Re: Gov't loves Gov't

Charlie Stross (
Thu, 22 Jan 1998 15:10:01 +0000

On Thu, Jan 22, 1998 at 11:53:38AM +0000, Mark Grant wrote:
> Charlie wrote:
> >Eh?!? You're attributing causal relationships between the things I was
> >talking about that I was carefully not drawing, because they ain't >there.
> Which ones? You said that untreated diabetes caused lots of road
> accidents, which should be impossible if the NHS was doing a good
> job of treating them. You also said that there was no health
> insurance market in the UK because of the NHS.

That's interesting: I don't remember writing any of that. In fact,
looking back at my earlier poster, I said: "I seem to recall a recent
statement by the RAC (here in the UK) that diabetic hypoglycaemia is a
not-too-uncommon cause of auto accidents." That's a fair way -- in
quantitative terms -- from saying "untreated diabetes caused lots of
road accidents." The same goes for your other quotes: they're distortions
of what I said.

Please don't put words into my mouth. I'll try to substantiate my own
utterances, if you want to make targets of them, but I'm not going to
stand behind a straw man.

> >What I was going on about is the problem that there's a conflict of
> >interest between people selling health care insurance and people buying
> >it, and this conflict of interests may be a side-effect of the market
> >system itself.
> Yes, but there's always a conflict of interest between people who
> want more money than they have, and people who don't want to pay.
> I don't see how this can ever be avoided.

You seem to be locked into a fairly narrow way of understanding
human relationships, then.

Look: I don't want to get bogged down in a discussion of the minutiae
of healthcare economics in 1990's USA/UK or wherever. What I'm commenting
on is, in a nutshell, the perception that the market is the _best_
way of handling resource allocation disputes. It's NOT proven to be
the _best_ way, it's just the * best _known_ way *. It has defects
which, in some circumstances, render it unworkable without external
regulation. Unless you consider industrial feudalism to be a valid
and desirable extropian future -- I don't, I'd prefer a system that
lets _everyone_ realise their maximum potential -- this means that
it's not the final answer.

I look around the extropians list and I see people -- same as it was
in 1992 -- with their eyes fixed on the stars, but their whole idea
of economic interaction is based on an uncritical acceptance of
dogma inherited from the 1920's (and formulated to some extent as a
backlash against the then-dire threat of Soviet collectivism). This
is a weird paradox: forward-thinkers who _refuse_ to examine some
of their assumptions and try to improve on them.

I dunno. The free market _may_ be the optimal mediational method, for
all I know; but what I see here isn't people trying to _prove_ it,
or, alternatively, trying to invent something better: what I see
is people taking it as a forgone conclusion.

This is a blind spot. You have been notified.

-- Charlie