« Stephen Harper on US debt | Main | The US Fiscal Cliff »

23 December 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


It is the politicians that need a wake up call, not the electorate.

Most people are only too aware of the mess we are in. Which probably explains why a large proportion of the electorate no longer vote. We are increasingly tired of watching politicians of all parties proclaim that they, and only they, can offer the right medicine - a quick fix, where of course none exists.

As for Abe's wise proclamation that we are told the truth, pray tell me where one finds the truth these days.

Merry Christmas....

John pd

To the point as always Terry.
May I recommend this as a graphic way to understand the US debt situation: www.bogpaper.com & go to Nov 8, 'The US National Debt & Federal Budget Deficit Deconstructed'. For a non-economist such as myself, it brings home the foolishness of the kneejerk 'tax the rich'reaction.

There's another good Nov article on bogpaper: 'What's wrong With the Economy', a report in layman's terms from the Cobden Institute which makes the stark point that UK govts have run deficits for 30 of the last 34 years.

There's another: Thank God for Jimmy Savile, which is James Delingpole's heartfelt & justified, in my opinion, take on our traitorous BBC.

Here's something to look forward to:
Next year 29 million Rumanians & Bulgarians are eligible to come to UK. & Their Roma Gypsies can't wait to come for free housing & benefits. Mail online Dec 24. www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2252675

I recently watched Ron Paul's 'Farewell to Congress' speech, after a 23+ year career as a Texas Senator. A voice of sanity. As President he would have stopped all foreign wars, & sacked half the govt. 48 mins long:

Also interesting: Ron Paul's greatest debate performance ever. 12 mins.

When a man of this calibre gets booed, you know the US is destined to fall hard off that cliff.

I think Texas should secede & elect Ron Paul President. :)

Greatly enjoyed your blog this year Terry, thank you. Have a great Christmas & New Year.

Next year is guaranteed to be fun.

We live in interesting times.

Terry Smith

Goose: Merry Christmas to you too.

Terry Smith

John pd: Thank you for the reference to the bogpaper blog. I have looked at it before but will do some more reading over the holiday season. You are right about the Bulgarians and Romanians. I was in a Newsnight debate on the EU a week or so ago and the German pro EU woman present expressed shock and disgust at the idea that immigration might be limited to those with a skill, education or net worth that benefits the country. What like Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the USA....As an old colleague of mine used to say “These people are Upney” (two stations past Barking on the District Line). I also agree about Ron Paul. In the last two presidential elections I have taken an online poll to see which candidate’s policies I agreed with most and least. I was closest to Ron Paul on both occasions. No prizes for guessing who I was furthest from. Thank you for your contribution, Merry Christmas and a Happy and hopefully not too interesting New Year.

John pd

I'll try that Lincoln film Terry.
I also want to catch 'The Hunger Games', a post industrial dystopian vision based on UN Agenda 21.


Len karpinski

Presumably Georgie knows the game is up too judging by the continued year on year losses of Daddy's wallpaper shop? Anyway thanks for helping to increase the family fortune over the past year despite the aforementioneds attempts to destroy it.

By the way I believe "Honest" Abe Lincoln would have been as much as in the pocket of the banksters as Obama is and would be just as bad a disappointment, have a read of this



The Telegraph article makes some valid points but its argument is rendered less persuasive by some important misstatements: Americans did not elect a President who lied to them about their future. Indeed the President's budget was published and scored by the CBO well in advance. By contrast the Romney/Ryan "plan" lacked any details and made vague promises with big fat asterisks attached to them; indeed the Republican Presidential campaign was largely constructed on prevarication and canards. The American electorate, to its credit, saw through that charade.

Also, the claim that the Left considers the rich to have stolen from the poor is a straw man: I don't know any serious commentator, politician or economist who has made that claim. Liberals do argue, however, that in a country where income inequality is steadily worsening, the rich should pay their fair share...and while no-one thinks the US' budget problems will be solved by such a tax hike, it's clear it can play a big part in the solution.

Also, I don't think anyone (and again I can only really speak about the US) is under any illusion that there aren't structural budget issues that need to be tackled but one has to distinguish between long- and short-term problems which may require different (and even opposing) public policy responses. The Telegraph article seems to ignore that distinction.

The NHS may well be struggling and certainly Medicare in the US has long term financing issues that need to be tackled but I remind you that British healthcare costs are a fraction of those in the US - Americans *wish* they had Britain's healthcare cost "problems". I might also remind you that Medicare's administrative costs are a fraction of the Private Sector's so think carefully before you throw the baby out with the bath water and demand privatization.

Finally, a word on Ron Paul. He's one of the few politicians who sticks to his principles and always says what he thinks (Dennis Kucinich is perhaps a good example on the Left). In a world where every talking point is scored by focus groups and you must do your best to avoid alienating the all-powerful "independent voter" in a swing state, this type of politician is a dying breed and it's refreshing to see them speak if somewhat depressing to see them crushed by the inevitable mediocrity demanded by a two-party electoral college system. More generally, while there are many "flavours" of Libertarianism, what they tend to have in common is a clear theoretical construct that fails in the implementation - which is why Paul, when asked if sick people who can't afford private health insurance should be left to die, ends up suggesting church groups can look after them. They also tend to forget that they're not starting from scratch: to the extent that Libertarianism is at all viable, it's because it operates in a world in which public investment has already built the infrastructure upon which it relies.

Wishing all of you a peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Terry Smith

Len Karpinski: Thank you for the link. Abe was of course a lawyer and like every other lawyer I have met he was just a hired gun who would work for almost anyone.

Terry Smith

Andrew: The electorate is being lied to in the United States and elsewhere-including the UK - politicians from both sides of the political divide are promising benefits which cannot be afforded and which will therefore, not arrive. As for your assertion that ‘British healthcare costs are a fraction of those in the US' - Americans *wish* they had Britain's healthcare cost "problems". I might also remind you that Medicare's administrative costs are a fraction of the Private Sector's the real comparison is surely how much Medicare costs to administer versus the NHS - what people are willing to pay for private healthcare is a matter decided by market forces, and in this respect I have bad news for you: the cost of administering the NHS has risen sharply over 20 years. The Commons health select committee reported £15.4bn, or 14% of the budget, in 2010. This number used to be much better - 8% or less in the late 80s. I've heard figures higher than 14%. There has been an explosion in overheads (such as the number of “managers”) over 20 years. The reported figure for Medicare is 3%. Critics claim the real figure is much higher. However, they include in this the work done by IRS in collecting taxes, and they also include Medicare's tax exemptions. Even these critics only claim a Medicare admin cost of 5.8%> The NHS is an administrative and managerial shambles - cutting this cost should actually improve the standard of clinical care. I agree with much of Ron Paul’s approach. The logical conclusion to cutting state health care spend is that some people will not get treated for some conditions. But I think that will happen whatever system of funding is in place - back to my point at the beginning of this comment: the electorate are being lied to about what will be provided and its cost.


With all due respect, Terry, you're making a generalization with which few people would argue: politicians lie to voters. Nothing earth-shattering about that. However, my point was about the specifics of the article which bases its argument on a statistical sample(!) of two election results (US and France) and proceeds to misrepresent the facts surrounding at least one of them!

I would also disagree with your suggested comparison of NHS administration costs vs. Medicare administration costs. I'm sure you're correct that NHS costs are rising but some would legitimately argue (as the Commons Health Select Committee did) that a large part of that is due to the introduction of "market forces" into the NHS (though, I'm sure critics would argue it's not a real market). Additionally, the NHS is publicly funded and provided whereas Medicare is publicly funded and privately provided. Which is why the comparison of Medicare vs. US private insurers is relevant because the differentiating factor is public vs. private funding. Of course, on other measures, such as spending per capita or as a percentage of GDP, the UK is also in a much better position than the US (hence my remark that the US wishes it had the UK's healthcare cost problems).

Finally, I take issue with your claim that the "logical conclusion of cutting state health care spend is that some people will not get treated for some conditions." Firstly, "not get treated for some conditions" in the Ron Paul scenario means "die unnecessarily" so let's not dress it up in a euphemism, shall we? Secondly, although it is a possible outcome, it's not a "logical conclusion" (e.g. getting rid of "managers" or choosing to drop a new expensive drug that has poor patient outcomes would result in reduced costs but not necessarily a deterioration in quality). You're also assuming that the funding mechanism is irrelevant because costs have to be cut either way. But this is a false choice: you might equally set an objective that costs can rise but must do so more slowly than GDP. And on this measure again, the Single-Payer system is more effective than the fragmented private market.
Again, the larger point is that Paul had to dodge the question (as it seems you are doing) because the reality of a Libertarian society would be more dystopian than they care to admit.

The comments to this entry are closed.