The british national health service: Lessons from the "socialist calculation debate"

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 28 (3):307 – 326 (2003)
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The "Socialist Calculation Debate" is little known outside the economics profession, yet this inter-war debate between liberal and socialist economists on the practical feasibility of socialism has important implications for all contemporary public sector bureaucracies. This article applies the Mises-Hayek critique of central planning that emerged from this debate to the crisis presently facing the British National Health Service. The Mises-Hayek critique suggests that the UK government's plan for a renewal of the National Health Service will fail because of the epistemological pathologies that face any centrally planned system. It is argued that the key lesson of the Socialist Calculation Debate is that market prices and private property rights are essential for the efficient allocation of resources and the attainment of the best possible health outcomes.



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