Dr Eamonn Butler

Eamonn Butler is director of the Adam Smith Institute. He is the author of books on the pioneering economists Milton Friedman, F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Adam Smith, and co-author of Forty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls and books on intelligence testing. He has degrees in economics, philosophy and psychology, gaining a PhD from the University of St Andrews in 1978.

The reality behind the employment figures

Written by | Friday 22 February 2013

Economists are finding it hard to understand why Britain's labour market is so buoyant. At a time when output seems resolutely flat, the number of people in work is growing and the number of people unemployed is falling. This week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that in the last quarter of 2012, a record number of people were in employment in Britain, a rise of 154,000 on the quarter before. Some two-thirds of these jobs have gone to British-born workers – the record employment numbers do not simply reflect a wave of immigrants making work for themselves.

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The failure of the welfare-to-work scheme

Written by | Friday 22 February 2013

Britain's £5bn Work Programme to get people off benefits and into work is failing, according to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, which says it's performance over the first 14 months of operation 'fell well short' of government expectations. It seems only 3.6% of claimants moved off benefit and into sustained employment as a result of the scheme, less than a third of the 11.9% target.

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International companies stand between us and tax tyranny

Written by | Wednesday 20 February 2013

The OECD is very worried about the erosion of different countries' tax base, they say. The acronym (everything needs a catchphrase these days) is BEPS - Fiscal Base Erosion and Profit Shifting. I guess the full acronym, FBEAPS, just wasn't so trip-off-the-tongue.

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Don't name and shame tax avoiders

Written by | Tuesday 19 February 2013

British MPs say that tax avoiders should be 'named and shamed' to discourage people from using legal loopholes to reduce their tax bill. It shows just how much of a careless disregard for the rule of law our politicians now have.

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Soft drinks tax slippery slope

Written by | Monday 18 February 2013

With reports of 1,200 unnecessary deaths in a single NHS trust – some in the most cruel and inhumane circumstances – you might think that the clinicians trades unions might be keeping their heads down. But no. The umbrella organisation for medial practitioner groups is now calling for a tax on fizzy drinks. To combat obesity, they say.

To micro-manage our lives, more like. The average person gets about 2% of their calories from fizzy drinks, so even if a tax did make people drink less, it would have no noticeable effect on the weight of the nation.

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The inheritance tax of loss

Written by | Monday 11 February 2013

The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt plans that, from 2017, anyone with assets, including their home, worth more than £123,000 will be liable for the first £75,000 of their social care costs. They will also pay accommodation expenses of up to £12,000 a year. This, he says, will prevent people having to sell their homes when they need to move into residential care, which can be very expensive.

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Ring-fencing is the wrong answer to the wrong question

Written by | Monday 4 February 2013

The government is proposing to 'electrify' the ring fence around retail banking activities by warning them that they risk being forcibly broken up by the Bank of England if they try to get round the fence.

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If we paid for doctors we'd forget the stiff upper lip

Written by | Thursday 31 January 2013

This week a medical journal reported that the British 'stiff upper lip' contributes to its low cancer survival rate. It seems that people simply don't want to bother the doctor when they feel ill. So their cancer goes undiagnosed, and the chances of survival diminish.

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Brute force open-access

Written by | Wednesday 30 January 2013

The fact that governments intervene in one area gives them an excuse to intervene in another. The demand that all car passengers, including those in the rear seats, should be compelled to wear seat-belts was justified by the observation that taxpayers supported the National Health Service, so if a passenger was injured in an accident, it would be a cost on us all. Laws banning smoking, and this week's proposal to put a tax on sugary drinks, are other examples that use the same justification.

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Let them drink Coke

Written by | Tuesday 29 January 2013

A campaign group – you know, one of those bodies that sounds official but isn't, and is stuffed full of folk on the public payroll – wants to put a 20p tax on bottles of fizzy drinks. It's to combat obesity, they say.

No, it's about micro-managing our lives, which 'experts' always believe we are unable to manage for ourselves.

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