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In criticising Graeme Samuel's speech there are a number of aspects I want to stress.

  1. Samuel is absolutely genuine in his beliefs and really believes that what he proposes is the way ahead. Like all theorists committed to a particular frame of interpretation he has no doubts. He believes that the "reforms" he advocates are urgently needed. He is representative of sections of the establishment and of dominant sections of the business and economic communities. Not all economists share his views.


  2. Like others in his position and with his beliefs he commits fatal errors in logic. He ignores critical aspects and available evidence in order to maintain his arguments.


  3. Samuel's argument sounds plausible and is couched in a language that is impressive and so readily accepted. It is backed with all the credibility of his position as chairman of a national establishment body.


  4. I want to show the fatal flaws when alternative understandings developed in other contexts are brought to bear on Samuel's views.


  5. Samuel's arguments are made in a world of great universal theories within which the world and its citizens are constrained. Its abstractions are untouched by contact with the real world of experience and emotion. Samuel starts from the general and applies it to the particular. Samuel represents 20th century "modernist" thinking. I want to contrast this with what I understand as "post modern" thinking. It starts from the real living experience of individual people and the understandings they develop in real living situations. The method of understanding asks whether theories are relevant to the particular situation and the people in it, and what the limits of their applicability in that situation are. In my criticism I am suggesting that we should be looking at the particular and asking what the relevance of the general is.


  6. Samuel's arguments have little relevance and are of no interest in the world most people who will be affected by them live in; yet their potential consequences are devastating for these people.


  7. Above all else I want to show something about our human nature. The way we come to believe in things. How they come to be vitally important to our lives as we invest our time and commit ourselves to projects in their name. I believe that if we are to move away from the problems of the past then we must come to recognise the limits of particular belief systems.


  8. I am not attacking the validity of sensible economics in designing and running a health system. Without money we cannot have a modern health system. What I am attacking is the arrogant assumption that economists, with their single frame of understanding and abstract theories can dictate the way health care and much else in society should operate - the way we as individuals will live. This behaviour illustrates a fundamental problem in society and in the way individuals behave, it is a relic of a past we must leave behind us.


  9. In criticising Samuel's proposal, which is far right it is inevitable that I will use the language and the insights of the left. These limits are imposed by the language we use. It does not mean that I am advocating far left solutions. If I was criticising the left then I would use right wing language and insights. What I am attacking is extremism and what I am advocating is a system which is congruent with the context of the particular activity.


  10. I have used Samuel's proposal as the basis for an attack on the application of competitive market priciples to health care. The criticisms in the linked pages therefore sometimes go much wider than the details of Samuel's proposals. I try to confront the theory with real consequences in actual health care markets and the actual human experiences of those at the receiving end of such policies - the human victims.


Paradigms of understanding

I am therefore setting three alternate understandings one against the other. I suggest that you open two or even three separate windows and move from one to the other.

  1. The first is Samuel's speech and I suggest you read it through fully first.


  2. The second is my criticism of the speech. This comes from a very different perspective. I suggest you open it in a second window then come back and check each section of Samuel's speech before examining the criticism. This is linked to pages on this www site to back the criticisms made.


  3. The third is the actual experience of a profit driven corporatised health system, the harsh reality behind the pleasantly human and impressive face of corporate medicine. This uses letters and reports describing personal experiences of the system with all the emotionalism and anger it generates.

Samuel's right of response

Samuel has been sent a copy of the criticism and been given the opportunity to respond. He has not done so. If he does so I will include it.

The web pages will not follow what Samuel was sent exactly. I included large amounts of background material and these criticisms have been truncated. The originals have been augmented and modified into linked pages. Many of the arguments can be made by linking to other pages on this site. These are more informative. Those who have explored this site will not need to go back over it all again. I will send you the original criticism sent to Samuel in rtf format if you email me but the www site is clearer.

Opening a second window

To open a page in a second window in Netscape or Internet Explorer hold the mouse down until a menu appears and select from the menu.

CLICK, HOLD AND SELECT -- to open the first page of the criticism of Samuel's speech in a separate window

CLICK, HOLD AND SELECT -- to read a letter written to Canadians describing personal experiences of the US system

CLICK, HOLD AND SELECT -- to open the responses of individuals in a separate window.

CLICK HERE -- to open Samuel's speech in this window.

CLICK HERE -- to go to the National Competition Counsel's www site. This contains Samuel's speech in rtf, pdf and Microsoft Word formats. (

I found Samuels speech complex full of economic jargon and difficult to understand. Richard Middleton writing on the www site of the National Association of Practising Anaesthetists has done a nice decomposition putting Samuel's speech into simple terms so that we know what he really intends.

CLICK HERE ( for a the pdf file containing the rewording of Samuel's speech. The site ( is worth a look around too but you will need a password to get to the pdf file this way.

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This page created April 2000 by Michael Wynne
Last modified Feb 2002