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.