The commies believed that in a post-capitalist society there would be a transformation in the nature of man. Economist's talk about incentives were mute, they cried, since we'd all build as we would for ourselves. The response from Mises and Hayek granted this concession, but they showed how *even if* we all work together in a collectivist utopia we won't know what to produce, how to produce it, and who should consume it. But of course incentives do matter. We do live in a world of self-interest. Wishing otherwise doesn't change this self-evident fact.
We are currently undergoing a flu epidemic, and there is a treatment, tamiflu. Today the NHS will launch a phone and internet service where patients can diagnose themselves and get a prescription. The obvious solution would be to let Roche raise the price. Not only would this reward their R&D, but would also signal to other drug companies that this is a pressing matter. At the every least this would help ration the existing stockpile, since there is a cost involved in acquiring it unnecessarily.
The NHS's response is to deny human nature. To assume that because they are a model of socialist management, we therefore live in a socialist society - one where we put our love of fellow man (or indeed our country) before our individual rights. On the Today programme this morning a spokesman was asked whether the system would be open to abuse. What's stopping people that don't have swine flu from ticking the right boxes and acquiring a prescription (and in doing so divert scarce resources from where they're needed most)?
His response, incredibly, was to say that: we would request that people only make genuine claims. People shouldn't request tamiflu unless they have the symptoms of swine flu.
There is nothing immoral with wanting to protect yourself from future illness, and take cautionary action to create a personal stockpile. The NHS is turning the allocation of tamiflu from a simple matter of supply and demand to a free-for-all tainted by moral aspersions. Don't treat me based on what you'd like me to be, treat me based on what I am!
Indeed by subsidising the drug the NHS are encouraging this behaviour. This is just one example of how socialised systems pervert economic coordination. Given the number of people who die each day because of a lack of markets in organs, or who die at the hands of doctors and hospitals that aren't exposed to the regulatory function of competition (just two examples), it's probable minor in comparison. But it shows that we're governed by morons, and that we're probably all fucked.
Update: click here to see if you can get some tamiflu! Be careful though, you must:
confirm that I am:
- currently located in the UK;
- concerned that I may be suffering from flu; or
- acting on behalf of someone who may be suffering from flu.
Please do not proceed beyond this point unless you comply with the above. Misuse of this service could lead to prosecution.