult as appropriate). It’s exactly the same argument used for banning smoking (we don’t so you shouldn’t), alcohol (we only have a sip of sherry every second Wednesday and anyone who drinks more is an alcoholic), etc.

    I used to try and argue facts, freedom of choice and personal taste.. not anymore, I just tell them to mind their own business and STFU!

    Oh, and far be it for me to suggest that the average Barista is actually vaguely capable but when I frequent the many coffee shops I do, I ask for a coffee and… amazingly they (working in a private enterprise service industry and understanding what I mean, having more than two brain cells) give me what I want (just as a friend seems to have no trouble getting her poncey Half-fat Caramel Macchiato Grande). Choice is good! My colleague would need resuscitating if forced to drink a ‘mere coffee’ (probably with a ‘defibrillator by Boss or Gucci’) and I would rather be paraded through the streets in a pink tutu than drink one of those wussy concoctions (I have my macho image to think of :-p ).

  5. Dave_G
    February 23, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Just chew coffee beans – you bunch of pansies.

  6. February 24, 2012 at 5:52 am

    I glad I got a home coffee machine at Christmas. No-one around to witness the embarrassment of me frozen in place, agonising over which pod to fit in it.

    For all of two seconds.

  7. Single Acts of Tyranny
    February 24, 2012 at 7:01 am

    “Poor Bex went to renew her gym membership yesterday. Yes, that’s right, Gym membership. You know, fitness equipment, changing rooms…. gym. Well no, apparently it is not that simple. The lady asked her “what type of membership would you like?” The choices of premium, peak, off peak, racquet membership, club membership, graduate membership, student membership, staff membership, fitness membership, it is a mine field even for the most astute”

    Bex, pay attention. Do you want to use the place at peak times or not? Do you want to play racquet sports, do you want to use the social facilities, have you recently graduated or are you a student, do you want to do exercise classes?

    Seems to me that “poor Bex” may have wider problems!

  8. February 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    That one got away from me a bit – something about coffee machines and Timmy, resulting in a visit to the NHS.

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