Would the same ideas such as repeal of prescription laws also work in the rest of the world? Along with all the other ideas that I’ve suggested in this blog such as multiple tiers of hospitals, different levels of medical providers, along with deregulation of the professions. Of course they would! The principle is the same everywhere. More personal freedom, less government regulation. Government regulation always has “costs”. Things regulated by the government cost “more”. Say you want safer cars? So the government passes a law that cars have to have certain equipment, meet certain crash tests, everything else. The manufacturer of the car in question will of course have to charge more for the car because it has all this added equipment. It will likely also weigh more, which means less fuel mileage. So not only will the car cost more to buy, it will also cost more to use. The same principle applies to anything. Regulation never made anything “cheaper” unless it was used to break up some sort of monopoly. And generally monopolies are in one form or another first created by government. Government enforces IP laws like copyright and patent. Unfortunately IP also slows down the rate of development because it forbids the improvement of items covered under IP laws. Could someone make a better version of Microsoft Windows? No doubt. But because of IP laws, Microsoft has a legal monopoly over the Windows operating system. No one can “improve” Windows except Microsoft. Of course someone can create a new computer operating system. But the problem is that the new operating system is virtually useless to the user without software that will run on the new operating system. So the creators of software would have to modify their software to run on the new operating system. That costs money, time, and if there aren’t very many people using the new operating system, it doesn’t make economic sense to write software programs that will run on it. Not until the number of users is sufficient to make it worthwhile. This is really “why” Microsoft has a virtual “lock” on the PC despite the creation of other operating system such as Android, Google Chrome, and Linux.
The professions world wide are well “organized” through professional organizations that are modeled upon the “Guild” concept that dates back to the Middle Ages. The idea is much the same in both cases. The members of the “guild” profit at the cost of everyone else. The monopolies that they create are enforced by governments to prevent the free market in the provision of goods and services from holding down prices. Same basic idea with labor unions. Hold down the “supply” of people who can provide goods and services, and the price that can be charged for the goods and services due to lack of competition can be forced higher than what it would be under true free market conditions. This is the economic “advantage” that the “organized” always have over the “unorganized”… This sort of thing is common everywhere, in developed countries and in undeveloped countries. The “organized” enjoy higher incomes at the cost of the unorganized having lower incomes.
Additionally, as a rule, you will find that the “organized” also effectively control the government even in countries where the “people” have all the trappings of democracy. There is a good reason for this. It is to the interest of the “organized” to seek and hold control of government wherever they can. Even in the Soviet Union, the “organized” were in control of things, although they didn’t all belong to the same groups we usually have here in the “West”. It seems to be a human trait that whenever sufficient numbers of people gather together, that someone will seek to organize like minded people into forming the controlling group that effectively runs things. That gets “first choice” over whatever benefits the society can produce. In pre-industrial societies these were often the priesthood, the large land owners, and the military. Someone is always “top dog”.
While a certain level of regulations are necessary to prevent fraud and reckless actions endangering others, as a rule, the level of regulation in most societies is excessive and only serves to benefit a minority at the expense of the majority of people. Even “benefits” that governments appear to provide are with closer study, often inferior to what a person could provide for themselves. Governments do have “overhead” costs, often higher than people think. Those couple of million civil service workers the federal government employs do not come “cheap”, especially as their wages and benefits are often higher than what the same job would pay in private enterprise. Even worse, a lot of what they do tends to slow down economic development and adds unnecessary “overhead” through regulation, which in many cases appears to be done without much thought as to the eventual consequences.
So what about the European welfare states? The source of these benefits is money that is extracted from everyone working by various types of taxes. Income taxes, VAT (like sales taxes), along with other systems of taxation. Note however that they spend very little on national defense, which allows them to spend much more on their social welfare systems. Health care costs are less because medical providers are paid less, but at the same time do not have to cover the costs of their education as is the situation here in the USA. They also do have organized things more efficiently, mainly through a level of standardization so the doctor can spend more time “doctoring” and virtually no time billing insurance companies. Additionally, the problem of “malpractice” is far less, so there is less need to practice “defensive” medicine as is the case here in the US. They do restrict what their legal profession is allowed to do to a greater degree than here in the US. Seeing a primary care doctor is easier there than here, but specialists are fewer and waiting times are longer in most European nations with the exception of Germany according to what I’ve recently read. “Priceless” by John C. Goodman does cover health care in other countries. It is worth reading, just to give you an idea of an alternative way of running a health care system. He doesn’t advocate the level of deregulation that I do, but deregulation is the solution to high health care costs anywhere you care to look…
So are there any libertarians in these countries? Some, mainly due to the high taxes. It costs a lot of money to run a welfare state, and some of these countries are cutting back because they can’t continue to tax so heavily and still remain economically competitive. They are also “outsourcing” some of their labor needs to the US, because it is cheaper to build cars here in the US than it is in Germany where the labor unions are very powerful.