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.

Why corporations avoid tax

Written by | Tuesday 29 January 2013

When you calculate the depressing effect of company taxes on incentives and economic growth, you can see why businesses resent them – and indeed do their best to avoid them. The point was brought home to me when I re-read Why Freedom Works by Sir Ernest Benn (1875-1954), a successful publisher (and uncle of the Labour politician, Tony Benn).

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Tax: wake up and smell the competition

Written by | Friday 25 January 2013

Just when you think it's safe to return to David Cameron, he bites you in the leg. That is what UK business leaders are thinking right now, after his warning to international companies to 'Wake up and smell the coffee' – a phrase that is supposed to remind us of Starbucks, the fact that they manage to pay very little tax in Britain, and how unpopular that is.

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More Mill

Written by | Thursday 24 January 2013

It's not just the tyranny of our elected rulers that we have to guard against. We must also guard against the exploitation of minorities by the majority and of the stifling tyranny of political correctness. As John Stuart Mill puts it in the early pages of On Liberty:

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The quiet nationalization of Stansted Airport

Written by | Monday 21 January 2013

When David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party, it is unlikely that many Conservative members expected him to preside over the nationalisation of an airport. But, with the £1.5bn sale of Stansted to Manchester Airports Group (MAG), that is, in an odd way, what has happened. For although MAG (which already owns and operates Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports) is privately managed, its principal shareholders are a group of ten local authorities.

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EU renegotiation: UK must play hardball, with referendum threat

Written by | Tuesday 15 January 2013

There is talk of Britain renegotiating its relationship with the European Union, and the ‘in’ and ‘out’ lobbies have been marshalling their troops. But a report for the Adam Smith Institute concludes that, whichever outcome it prefers, the British government needs to raise its game to get anything at all from the talks.

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Two cheers for the new state pension rules

Written by | Monday 14 January 2013

The new state pension arrangements announced this week follow the recommendations of a 2004 Adam Smith Institute report by the actuary Alan Pickering. We had to wait eight years, but at last the bureaucracy has got there.

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More Quantitative Easing will be a sign of real trouble ahead

Written by | Monday 14 January 2013

Fund manager and commentator Liam Halligan argues much the same as we do in a paper by Robert Miller due out later this month – that the first bouts of Quantitative Easing might have been wise, but any more could prove highly destructive.

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Cutting the Gordian knot on pensions

Written by | Wednesday 9 January 2013

The UK Labour party wants to end higher-rate tax relief on pension contributions, arguing that current reliefs are a subsidy to higher earners. As I argued on Monday, they are not – they simply defer tax on that part of a person's income that they defer drawing, and put into a pension investment instead. But what should the right policy on pensions be?

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Is it possible to have a rational debate about housing?

Written by | Tuesday 8 January 2013

Various financial pundits in Britain's newspapers have been warning that house prices won't be rising any time soon. This is seen as bad news for the British economy, which has been quite largely driven by the wealth that people have in their homes, encouraging them to spend, spend, spend.

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Pensions tax relief is no stealth subsidy

Written by | Monday 7 January 2013

The UK Labour Party’s plan to reduce the tax relief that higher-rate taxpayers can take when making private pension contributions (in order to fund job-creation programmes) is an intriguing one.

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