Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Stopping the Singapore health care fantasy

Well, I don't think I have ever read a better explanation of the Singaporean health care system than that by Ezra Klein at Vox.

And what is excellent about it is that it makes something clear that I've been muttering here for a couple of years - it's actually kind of ridiculous that some of the the American Conservative or Libertarian Right keep talking about it as if it is something Americans can emulate.  As Klein explains carefully, all they are doing is pointing to one or two elements of it, the ones that align with their personal responsibility ideology, while completely ignoring the big picture that it only can work that way in Singapore because of an enormous amount of government control and intervention.   (And not only that, but it is comparing what one tiny city State can achieve when it is setting up a system from scratch, in a population with high trust in government, and laws which control many things somewhat relevant to heath services - such as high taxes on alcohol, the low use of cars and preventing gun ownership.) 

I think it is really a fantasy that America will be able to emulate Singapore in any substantial way at all, and the reason why is because of the fundamental ideology of the same American Right that keeps on oo-ing and ah-ing about how good Singapore looks.  (I should add - there is also the practical matter of whether it is really in any way practically possible to un-do the long standing American system completely enough to be able to revamp it in the image of Singapore.)

It's also somewhat akin to my other complaint of even longer standing - about the libertarian inclined who have been simplistically praising for years the Portuguese decriminalisation of drug use, while completely ignoring that the system there (with its potential to force users into rehabilitation) is quite contra libertarianism.  Sure, the American Right might learn one lesson from that - that their beloved compulsory sentencing and such like is too harsh and probably counterproductive for small time users - but they are also the side of politics least likely to endorse (or fund) compulsory rehabilitation services on principle.

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