Print Story Manifesto for the Sensible Snail Party
Politics
By TheophileEscargot (Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08:18:30 AM EST) Politics, Manifesto (all tags)
After Breaker's manifesto, here's mine.


Preamble
In general, people are better at making their own decisions than having government make them.

In general, competitive free markets are better at allocating resources than are governments.

However, there are important exceptions to these principles.

A. A market needs multiple buyers and multiple sellers to be competitive. Monopolies, monopsonies and cartels must be prevented to keep markets free. This may involve government intervention.

B. Collective action problems can mean individual decisions have undesirable consequences. For instance, an individual may be better off if he pollutes, but worse off if everyone pollutes. (See tragedy of the commons, or negative externalities).

C. Individuals can be irrationally optimistic about making long-term provisions for their well-being (e.g. health plans, retirement plans, insurance).

D. Money has more marginal utility to the poor than the rich. Therefore, some redistribution of wealth can increase overall happiness. However, too much redistribution of wealth can diminish the overall amount of wealth. (I.e. a tramp values a tenner more than a millionaire. But if you take all the millionaire's money and give it to tramps, he won't bother making any more).

Aims of the Sensible Snail Party
1. Maximize individual and market freedom.

2. ...except in the case of cartel-busting, collective action problems and social insurance.

3. Redistribute wealth enough to help the poor, but not so much it significantly harms wealth creation.

There is a degree of conflict between these aims. That's why politics is hard. However, there is also a degree of necessary compromise between them. An individual cannot be truly free to pursue his self-interest if an angry, starving mob keeps trying to break into his house. And you cannot redistribute wealth for social justice unless somebody's producing that wealth in the first place.

Strategy of the Sensible Snail Party
As far as possible, use only the tax and benefit system for aims 2 and 3. The size of government bureaucracy should be kept to a minimum.

The private sector should be used to deliver services wherever it is possible to do so in a competitive, multi-buyer/multi-seller way.

Ideally the government should avoid giving money directly to the private sector. Instead it should give money to its citizens, who can use their greater collective information to decide which companies are effective.

Drugs
All drugs except heroin and derivatives are to be legalized. However, they will only be available to adults in licensed premises, with severe penalties for admitting minors.

Drugs will be heavily taxed. This, and savings to the criminal justice system, are expected to save significant revenue for other purposes.

Heroin will also be available, but under tighter restrictions due to its exceptionally addictive nature. Entrance to these shooting galleries will be permitted only to registered addicts, registration to be granted if a blood or hair sample shows previous use.

On the production side: cannabis production is to be legalized and unregulated in small quantities. For other drugs, production is to be tightly regulated in secure areas, and distributed only to licensed suppliers and distributors.

Prostitution
Will be legalized in licensed premises.

National Health Service
This is to be largely privatized to take advantage of market efficiencies. However, the current spending of £90 bn per year will continue, adjusted for inflation. This will be distributed as £1,500 per person in healthcare vouchers, which can only be redeemed at authorized healthcare providers and insurers. Cashback and kickbacks will be strictly forbidden under severe penalties.

Hospitals, surgeries, clinics, practices and consultants are to be privatized as providers of services.

The existing NHS demand side continue to exist as a state-run medical insurer, NHS2. It will operate in competition with new and existing private insurers. If healthcare vouchers are not redeemed elsewhere, they will default to NHS2. NHS2 will be internally structured into regional units also accountable to local government, who will have the power to fire poorly-performing managers.1

Under this system hospitals will now have an incentive to be clean and efficient, since this will allow them to gain business from private insurers. Poor hospitals will be allowed to go bankrupt or be taken over; private enterprise allowed to open new ones. Meanwhile, the voucher system will still ensure free, universal, healthcare for all. Yet individuals will be allowed to choose private alternatives instead, or top up their care with their own money.

Ambulance services, health visiting and similar services will continue to be state-run: they're hard to privatize, being aimed at people who didn't really want to use them and aren't likely to shop around. To reduce the problem of unnecessary calls, ambulances will be permitted to levy a discretionary charge, capped at approximately double the equivalent taxi fare.

These will be part of a new Social Health department, separate from NHS2. This will also incorporate the social workers from the much-reduced Department of Work and Pensions. This will also include treatment services for alcoholism and addiction.

Smoking ban
To be abolished in public rooms where there is no permanent presence of a member of staff. That is, if a pub has a room with no bar, which is only occasionally visited by a glass-collector, smoking will be permitted in that room, if the proprietor wants.

Similarly, in office buildings smoking break rooms will be permitted, but smoking will remain prohibited in non-smokers' rooms.2

Local government
London-style mayors and assemblies will be extended across the UK to metropolitan areas, pending local referenda.

Local councils will be permitted to amalgamate into larger institutions if desired.

Funding will be partly allocated by central government based on population. Rate/council tax capping will be removed, and a wider array of tax-raising powers be allowed if desired.

With the exception of environmental (including noise and green belt) restrictions, planning laws are to be relaxed. A greater mix of commercial and residential property is to be permitted.

Scottish Independence
A referendum in Scotland will be held on independence. However, since breaking up a 300-year union should not be done lightly, a threshold of 50% of the electorate must approve it.

Taxation
Existing taxation will generally continue at the current levels.

In addition, inheritance tax will be increased significantly and the thresholds lowered. High inheritance tax rather than high income/capital gains tax is to be used to redistribute wealth from the very rich (top 1%): the previous have proven easy to evade. To some degree gifts can be used to evade the process, but gifts will also be taxed, and the personal incentive to evade will be lower, given human greed.3

Other measures are also expected to increase revenue: in particular drugs and additional carbon taxes.

Income tax will be modified as described below. National Insurance will be folded into the new income tax / CBI system.

Exemptions for "Non-Doms" will be abolished.

Citizens Basic Income
A Citizens Basic Income will be introduced. This is to serve two purposes: as a social safety net, and a means of redistributing wealth.

Every citizen gets this income, whether in work or out of work.

If out of work, this is to substitute for state old-age pension, jobseekers allowance, incapacity benefit, housing benefit and all existing forms of benefit. This will considerably reduce the administrative burden. It is to be set high enough to ensure a basic standard of living, providing adequate food, shelter, heat and light.

If you are in work, you will pay a single, flat, high level of tax, but you will also still receive the CBI. This redistributes wealth to low earners. A single, higher rate of tax will be applied to maintain existing budgets

An advantage of the CBI is that it eliminates all "benefit traps" that make it more lucrative not to work. Any kind of part-time or full time work immediately adds to your income.

To smooth the transition, this will initially be applied as part of the tax system only. Existing benefits will first be applied as an additional payment to it. These benefits will be abolished one by one in order for their administrators to be gradually absorbed into the wider economy.

Children will have their CBI delivered to their parents or registered guardians. However, part of this will consist of education vouchers as below.

Minimum wage
To be abolished, irrelevant after Citizens Basic Income.

Education
As with health, education vouchers will be distributed at the level of current state education spending, linked to inflation.

These can be used at state, grammar or private schools which cover a sufficient syllabus. This syllabus will include mathematics, English, and science which will include evolutionary biology.

State schools are to be free to privatize if they decide to, but this will not be done by default.

The International Baccalaureate will replace A-levels. GCSE standards will be revised to insure consistent quality between years. The compulsory testing regimen will be scaled down, though schools will of course be free to test as much as they like.

In tertiary education, The Citizens Basic Income will render student living grants obsolete. Education vouchers will continue as an optional element for up to three years of tertiary or vocational education.

Law
In order to maximize freedom, the civil liberties reductions of the Blair/Brown era will be abolished.

The national ID card scheme will be cancelled. The police DNA database will no longer retain the data of people who have not been charged with an offence. 42 day detention without trial will be abolished. The right to silence will be restored. The RIP act monitoring the internet will be abolished. The anti-demonstrations provision of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act will be abolished.

Despite the abolition of drug and other laws, existing spending on courts will be retained. This will allow the system to run much more quickly. Youth crime is to be prioritized, and meaningful punishments to begin on at least the second offence. (The long delays of the current system mean a teenager can acquire years of criminal habits before experiencing any correction.)

Example punishments will be 24 to 72 hours in solitary confinement, in a containerized padded cell without any form of entertainment. This prevents them learning from other criminals, and retains the threat of prison itself.

ASBOs will be reformed, ensuring that the punishment is not disproportionate to the original offence, that the original offence was harmful to the public, and that a criminal punishment requires criminal court levels of proof.

n'Order
Community Support Officers are to be given powers of arrest when in the presence of a police officer. Existing laws against drunk and disorderly conduct will be more strongly enforced, with CSOs backing up police officers at night. Public brawling, verbal abuse and vandalism will more often result in a night in the cells and a fine.

Police numbers and funding are to be remain at current levels, but the abolition of drug offences should free more resources for other crimes.

Targets and checkboxes are to be reduced in favour of more local accountability. There will be a greater emphasis on allowing officers to use their judgment, rather than boost arrest numbers.

PACE will remain in effect.

The provision of heroin to registered addicts is expected to reduce the level of property crime.

Due to the link between poverty and crime, the CBI is expected to have a slight effect to reduce it: even though overall spending is the same, less will be spent on administration, so more money will reach people.

Energy
The current dependence on fossil fuels is considered to be a collective action problem. It's cheaper for every individual to use fossil fuels, but collectively this renders us vulnerable to oil-supplying nations, liable to supply shocks when the oil runs out, and subject to climate change. Therefore, market intervention is justified in this case.

Planning restrictions will be relaxed, and a new series of nuclear power stations built to modern standards. Wind, wave and tidal power will supplement this where possible.

Transport
Again, oil dependence is considered to be a collective action problem, justifying market intervention.

Improvement of the rail network is considered to be hampered by another collective action problem: this time the tragedy of the anticommons.

Compulsory purchase orders will be used to retain space for motorway widening and a new series of high-speed rail links. The Eurostar Manchester terminal will be reintroduced. This link will be extended to Scotland, unless they vote for independence.

A commission will be set up to standardize a battery-replacement system for electric vehicles. Some petrol stations will be required to include a battery-replacement "pump", particularly along the motorway network. This will permit electric cars to make long as well as short journeys.

When this network is in place and the zero-carbon power stations start to come online, the fuel tax escalator will resume. This will steadily increase the cost of petrol-powered motoring, encouraging the use of electric alternatives.

The North-South divide
The new transport links should improve the economy of the North, helping to cement its place in the so-called blue banana of European prosperity. While it will take time and investment, I believe that eventually there will come a day when a Londoner can get to Manchester as easily as he gets to Brussels or Paris.

The Citizens Basic Income will also help to address the population shift from emptying estates in the North to the overcrowded South. At present, housing benefit pays for expensive Southern housing just as easily as cheap Northern housing: this creates an incentive to move South. Being a flat rate, the CBI will give an incentive to move North, where larger and better housing can be afforded.

Regulation
By default, new regulations will be given a recurring 15-year expiry period Unless Parliament officially renews them, they will then go out of force.

Health and Safety regulations will be simplified.

EU regulations will be enforced at a minimum-compliance level, rather than gold-plated.

Foreign Policy
We will continue to promote free trade.

Aid will be encouraged to be in the form of money for food rather than food itself: food aid tends to undermine local production by lowering prices.

The UK will remain part of the European Union. We will not join the single currency unless there is strong evidence that this would be beneficial over a complete business cycle.

Summary
Overall then, the effects of these Sensible Snail Party polices are as follows.

  • Maintain universal health coverage
  • Provide an adequate standard of living for all citizens
  • Redistribute some wealth from the rich to the poorest
  • Modestly increase tax revenues (from drugs, inheritance, non-doms, carbon)
  • Shrink the state sector by distributing money directly to citizens
  • Increase individual liberty
  • Increase economic freedom (slight tax rise is offset by privatization and the ability to change health/education providers)
  • Improve transport infrastructure
  • Reduce dependence on fossil fuels
Notes
1. Originally, I had NHS2 being broken up into smaller completely private companies. However, I have concerns about fully privatizing the demand side because of the need for young payers to cross-subsidize the old. With this system, I believe those who bother to switch to a private provider will generally be fairly prudent; the thoughtless or lazy will just stick with the default. With a fully-private system, the young and lazy could be preyed upon by companies who absorb their voucher money in profit, but don't give it back when they're old.

The disadvantage is that we're back to a bit of a monopsony with NHS2 giving money directly to the private sector; but we have more competition now with private insurers, and more local oversight.

2. There's no actual need for this since passive smoking is a myth, but I decided to make a concession to popular opinion.

3. In addition, human rights are generally considered to end at death. Confiscating someone's property after death does not therefore infringe their property rights.

It is socially useful for people to be able to make money by earning it, or investing it wisely; since that incentivises them to do these useful things. Inherited wealth does not serve any such purpose.

Inherited wealth also reduces social mobility, by giving the childen of the wealthy additional advantages.

However, while the Sensible Snail Party is opposed to inherited wealth, it's not possible in practice to be utterly confiscatory as some of the wealthy would then be incentivised to leave the country. There is an an irrational but powerful desire for people to prefer benefiting carriers of their DNA.

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Manifesto for the Sensible Snail Party | 97 comments (97 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Figure a way to make me a UKian citizen... by atreides (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08:37:16 AM EST
...and I'll totally vote for your plan.  Of course, being Benevolent Tyrant, I could easily dictate myself a citizen of anywhere at will, but what would be the fun in that?

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

NHS2 by gpig (4.00 / 2) #2 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08:40:25 AM EST
How do you prevent your 'default provider' getting all the difficult cases, when the other companies refuse to insure them, or charge a premium vastly more than the £1500 equal share?

Also, with the smoking thing, as well as passive smoking, there are two other good reasons to ban it:


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(,   ,') -- eep
Yes, I notice however by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08:55:53 AM EST
You won't be blocked from the pub as the bar(room) will still  be a smoke free zone.

One would ask how restaurants would be affected?


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
And what of smoking lounges? by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 1) #22 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:55:57 AM EST
The cigar store where I get an occasional stick from has their counter directly adjacent to the lounge itself. Since it is something which is designed around the idea of catering to the smoker, and would presumably employ smokers, would they be exempt to your ban?

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

[ Parent ]
I think they'd have to have a similar room too by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #28 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:04:48 AM EST
Only hiring smokers opens up a whole other can of worms...
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Difficult cases by Herring (4.00 / 3) #5 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08:58:31 AM EST
Yes, the problem when "consumer choice" is introduced in some areas is that it actually turns into "supplier choice" - which has happened in quite a few schools.

The other thing is that £1,500 would appear to buy quite a lot of health insurance, but remember that in the UK, private operators don't have to bear any of the cost of emergencies. If you stop breathing during your private knee operation, the first thing they're going to do is call for an NHS ambulance.

I dispute the whole thinking that private == effecient anyway. Before the daft reforms that the Tories brought in, all the NHS did was treat people. Now they spend a good deal of their time and money negotiating contracts, invoicing other bits and trying to palm responsibilty for patients onto other parts of the NHS.

I also dispute that people are good at making rational choices. Have you watched Saturday evening TV recently? Have you driven recently? Have you been shopping?

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
A rational choice can only rise by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 2) #17 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:48:53 AM EST
from a market where rational information is available to make it with. Part of the problem with the much of the current market is twofold. First, most products are being advertised with a large amount of appeal to emotion. Due to large part that most commercially, mass-produced products have little to no difference from one another. One laundry soap will get your clothes just as clean as the next one. There is little choice but to appeal to emotions in that situation.

Second, many companies don't want to give you the full information needed to make the rational choice. For example, the music cartels. Would you really want to buy a given album if you knew that the artist(s) behind it got less than five percent of the sticker price or would you rather buy a concert ticket where the same artist(s) got a fifty percent cut or more? Or that the actual cost per unit of the album was on the order of a tenth of the cost paid at the register? It is in their interest to keep this and other information from being part of the decision.

Given this, and general human behavior, how we create a rational actor? In the economic sense that is.

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

[ Parent ]
The £1,500 figure by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:54:43 AM EST
Is current NHS spending divided by the UK population. So it doesn't buy much, but it does buy current NHS levels of healthcare.

As I've said before, the NHS pseudo-market is not a real market. Crappy hospitals aren't allowed to really go bust and close down. They don't have multiple suppliers and multiple providers for genuine competition. You can't take "your" money out of the NHS and move it somewhere you think is better. The new system provides a real market.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
What I am suggesting by Herring (4.00 / 3) #29 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:06:23 AM EST
is the heresy that a real market is not as effecient as a planned and controlled healthcare system. As Martini Philospher points out, the competition is not on the standard of services but on the percieved standard of services therefore marketing/advertising spend becomes important. And any money spent on this isn't spent on healthcare. There are other overheads such as billing/accounting that just aren't there in a old-school NHS type system.

There is the other point that if the only DGH in an area is allowed to go bust, then it might be a victory for the market but a lot of people will be fucked.

Oh, and finally, IMO real markets only work for the benefit of the consumer if there is an excess of supply. If demand exceeds supply (which it does in healthcare) then it works for the providers.

And yes, I have been re-reading Allyson Pollock.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
The paintings are shit though by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #41 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:34:57 AM EST
A child of five could flick paint at the canvas.

Also, the NHS doesn't do particularly well in world healthcare rankings. There are all kinds of effects like centralized pay setting which makes things worse.

The thing is, we've been through this before. Genuine free market systems have advantages over state systems, such as information and signalling. Suppose for one example, that the price of cotton bandages goes up, and synthetic bandanges fall. In a market system, people have an incentive to switch. In a centralized state system, the managers will probably not even notice.

In practice, the thousands of tiny information and signalling advantages tend to mean private systems work better than centralized control, even though they have the disadvantage of having to make a profit.

That supply and demand thing doesn't seem to make sense unless you're talking about a scarce resource. If there's an excess demand for healthcare, and a genuine free market, then the old invisible hand will increase the quantity supply of healthcare. Wages for nurses and doctors will go up, attracting more people. Entrepeneurs will set up new hospitals and clinics. Drug companies will expand production.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Allegedly by Herring (4.00 / 1) #42 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:53:13 AM EST
(according to Pollock) the French system is overrated by that study. Less allegedly, they are finding it damned hard to pay for and under Sarkozy, it may have to be trimmed.

I think that accountability was lacking from the traditional NHS, but I don't think that the market will bring accountability. Better, more local democracy might though. It's the difference between one person, one vote and one pound one vote.

The issue I have with a voucher system is that it can - and will be - topped up. Once that happens, universal healthcare goes out the window because most people will be able to afford to top up a bit. Then the people who can't afford to are left with the dregs - because if the fallback option is a reasonable standard of care then it distorts the market horribly.

And no, I don't buy it that the profit motive of a market based system will lead to a more effecient system because (and I have a background in insurance) profitability is not earned by providing a great service it's earned by taking in more money than you pay out. Health insurers find it more profitable to pay administrators to deny claims than to pay doctors to treat people.

Also, if as you say wages for doctors and nurses go up, does that mean we get more or less healthcare for our money?

And lastly, if the private sector makes everything so damned effecient, why does it cost the private sector typically 40% more than the NHS to do the same operation?

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #43 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 12:18:14 PM EST
Your top-up argument seems to be a bit of a slippery-slope argument Remember the vouchers are universal. People don't have a strong incentive to vote to reduce the amount of the vouchers, because they're getting the vouchers themselves.

Regarding local democracy, the manifesto has always said that the NHS2 regional units are accountable to local government. Did you actually bother to read it?

Regarding wages going up: the situation you presented me with was one where there was shortage of healthcare, which I took to include a shortage of doctors and nurses. So yes, in the situation where you don't have enough nurses, you're going to have to pay money to get more. What happens under your system when you don't have enough nurses? Roving press-gangs?

I'm not sure where that 40% figure comes from, but if it's true I suspect it's because of the flaws of the current pseudo-market.

The other thing about most of your arguments is that they're not specific to health: they're generalized arguments that centralized government command-and-control works better than free markets. (Government departments don't have to make a profit, keep accounts, etc) But if you take a drive in your Trabant around the real world, that doesn't seem to be true.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Stuff by Herring (4.00 / 1) #45 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 01:15:12 PM EST
Yes I liked the local accountability - forgot to mention that.

Healthcare is a bit different to, say, DVD players. The market has done a wonderful job in giving us stuff that's not essential. Healthcare is different as you see in the US - when people are given the choice of sell your house or die, then they tend to sell the house. Healthcare providers have you by the balls and everything else.

The top-ups, well we've already seen schools being caught signing up parents for voluntary/mandatory donations. The amount of the vouchers may not reduce but what they purchase may well.

The wages going up: I was just quoting your comment and asking how that was supposed to help. If there was (is) a majority employer of health professionals then that does tend rather to control wages.

40% - I'll have to look it up. And the Trabant wasn't the product of a democratically accountable system.

Lastly, maybe it's selective memory but Idon't remember epidemics of hospital acquired infections or complaints of general filth before they were forced to outsource the cleaning.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
US and other healthcare systems by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #52 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:13:22 PM EST
As I've said before, the US has about the worst system in the developed world, and the UK about the second-worst.

But everyone in Britain seems to be paralysed by it: "we can't dare change a thing or it'll become like America!"

Instead of looking at the worst systems, why not look at the best?

From what I've seen, there are basically two categories of good healthcare system.

France and Australia have mixtures of public and private provision. (45% of Australians, 80% of French people have private insurance). Those systems aren't apocalyptic nightmares: poor people do at least as well as in the UK, rich about as well as in the US.

Denmark and Germany have strongly localized systems. You don't have a national government running a giant system from the top: you have local goverments arranging things at a manageable level. (I'm a little wary about trying that in the UK because our local government is desperately weak and unpopular).

So, the Sensible Snail system is designed to mix the best features of the two good kinds of healthcare system. You have a mixture of private and public cover, with genuine market competition, as in Australia and France. And you have local government oversight, like in Denmark and Germany.

Vote Sensible Snail! You know it makes sense!
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I don't think that will happen by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:12:51 AM EST
If we were giving out money, that would be a serious problem, as the healthy sought cheaper healthcare elsewhere.

But on the vouchers, there's no cashback, so no other provider can provide anything cheaper. So there's no incentive for particularly healthy people to leave and save money.

The reason you'll want to leave is to get better, more expensive healthcare. That means sick and elderly people are more likely to go for the private option (those that can afford it, which is quite a lot.)

Also, you shouldn't underestimate the enormous power of inertia. Neuroeconomics tells us in practice, most people just stick with the default option rather than think about changing. For instance, British Telecom was privatized in a similar way in 1984, but still had an 82% share of the landline market twenty years later.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I think you misunderstand by gpig (4.00 / 2) #46 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 01:49:45 PM EST
I'm saying that private companies will refuse to insure people who are a high risk. If (for example) someone has a condition which may lead to expensive treatment at a young age (i.e. before they have paid in any premiums), why would any insurer take them on?
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(,   ,') -- eep
[ Parent ]
I think if you're born with an expensive condition by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #56 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:46:34 PM EST
You'd be better off sticking with NHS2.

But I think as part of the big picture, those costs aren't that big compared with the costs of looking after regular old people.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
So NHS2's for the stupid and the ill. by ambrosen (4.00 / 2) #59 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:36:42 PM EST
And everyone else gets feelgood stuff like biannual checkups, free eyewear, free non-urgent dentistry, 'food intolerance testing' and that kind of crap?

Sounds like NHS2's going to run overbudget to me.

[ Parent ]
Not really by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #60 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:17:19 PM EST
If you want the feelgood stuff like that, you can get a private plan that provides it, and pay for it. The "worried well" are better off going private.

If you want actual medicine, you can stick with NHS2.

A slight problem may be that after a less rational government takes office, the level of vouchers grows too high.

Remember that they're now funded out of general taxation, which depends on total revenue divided by the population. If you earn less than the mean income, your incentive is to vote for higher vouchers, since that redistributes wealth to you.

However, since income distributions are skewed towards the upper end by higher earners, most people will earn less than the mean income. So, there's a permanent electoral majority with an incentive to vote for ever-higher voucher payments.

This could potentially lead to a problem where healthcare spending becomes higher than is necessary, but I'm hopeful that the above-median-below-mean-income group is too small for this to really happen.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I still don't understand. by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #74 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 10:05:03 AM EST
What's to stop the insurance companies offering to cover feelgood medicine for free and subsidising it with extra co-pays for management of complex illnesses? So, for example, they give free physiotherapy, talking therapy, diagnostic screening, etc, but then have a pretty high but affordable co-pay to see a consultant. It looks attractive to those without chronic illness, because they're getting something for "their" £1500, but that actual £1500 was previously going towards subsidising someone who can't function without treatment.

Any rational generally-healthy person will take the plan with the feelgood stuff. And, to pluck figures out of the air, if the feelgood stuff costs £750, that means that someone whose health costs £3000 a year to keep managed who was being subsidised by one healthy person now needs two people to subsidise them.

If you're going to restrict feelgood medical treatments, then you've functionally got the same situation as the current NHS with NICE*, and if you're not, then it ends up with the ill paying for the treatment of the worried well's questionable illnesses, whether it's through depletion of NHS2's profitable patients, or through them taking up more expensive plans with other insurers.

*Yeah, I did get a hospital brochure to choose what hospital I wanted to be referred to when I asked my GP to sign me up to the local outpatient clinic on moving here. For some reason, I chose the local hospital.

[ Parent ]
Two things by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #75 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 11:09:55 AM EST
Firstly, a health plan that isn't going to cover you if you get really sick is a pretty poor plan. You'd hope that Which? would come out against it, and people wouldn't choose it.

Second, as I said the insurers have to be authorized insurers to redeem the vouchers. An insurer that doesn't provide an adequate level of real cover won't get approved.

So, there are two levels of protection against that.

Also, as I've pointed out in other comments, mixed systems of public and private insurance do work pretty well elsewhere; in France and Australia for instance. So, the difficulties in mixing the two are not insurmountable.

(My initial thought was just to apply one of those systems exactly to the UK. But they tend to rely on people actively seeking out private insurers, and being able to pay that fraction of a medical bill which isn't picked up by the government. I thought this voucher-and-default system would be easier for people who are used to the idea that everything's just taken care of.)
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I envisage a cover plan by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #76 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 11:58:47 AM EST
Where a fair amount of feelgood healthcare is thrown in with the annual package, but there's a relatively steep co-pay for the first few thousand pounds' worth of treatment, then a ceiling is reached, and there's no co-pay after that.

It offers adequate cover, it's attractive to the normally-well and expensive for the chronically ill, but for an acute illness, it's not bankrupting. And if you develop a chronic illness, then you go with another provider the next year. Hey presto, the spending of the normally-well goes up, and there's less money in the system for the chronically ill.

Am I misunderstanding the top-up care that's permitted?

[ Parent ]
Seems a bit far-fetched by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #77 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 12:09:39 PM EST
Are people really going to ring up and say "Hi, I'd like a cover that gives me loads of free check-ups when I'm not sick, then is very expensive if I'm moderately sick, but gets fairly cheap again if I'm very sick?" It seems more likely to me that hypochondriacs and the worried well are going to want very good cover for when they get one of the vast array of illnesses they've read up on.

Are so many exceptionally healthy people going to want this kind of cover that it leaves the pool empty of everyone else?

Do large numbers of people elsewhere in the world go for those kind of plans?
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Inheritance Tax by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08:57:51 AM EST
Your proposals seem to be an incentive for the old and rich not to be residents of the UK

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
See note 3 by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:17:39 AM EST
That's why we need to limit it rather than have it be utterly confiscatory.

But if a certain number of old rich people do, I don't see it as a problem. They're rich, so they don't need our help. They're old, so they're probably retired and not particularly productive. And if they're not willing to pay taxes, they're not really helping the tax pool.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
not productive.. by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:27:17 AM EST
but, what are their assets ? If it's a house, sell it. If it's stocks, sell them all. If it's cash, take it from the bank ? If it's a small business they started, close it and liquidate assets ?

What if it's a non-trivial percentage of stock in one company ? Selling that will have a nasty effect.

If it's a small business, you now have more unemployment. Cue US repubs and how some 60-80-95% [depending on how frothing at the mouth they are] of employment is with small businesses.

If it's cash, unless it is under the mattress, the banks have it tied up in other investments, and can't always produce the liquid value right away, or without other penalties.

I mean, I'm all for the rich paying their share. I'm all for "you can't take it with you." BUT, taking it all on death opens a huge can of worms and lots of unexpected fallout. I'm ignoring the US repubs lark about "ruining family farms," since I believe that case has been fairly well debunked.

[ Parent ]
I'm not quite sure what you're saying by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:43:55 AM EST
I said in the notes that it's not utterly confiscatory, though in an ideal world it would be. We need to keep to the left-hand side of the Laffer curve: the rate increase must be kept low enough that the extra revenue exceeds the amount lost from capital flight.

I'm not quite clear on whether you're talking about the effects of the old rich people selling up prior to leaving the country, or the effects of confiscating all their property after they die.

If it's the former, as I already said we have to keep the tax rate low enough that we don't have a big exodus of capital.

If it's the latter, we're not burning down the houses we confiscate, and we're not closing down any businesses they earn. They will continue to exist, we'll just sell them on to different owners and distribute the wealth as part of the CBI.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
The latter.. by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #35 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:25:44 AM EST
My point being, selling some assets can have hidden consequences that lead to unintended (read: bad) results.

[ Parent ]
Depends by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #38 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:36:31 AM EST
Remember the assets are going to be transferred to someone else when they die anyway.

If their business is sold off by the government after they die, it may be bought by an incompetent who runs it into the ground.

But if they leave it to their great-nephew, he might also turn out to be an incompetent who runs it into the ground.

I suspect the second case is more likely though.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I would by garlic (4.00 / 1) #44 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 01:10:41 PM EST
make my small business a corporation before I die, and sell my shares to my family members, or have my family have a majority of the shares.


[ Parent ]
Damn, you're smart enough to beat the system by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #57 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:50:48 PM EST
But how smart are your family? We'll get it in the end...
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Right but your early point by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #49 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:00:50 PM EST
was that people make better decisions than the govt. So shouldn't the stock holder, owner, etc make the decision on who 'buys' it, and then the gubmint takes the money ?

And gubmint should provide the loans or somesuch to allow folks to buy the business. I mean, who (other than other old, close to dying folks) have the $$ on-hand to buy out/outright a business they want to take over ?

See what I mean ?

[ Parent ]
Well, living people do by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #54 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:23:38 PM EST
If they want to give away or sell their business while they're alive, fine.

But I suspect in the case of wills, the desire to benefit ones family dominates over rational decisions over who's really best at running the business, or who really needs a house.

If you check your local small ads, there's usually a whole section of "businesses for sale": shops, restaurants etc are frequently bought and sold.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
True. by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #68 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 05:06:51 AM EST
But for some family businesses, assuming it is family run, odds are the kid(s) that continue to serve it are also well positioned to continue running it after the death of current owner. (Not always the case..).

So how do the kids that are qualified and knowledgeable go about buying it pre/post death?  Does parent/owner sell it at a grossly under-market price to avoid the estate tax ? Can gubmint fund/loan the fair market price to the family, or should it go to the open market ? If it'll all go to the open market, that's the push-point about not being repressive enough to deter innovation. Like you said, strong desires to pass on to family, but if there's nothing to pass on, why bother..

[ Parent ]
Hmmm by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #69 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:07:29 AM EST
I've been Googling around looking for evidence of the success of second generation family businesses, but haven't found a lot of information. According to this:
The figures are grim: 44% of family businesses fail on the first generation; a whopping 40% fail on the second, and another 15% collapse on the third. This means that if you just poured your family’s life savings on that restaurant you’re putting up, there’s only a 1% chance that your passionate endeavor will live to see your great-grandchild manage it.
However, that could be interpreted a couple of ways. If you assume risk-of-failure is constant, you could argue that the second-generation is as good as the first. Or if you think businesses are most likely to fail at the start, that could be a sign of failure.

However, based on anecdotal evidence and personal experience: people do seem to have a greatly exaggerated idea of the intelligence of their crotch-fruit.

Also, according to this

UK has the lowest proportion of family-owned enterprises in Western Europe (8%), compared to Germany (36%) and France (30%).
So, this issue might be a much smaller issue than elsewhere.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
There is a great by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #71 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:36:54 AM EST
deal of anecdotal evidence on how a screw up kid can save a family business ;)

Of course, we can also quibble about family business definition (I admit to mixing it with 'small business', where some guy started it and kept it going). Most 'small businesses' start out as family businesses, but partners are added and they diversify, though the original founder(s) might still maintain a majority stake. Wonder if the figures quoted take that into account as well ? I've seen more small businesses get bought out than fail outright (ignore all restaurants, they have huge failure rates as it is).

[ Parent ]
I'm more confused. by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #50 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 03:26:34 PM EST
How much are you taxing them for the privilege of remaining in old blighty vs. services recieved (I suspect they aren't using NHS(2) services)?  I suspect they have a pretty globally diverse portfolio already and are only sending the interest needed to live on back home.  I also can't see a whole lot more problems than a glut of manors on the market as a few walking (possibly with canes or walkers) holding companies crunch the numbers and realize they should be in Monaco.


Wumpus


[ Parent ]
I haven't set an exact rate by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #55 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:44:47 PM EST
We need to stay on the left-hand side of the Laffer curve. So, we'd look at the data from death taxes around the world and in history, pick a rate that seems likely to maximize revenue without causing massive capital flight, and adjust it if necessary.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Health care by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:00:40 AM EST
I suspect you'll want some regulatory framework in place for preventing a private health care system from becoming the clusterfuck that is the US system.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
I think the US system has additional problems by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:33:36 AM EST
1. A legal system that awards enormous damages, pushing up the price of healthcare.

2. Insurance often provided through employers, creating an additional layer of principal-agent problems.

3. Expensive emergency care used instead of preventative care. (We won't give you $5 worth of blood-thinners, but we'll give you a $50,000 heart bypass in the ER)

Note that because vouchers default to NHS2, everybody has some kind of coverage. So we won't have the bloc of uninsured that the US has.

I think the main regulatory problem is keeping the nutters out of the private market, by only approving real medicine. Otherwise you're going to have a bunch of people opting for crystal therapy for their cancer and dying in the street...
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Commentary by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #24 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:56:32 AM EST
(1) is way overblown, and in fact in the US, there is almost no right to sue your insurance company.


(3) is not at all the case for the insured.  The issue, which you allude to, is that the uninsured don't get the preventative care and then show up in the ER.


I agree completely on (2).
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Defense? by blixco (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:09:54 AM EST
Which leads from foreign policy, I suppose, in that: do you have a national defense? Is it strictly in defense? How do you determine what to defend and when? Do you have attack capability? Is it military or economic or...?
---------------------------------
"You bring the weasel, I'll bring the whiskey." - kellnerin
Don't really plan any changes by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:23:29 AM EST
Was just planning to retain the existing armed forces. The army's already been shrunk about as far as it will go.

Was tempted to cancel these new aircraft carriers and the Eurofighters, but I'm not sure they're as useless as they're made. Fighters and carriers have been pretty pointless in the last few wars, but if there Russia or China start getting really belligerent, they could be handy to have around.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Keeping the nukes too? by herbert (4.00 / 1) #16 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:46:00 AM EST
If Scotland went independent and wouldn't look after them, you might have to build new servicing facilities somewhere.  I think it's SNP policy to close Faslane but probably they'd accept an exorbitant rent instead.

[ Parent ]
Yes by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #26 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:03:25 AM EST
A bigger problem might be getting the damn nukes off the Scots in the first place. Probably ought to station plenty of English troops round the bases well before the referendum...
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Och aye by TurboThy (4.00 / 1) #40 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 11:05:29 AM EST
Nothing like a rogue state on your doorstep.
__
Sommerhus til salg, første række til Kattegat.
[ Parent ]
That's a politician's answer by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #70 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 06:18:47 AM EST
Member for Mephistopheles: Mr Speaker, the Honourable Member for Escargot has today presented a very palatable plan, a very tasty plan Mr Speaker, at least on the surface a sweet plan, one almost might say a sugary plan, a sugary plan full of pleasantly radical sounding domestic candy that fizzes and pops in the mouth like sherbet! Sweet, sweet, middle class sherbet Mr Speaker, orange coated and calling to us now, whether we have speeches to give or not.

Member for Shouting: You're sherbet!

Meph: Yet, as sweet and tempting and exciting and hyperactive as this sherbet covered plan may be, Mr Speaker, if the great British public were ever convinced to swallow it they would find themselves before too long with very serious indigestion. And not a little toothache I would wager. Not a little indeed.

Meph: For as we are all too aware on this side of the chamber, and as the British yeoman is more than aware out in this great nation of ours, beneath this pleasant sugary coating is still the foul-tasting, rusted, indigestible lug nut of the Sensible Snail Party. A moment ago the Hon. Member mentioned almost casually he would maintain our current spending in defense.

Members: <grumbling>

Meph: Are we really to believe these are the only plans the notorious hawks on the benches opposite have for the brave men and women of the British military? Are we really to believe that the Member for Liberal Imperialism just wants to make sure the bookkeeping is fine at the Ministry of Defense, or the infamously pusillinamous Member for Sand is happy to play with toy soldiers at home instead of young people's lives?

Member for Lackey: The surge is working!

Meph: Mr Speaker, need I remind the House that this is a member that has supported every use of arms by the United States for the last seventy years, no matter how cack-handed or selfish?

Members: <meehfmmm!>

Meph: Mr Speaker, this is a Snail with blood on its antennae!

Members: Here here!

Meph: I was wondering, while listening to the Member for Escargot a moment ago, why it was he wanted to raise taxation. He has all manner of grand plans for decimating government and casting its dismembered corpse about the land, for turning the NHS into NHS 2.0, and other ways of manslaugtering the great civic institutions of the United Kingdom. But the net result of all these measures, usually considered to reduce costs and raise income, is in slightly increased taxation!

Meph: Mr Speaker it is now clear to me how the Sensible Snail party expects to spend this largesse, this liquidation of assets built up over decades. It is quite simply in an expansion and frantic execution of the imperialist warmongering propounded by this party throughout its history. It is a party of blood, of, for and through blood, and blood is what will run in the streets if this charade of a manifesto is ever enacted.

Members: <jioejfniej! from both sides of the house>

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
To war! To war! by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #73 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 08:16:40 AM EST
To war we're gonna go!
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
VS2FP by herbert (4.00 / 1) #13 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:36:05 AM EST
VDiarist2Parliament

I'd quite like to go into the Euro though, just because of how much it would annoy xenophobes.

I'm not an economist but I wonder whether it will always be difficult to prove that the country would be better off in the Euro, since nobody is really good enough at economic forecasting. Seems like it might just come down to making guesses about how well the rest of the eurozone economy will do compared to Britain, and if the ECB will be more or less sensible than the B of E, and generally unpredictable stuff like that.

Also purely on xenophobe-baiting grounds, we should go into Schengen.  You probably have to say something or other about immigration in your manifesto these days anyway.

NHS by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #14 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:39:36 AM EST
£1500 a year won't go very far for someone with cancer, a child with a genetic disease, or countless other scenarios.

On the other hand I have cost the NHS practically £0 per year for the past 10 years.

Are we expected to trade? It'd be a nightmare.

Have I missed something? It seems like a bit of an obvious point.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

That's going into a larger insurance fund by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:48:55 AM EST
It's not how much healthcare you can afford every year.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Ah OK by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:50:06 AM EST
Is it still per person though? Individuals costs will vary massively.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Not per person by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #23 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:56:20 AM EST
It's like any insurance: the fees from the people whose houses don't burn down go to compensate the people whose houses do.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Get it now by nebbish (4.00 / 2) #27 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:03:29 AM EST
But you're inviting the same probloms with refused pay-outs that you hear about in the US, especially if you get pressure on the limited amount of money available by, say, newer, more expensive treatments. Or just drug comnpanies hiking up prices.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #32 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:09:13 AM EST
Remember that NHS2 is still state-run, it's not a private insurer, so if you're worried about it you can stick with them.

If you go with a private insurer, you'll have to take your chances and do your homework. But on the whole, private insurers do seem to work pretty well for those who can afford them.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Private insurers in the UK by Herring (4.00 / 2) #33 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:21:16 AM EST
As I mentioned in an earlier comment, they know that there is the fallback of the NHS. I had my knee surgery done last year on LCC's private scheme and it was indeed lovely (disclaimer: I have never had a proper operation on the NHS) but I noticed in the literature that the procedure, should anything go wrong, is to dial an NHS ambulance.

Interestingly* I was reading Which magazine at my parents house the other day (I am getting middle-aged) and they had an article entitled "Health tourists cost NHS dearly" (or something). This wasn't a Daily Mail type rant about foreigners coming over here using our facilities, no it was about Britons who go abroad for cheap medical treatment coming back all screwed up and having to be fixed by the NHS. The same applies to private medicine here - if they screw up in a BUPA hospital then it's the NHS that gets to fix the damage because private hospitals don't have emergency facilities.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #36 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:30:36 AM EST
NHS2 is just an insurance pool, no hospitals of its own, so BUPA will have deal with their own mistakes under the new regime.

But while its expensive, outside the UK private medicine seems to work pretty well for those who can afford it, even without an NHS to fall back on.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
well by bobdole (4.00 / 1) #63 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 02:30:15 AM EST
another reason the default opt-out is NHS ambulance is that really few private institutions keep their own staff trained at emergency procedures. They are specialists, and as you'd guess the specialists best suited to catering to emergencies would be the ones you'd find in an emergency room.

If you were to start a private institution that did cover emergency medicine (it really is a special branch, just as you wouldn't trust your GP to do open surgery) you'd pretty much end up with a hospital (in terms of equipment and staffing).
-- The revolution will not be televised.

[ Parent ]
Would a person born with a disability by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:55:14 AM EST
That stopped them from working be expected to live on the Citizen Basic Income?

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It's political correctness gone mad!

Yes [nt] by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:01:21 AM EST

--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Pretty cruel by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #31 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:07:30 AM EST
Considering they will have extra costs from adaptations to their homes for accessibility, travel costs if they can't use public transport, paying a cleaner if they're unable to do that, etc etc.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Hmmm, good point by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #34 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:22:55 AM EST
We can definitely have an extra fund to provide home adaptations, car adaptations, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles (since there's very little incentive for a healthy person to go on the fiddle for free handrails).

Could probably manage cleaners and transport allowances as well; but only for the identifiably physically disabled. I think sufferers of depression, back pain, chronic fatigue syndrome and other easy-to-fake conditions are just going to have to get the bus.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Brings me to a wider point by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #37 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:33:26 AM EST
Social services isn't just about handing over enough money for people to live on. There are people who need watching over as well, who've suffered difficult childhoods for example, and aren't able to look after themselves. They're not mentally ill as such and shouldn't be treated as so. And there are quite a lot of them.

I think this is another layer of beauracracy you'll just have to swallow I'm afraid.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Damn, I forgot about the social workers by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #39 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:53:31 AM EST
They disappeared along with the rest of the DWP.

OK, I've edited the NHS section. We now have a Department of Social Health which includes ambulance services, alcohol and addiction, health visiting and social workers. I think that makes sense since those groups seem to spent a lot of time shuffling the same patients between them.

The thing that concerns me is that I'm not sure these should be national government responsibilities. They might be better off under local government, but they're not treating popular people, so I suspect they might be too prone to budget-trimming.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Yes - but not for long [n/t] by Herring (4.00 / 2) #30 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 10:07:05 AM EST


christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
What's a small amount of weed? by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #47 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:09:42 PM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Why, how much do you need? by georgeha (4.00 / 2) #48 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 02:36:51 PM EST
err, less than an ounce.


[ Parent ]
I'm covered through my ex's BF, thanks. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #51 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 08:48:24 PM EST
I'm wondering what TE considers to be a small quantity before I cast my vote.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
In terms of production by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 2) #53 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:14:48 PM EST
Backyard, attic or allotment-sized areas of cultivation.

If we had vast rolling agrobusiness fields of unregulated cannabis free to be smuggled abroad, I think it would piss off our neighbouring countries unnecessarily.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
AWESOME! by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #58 Tue Aug 19, 2008 at 09:55:15 PM EST
Who should I fraudulently register with?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Hrm, not sure by Dr Thrustgood (2.00 / 0) #94 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:41:48 AM EST
So what's to stop Mr Druggie Entrepreneur going around various peoples' houses and renting the space to grow from them?

Personally, I'd go with a three-plants-and-you're-out kinda policy.

Like the rest, though.



[ Parent ]
Hmmm by Breaker (4.00 / 2) #61 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 02:00:51 AM EST
Not a bad fist of it, I will agree.  Thanks for writing this up, TE.

Have you read "NHS Plc"?  About the only part of this I am struggling with is the healthcare provisioning.

Taxation seems a little wooly - are you proposing keeping the two bands of tax?  Or just replacing it with a blanket x% tax over the Basic Income?

Also, I am not sure that widening the motorways is such a great plan.  Better that the money is used to build better rail links (even reopen the canals if needed, or drain them and put railways in)


Taxation by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #62 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 02:23:24 AM EST
Income tax has a single flat rate, minus the CBI handout: it's a standard negative income tax.

However, I'm keeping VAT and the other indirect taxes too.

Motorways: wasn't totally sure about that. It would be nice to put enough traffic onto new rail links that the existing system would be uncongested. But if the electric car gets finally sorted, people would probably prefer to use the roads as today. And if it doesn't get sorted at all, people would want to use petrol/coal fuel/biofuel cars instead.

Canals are tricky. It would be nice to use them for freight (they were used up to and during WW2 I believe). But because they're so slow, it takes a awful lot of man-hours to move a cargo, and you can't do big trains because of the lock system. What we really need is some means of automating them. You could have barges on autopilot and bring back the full-time lock-keepers maybe. I suspect an Asimo-like robo-bargemen might be a bit too futuristic...
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Auto-canals would be cool by herbert (4.00 / 1) #64 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 02:59:37 AM EST
You could have the boats be semi-robotic and piloted remotely - a single driver could probably oversee dozens at a time in conjunction with some GPS-following autopilot plus sensing of obstacles, other boats, and water depth.

Might be well suited to being solar powered too - plenty of area for panels and you don't need to generate very much per second.

Probably all the bridges are too low for standard containers though.

[ Parent ]
Reasonable by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #65 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 03:29:40 AM EST
But where would you peg the rate of a single income tax?  Too much and those just above the Citizens' Income would no longer be incentivised to work. 

I will freely admit yours is a good plan; and as such I'm interested in winnowing out the fine detail to see if it's viable.

Much cargo doesn't really need to be immediately available where it's needed; warehouses are used for that.  But with the expanse of the canals, we could revitalise them and use the slow transit time as a substitute for warehouses.  Locks could be a lot quicker though; a lot of them are victorian (and ingenious) but with the emphasis on efficiency rather than speed.  Put some money into it and that'll be fixed quickly.


[ Parent ]
I don't really want to get into precise budgets by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #66 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 03:44:34 AM EST
Stumbling and Mumbling reckons that with tax rates remaining the same as today, the CBI would be £100 per week. I suppose that single rate would average out at around the 30% mark.

But one of the advantages of it is that everyone is incentivized to work, since you still get CBI whether working or not. Anything you earn is a bonus.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
canals by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #67 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 04:03:02 AM EST
I think for effective freight on water, you need a river like the Rhein. Very spectacular barge-trains. Canals might work for moving small quantities of organic veg or something around, adding to the middle-class romanticism of it all.

[ Parent ]
Motorway solution by Dr Thrustgood (2.00 / 0) #95 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:44:17 AM EST
Introduce a mandatory driving test taken a year and a day after the driver has first passed. The process: go out on the motorway and if you don't bloody well use the leftmost lane when you're not overtaking, EPIC FAIL.

Then no need to widen any motorways.



[ Parent ]
Breaker to the rescue! by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #78 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 02:53:49 PM EST
Forgot about the motorways stuff. People should be discouraged to drive. Although congestion is obviously a problem for thousands of people, it can also be a tool to discourage unnecessary car use if there is a better alternative.

Also, compulsary purchase is a very illiberal solution to transport problems. It would cause real misery, and in a democracy based on individuial rights I'm not sure it could ever be legal.

What about investing that money in bridge work and introducing double-decker trains?

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
This is the age of the train? by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #81 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 11:37:20 PM EST
I think double-deckers also need wider tracks to be stable, so you can't just introduce them gradually, you need to close the line while you rip up the track.

On motorways, I'd like to introduce electric and low-carbon cars, and people will still need somewhere to drive them. It would be nice to get everyone on public transport, but realistically I think large parts of the country have too low a population density. Being committed to a capital investment in their car, they may as well drive them longer distances too.

I think compulsory purchase is necessary to overcome nimbyism and the tragedy of the anti-commons. It's one of the collective action problems where free markets break down. The rational self-interest of the last few people owning land on the rail line will always be to charge an enormously high selling price. It's a bit of a bummer for them to be forced to sell, but I think they have to suffer for the greater good.

I think poor transport is a big contributing factor to lots of other problems. It causes an economic drag as everyone wastes time in traffic jams or waiting for trains. It contributes to the North-South divide as businesses can't relocate to cheaper locations. It pumps up house prices in some areas, since you can't commute from further away. So I think it's a big enough issue to justify some pain to the current rights-owners, as long as they're fairly compensated.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
There are double-decker trains by komet (4.00 / 1) #83 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 12:22:24 AM EST
that are certified for 200 km/h. Speed limits are not really related to track gauge as much as track quality and the cars' ability to tilt.

Moving away from standard gauge would be isolationist, expensive and probably not a good idea. Spain, who have run wide gauge for decades, are building their new high speed lines on standard gauge. In any case, in Britain, it is not the track gauge that is the problem - it is the loading gauge (height and width of the carriages), which is tiny and prevents most European trains (and double decker systems) from running in Britain. You should sort the bridges and tunnels out first.

As for batteries for electric cars, I would rather see a standard system of picking up current from the road. It is obvious that cars are more efficient if they don't have to haul a massive battery along with them - or perhaps just a smaller battery for feeder roads, and a pickup system along the motorways (which can also be used for recharging). While you're doing that and widening the motorways, how about an optional automatic guidance system on 1 or 2 lanes? The fact is that 2 motorway lanes fit 3 cars abreast, and is surely equally safe or even safer if the cars are running on virtual rails. - I also believe that without any new technology or construction, you can increase motorway capacity by 10% - 15% simply by strictly enforcing lane discipline and banning lane-hoggers from driving for a year.

It's also possible to avoid land purchase by stacking two carriageways on top of each other. Possibly only worth the cost on the M25, you could thereby expand it to 6 or 7, possibly 8 lanes each way with minimal land purchase. That gives you enough lanes to, say, reserve 1 or 2 lanes for goods traffic only, or for automatically guided electric cars, or for your prime ministerial limousine.

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<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.

[ Parent ]
Addendum by komet (4.00 / 1) #84 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 12:46:07 AM EST
the French TGV Duplex, a double-decker high speed train, is certified for 320 km/h and runs on (very well built) standard gauge. So that's not the problem.

I do remember from my pie-eating travels that the state of British railways is atrocious. Noisy, wobbly and slow. When you come to power, you should get some Swiss or German engineers in and sort it out. Or appoint me as transport minister.

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<ni> komet: You are functionally illiterate as regards trashy erotica.

[ Parent ]
The bends by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #85 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 01:17:41 AM EST
I suspect it relies on very straight lines though. I think Nebbish wants to just widen the bridges on the existing lines, without having to compulsory purchase any new land.

But since the UK lines are probably quite bendy, I think it would have to become a Train de Petit Vitesse or fall over a lot.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Maybe a double decker Pendelino tilting train by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #96 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 01:45:31 PM EST
With upgraded signals could run at 140 mph on the "classic" mainlines like the West Coast, East Coast or Western. But judging by the fiasco of the West Coast upgrade, it's probably cheaper to build a dedicated high speed line and use the older lines for local and freight.

[ Parent ]
Electric cars by Herring (4.00 / 1) #86 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 04:46:22 AM EST
The answer has been staring me in the face: the issue is that batteries/fuel cells etc. just don't have the energy density that hydrocarbon fuels do (my calculations indicate that to recharge a battery at the same rate you put energy into a fuel tank, you're talking > 20MW).

So the answer is: Scalextric. Lay scalextric type rails on motorways and A roads so long journeys by electric car become practical. Batteries only need enough juice to get as far as the main road.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
What what about the electrocuted hedgehogs? by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #88 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 05:54:06 AM EST
A dodgem-like overhead mesh might be better.

I'm a bit skeptical of both because you need high voltages on powerlines or it's very lossy... I think the transformers the cars would need would probably be heavier than the batteries.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I was thinking outside the box by Herring (4.00 / 1) #89 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 06:00:35 AM EST
Which, I understand, is current business speak for "coming up with stupid shit". Mind you, the concept works for trains.

You could probably do it via induction though with a coil embedded in the road ...

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
Human Rights: alert by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #72 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 07:04:46 AM EST
Do not end at death.

The European Court of Human Rights has already ruled on this issue to an extent. Human Rights decline at death, but dependents etc have rights too, related to the rights of the deceased.

For instance, the ECHR held that it was reasonable for an injunction against publication of a book by one of Francois Mitterands doctors to persist (shortly) after his death (but not for a long time).


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
Also by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #79 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 03:07:50 PM EST
As I recall you are pretty much a dinosaur on Commons reform, but where is the section on Lords reform? Or is Britons pretty happy with it being a House of appointed toadies for now?

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

I think that's a matter for the second term by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #82 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 11:53:01 PM EST
The thing is, the House of Lords has proven most useful when it's least democratic, as a bulkwark against bad knee-jerk legislation rushed in as a response to the panic of the moment.

Also annoying: the most effective members have often been superannuated former ministers, making sensible legislative criticisms and suggestions on the basis of experience.

So, popular elections don't seem a lot of use for it: they're just going to have the same pressures and prejudices as the commons.

Because its main purpose is the fairly specialized task of scrutinizing legislation, there doesn't seem a lot of point in putting members of the general public, businessmen, generals, union leaders, celebrities etc in there.

So, I'm all out of bright ideas for that at the moment.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Celebrities by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #90 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 06:07:25 AM EST
Isn't that basically who goes there at the moment? You do well enough in your field and enough politicians get to know you, so you get put in the Lords as a special merit badge from the country?

Seems to have been more of a stable for party donors of late.

One good thing about the Lords is the mix of non-professional politicians, but it seems a very easy system to game. I would probably agree on the direct election front but there are surely ways to get that mix without the blatant rigging in the current system. And legislation covers all sorts of areas, including industry and the military ... relying on the reps in the Commons seems a lousy way of getting those opinions to improve legislation ...

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
Good point by Herring (4.00 / 1) #87 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 04:53:09 AM EST
My thing:
House of commons elected by PR (with 5% cutoff to keep out the loonies)
House of lords elected similar to US senate: 6 year term, 1/3rd elected every 2 years by FPTP.

It might just work.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
I prefer sortition by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #91 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 06:08:21 AM EST
ie, lottery, plus a good dose of retired politicians and the great and good to stop it being a simple rabble.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
So are we going to see by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #92 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 06:21:39 AM EST
A Herring Party manifesto?
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Quite possibly by Herring (4.00 / 1) #93 Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 06:38:38 AM EST
when I've assembled the relevant drinkdata.

Is gazbo not standing for re-election?

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
An aside by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #80 Wed Aug 20, 2008 at 03:17:43 PM EST
The problem that faces any visionary politician like your good self is how all this can come about.

I think we all feel a certain frustration with our democratic proces. We feel alienated from it, not because of the parties and their dogma, but because as geeks we're not the types to get up on soap boxes and berate people. We're not public speakers. We can't engage with the 19th century traditions of debate we're still stuck with.

But give us the written word and the immediacy of the internet and we will debate, argue, put ourselves above the parapit, no problem.

Can we take this beyond the talking shop of the internet forum? How can it be done? Maybe that's the next step. We're very good at working together, despite our disprate views. We have a respect for each other you won't see anywhere else where people with such polarised views come together. Surely it's possible.

I can feel a manifesto of my own coming on...

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It's political correctness gone mad!

I think the difference by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #97 Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 01:00:36 AM EST
Is that many of us take radically different views but seem to not have any dogma attached, beyond "let's get the country working properly again".

And that I think is what is missing in the current political parties - active dissent leading to discussion.  They are all as bad as each other, ensuring a "united front" is displayed across the board so all the MPs in one party are "on message".

So, how to hack the political system?  We need a trojan into one of the parties to subvert it to our ends, and parachute various HuSis into advisory roles.

Ah wait, Tony Blair already did that.

These folks don't look so bad though.


[ Parent ]
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