Debate Magazine

Dunning Kuger, Adam Smith, Competition and the NHS

Posted on the 22 April 2015 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

We had an interesting debate on here recently which drifted into a discussion about the efficiency of NHS and related matters.
At the time one of my antagonist quoted Adam Smith. And at that time I did not have the facts to hand although I was sure that he was wrong and therefore I did not engage in that piece of the discussion. This is the Dunning Kruger effect.
The quote concerned was the one where AS states something on the lines of "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices."
This is often used by lefties to justify that regulation of free enterprise is necessary as otherwise 'market failure' will ensue and capitalists will compound to overcharge by creating monopolies and cartels.
I returned to Wealth of Nations to remind myself why this was not what AS had in mind. In fact this is part of his argument against regulations. In that what these businessmen are seeking is for the State to erect rules and regulations to protect them from competition.
Which brings us back to the NHS. Efficient it may or may not be. Personally, I think that measuring how 'efficient' it is in comparison with other probably inefficient health care systems proves nothing. AS would argue that what is need to make health care 'efficient' is less special rules favouring special interest groups, doctors say, and more competition. In other words it is not money, it is structures that are holding back efficient heath care.

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