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"Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism, but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice" - Adam Smith

Put the patient at the centre

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Friday 16 July 2010

We are facing the “Biggest revolution in the NHS for 60 years” as the Telegraph put it. It means that £80 billion spent for hospital care will be transferred to family GPs, which could eventually make untold thousands of NHS bureaucrats redundant. Excellent move! However, this has been tried before under the label of commissioning by the Thatcher government with very ambiguous results. The lessons of that experience must be acted upon. One problem with commissioning that needs to be borne in mind is that is can simply increase the dependency of patients on the judgments of a single doctor. Adn there must be a worry that a solitary GP will have difficulty keeping up-to-date with all the medical disciplines required to make these judgments.

Furthermore, the patronizing and intrusive nanny state only adds only to the burden on GPs – something we should consider carefully now we are asking them to take on such a major role. There has to be some relief: at least put the patient/family in charge of the private aspects of his/their own health, by giving them the funds to do that. Mr Lansley should put an equivalent of several thousand pounds in health savings accounts, managed by every patient to fund their non-hospital health, preferably including a budget for medication. Patients could also book their surgery appointments online and free many thousands of receptionists for administration of the commissioning. This would be the perfect quid-pro-quo between doctor and patient and would also rid the government of any role of interference in our lifestyle, while making many more thousands of bureaucrats redundant.

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Parochialism of London Underground

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Thursday 29 April 2010

altMy wife, who is presently training to become a nurse with the NHS, was recently scheduled for her first weekend shift. She was supposed to start work before 7 am in North East London. Turning up shortly after 6 am at Baker street station she was in for a surprise.

The first train on the Bakerloo line was leaving at 7:24 am on a Sunday in the sleepy Roman village Londonium. The officer of Transport for London could not see my wife's point of view, telling her: "after all, tube transport staff have families". But who is supposed to help these families when they are in trouble out-of-hours? If you can’t afford a car, how can you supposed to get around in London?

Now consider the often belittled and much smaller continental rival capitals. They also resort to night buses for a short period after midnight. But in Berlin you certainly can catch a tube in Spandau at 3:15 am and any time later on a Sunday morning and travel all the way to Pankow at the eastern end of town.

In Paris you have no problem catching a train at Gare du Nord at 3:22 am and any time later on a Sunday and travel wherever you like. In London you are depending on the night buses until 5 or 6 AM during the week and later at weekends.

Germany and France have a reputation of being even more unionized than Britain but they manage to get their transport running at times necessary for maintaining essential services in a world capital. Given the money TfL takes in fares and the government subsidies, I am at a loss why we can’t do the same.

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Moore embarrassed by cronyism

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Sunday 11 April 2010

altPredatory filmmaker Michael Moore has finally fallen into his own trap.

Moore, the incarnation of self-righteous envy politics, who in his film “Capitalism - A Love Story” demanded taxpayers’ money back form Wall Street (“capitalism is legalized greed”), has been trapped in flagrante - scavenging from tax funds himself.

Moore applied for taxpayer subsidies of up to $1,000,000 from the Michigan Film Office, whose very existence he had criticized only a few years ago. That criticism not only qualified him to be advanced to the Michigan Film Advisory Board in 2009, but also to push his snout deep in the trough of government subsidies – paid for, of course, by taxpayers.

Revealingly, Moore was recorded on video at the 2008 Traverse City Film Festival heckling competitors who were asking for a share of the Michigan Film Office’s funds:

“Why do they need our money, from Michigan, from our taxpayers, when we’re already broke here? I mean, they play one state against another, and so they get all this free cash when they’re making billions already in profits. What’s the thinking behind that?”

The Republican state senator Nancy Cassis is now asking Moore to withdraw his application from the Michigan Film Office, which would have reimbursed up to 42 percent of the costs associated with filming in the state. The film has generated over $15,000,000 in gross sales worldwide on an estimated production cost of around $2,000,000. A decision of the Film Office on Moore’s application is still pending, but shouts of ‘hypocrite’ are getting louder.

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Cameron should distance himself from Climate Scare

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Sunday 21 March 2010

Many were puzzled recently by the narrowing of the the Tories’ lead in the polls after New Year. This also coincided with President Obama’s decline in the polls. A common link is the meltdown of the climate scare campaign, precipitated by the devastating leak of e-mails from East Anglia University. See this excellent and comprehensive account in the Weekly Standard.

Both David Cameron and Barack Obama have enjoyed miraculous success in the polls over the past two years, and this has been partly due to their populist commitment to “do something” about climate change. Indeed, it seems that the ‘political consensus’ – nowadays much more important than any ‘scientific consensus’, is such that no politician could have survived the last two years without towing a similar line.

Inspiration can however be drawn from The Liberal Party of Australia – whose views seem much more like the proper liberals of yesteryear than the ‘liberals’ we have in the UK or US. They have been through a hefty struggle on the issue of climate change over the last two years. That struggle reached its climax in February this year when Malcolm Turnbull was ousted as leader by a hardcore climate change skeptic, Tony Abbott, because he insisted on helping the Labor Party push contentious Cap-and-Trade legislation through the Senate. Clearly, Turnbull had gone so far toward appeasing the politically correct climate change lobby that he neglected his own party’s base.

As far as Cameron is concerned, he needs to take notice. Now more than ever, it is politically possible for him to distance himself from the typical collectivist position on climate change, which has dragged him away from the base of his party. Seeing as the scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change is no longer as sound as it once seemed, there is clearly an opportunity to take a skeptical position that is both frank and honest, as those in the Australian Liberal Party have shown they can do.

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The PC wall

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Wednesday 02 December 2009

Diversity has advanced quickly through many Western institutions creating dysfunctional bodies. This is the focus of an excellent article on the disastrous consequences of implementing diversity in a security sensitive environment entitled Diversity: An Ideology.

The ideology of diversity is simply social Darwinism - the term being a mindless transplant from the ‘biological diversity’ of life on our planet – as if humans were no different from other living creatures. Diversity: An Ideology gives an account of the security failure within the US army with regard to the terrorist psychiatrist Major Nidal Mali Hassan of the Fort Hood massacre. This very well documented narrative shows how diversity has conquered crucial US security institutions.

After Bill Clinton’s introduction in 1994 of the Gender Integration of Basic Training program to encourage female recruits, gender “discrimination" was implemented and complaints ensued. An independent commission was set up to investigate the cases. It concluded strict separation of genders in housing and basic training just as the Marines had been doing all along. However these recommendations were rejected. As a result quotas along the lines of diversity were even increased in face increased.

The English professor Bruce Fleming of the US Naval Academy found that

21 percent of the 2001 and 2002 classes were admitted on a “minority" basis, had SAT scores 200 to 300 points below the Academy’s average, and were evaluated “on a separate track" from non-minority students.

The joint policy of encouraging diversity and the ban on racial profiling have pretty much pervaded and nearly corrupted the American security system. For instance, in April 13 2004 the Attorney General testified before the 9/11 Commission that, “the single greatest structural cause of September 11th was the wall“ in the Justice Department that separated intelligence cases from criminal cases in order to prevent race, gender, and ethnicity from being used in national-security investigations".

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Farewell christmas tree?

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Thursday 29 October 2009

Walking through Oxford Street and looking at this years Christmas decoration is dispiriting. You immediately get the feeling something is missing. The overhead street decoration has no Christmas symbolism anymore; a boring umbrella has replaced the Christmas tree. I kept scratching my head: are there people out there who bother about this stuff?

Well, it seems the PC brigade has struck again. There will be no proper Christmas decoration anymore. I want everybody to be aware that the PC people are now finishing in this erstwhile free country what the Jacobins started and the Nazis took over in the 1930. They were very keen to ban all Christian symbols in public places because they wanted their swastika to be displayed in their place.

These days, we often hear that crosses and other Christian symbols must be tucked away because they might offend the faithful of other denominations, particularly Muslims. And yet I wonder what offends Muslims more: the Christmas trees and Christianity-inspired decorations in our shopping malls, or the politically correct (and often taxpayer-supported) Gay Pride parades which take place in our major cities every year? But I guess that as far as our political elites are concerned, the latter symbolizes multiculturalism, and is therefore acceptable, while the former evokes traditional values, and is not.

It’s a strange world we’re living in.

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The green economy's assault on our natural landscape

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Friday 25 September 2009

The basic assumptions of the Obama administration, as well as many other G20 countries, that a possible non-nuclear, renewable energy contribution of 20% by 2020 has been dismantled by a new study. Published by the venerable environmental organization, The Nature Conservancy, “Energy Sprawl of Energy Efficiency" focuses on the impact of climate policy in the US on the natural habitat.

The foremost concern is the amount of land required for the switch to renewable energy. They make it very clear that nuclear renewables are the least land consuming. It requires just one square mile for the generation of one million megawatt-hours – the electricity needed for 90,000 homes. How much land will be consumed for other energy sources?

  • Geothermal (natural heat of the earth): 3sq. miles;
  • Coal (mining and extraction): 4 sq. miles;
  • Solar (thermal heating fluids): 6 sq. miles;
  • Natural gas and petroleum: 18 sq. miles;
  • Wind farms: 30 sq. miles;
  • Biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel): 500 sq. miles.

This does not even include tens of thousands of new miles of high voltage transmission lines. These types of problems are rarely discussed in the renewable debate. Here is another nuisance detail:

Solar collectors must be washed down once a month or they collect too much dirt to be effective. They also need to be cooled by water. Where amid the desert and scrub land will we find all that water?

No wonder even green activists are starting to oppose solar projects in the western United States – the most suitable sites for solar panel fields. Finally some environmentalists are beginning to understand unintended consequences and externalities.

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Defensive medicine

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Sunday 06 September 2009

Support for ObamaCare is crumbling rapidly as people are getting more aware of its weaknesses. Yet one area in which the president Obama could curb costs is tort reform, which for many years has been a major driver of increasing health care expenditures. The fact is that American doctors have in recent decades increasingly resorted to defensive medicine (a recent study put the number at 87% of doctors) . These doctors are reckless in employing all available diagnostic procedures simply to escape claims of malpractice by their patients.

The price tag for this type of defensive medicine in the US amounts to somewhere between $100 and $200 billion per year. This considerable sum forms the livelihood of a group of well-heeled and specialized lawyers, who happen to be among the biggest sources of funding for the Democratic party. So for purely political reasons this is a no-go-zone for the Obama administration. In addition the rapidly increasing rates for malpractice insurance are invisible to patients:

- Nearly $2,000 a year in extra health expenses for an average family, according to the rate of defensive medicine found in a study by Daniel Kessler and Mark McClellan.

- Stuart Weinstein…has calculated that if a doctor delivers 100 babies a year and pays $200,000 for insurance (the rate in Florida), "$2,000 of the delivery cost for each baby goes to pay the cost of the medical liability premium."

If this money could be transferred into a patients health savings account about half of the yearly health budget for a middle income family of four would be provided for.

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Obama and Europe

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Thursday 13 August 2009

European opinion leaders just don’t get it. Instead of celebrating president Obama as the new messiah they should put all their bets on failure for both them and us. The man in the White House is keen to emulate the European social democratic model.

An excellent article in the WSJ observes that the very European welfare state has been subsidized by the American taxpayer for half a century. It was only thanks to the very expensive American defense umbrella that the Europeans were able to ignore military expenditure and instead spend like mad on welfare.

It was the strong American consumer demand, driven by free market economics, that provided an excellent market for European products - but perhaps not much longer. If president Obama gets his way both enormous benefits for Europeans will vanish.

As Jeff Durstewiz concludes:

The great irony here is that the European model American leftists envy couldn’t survive without the despised cowboy counterpart. If the U.S. economy weakens because of increasing regulation, heavy-handed unionization, and higher taxes and debt to support an expensive social agenda – all policies Mr. Obama and the Democrats in Congress are pushing hard – it will hurt Europe.

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What has become of the country of free Englishmen?

Written by Dr Fred Hansen | Friday 31 July 2009

Coming from a country haunted for decades by its totalitarian past, and being born at dawn on May 1st 1945, only a few hours after Hitler killed himself with a shot in his mouth, I have always had qualms with people telling me that Britain has become a police state. Even more so because I was so grateful for the sacrifice the British people made for my freedom, and because I eventually emigrated to this country.

However, having experienced what happens if you cut yourself off from the number one state propaganda outlet, you get the impression those people are right. I dared to cancel my TV Licence in March this year because I was so bored, and because I get all I want from the internet anyway.

Since then I keep getting scary letters from the TV Licensing Enforcement Division. Each of these letters assumes that I keep watching TV – they just don’t get it that there are people out there who think the value for money offered by the license fee is poor. Importantly, the letter indicates that equipment liable to pay the licence fee includes computers and mobile phones. Under the headline “Official Warning", suggestive of state action, the letter I received today went on:

Our Enforcement Officers have now been authorized to visit your address in Gloucester Place. This is because we have no record of a TV Licence at Your address and you haven’t responded to previous letters.

Indeed, I took the liberty not to bother with their previous letters and threw them away. The question emerges here: Does the state monopoly of the BBC really encompass all digital information gadgets such as mobile phones, blackberries and laptops? Thinking it through, surely that would mean they would be entitled to collect the licence fee worldwide from anyone who watches BBC broadcasts anywhere?

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