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.

Regional pay is the only sensible option

Written by | Tuesday 20 March 2012

The Chancellor's proposal to end national pay bargaining in the public sector has been met with the usual howls of protests from trade unionists. They see it as a stealth cut in their members' wages.
Maybe, but for decades there has been a stealth rise in those wages. Public pay now averages 8% more than in the private sector – and the hours, holidays, sickness breaks, and of course those gold-plated pensions, are all much better. But the difference is a shocking 18% in Wales.

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Budget 2012: Expect nothing and you won't be disappointed

Written by | Monday 19 March 2012

In 1947, the Chancellor Sir Hugh Dalton mentioned some of his tax changes to a journalist. Unfortunately they appeared in the early edition of an evening newspaper before he had finished his speech, and he was forced to resign as a result. Quite different from today, when the Liberal Democrat and Conservative partners in the UK's coalition have been debating their different tax ideas in full view of the public. Apparently that is the way the do it in Sweden, and Nick Clegg, the LibDem leader, was so taken by it that he decided to import the process into the UK.

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Government should butt out of marriage and churches

Written by | Monday 5 March 2012

UK Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone want to legalise gay marriage. Fine by me: I don't see why gay couples should not be able to sign up for the same obligations, rights and benefits that heterosexual couples observe and enjoy.

She also wants gay couples to be allowed to marry in church, like heterosexual ones. Again, I have no problem with that, if the church is willing to do it.

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In memoriam: John Marks

Written by | Saturday 3 March 2012

Everyone at the Adam Smith Institute is saddened to learn of the death of John Marks, the veteran campaigner for transparency and higher standards in the state school system.

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Reassessing Hayek

Written by | Tuesday 24 January 2012

I've just started the final draft of a new primer on the great 'Austrian School' (and Nobel) economist and political thinker F.A. Hayek. Perhaps more than anyone, Hayek kept alive the flame of liberty at a time, after the Second World War, where freedom had few friends. Communism had seized Eastern Europe, and in Western Europe, intellectuals were smitten by the appeal of state planning and confident in their abilities to 'win the peace' through greater government planning, spending and controls.

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Don't ban adverts for boob jobs

Written by | Tuesday 24 January 2012

In the wake of the fuss about some people being fitted with dodgy breast implants, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) wants advertisements for cosmetic surgery to be banned and 'cowboy' plastic surgeons regulated out of existence.

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Moral and responsible capitalism

Written by | Thursday 19 January 2012

Let's face it: capitalism is a lot more moral and responsible than politics. Many people think capitalism can never be moral because it's rooted in self-interest. But that confuses self-interest with greed. Self-interest is natural and indeed essential: none of us would survive long if we neglected our own needs. Equally, nobody survives long in business if they get a reputation for being greedy.

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The best things in life are free

Written by | Saturday 14 January 2012

Here's the argument. The recent financial boom and bust is the death knell of the idea that markets are efficient and that people behave rationally. Plainly, markets underpriced risky business, people took too many and too-large risks, and eventually everyone came a cropper. Capitalism is great, but it needs to be restrained against its own excesses and made to serve the broader interests of society.

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More competition is the key to limiting executive pay

Written by | Monday 9 January 2012

In a BBC interview, UK Prime Minister David Cameron indicated that shareholders will be given more power to decide the pay of top executives. It is a welcome acceptance of the fact that government regulation of executive pay has not actually worked, and that it is better to leave pay up to the markets and to the shareholders who actually own businesses, and for whom the executives – supposedly – work.

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Can gang crime be stopped?

Written by | Thursday 8 December 2011

Bill Bratton, arguably the world's most successful police chief – he was able to reduce crime significantly in New York, Boston and Los Angeles – spoke in London this week on the subject of gang crime. A good place to talk about it. Some 22% of London's violent crime is gang-related, along with 10% or so of all London crime in general. It could be worse. The US, says Bratton, is dealing with its fourth generation of latino gang problems and its third generation of black gang problems.

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