So went the headline which appeared on the BBC’s website last week, detailing the newest outrages which have emerged from Britain’s crisis-beset healthcare system. This most recent revelation came as a result of an open letter sent to the prime minister by 68 senior doctors, offering details of the inhuman conditions which have become common in the National Health Service’s hospitals.
The letter, which collected statistics from NHS hospitals in England and Wales, found that in December alone over 300,000 patients were made to wait in emergency rooms for more than four hours before being seen, with thousands more suffering long waits in ambulances before even being allowed into the emergency room. The letter further noted that it had become “routine” for patients to be left on gurneys in corridors for as long as 12 hours before being offered proper beds, with many of them eventually being put into makeshift wards hastily constructed in side-rooms. In addition to this, it was revealed that around 120 patients per day are being attended to in corridors and waiting rooms, with many being made to undergo humiliating treatments in the public areas of hospitals, and some even dying prematurely as a result. One patient reported that, having gone to the emergency room with a gynecological problem which had left her in severe pain and bleeding, a lack of treatment rooms led hospital staff to examine her in a busy corridor, in full view of other patients.
While it’s tempting to believe that these extreme cases must be a rare occurrence, the fact is that such horror stories have become increasingly the norm for a socialised healthcare system that seems to be in a permanent state of crisis. Indeed, as the NHS entered the first week of 2018, over 97% of its trusts in England were reporting levels of overcrowding so severe as to be “unsafe.”
Almost as predictable as the regular emergence of new stories of this kind is the equally unwavering refusal of British commentators to consider that the state-run monopoly structure of the system itself might be to blame. Many, including the prime minister herself, have pointed to the spike in seasonal illnesses such as the flu at this time of year, to distract from the more fundamental flaws of the system. However, officials from Public Health England recently went so far as to openly dismiss this as a major cause of the current healthcare crisis, clarifying that current levels of hospital admissions due to the flu are “certainly not unprecedented.” The aging of the population, and local councils’ failure to provide more non-hospital care have also been blamed.
By far the most commonly suggested remedy, however, is simply to inject more taxpayers’ money into this failing system. Indeed, the belief that Britain’s perpetual healthcare crisis is solely the result of funding cuts by miserly Conservative politicians is so widespread that it is almost never challenged, least of all by the trusted experts within the system itself, many of whom stand to benefit from increased funding.
However, the popular caricature of the NHS as suffering from chronic underfunding is simply a myth. In fact, even when adjusting for inflation, it is clear that government funding to the NHS has been increasing at an extraordinary rate since the turn of the millennium, much more quickly than during the early years which its supporters look back on so fondly.
China Pressuring Wall Street To Stop Trump On Trade War
If anyone still doubted President Trump’s determination to slap tariffs on all – or even more than all – Chinese goods flowing into the US, they probably don’t anymore. So far this week, the president has taken to twitter to trash his own Treasury Secretary’s efforts to restart talks with the Chinese, before Trump publicly declared on Friday that he intends to move ahead with plans to slap 25% tariffs on another $200 billion worth of goods.
Given the president’s unflinching resolve in pursuing his trade agenda, it’s understandable why a shrewd businessmen would go to great lengths to avoid getting in the middle of what looks to be a protracted geopolitical dogfight.
But unfortunately for top Wall Street firms, many of which harbor ambitions of expanding their business in China, that may no longer be an option. Because while the Trump administration has largely left them alone, the Chinese are now trying to use whatever leverage they can (i.e. preferential access to the world’s second-largest economy) to push America’s top bankers to intervene on Beijing’s behalf.
Reuters reported Friday that top Chinese officials have hastily organized an investment conference in Beijing and requested the presence of several top Wall Street firms. The conference will be chaired by former PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan and ex-Goldman Sachs President John Thornton, and feature an appearance by Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan. Dubbed “the firefighter” by the Chinese people, Quishan, in addition to being the most powerful of China’s vice presidents, is also one of the senior Communist officials involved in managing the trade dispute.
While market liberalization is certainly a priority for the Chinese, it’s difficult to imagine that these top officials are planning to attend this conference – especially with so much else going on – just to brainstorm ideas about how China can proceed with opening up its financial sector.
The subtext here is obvious: China wants to figure out who in the US financial services community can help them get through to Trump and help stop this conflict before losses in China’s currency and stock market spiral out of control. And if the carrot of access doesn’t work, China has already proven adept at leveraging the stick.
America vs China: $200 Billion in New Tariffs Coming Soon?
In the latest installment of the story that just won’t go away, the WSJ reported on Saturday that – as Bloomberg reported first yesterday – the Trump administration plans to announce new tariffs on up to $200 billion in Chinese goods as soon as Monday and otherwise “within days”, in a move that will likely render moot the high-level, U.S.-China talks set for later this month, will prompt an immediate retaliation from China, and may lead to a sharply lower futures open on Sunday night.
The silver lining in the imminent announcement is that while previously Trump had said he would proceed with a 25% tariff level, the WSJ reports that the US will start with tariffs of “around 10%.” The level was lowered “following extensive public hearings and the submission of written comments where importers and others complained of the possible impact of the duties” as well as to try to reduce the bite on American consumers ahead of the year-end holiday shopping season, these people said.
But the people familiar said that the tariff level could be raised back to 25% if Mr. Trump concludes that Beijing doesn’t soon show signs that it is acceding to U.S. demands to change its economic policies.
Furthermore, WSJ sources said that while details were still being completed over the weekend, the tariff level could change, or that Trump could change his mind entirely. As of Saturday, an announcement was planned for Monday or Tuesday.
California Has Highest Rate of Poverty in the Nation at 19%
Despite efforts by state legislators at creating a socialist utopia, California still has the highest poverty rate in the nation at 19%, despite a 1.4% decrease from last year according to the Census Bureau
Poverty and income figures released Wednesday reveal that over 7 million Californians are struggling to get by in the second most expensive state to live in, according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s 2017 Annual Cost of Living Index.
And while California has a “vigorous economy and a number of safety net programs to aid needy residents,” according to the Sacramento Bee, one out of every five residents is suffering economic hardship – which is fueled in large part by sky-high housing costs, according to Caroline Danielson, policy director at the Public Policy Institute of California.
“We do have a housing crisis in many parts of the state and our poverty rate is highest in Los Angeles County,” she said, adding that cost of living and poverty is often highest in the state’s coastal counties. “When you factor that in we struggle.”
Silicon Valley residents in particular are leaving in droves – more so than any other part of the state. Nearby San Mateo County which is home to Facebook came in Second, while Los Angeles County came in third.
“They’re looking for affordability and not finding it in Santa Clara County,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com.