Dr. Eamonn Butler

Bale and the market

Written by | Monday 2 September 2013

Is Spurs striker Gareth Bale really worth €100m? Plus whatever eye-watering salary his new employers, Real Madrid, will pay him? Isn't it immoral to pay footballers such enormous amounts for what is basically entertainment, when nurses (say), who do such an essential job, are so badly paid?

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Postcode petrol prices

Written by | Friday 2 August 2013

Transporting fuel to Scottish islands is an expensive business. This in turn makes motoring on the islands more expensive. The UK government's solution? It gives a 5p/litre reduction on fuel duty on the islands. Which means millionaires who've retired to Arran enjoy a subsidy from poor motorists on the mainland.

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No healthcare tinkering can deliver the radical shake-up we need

Written by | Friday 7 June 2013

 

Health minister Norman Lamb MP was our guest at an afternoon seminar in the House of Lords which we held in partnership with healthcare specialists LCS International Consultants. Lamb outlined the new measures on social care currently going through Parliament.

The measure has several objectives:

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Why should benefits be universal?

Written by | Wednesday 5 June 2013

Ed Balls, the economic spokesman for the UK's opposition Labour party, has suggested that wealthy pensioners should be stripped of their winter fuel allowance. At present, over-60s eligible for the state pension receive £200 a year, and those over 80 receive £300, to hep keep them warm. The policy was introduced some years ago after media stories of pensioners suffering from hypothermia because they could not afford to turn on their heating. Even those in care homes get fuel payments of £100-£150.

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Cash, questions, lobbyists—and perverse regulation

Written by | Tuesday 4 June 2013

UK Member of Parliament Patrick Mercer has resigned under accusations that he took cash (from journalists pretending to be lobbyists) to ask questions in the House of Commons. It has renewed calls for lobbyists to be registered and regulated in order that we know who our MPs are talking to.

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Time to privatise the courts

Written by | Thursday 30 May 2013

Britain's Ministry of Justice is considering "wholesale privatization" of the courts and tribunal service. Quite right too. Anyone who has seen the country's courts in action knows how inefficient they are, to the frustration of all who use them. That is because they are a monopoly, and monopolies do not have to please their customers – in this case, not just the public who use them but the taxpayers who fund them.

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Letter losses + parcel profits = Royal Mail privatisation

Written by | Thursday 23 May 2013

This week Royal Mail, the UK's state-owned letters and parcels delivery business, is expected to announce profits of £300m-£400m. A few years back, the Royal Mail looked like a loss-making sunset business. Emails were replacing letters, and delivering bits of paper to 28m homes in every corner of the UK seemed like a good way to go broke.

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Eurovision song contest costs UK

Written by | Tuesday 21 May 2013

Do you realise how much we pay for the thrill of watching dancing meatballs?

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The debt and deficit cost of political policies

Written by | Friday 17 May 2013

UK Conservative Party Co-Chairman Grant Shapps MP has started "deficit alerts" on his Twitter account whenever a Labour politician appears on television to demand more spending on this or that. Here is a sample:

@grantshapps: "Deficit Alert! Ed Balls calls for £16.5bn more borrowing "this year" on #Murnaghan - same old Labour answer would mean soaring interest rates."

I am glad that politicians should be so focused on the debt and deficit implications of public policy. But we need to make it systematic.

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