The NHS rations In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with Long Waiting Times while Abortions are Readily Available

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 2nd, 2012

Week in Review

There may be no waiting list for abortions.  But there is a waiting list for In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).  Even though both come with obvious time limits on these treatments.  Wait too long and you’ll either have a baby.  Or it may be too late for you to have a baby (see Third of women with right to IVF rejected by GPs who don’t know enough about fertility treatment by Sophie Borland posted 8/27/2012 on the Daily Mail).

One in three women are being refused IVF on the NHS even though they have the right to treatment, a report has found.

Health trusts are routinely denying treatment for women despite the fact they are eligible under official guidelines from health watchdog NICE.

Even if women are referred for IVF, many are forced to wait more than two years for it to start during which time the chance of success dwindles as their bodies age…

Recently a major study ranked Britain near the bottom of a European league table on spending for fertility treatment with even Serbia, Montenegro and Slovakia paying more to help childless couples…

The NHS also pays for abortions.  If the NHS wanted to improve their long-term financial outlook they’d transfer more of their current abortion funding to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) funding.  Because there is only one thing that will solve budget woes in countries with aging populations.  More babies.  Because babies are future taxpayers.

On a side note it is interesting how the NHS works on both sides of the birth/abortion issue.  They administer medical treatment to restore a normal biological function.  And they administer medical treatment to terminate a normal biological function.  (Though there appears to be less waiting times for an abortion.)  Making the birth/abortion issues a complex issue indeed.  And one we’ll probably never see resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.  Apart from the moral issues the economics of the issue are interesting.  Those who favor abortion also favor large government spending.  And it is their most sacred cause, abortion, which is preventing the continued growth in that government spending.  Because it eliminates future taxpayers.

All right, back to topic.  So why are they making it so difficult to get IVF in the NHS?  Well, you probably figured that out based on the previous two paragraphs.  Money.

Susan Seenan, of the charity Infertility Network UK, said: ‘It’s shocking and blatantly wrong. Primary care trusts are just trying to ration treatment…

‘We know the NHS has limited resources but all couples want is to be treated fairly…’

In fact, 45 per cent of couples who responded ended up paying for the treatment privately as the waiting lists were too long.

IVF normally costs between £3,000 and £4,000 but nearly a quarter of those who went private paid more than £10,000 for the treatment, according to the survey.

It’s that aging population and a generous welfare state set up during a time before widespread use of birth control and abortion.  They built a pyramid scheme.  Where the people at the top, those drawing the majority of benefits, grew at a lesser rate than those at the bottom.  The young and healthy workers entering the workforce.  Based on these assumptions there would always have been an increasing amount of money coming into the government (even without raising tax rates) to pay for the few drawing generous state benefits (in particular pensions and health care for the retirees).  But that all changed when women stopped having the babies the state planners assumed they would have.  So with a baby-bust generation following the baby-boom generation you get an aging population.  And large budget deficits.

Whose fault is it?  It certainly isn’t the seniors.  Or the women who stopped having babies.  It’s the state planners who created an unsustainable welfare state.  Because they are the ones who created the great Ponzi scheme to pass the costs for one generation to another generation.  This is wrong.  Even if it worked when there was a growing population growth rate.  Because the future is uncertain.  Things change.  Like family sizes.  And life-spans.  Another thing the state planners never saw coming.  None of this would have been a problem if government allowed each generation to take care of themselves.  Because a family bases their decisions on their economic circumstances.  So they live within their means.  They save their money and exercise frugality in their spending.  But when you pass your costs on to a later generation you don’t save as much or exercise as much frugality.  Because you don’t have to.

As time passes and the number of new taxpayers gets smaller the government raises tax rates.  Leaving taxpayers with less.  Making it harder to support themselves.  Which leaves them little choice but to demand more from government.  Which only makes the problem worse.  Making some couples wait years for IVF.  Because with their tax rates they can’t afford to go outside of the welfare state for treatment.

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Drill, Baby, Drill works well in Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 29th, 2012

Week in Review

So if we drill, baby, drill for oil everywhere it won’t do a thing to lower oil prices.  According to the Obama administration.  Besides, we’ll just export the oil (or refined gasoline) anyway.  So what’s the point?  Well, here’s a thought.  Oil prices are high.  So if the U.S. drilled for oil everywhere and exported all of that oil it may not impact the price of gasoline (though most rational people believe it would) here’s something else that could come from it (see Petrodollar profusion posted 4/28/2012 on The Economist).

FIRST, the good news: China, the country at the centre of the debate about global imbalances, has a current-account surplus that has fallen sharply over the past few years. Now the bad: China was never really the prime culprit when it comes to imbalances at the global level. The biggest counterpart to America’s current-account deficit is the combined surplus of oil-exporting economies, which have enjoyed a huge windfall from high oil prices (see left-hand chart). This year the IMF expects them to run a record surplus of $740 billion, three-fifths of which will come from the Middle East. That will dwarf China’s expected surplus of $180 billion. Since 2000 the cumulative surpluses of oil exporters have come to over $4 trillion, twice as much as that of China…

The most effective policy tool to reduce oil exporters’ current-account surpluses is public spending, and investment in particular because of its high import content. Increased public spending could also help these economies diversify away from oil. That would support their future economic development and create more private-sector jobs for young, growing populations. To maintain social stability, many of these governments need to spend more on education, health care, housing and welfare benefits. Some oil producers, such as Russia and Nigeria, are running fairly balanced budgets, but the governments of the Gulf states are awash with cash. Since 2005 Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE have increased public spending by 7-8 percentage points of GDP. Even so, the three countries are expected to run an average budget surplus of over 15% this year. That leaves plenty of room to be a little more spendthrift.

Europe, Japan and the United States are suffering under huge budget deficits and trade deficits.  Their aging populations and the pensions and health care for them is threatening the solvency of these nations.  Who have no choice but to raise taxes and borrow ever more money to pay these obligations.  You know who doesn’t have these problems?  Those big oil-exporting economies.  Who are “awash with cash.”  Unlike Europe, Japan or the United States.  Seems to me that it’s better to be “awash with cash” than to be mired in debt.

So drill, baby, drill I say.  Let’s have the same problem the oil exporters are having.  Too much cash.  We could eliminate income taxes.  AND pay all our Social Security and Medicare obligations.  As well as all the education and women’s health programs you desired.  Wouldn’t that be nice?  I mean who would be opposed to that?  Except, of course, the Obama administration.  Because according to them there is nothing to gain from putting more oil onto the market during record prices.  Too bad our president isn’t as much a free market capitalist as they are in Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE.

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A Glimpse of Obamacare through the Death of a Child in the NHS

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 8th, 2012

Week in Review

The problem with health care everywhere is twofold.  Our aging populations.  And our longer life spans that allow people to have more illnesses.  So improvements in medicine are compounding the problem.  By allowing people to live longer so they can consume more medical services.  And unlike manufacturing we can’t use new technology to increase efficiencies.  At least not yet.  So the only way to control costs is to spend less.  Treating only those who are sick.  And sending those who are not quickly on their way.  A health care triage system.  Where they quickly weed out the non-sick to make room for the sick.  To make sure they don’t waste their limited funds and services on those who don’t need it. 

It works well on paper.  But it has one serious drawback in practice.  The ‘assembly line’ triage can only catch the glaringly obvious.  Like a missing leg.  Or blood squirting out of a cut artery.  But if everything looks okay on the outside and the standard tests come back negative, doctors can discharge a patient.  Missing something a little more rare and unusual.  Like dehydration and kidney failure in an otherwise healthy child (see Doctors failed to spot toddler’s fatal illness on THREE occasions before he died by Jill Reilly posted 4/6/2012 on the Daily Mail).

A devastated mother is demanding to find out why her young son died after medics sent him home three times in less than two weeks. 

Harry Connolly died of dehydration and acute kidney failure after medics repeatedly failed to diagnose his illness…

Mrs Connolly said: ‘The fact remains that Harry died as a result of dehydration and acute renal failure despite being admitted to hospital twice and attended by an out-of-hours doctor in the space of just five days.

‘He would have survived if he’d remained in hospital from 26 April and fully rehydrated, he would have survived had he been readmitted on 28 April, and would have survived had the out-of-hours doctor referred him to be readmitted on 29 April.

Suppose the doctors admitted a similar child who proved not to be sick.  Taking a bed in pediatrics.  Taking a doctor away from other patients.  Taking nurses away from those more ill.  Taking up time on diagnostic equipment that they could have used on others actually ill.  Perhaps pushing back someone else in line.  Who may die because of the delay.  Then the doctor responsible for admitting a healthy child has to stand before an administrator.  To explain the waste of resources.  The death of a patient they couldn’t save thanks to the waste of said resources.  And the unnecessary expense of all those tests on a healthy child.  Exceeding the department’s budget.

Sadly, these are real concerns for those in the health care industry today.  Especially in national health care systems.  Like Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).  That are bursting at the seams because of the explosion in costs because of that aging population.  And their longer lives.  Taxing available resources so much that doctors have to carefully ration health care services.  To make sure that they are available for the patients who need them most.

This is the world of national health care.  Where you try to take care of everyone.  With resources that can’t save everyone.  Where the rationing of services leaves some to die.  And causes others to die that they could have saved had they only spent a few more moments on their diagnosis.  So if you want a glimpse into the world of Obamacare, here it is.  It will be like the NHS.  Only bigger.  And because it’s bigger it won’t be as good as the NHS.  Which is the problem with health care for everyone.  We don’t have resources to cover everyone in a national system.  Because the bureaucracy to run it will consume so much of the budget.  Requiring some sort of triage system.  Or death panels.  To ration those limited services.  To choose who to save.  And who to send home.  To let nature take its course.

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Japan’s Population is Aging just like in Europe and the U.S., Deficits and Debt may soon be Unsustainable

Posted by PITHOCRATES - February 19th, 2012

Week in Review

Liberal Democrats have never worried about the long-term consequences of high government spending.  High deficits.  And growing debt.  And their ‘go to’ example they like to go to is Japan.  During the Eighties government partnered with business.  Their economy boomed.  And they started buying up U.S. landmark assets.  People began to worry that Japan would one day own the United States.  National Lampoon magazine had a cover showing a Japanese executive as the president of the United States, a wholly owned subsidiary of some Japanese corporation.  Liberals looked at all of this and said that’s how you run an economy.  And the Americans were fools for not doing the same thing.

Then the Nineties came.  And a deflationary spiral that continues to this day.  All of that government interference with the market created bubbles.  And they eventually burst.  But as their economy contracted they did not cut back on their government spending.  Which brings us back to Japan being the poster-child for liberal Democrats.  “See?” they say.  “Japan has some of the highest government spending in the world and they’re doing just fine.  Japanese debt is some of the safest debt out there.  So we don’t need to worry about high deficits or high debt.  Because it’s not harming the Japanese any.”  But that may be changing soon (see Japan slowly wakes up to doomsday debt risk by Reuters posted 2/19/2012 on the Vancouver Sun).

Capital flight, soaring borrowing costs, tanking currency and stocks and a central bank forced to pump vast amounts of cash into local banks — that is what Japan may have to contend with if it fails to tackle its snowballing debt…

The government borrows more than it raises in taxes, and its debt pile amounts to two years’ worth of Japan’s economic output, the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world.

It costs Japan half of the country’s tax income just to service its debt. Each year, Japan’s debt level increases by more than the combined gross domestic product of Greece and Portugal…

Conventional wisdom is that Japan is safe as long as it keeps covering about 95 per cent of its borrowing needs at home…

What sets Japan apart from Europe’s crisis-hit nations is that it borrows almost exclusively at home and with domestic savings of some 1,500 trillion yen ($19 trillion) it can do it paying less than one per cent for 10-year bonds…

Budget arithmetic and demographics suggest that it will take another decade before Japan’s swelling ranks of retirees will begin to run down their vast savings to the point where Tokyo will need to start borrowing more from overseas lenders…

… Over decades of virtually single-party rule, Japan developed a system where expertise and formulation of policies would be the domain of elite bureaucrats rather than elected politicians…

Sakuma estimates the sales tax would need to go to 25 per cent or more to close the financing gap built up over the past 20 years when Japan failed to respond to rising costs associated with rapid aging by adjusting taxes and social security premiums.

Even tax hikes on such a scale will fail to reduce the debt burden if Japan remains stuck in deflation and anemic growth, he warns. “If we stay in this situation, this amount is never repayable. It’s just impossible…”

The problem Japan is having is the same problem Europe is having.  And the United States.  We all have aging populations.  Because we all also have a declining birth rate.  We have fewer people entering the workforce than we have leaving the workforce.  And that’s a problem when you provide a lot of government benefits.  Especially in retirement.  Such as pensions.  And health care.  Because you pay for benefits with taxes.  And you collect taxes from working people.  And when fewer people work guess what?  Tax revenue falls.

These government benefits were set up in a time when there were low tax rates.  And when people were having a lot of babies.  But as government gave out more benefits taxes went up.  It became more expensive to live.  And to raise a family.  So people had fewer babies.  And long story short we are where we are today.

Japan had some of the highest saving rates in the world.  Which has allowed them to build up the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in the world.  Well that.  And elite government bureaucrats.  Who were so smart that they knew what they were doing.  Just like liberal Democrats in the U.S.  And their counterparts in the social democracies of Europe.  They are so smart that they, too, want to run their economies.  And here we all are.  Countries with elite bureaucrats running their economies.  All facing some level of economic and financial collapse.

Perhaps it’s time to go back to first principles.  To Adam Smith.  And John Locke.  Put the people back in control of the government.  Get the government out of the economy.  And let the invisible hand do its magic.  Like it did before elite government bureaucrats mucked everything up.

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