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Home / Tim Worstall /It’s such fun watching a myth being created

It’s such fun watching a myth being created

Summary:
Fun to watch the attempt, as long as none of us succumb. As Will Hutton states:The first issue would surely have been the need to build a resilient public health system capable of handling pandemics effectively; it is the precondition for all economic and social life.Local and city government simply has to be more empowered to act, with systematic access to data, on the German model; and, like Germany, the diagnostic capacity has to be built within the public sector rather than run by an uncoordinated jumble of private subcontractors, often party donors.This being myth creation rather than a description of reality. Well, it’s Will Hutton, so it will be. In the US the testing problem was that the CDC insisted upon creating its own test, then banning anyone from using any other - despite

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Fun to watch the attempt, as long as none of us succumb. As Will Hutton states:

The first issue would surely have been the need to build a resilient public health system capable of handling pandemics effectively; it is the precondition for all economic and social life.

Local and city government simply has to be more empowered to act, with systematic access to data, on the German model; and, like Germany, the diagnostic capacity has to be built within the public sector rather than run by an uncoordinated jumble of private subcontractors, often party donors.

This being myth creation rather than a description of reality. Well, it’s Will Hutton, so it will be. In the US the testing problem was that the CDC insisted upon creating its own test, then banning anyone from using any other - despite their managing to infect their own test kits with Covid-19. A little later the FDA even banned the taking of swabs via home testing kits.

Here in the UK PHE tried something very similar. There must be that central control by the bureaucracy. Germany, on the other hand, went entirely in the other direction. Private companies - here the description is of one that normally does colon cancer tests - fiddled around and tried to see what worked in testing. Some 300 labs, private, public, university and charity, jumped in to multiply the capacity of what was proven to work. This is not a description of a centrally controlled testing system - Bosch is not generally known as a public sector enterprise.. This is a description of market processes. Wild experimentation by whomever followed by the adoption more generally of what is proven to work.

Will Hutton is insistent that a world run by people like Will Hutton will be a better world. We’ll agree it would be a better one for people like Will Hutton but balk at the idea that it would be better for anyone else. This example of pandemic testing systems being just that, an example of our argument.

Because what works out there in the real world is exactly the opposite of what Hutton recommends. Decentralisation and markets are the correct response to uncertainty, not centralised bureaucracies. And we shouldn’t allow the myth to be created that the German system - the one that worked - was anything other than that decentralisation and markets.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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