I’m sure it’s just a coincidence

This post was written by Owen on March 22, 2011
Posted Under: Public Sector

BBC headlines today:

A better-funded, better-staffed NHS coinciding with more people being happy with the care it provides? My god. It’s almost like there’s some kind of ‘causal relationship’ between how well you fund and staff a public organisation and the quality of service which it offers. But I’m sure that’s just crazy talk.

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Reader Comments

Owain Shave

I’v said it before, I’ll say it again. Correlation does not imply causation. It doesn’t preclude it, doesn’t imply it, just kind of nudges and winks at it.

#1 
Written By Owain Shave on March 22nd, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

…and if you believe David Hume, it doesn’t even do that. Yes, I know. However, I’m prepared to believe the BMA on this one: http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d1836.full

#2 
Written By Owen on March 22nd, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

For me, the question is not whether spending more money on public services can make them employ more people, or deliver a better public service. The questions are: Is that improvement the best we can get for that sum of money? Would that money be better spent in a different way, on something else? Or would it be better to just let taxpayers keep some more of their money? Seeing as how they’re the ones who worked for it in the first place.

#3 
Written By Owain on March 22nd, 2011 @ 11:45 pm
JWA

I suppose Owain the question I would ask is: Would they have been in a position to earn that money without the foundation of a functioning public sector safeguarding their opportunities for legal recourse, keeping them and their customers healthy and able to work – and making sure that the lower paid – and even unemployed members of society – are still in some position to buy the produce your taxpayers have diligently worked to create?

Rather than say – having them end up living in tents – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1159677/Pictured-The-credit-crunch-tent-city-returned-haunt-America.html

#4 
Written By JWA on March 23rd, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

With regard to letting taxpayers keep ‘their’ money: what Jimmy said, though I’d also go further and point out that someone’s right to keep the money they earn is as much a legal and political construct as the government’s right to tax said money (what with it being government that enforces the law on property rights).

However, as to Owain’s main point – I don’t disagree in principle. Of course everyone wants money spent as efficiently as possible, and for none to be wasted – a big state isn’t an end in itself (although, humans being fallible and big organisations being…well, big, there will always be waste; we might be able to reduce it from its current level, but it’s never going to be eradicated). This post wasn’t trying to dispute that. I was making the point that sometimes, if you want a service to improve, so it can do stuff (like hire more staff) that makes it work better – and it’s not hard to see how 25% more GPs, for example, are likely to improve the standard of healthcare people get.

#5 
Written By Owen on March 23rd, 2011 @ 7:47 pm

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