Incredible popular delusions and the madness of statists
Oct 21, 2007
Bishop Hill in Liberalism

Another week, another round of stories of failure in the public services.

On Wednesday, OFSTED reported that half of all secondary schools fail to give children a good education. Today come stories of patients flying to eastern Europe for dental treatment, something that at least appears to be rather more comfortable than the alternative approach of extracting ones own teeth with a pair of pliers.

To someone from the developed world - you know, somewhere like America or Singapore- the medieval barbarities of modern Britain must be truly shocking. Here they seem to be viewed as "just the way things are". Take the Liberal Democrat response to school failure. Their spokesman, David Laws, who is alleged to be on the right of the party, seems to think that the problem will be solved by

a new educational standards authority and a genuine devolution of the power to innovate to all schools.

When you think about it, this is utterly bizarre. The education system is in crisis, and is failing children absolutely, and all  the party can come up with is a new layer of bureaucracy and a bit of local decision-making.

And while the political parties micturate into the wind and dream of shiny new bureaucracies, the public shrugs its collective shoulders.

Can nobody out there beyond a few bloggers ask the fundamental questions of why a state monopoly is the only acceptable answer to the question of who should deliver health and education in the UK? Why does nobody in the MSM write about Singapore-style healthcare accounts or Swedish-style education vouchers? Why are the public not clamouring for them? It's as though the whole country is operating under a mass delusion - a mirage of a wonderful world in which the man in Whitehall does actually give a fig about what consumers want, and that a state-run monopoly does actually deliver a half-decent service.

In the book from which this posting borrows its title, the delusion is always shattered, the bubble burst by the sudden realisation that it is just that - a delusion. Tulips are not worth a fortune, investors loose their shirts, the scams are seen through. Eventually people will see through the "public services" scam too. A straw will blow in on the wind and the camel's back will be broken.

When that will happen is anyone's guess. Only a few lonely voices are calling for fundamental change. But until they are heard, a lot more childen will remain illiterate and a lot more people will suffer or die for lack of treatment. 

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