Detlev Schlichter has published an impressive essay on the correct size and proper function of the state. I will highlight further aspects of it in future posts, perhaps along with an explanation of why I am not yet prepared to make the leap to anarcho-capitalism.
For now, here is an excerpt that nicely complements the article by Jamie Whyte featured in my previous post:
Britain’s National Health Service will never deliver a satisfactory service. This is not because the people who work in it are incompetent or lazy. They could be the most motivated, devoted and well-meaning people on the planet and they could still only deliver suboptimal results and do so at considerable cost. Why? Because the NHS has to deliver health services for an entire nation without the help of true market prices and profit and loss accounting. These are the tools of capitalism that – day in and day out – allow the private sector to make informed decisions about best resource use – ‘informed’ because reflecting the preferences and wishes of the customers, the consumers.
Despite the widespread sentimental attachment to the NHS and its superficially appealing motto of delivering health care “free of charge” (obviously not true for the majority of citizens), the fundamental shortcomings of any service organized along socialist lines should be glaringly obvious to anyone: While the still fairly unrestricted private mobile phone industry in Britain delivers the latest advances in telecommunications technology to people across the entire social spectrum with remarkable speed and at constantly falling prices, the nationalized health service bureaucracy has people wait in line even for many routine and long-established procedures and provides such service at ever more staggering cost to the taxpayer.
That health service and education are too important to be left to the private market is a common prejudice that puts economic logic on its head: Because they are important they should be allowed to employ the tools of the private market.