From Institute of Economic Affairs <[email protected]>
Subject Wizards of Oz?
Date August 8, 2021 8:00 AM
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Imagine a parallel universe in which the NHS had never been created. What would healthcare in Britain look like today? Would we have to live in permanent fear of being bankrupted by medical bills? Would we have a system in which the rich get luxury healthcare, while the poor get Wild West medicine?

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Almost certainly not. As I show in my new IEA report Wizards of Oz? ([link removed]) , there is a plausible counterfactual for a world without the NHS: Australia. In Australia, healthcare initially evolved along British lines. In the immediate postwar period, the two countries were in a very similar place. From then on, however, they diverged sharply. Britain went for a wholesale nationalisation of the entire health sector, while Australia went for more gradual reforms within the system they inherited.

Today, seven decades on, Australia’s private-public hybrid system outperforms ours in most respects, including survival rates for the most common diseases – and at a lower cost to boot. Needless to say, their system also covers everybody, irrespective of ability to pay.

Should we import that system wholesale? No. What we should do is develop a bit more intellectual curiosity about potential alternatives, rather than continue this unedifying dance around the golden calf that is the NHS.

Dr Kristian Niemietz
Head of Political Economy, Institute of Economic Affairs

Kristian's report timed with the release of the Commonwealth Fund ([link removed]) 's annual study of healthcare systems. This year the NHS slipped down the leader board, with the UK ranking ninth out of 11 countries in healthcare outcomes.

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In his new paper, ‘Wizards of Oz? What the UK can learn from Australia’s healthcare system ([link removed]) ’, Kristian examines the Australian healthcare system, which beats the NHS across a number of key metrics, urging policymakers to look to better performing models if we are to improve health outcomes in this country.

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Writing for The Telegraph ([link removed]) , Kristian argues that we should stop treating the NHS as "a golden calf that we must all dance around, and profess loyalty to" and not shy away from comparing our system with others around the world, as we do with other areas of policy, such as pensions, schools and universities.

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In an article for CapX ([link removed]) , Kristian explained that the takeaway message from his report is not that we should ditch the NHS, and import the Australian system wholesale instead. The point of the paper is to show that there are some interesting alternatives out there, that some of those produce remarkably good results, and that we would benefit from knowing a little bit more about them.

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In an interview with Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRadio, Kristian noted that Australia spends less on their healthcare system but gets better results. You can download Kristian's paper here ([link removed]) .

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Cross Question... On Tuesday, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood took part in a Cross Question debate on LBC. Panelists included two regular listeners and the Green Party's Sian Berry.

The panel took questions from the public, discussing illegal immigration, the Northern Ireland Protocol, the prospect of an SNP-Green Party coalition in Scotland, and taking the knee. You can watch the full episode here ([link removed]) .

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Corbyn rehash... This week, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer announced his plans to spend £30billion on creating 400,000 new jobs in the low carbon economy. He argued this would enable the UK to "lead by example" in the fight against the ongoing climate crisis.

But as IEA Chief Operating Officer Andy Mayer pointed out in the Daily Express ([link removed]) , this amounts to £75,000 for each job, will likely destroy more jobs than it creates, and is a "straight rehash" of Jeremy Corbyn's 2018 plan to 'kickstart a green jobs revolution'.

Andy also responded to reports that Ofgem is expected to raise the energy price cap, which he argued is "a crude attempt to second-guess the market and will continue to backfire". You can read his full comments here ([link removed]) .

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Cost of Net Zero... It was reported this week that the Prime Minister is planning to push back the ban on gas boilers, due to growing backlash over the cost of reducing our emissions.

In her column for Conservative Home ([link removed]) , IEA Head of Media Emily Carver questioned the government's strategy to achieve Net Zero, arguing the public is unlikely to take kindly to a dramatic, government-imposed reduction in their living standards and hikes to their cost of living.

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Kebabs for jabs... According to reports, young people may be be offered cinema tickets, taxi tides and fast food in return for getting their Covid jabs.

In her column for The Spectator ([link removed]-) , IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham criticised the government’s mixed messaging. Annabel argued that using fast food chain vouchers is a direct contradiction to the ‘war on junk food’ campaign, and that the prime minister could instead offer a simple cash payment.

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Back to work...This week Chancellor Rishi Sunak said that working from the office is of particular benefit to younger workers at the beginning of their careers.

Writing for CapX ([link removed]) , IEA Head of Public Affairs Emma Revell agreed with the Chancellor’s suggestion but argued the government should not intervene in how businesses decide their own working arrangements.

IEA Editorial and Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton wrote about Labour's proposals to force employers to offer flexible working to all workers on the IEA blog ([link removed]) . Len argued that while flexibility is increasingly valued by employees and some employers, it should not be mandated by government.

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Last month, food and medicine shortages sparked riots in Cuba, with people rallying against the communist regime. Protesters were heard chanting “We have no fear” and “Down with the dictatorship” as they staged the biggest revolt against the government for decades.

On the IEA podcast this week, IEA Communications and Marketing Assistant Kieran Neild-Ali spoke to Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz about the uprising, asking why some politicians on the left are so often apologists for Castro's revolution. They also discuss the history of the brutal regime and predict what could happen next for Cuba. You can listen back here ([link removed]) .

Are you interested in joining our growing development team? If so, we have two exciting new opportunities!

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We're looking to recruit a Head of Foundations and Trusts to join our highly motivated fundraising team, responsible for building relations with private individuals, corporations, foundations and trusts.

We're also on the hunt for a new Donor Relations Officer, who will support the development team, researching individuals and companies, supporting publications and events, and maintaining our systems.

For more information on both roles, and to apply, click here ([link removed]) . The final deadline is Sunday 22nd August.

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Applications are also open for the Autumn 2021 IEA Internship programme (27th September to 24th December 2021).

If you would like to apply, please send your CV and covering letter to Bart Popowicz, IEA Operations Officer, at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) , explaining why you would like to intern at the IEA and how you would benefit the team.

You can find out more here ([link removed]) .

Thank you to all of you who have already signed up to become an IEA Online Patron. Becoming a Patron grants you VIP access to our latest videos, priority invites to our virtual events, and the opportunity to engage directly with IEA Director General Mark Littlewood and the IEA team. For just a small donation you can get all these benefits and more.

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To visit the page and find out more about the IEA’s Patreon, follow the link here ([link removed]) or watch our trailer here ([link removed]) .

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What limits, if any, should there be to free speech? Should we criminalise speech deemed extreme?

In the latest in our free speech series, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton speaks to Dr Nick Cowen, Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Lincoln.

Nick has written a chapter in the IEA's new book 'Having Your Say ([link removed]) '. He focuses on extreme speech and the extent to which society should tolerate it. You can catch up on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

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Former Labour MP Ruth Kelly gave a talk at this year's THINK conference on why policymakers often ignore economics. You can now watch it on the IEA YouTube channel here ([link removed]) .

Ruth spent seven years as a Government minister, most of those in the Cabinet, covering various portfolios, including transport and education.

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In this week's Markets and Morality IEA Head of Public Affairs Emma Revell speaks to the winner and runner up of the Richard Koch Breakthrough Prize.

Timothy Foxley and Michael Dnes took home £50,000 and £10,000 respectively for their contributions to the policy debate surrounding the government's levelling up agenda.

Many 'solutions' to the problem seem to involve throwing public money at northern towns and cities, often with strings attached. Timothy and Michael discuss their prize winning ideas with Emma as she asks "Can levelling up be done in a free-market way?" You can watch here ([link removed]) .
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On Monday, the IEA hosted the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Conservative Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North, for the latest in our In Conversation series with senior figures in public life. The event took place in-person at the IEA office in Westminster. You can catch up on the lively discussion here ([link removed]) .

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The IEA is working with the Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham on the delivery of an MA in Political Economy by Research.

The programme can be completed by distance learning and is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in the history of economic ideas and the application of economics to questions of public policy.

Online seminars will cover topics on Adam Smith; David Ricardo; John Stuart Mill; Alfred Marshall; the marginalists and neoclassical economics; Karl Marx; Friedrich Hayek and the Austrians; J.M. Keynes; James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock and public choice theory; the Frankfurt School; and behavioural economics.

For further information, please follow the link here ([link removed]) .

*Economics Thought Leaders Symposium (ETLS)

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A reminder that applications are open to attend this year's Economics Thought Leaders Symposium. ELTS is an annual three-day residential symposium, jointly hosted by The Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham and the Institute of Economic Affairs. Senior undergraduates and postgraduates are invited to apply and, for those offered a place, it is entirely free to attend – there is no charge for accommodation, food or materials.

The theme for this year’s unique and exciting programme is the Future of Economic Thinking.

There are just 16 places available on this exclusive programme. To apply please send a CV (no more than two pages) and cover letter explaining why you would like to attend (250 words) and 500 words on which economic thinker you would erect a statue for to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . The deadline for applications is 15 Aug 2021 at 23:59:59.


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