Mises Wire

The UK Blood Scandal Exposes British Elites

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The United Kingdom’s political landscape has been rocked once again by yet another scandal. This scandal relates to tainted blood that was given to unsuspecting patients leaving them permanently horribly ill. This scandal is different from other more recent scandals; it has been known for decades that this has been happening, yet nothing has been done by successive governments on all sides of the political spectrum. As libertarians, we know why this is the case, but unsurprisingly it has completely escaped the minds of those within the British political mainstream.

The response to this crisis from those in the media through to our elected politicians is a real revelation, so Id like to focus on that in this piece. The shallow level of thought that has gone into the analysis of why the scandal occurred backed up everything I already knew about our political elites. There comes a point where I should not be surprised, but they keep surprising me.

The report caused quite the stir in the political arena since it has had such a huge impact on hundreds of people as well as revealed just how evil successive governments acted, but the reaction provides good insight into how it happened. Starting with some comments made on the Politics Live show: Jo Coburn, the host of Politics Live, deflected in response to Reem Ibrahim, who was attempting to make the point that the state being as big and bureaucratic as it is creates the incentive for political actors to cover up the scandal, saying, The shock is that it happened. . . . Whether private or public, these things shouldn’t occur, yet they keep occurring.

This is a case of mainstream actors being technically correct but entirely missing the substance. The whole point of the discussion is to find out why it happened. Reem was offering the right response—namely, that the incentives for state actors to cover up embarrassing and incredibly damaging scandals are at levels you would never witness in the private sector—yet Jo completely avoided that conversation. The mainstream is utterly allergic to any discussion that may lead to criticism of the state and its many overbearing, yet wildly cherished, bodies.

Furthermore, it became clear that the Labor Leader of the House of the Lords was also uncomfortable with Reem’s response and attempted to interrupt, stating, Water companies covered things up. . . . Private companies fail as well. This is intriguing because, if she understood the point Reem was making, she would realize that her response was entirely redundant. Libertarians will never claim that private companies never fail, or that they are fully altruistic, but the state apparatus has an entirely different framework with incentives that lead to cover-ups that, if they happened in a private company, would force it to go out of business. The incentive structure for the state versus a private company is a comparison of apples and oranges, yet the Labor Leader of the House of Lords has fully displayed her lack of knowledge that this is the case.

The Guardian member of the panel mentioned how it’s quite refreshing that the two main political parties are working together on the response to the scandal and provide the compensation the victims deserve, stating, You can get a lot more consensus, a lot more agreement between the two major parties who will work together to do the right thing. Continuing further, he suggests that both parties feel a collective guilt, thus they are displaying a form of collective responsibility, the implication being that this is a good outcome. Nothing could be analyzed in a more lightweight manner. What has been one of the major shocks of this scandal? It has been that both political parties have sought to prevent their own blushes and sidestep responsibility; this fact alone should inject all serious analysts with a healthy amount of skepticism about the fact that both political parties have a consensus on the response.

Responsibility for the actions in this scandal should fall entirely on the individuals inculcated, yet the burden will fall entirely on the taxpayers who bear no responsibility. The victims will receive monetary compensation for the horrors they endured, but this money will come from taxation, so the perpetrators of the scandal have managed to avoid any just responsibility. The reality of the Guardian member’s comments is that he is pleased that the two major parties are offering their apologies whilst making the taxpayer cover the cost of compensation. How refreshing. The problem is that it will most likely have not crossed his mind that this is what it means, and that is why the response to this scandal is more revealing. The lack of intellectual thought from those in the mainstream has been fully exposed; the emperor has no clothes.

The scandal revealed so much more. The victims are told that they will receive compensation from the state for the harm caused; in other words, the state will take responsibility. As has been established through the analysis of the Guardian member’s comments, the actual responsibility will be on the taxpayer, so when state actors say the state will take responsibility, in practice they mean everyone else apart from the people who should bear full responsibility. Attention is brought to this point because it shows very clearly that the public has accepted this framework as normal and appropriate. The fact that the public has accepted this logic means that the effort of public intellectuals to convince the people that the state and the population it governs are somehow the same thing has worked incredibly well. Listening to the responses from those within the political mainstream is incredibly valuable (in moderation) because it teaches you so much about how they think about political, economic, and philosophical issues. Unfortunately, it has revealed the mountain that libertarians need to climb to change people’s minds is truly enormous.

The events of the scandal were horrific. Multiple families were affected in ways that one cannot even begin to understand, but if we do not learn the proper lessons from these events then we are doomed to repeat them. I fear that this sort of scandal will repeat many times in the future. The mainstream response to the scandal exposed the lack of thought that goes through the minds of those in positions of power, our supposed public intellectuals.

It further exposed the almost psychotic need for both major parties to defend the National Health Service (NHS) as they interrupt any talk of criticism to robustly defend the bravery and courage of the workers in the NHS. But the problem is, no one ever questioned that, in fact, most criticisms of the NHS come with endless disclaimers that they are not criticizing the individuals working within it. The fact is that state bureaucracy breeds corruption, and the NHS is one of the biggest bureaucracies in the UK. If the NHS is beyond criticism, then the scandals will keep on coming. Furthermore, there will be no progress while the mainstream refuses to think properly about how this scandal occurred.

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