The Wisdom of Bob Newhart, and Captain’s Quarters

via Captain’s Quarters, who’s been watching Bob Newhart DVD’s in the hospital while his wife recuperates from an apparently successful kidney transplant (best wishes to all).

The episode they’re watching has the professionals in their Medical Arts building setting up a co-op, with “disastrous results”:

….When a rational basis for regulating the demand for services is removed, the demand increases exponentially. Without that regulating force of money, the demand far outstrips the supply, creating shortages. It shows that money offers an objective control on demand so that the market can have flexibility in increasing supply and benefitting suppliers in a manner that barter simply cannot. Without it, there is no objective way in which to prioritize and ration access to services.

There’s a lesson in there for advocates of single-payor systems and nationalized health care, in which decisions on rationing get transferred to the government rather than the consumer or supplier. It’s not a direct analogy, but the episode certainly suggests an example for that as well.

Another spot-on observation.


  1. You can see in either Canada or Britain how this issue is dealt with — with limiting the availability of services, so that you have to wait for access.