Ten Miles Square


July 06, 2012 3:00 PM Arrogance and Mediocrity

By Mark Kleiman

I’m on my way back to LA tomorrow after a quick trip to London. Today included a meeting with a senior figure in the crime-policy world here, who was reflecting on how hard it is to improve the British police service. He identified, as a central problem, what he called “BPW”: the need to start every speech about policing and crime with the (by now transparently false) statement that the UK has the “best police in the world.”

That reminded me of the American health care debate, where the opponents of progress always start out with the (again, transparently false) claim that the U.S. has the best health care system in the world, when in fact it’s a notable under-performer, despite its astounding financial bloat. We certainly have the best-paid hospital directors and health-insurance CEO’s in the world, and the best-paid specialists in invasive procedures. But it’s hardly the best system from the viewpoint of the patient’s wallet or the patient’s lifespan.

It’s the old story: the first step in fixing something is noticing that it’s broken.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-based Community]

Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at the University of California Los Angeles.


  • sue rn on July 07, 2012 10:09 AM:

    i would go even further. we do NOT have a healthcare system and that is the crux of the problem.

    a system would have priorities and policies that protect EVERYONE EQUALLY-not stratified by income or age or who your "carrier" (chosen by your boss happens to be.

    the aca is a baby step in the right direction. MEDICARE FOR ALL wold be the establishment of an American Healthcare System