One of his partners in crime—and, I believe, best man at his wedding—is none other than Master Dan Hannan, with whom I have corresponded, on and off, for a little while now. I am delighted to note—having been prompted by Dan—that both of these gentlemen have discovered the wonders of Lulu.com* and are releasing a book through that medium.
The book is called The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain and is essentially a very libertarian manifesto. Dan explains...
What is needed is a completely different approach, one that tackles the root causes of high spending (ie, a bloated public sector whose chief purpose is its own expansion.) There are things that could be done to break the quango state and restore power to the citizen.
There are, of course, any number of books espousing low-spending ideas, but Carswell and Hannan have drafted in some well-disposed ex-clerks to lay out specifically how their ideas could be achieved in a single legislative session through some 30 legal acts.
And what are their proposals are? Well, here's a sample—again, in Dan's words...
- A Singapore-style system of personal health accounts. This is not an insurance based system, since insurance has the same flaw as the NHS, namely that no one has any incentive to seek value for money. The doctor is in the same position as the builder who looks at your flooded kitchen and says, "insurance job is it, guv’nor?" before quoting his price.
Our scheme does have a mandatory insurance component against catastrophe: getting MS, say. But this is a genuine insurance model, in the sense that most people will never need to access it, so premiums can be kept low. The rest of the account goes on day-to-day foreseeable healthcare needs.
Singapore has a healthier population than the UK, despite spending less than half of what we do, not least because its system incentivises prevention over cure.
- US-style welfare reform: ie, devolving social security to counties and cities, letting local authorities discern who are the deserving cases, and letting them keep any savings.
- Allowing parents to opt out of state education, carrying with them a financial entitlement equivalent to what would have been spent on their child by the LEA.
- Devolution of power to the lowest possible level: ideally the individual but, where this is impossible, the village or county.
Which will of course mean replacing EU membership with a Swiss-style free trade deal: you can’t decentralize power in Britain while centralizing it in Brussels.
On the subject of Switzerland, we also want blocking referendums, allowing people to gather a certain number of signatures and force any new Bill to be submitted to the people. This rarely has to be activated in Switzerland as the very knowledge of its existence serves to deter lawmakers from being too ambitious.
Result? The state is small, and the Swiss are rich and free.
It all sounds eminently sensible to me (I should apologise to the ASI's Tom Clougherty, with whom I disagreed about the Health Savings Plan. Although, to be fair, Dan has explained it rather better).
I shall be wandering along to the official launch tomorrow, netch'relly; in the meantime, you can buy the book—£5 for a download or £10 for a printed copy—at www.renew-britain.com.
* Your humble Devil has a number of book ideas in the works, and may well avail himself of Lulu too. I have, in fact, been compiling a book of my artwork for a little while (time flies!) and I have a few other ideas too...